Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

I don’t want to start the wrong associations when settling my 6.5-month-old baby

My son has been a good sleeper (with exception to common problems in the lunchtime nap). He has a skin problem which we are seeing a specialist for very soon, but although it is not gone I don’t think it is the cause of the problem. He has just dropped his late afternoon nap (except days like today when he only slept 1 hour at lunch), as sleeping generally seems to have gone out of the window. He feeds at the times stated in book and is not on meat protein yet as I want to keep his diet very basic until I see the dermatologist about his skin. I think that he is teething slightly, but don’t think this is also the cause, as on the days he is ok and not seemingly ill, he is still unsettled at night. He does suffer from heavy mucus in his throat and a cough which can sometimes stop him settling down. Tonight he cried for a while when put to bed at 6.50, he then started to go off and coughed so much he woke himself up but the doctor says nothing is wrong. Tonight I went in every 15 minutes, but he was so hysterical that even when I picked him up he would not calm down. Eventually, I gave him a small amount of Calpol and his dummy to calm him; my previous methods have avoided this, as I don’t want him to get used to me coming in or using something to get him back to sleep in case he gets used to it and starts to look for it at other sleeps. Last night he took 3 oz water at 11pm after crying on and off for 3 hrs but I am sure it is not hunger; he eats well.
I just don’t want to miss something obvious, he sleeps in a 0.5 grobag and on nights like tonight (it is 18 degrees in his room) he is in a short-sleeved vest and long-sleeved body suit as well as his sleeping bag.
At present he feeds at 7am 7-8ozs milk, 11/2 tablespoons of cereal with 2 cubes of apple, 11.30am 4 ozs milk, 3 cubes carrot, 2 cubes parsnip, 1 cube apple and sometimes 1/4 small pot of soya yoghurt, 2.30pm 7 ozs milk, 4pm 2 ozs water, 5pm 2 cubes sweet potato, 2 cubes broccoli, 2 cubes pear/peach, 1/4 yoghurt if still hungry, 6.30pm 7-8ozs milk.
He sleeps from 9-9.45am and 12.30-2.30pm. He is put to bed at 7pm and once finally settled for the night sleeps until 6am.

Although you feel your son is eating well, giving him a tea which has more carbohydrates in it could help him settle better in the evening. Even though you haven’t started meat protein, it would be a good idea to look at Gina’s Weaning Guide at some of the recipes suggested for teatime at six months. Many of these are vegetable-based but have a good carbohydrate content which is needed at this time of the day. As soon as you have seen your dermatologist and been given the go-ahead to introduce meat protein, then begin to replace 2 of his vegetable cubes at lunch with chicken ones. At his age his iron stores will be rapidly dwindling, even though he is on formula. A wider and more varied diet will help balance his nutritional needs.

To help him with his mucous condition, try elevating the top of his cot up onto telephone directories. Your son may find it easier to sleep in a slightly sloping position and the mucus will not tickle the back of his throat so much. Consider using a cold water humidifier if you feel that the air in his room is very dry. This can be another reason for his coughing in the night. Place this in the middle of his room, well away from his cot.

Have plenty of floor time in the afternoon, with rolling and kicking and also try to get outside as well; fresh air will help him sleep better. Have a very quiet bath time and feed him in a darkened room afterwards, so he becomes sleepy before being put down.

As your son is waking early in the morning as well, it may be hard to push his morning nap on towards 9.30am but if you can begin to move it by five minutes every few days and just let him sleep for 1/2 hr until 10am, you may find he will settle better in the evening. He may be a bit irritable for a few days whilst you put this into place but if it helps him to settle better in the evening and wake nearer to 7am, it will be worth it.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

At 8.5-months-old my son is taking time to settle because he keeps standing up

My son was never a really good sleeper; I went to him 3/4 times a night from early on. The problem now is that he very active and before I could always put him down and leave the room. Now though, because he can turn over, sit up and get up, he does just that. So I lie him down and he just turns over and cries as he can’t get comfy, then just stands at the end of the bed. This can go on for ages; up to 1/2 hour. I have even started to offer him a dummy which settles him quicker but not immediately.Then he may turn himself over 3/4 times in the night and need to be turned back.
He is also waking so much earlier: 5/5.30am every morning. The worst thing is that at the moment I don’t have the energy to sort it out. Having had a five year old who slept very well this is all news to me!
He naps at 9-9.30am and 12-2pm. He is put to bed at 7pm, waking at 10-10.30pm,1-1.30am, 4.30-4.45am then at 5.10am.

It would seem that your son has learnt to associate falling asleep with becoming dependant on you to help turn or lie down. He needs to learn how to do this on his own, both when he is put down in the evening and also throughout the night.
Now he is much more mobile and moving around a lot you can begin to let him find his own sleeping position. Babies often cry out at night as they roll around and hit the cot sides but often they are not really awake and will settle themselves again if left. Always leave a few minutes before going in to give him a chance to settle himself.
Place him in a suitable tog sleeping bag for the time of year and remove all his covers so there is no chance of him getting tangled in them.
Practise rolling from front to back and back to front in the daytime. Once he is able to do this confidently both ways leave him to do so in the night rather than going in straight away when you hear him. When he can roll both ways easily he may prefer to sleep on his tummy and because he is able to roll well you should allow him to do so.
When you put him down for his naps place him in the cot standing and teach him how to get down by holding his hands onto the cot spars and showing him how to lower himself down into his preferred sleeping position. Then, if he does not settle straight away he will be able to get down and do so when he is ready. As he is used to you helping him settle to sleep you may need to do some controlled crying with him once you know he is able to get down into a sleeping position alone. Check on him every 10-15 minutes the first night and then begin to lengthen the time by a five minutes or so the second night. Look in the Complete Sleep Guide for a full description of this method.
As your son is waking so early in the morning he is probably tired by 9am. He needs to begin to gradually move this sleep forward towards 9.30am and his lunchtime nap to 12.30/1pm. This will help him be less tired in the evening and more likely to go into his cot chatting or singing for a short while and drifting off, rather than falling asleep exhausted. The common result of this is early waking.
Gradually move his morning nap forward by five minutes every three or four days so he will begin to move his lunchtime nap forward and be going down to sleep later.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

There could be many reasons causing my 7.5 month son to wake but now he won’t settle back in the early morning even with his dummy

I don’t really know where to start! I am that confused about what the potential problem could be. I thought I had resolved it one night but I haven’t.
My son has always had a dummy – but not for sleeping. However whenever he awoke during his lunchtime nap he wouldn’t settle unless given it so he has always had it for then and also he was given it for his early morning waking. He has never really slept until 7 am since I dropped the 10 pm feed about 8 weeks ago. It has been more like 6 – 6.30. If he woke in the night he would be able to settle himself back to sleep himself and if he cried for more than 10 minutes I knew something was wrong. However we went to see my MIL in October in Spain and my son shared a room with us. He was quite unsettled whilst there (probably all the people that were there) and so we used the dummy so as not to wake the household up. Then when we got home I had just got him used to not having the dummy at night again when he got a cold. So he was given the dummy during sleep time as it seemed to sooth him. He only got better for a couple of days and then caught another cold and so was given back the dummy. By last week I was tearing my hair out as he was waking up a lot in the night looking for it and so I did a day of controlled crying and no dummy and then he slept from 6.45 pm to 6.30 am. However the next night (last Saturday) my Mum looked after him. When he cried out at 5.00 am she went straight in got him up and put him in bed with her. She did say he was full of mucus and the next night he awoke again at 5.00 am. I left him for 10 minutes but when I did go in he was coughing and spluttering and I got him up for 30 minutes to clear him. When I put him down he started crying so after 10 minutes I gave him his dummy and he slept until 7.15 am.
Since then he has woken up at around 5.00 am and will not go back to sleep – even if he is given the dummy. He also wakes around 11 pm and won’t settle back well – last night my husband gave him his dummy after about 20 minutes of crying. He does not have it at all any other time day or night except sometimes I use it to entice him to feed. He seems to have got used to not having it during the day and when being put down at 7pm. During the lunchtime nap if he wakes up after 10 minutes I get him up rather than giving him the dummy. He does still have a cough and runny nose and the only time he is really coughing badly is early morning. I got a vaporizer which I used last night but it didn’t seem to make much difference.
I have also noticed he screams when I leave the room – he is ok during the day if I leave him playing so I am not sure if it is a separation thing. He never used to cry when I left the room before.
I have given him my tops/cuddly toys etc but he doesn’t seem to be attaching himself to anything.
Also – he does about 4 poos a day – always there is one in his nappy in the morning. You can see below how much he eats – he is a big baby but I am wondering if I am not feeding him the right food or the right amount which is causing him to poo and wake up? For example this morning I heard him stirring for ages before he started crying. At 5.45am I went in after 10 minutes of hard crying and he had done a poo. I changed him with the dimmer light on and then put him back – for him to scream blue murder so I gave him his dummy but every time I left the room it made him worse. He never went back to sleep.
Also – I caught him last night trying to roll onto his tummy. He is tucked in using a 0.5 tog sleeping bag and a blanket as when he wasn’t tucked in he ended up being upside down etc. He wears a baby gro and his room is normally around 23 degrees. Should I try a bigger tog and leave him un tucked – maybe he wants to be on his tummy?
He normally sleeps 2 hours at lunchtime but his waking’s in the night have gone on whether he has slept 45 minutes at lunch or the full two hours so I don’t think it is his day time naps. He never normally sleeps more than 2 .5 hours in the day. He can still go to at least 9.00 am even if he has woken early so I can keep him in the routine.
In terms of food he has been through a couple of fussy eating phases – this week he went off food after my Mum had him for a day – will eat now as long as it is totally pureed smooth.
I just don’t know what to do to resolve the problem – there seems to be that much stuff that could be causing it. My husband thinks we should give him the dummy until he is totally recovered from the cold and then do controlled crying but its not him that has to deal with it all plus another child in the house that now keeps waking up due to the crying!!
I would say in the last 8 weeks he has slept through the night twice.
My son feeds takes 8ozs formula at 7am and 6.30pm. He has 2-5ozs at 3pm. Breakfast: Baby cereal or Ready Brek mixed with 3ozs formula.
Lunch, 12midday: 8 tablespoons of one of the protein recipes from Gina’s book and an adult sized organic yoghurt.
Tea, 5.30pm: 8 tablespoons of a vegetarian meal from Gina’s book with rice cakes, bread sticks or rusk’s and a jar of organic rice pudding. He weighs 24lbs.
He naps at 9.30-10am and 12.30-2.30pm.

It would certainly seem that one of several reasons could be causing your son to wake. Thinking through them all and taking a general look at his routine and overall day may help you.

Until he is completely clear of cold and mucous he may well wake in the early hours through coughing and general discomfort. The temperature of his room does seem quite warm for night time. 23 degrees would be considered fairly warm by day; at night it would better to get this down to nearer 18 degrees if you are able to do so. A dry, warm room will cause him to cough and become more congested. Try putting a bowl of water on the radiator to humidify the air a little. Dry air will dry out nasal passages and cause coughing. You could place a few drops of Olbas oil in the water. Cold mist humidifiers are now available through some nursery suppliers and can help children who suffer from night coughs. Elevate the head of his cot using telephone directories or other large books. This will help drain the mucous away from his nose and throat. Vaporizers are best placed under the cot so the vapors released encircle the sleeping area. Another way to help his congestion is to split open a Karvol capsule and sprinkle the contents onto a muslin. Tie this securely to the bars of his cot, preferably above his head.

If his colds seem to continue or run into each other it would be sensible to have him checked over by your doctor.

As your son has begun to try to roll over, put him in a higher tog rated sleeping bag and remove the covers from him. Providing he is able to roll well both ways, he should now be allowed to find his own sleeping position.

Separation anxiety does often begin around this age. Even if you feel he is happy about being left in a room in the daytime he may feel differently in the dark. He has reached the stage of development where he understands that you can go away from him and yet he has no means to follow you yet. This can be a difficult time with a baby. Deal with it as sensitively as you can. During the day play lots of games of peek-a-boo and hiding behind chairs and doors, as this all helps to reinforce the idea to him that although you disappear you will also reappear again.

The amount of food your son is eating seems about in line with his weight. Make sure his tea is really carbohydrate rich so serve things such as pasta bakes, jacket potatoes with cheese or vegetable toppings and vegetable risottos. All these should help to fill him up well. It is hard to see that any one thing is triggering the fact that he poos four times a day. Using potato, rice and pasta as the base for his tea could help him, as these starchy carbohydrates can help the digestive system to slow down a little and maybe prevent the early morning dirty nappy.

The one thing which is noticeable from your notes is that he hasn’t properly slept through the night since dropping the 10pm bottle. Although you may feel that you are back tracking a little it would be worth offering him milk at 5am if he continues to wake at this time. If he takes quite a feed, settles back to sleep and is happy to eat a good breakfast later then hunger is the cause of this early waking. If you give him milk at 5am, count that as his first bottle of the day. Although his overall milk intake is good, some babies at this age do seem unable to take in quite enough solid foods to meet their needs properly. Increase the amount he eats at lunch and tea if you feel he wants more.

As he appears to have got into the habit of waking at this early hour you do need to do whatever it takes to get him back to sleep again so that he is sleeping until nearer 7am. This may mean holding him in the dark so he sleeps again, if he finds it difficult to settle alone with his dummy.

If you are aware that he is falling straight to sleep at 7pm when put down, move his bedtime to around 6.30/6.40pm. A baby of this age begins to use up more energy once he is rolling and trying to crawl. If he falls straight into a deep sleep he is more likely to wake early in the morning when he comes into his last cycle of light sleep. An earlier bedtime allows him to chat to himself for 15-20minutes before settling down. There may not be any immediate, noticeable effect in the time that he wakes in the morning. It can take up to two weeks of early bedtimes for his body clock to fully readjust itself. Once he is regularly sleeping to nearer 7am you can begin to move his bedtime gradually back towards 7pm.

Once he is well again decide if you want to get rid of his dummy completely. Going “cold turkey “is the only way to do this effectively. It may mean some controlled crying until he learns to settle properly by himself. Keep trying with comfort toys and blankets. It can take a while for an attachment to take place. Muslin squares and small blankets, especially with bound edges of satin ribbon, are often chosen in preference to toys.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

Since a recent illness my 8.5mth daughter has started to wake several times in the evenings and takes a while to settle

For a week my 8.5mth daughter was very sick with urine track infection. Loss of appetite, fever for five days, vomiting though nose and mouth, convulsing when temperature spiked. At her worst, she spent almost three solid days in my arms. After 10 days her appetite returned, she no longer had a fever and her urine sample was all clear. Since then she wakes 1 to 3 times during the time slot 8.30pm-10.30pm, cries, is not hungry, doesn’t need a nappy change but I have to resettle her back to sleep. Sometimes this can take up to 30minutes in which she cries almost the whole time. After the 10.30pm wake up she will then sleep until we wake her at 7am in the morning. Her room temperature is constant, there is no light coming into her room and no strange noises.

What is causing her wake up? How can we stop it? Up until she got sick she was like clock work, going to sleep at 7pm and would not wake up unless it was like 4am, never before has she woken before 10.30pm.

My daughter takes 6ozs formula at 7.30am followed by ½ weetabix, 1oz formula, 2 tablespoons of fruit.
10.30am ½ oz water, 11.45am 8-10 tablespoons of protein meal, 2 tablespoons yoghurt and 1 tablespoon banana.
3.00pm, 2-4ozs formula.
5.00pm, 8-10 tablespoons of a carbohydrate meal, 3 tablespoons yoghurt, ¼ piece of bread and butter with spread
6.30pm, 6ozs formula. She weighs 10kilos [22lbs]

My daughter naps at 9-9.45am and 12.30-2.00pm.

It can take a while for a baby to get back into her old routine after being ill. As your daughter spent a lot of time being held by you when she was so unwell she may have come to associate this with settling back to sleep when she stirs in the evenings.

When your daughter first stirs, leave her about 10minutes to see if she will re settle herself, then go in and reassure her with your voice. Leave the room again for a short period of time, unless she is very upset, and go in once more to reassure her. As you are trying to break the association your daughter has developed, of being held by you with settling back to sleep, try not to take her from her cot. You may have to use the gradual withdrawal method if she does get very worked up when she wakes. This is described on page 49 in The Complete Sleep Guide. The method involves the parent moving further and further away from the cot so the baby learns to settle back to sleep alone but does not get too distraught because she has been left on her own.

Now that she is 8.5mths and you are waking her at 7am, begin to move on your daughter´s daytime naps and see if this stops her waking in the evenings. There are two ways you can structure the daytime sleep of a baby of this age. Gina explains this fully in the Complete Sleep Guide, Chapter 4, and also in The Contented Little Baby Book, page 180 and page 186.

The morning nap begins to both decrease and move on in the second part of the first year. Since you are waking your daughter at 7am you may like to leave her to sleep on at this time so she then will not need a morning nap at all. Having cut this nap right out due to a later morning start you may find your daughter is not able to get through to 12.30pm for her lunchtime nap, or does not eat well at lunchtime through tiredness. If this is so, then try bringing her lunchtime forward to 11.30am and putting her down at 12.15pm. She may sleep a full two hours.

If you decide to continue to wake your daughter at 7am then begin to push the morning nap on and shorten it. Move it forward by 5minutes every other day, until she is going down at 9.30am, and make it 20-30 minutes in length. This should have the effect of pushing on the lunchtime nap to nearer 1pm and your daughter may then sleep until 2.30/3pm.

Since being ill your daughter may be very tired when going down at 7pm. If you are aware of this put her to bed around 6.40/6.45pm and see if she chats for a short while before settling herself to sleep. Once she begins to sleep through in the evenings gradually move her bedtime back to 7pm.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

My 7mth daughter has started to scream when going down at 7pm. She screams so much she makes her sick

My 7 month old daughter has been going down in her cot very well since birth at 7pm but for the past few nights, she screams when put down into her cot. She will scream and scream until she vomits up all her tea. I then have to clean her up and rock her to sleep fearing that she might be sick again when put down in the cot. She now sleeps at 9:30-10 and 12:30-2:30. She refuses to have any afternoon naps. She’s fed 6oz at 7am, solids at 11am, 6oz at 2:30, solids at 5pm and then 4oz at 10:30pm. My reason for not feeding her milk at 6:30pm is she usually vomits that up too therefore I give the dream feed. I don’t want to use the controlled crying method because I know my daughter will vomit after crying so hard. What else can I do?

My daughter takes 6ozs at 7am,
11am, 5 tsp rice mixed with 2ozs formula, 2 cubes of vegetable 2 cubes of chicken or cod and 2-3 cubes of fruit. 1oz juice with this meal.
2.30pm, 6ozs,
5.00pm 4-5 cubes of thick soups using Gina’s recipes, 1.5cubes of fruit and ½ -1 tub of yoghurt depending if she is hungry or not, 2ozs water with this meal. 10. pm 4ozs formula.

Around this age separation anxiety can start to take place, which could be the reason for your daugher’s screaming at bedtime. Also, now that she does not have an afternoon nap and is probably beginning to be quite active with rolling over and sitting up she may be over tired by 7pm.

Having a very calm and relaxed bedtime will help. If you do not already have a routine of looking at a few books or singing one or two songs before you settle her then begin to put this into place. Your daughter will begin to learn that these parts of the day are leading up to bedtime. Begin to use the same words every time you settle her. Keep it short such as, “It’s bed time, time to go to sleep”.

Try moving your daughter’s bedtime earlier, to around 6.30/6.40pm and see if she is happy to go down in her cot to chat to herself before falling asleep. Use a lullaby light or music box with a light show so she has something to watch before settling to sleep. If she does not already have a comforter of some kind find a soft teddy or toy, which is not too large, so she can be snuggled into bed with it comfortably.

If, despite being put down earlier, and with the changes to her feeding as explained below, your daughter begins to cry go in to resettle her before she becomes hysterical. Say “Good Night”, repeat the phrase, “It’s bedtime now, time to go to sleep”, and leave the room. If she begins to cry again, call to her from outside the room, to reassure her, and go back in after 30 seconds. Use the same short sentences as before to reassure her before she gets too worked up. By always using the same short phrase in a reassuring voice she will come to associate it with falling asleep. If you can very gradually lengthen the time you leave the room by 30 seconds before going back to reassure her she should not become so distressed and will start falling asleep after a short time of chatting.

Looking at your daughter’s intake of food during the day, the problems you have been having with her vomiting after her bedtime bottle could be due to over feeding. Having a bottle before she settles at night is another way to calm her down and get her ready for sleep. By dropping this bedtime feed and replacing it with a dream feed later she is losing this cozy time of day.

At lunchtime offer your daughter a protein meal of 3-4 cubes of chicken or fish and 2-3 cubes of vegetable. If you always use some kind of carbohydrate, such as potato or sweet potato mixed with another vegetable, you should have no need to offer her rice cereal as well. If she still seems hungry after her main course then offer her some fruit puree and natural yoghurt.

Cut back a little on her 2.30pm feed, offering her 4ozs of milk.

Continue to offer her the thick soups at teatime but reduce the quantity to 4 cubes, along with appropriate finger food. Try cutting out the yoghurt and fruit after this and offering her milk again at bedtime. With the reduction in her 2.30pm feed, and a smaller lunch and tea, you may find she is far more willing to drink 6-8ozs at 6.30pm. Using yoghurt at lunchtime instead of rice cereal mixed with formula will help her daily milk intake.

Once you have put all these changes into place begin to offer your daughter a small amount of breakfast. If she has been really hungry by 11am she is showing that she is ready for this meal. Introduce a small amount of cereal at 7am/7.30am. If you feel this is filling her too much and she is losing interest in her lunch then replace it with fruit puree and yoghurt. By this age she should be beginning to push her lunchtime on to 11.30/11.45am which is also more likely if she has a small breakfast.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

My 8.5mth son has used a dummy to settle back to sleep. I now want to get rid of it but am not sure how to do this without him losing a lot of sleep especially at nap times

My son is now 8.5 months old and despite following the routines as strictly as possible, he has never quite settled into the proper routine. I can almost get him there, but for instance he has never slept longer than 1.5 hours at lunchtime, and still wakes several times in the night. He is always up by 7am, follows the feeding guide exactly – and eats well – and settles well at 6.45pm, but I think this is because he is very tired by then. My daughter, who is now 4, was a very contented baby and followed the routines perfectly, slept through from about 11 weeks.
In order to try to keep to the sleep and nap times, I have ended up giving my son a dummy and I think he is now reliant on it to get to sleep. He will go back to sleep in the night with it, without feeding. I haven’t fed him milk in the night since before Christmas and am convinced it’s not hunger that’s the problem.

My question really is this: I want to get rid of the dummy but I know it’s going to be very difficult, I’m prepared for the controlled crying and persevering, but how much do I sacrifice the nap times, especially during the day, as I think everything will slip as he is a very determined baby and can cry for a long time in his cot – hence the gradual increased use of the dummy in the first place!

He feeds at 7am. 2oz formula mixed with baby muesli/ Ready Brek/ Weetabix and fruit puree. 4ozs formula after solids.
10am 1oz water
11.45am chicken casserole/lamb hotpot/fish pie all served with finger vegetables, well diluted juice form beaker.
2.45pm 4ozs formula
5.00pm pasta and sauce, corn chowder or mixed root medley form the Weaning book. Rice cake or toast as finger food. Small drink of water.
6.30pm 6ozs formula

My son naps at 9.15-10am, 12.45-2.00pm and settles at 6.45pm.

The best way to get rid of a dummy at this age is to do so gradually so that the effect on daytime sleepis not so great.

You need to get your son checked over by your doctor before starting any controlled crying. It is important that you start this programme when your son is well and not still recovering from any coughs or colds.

Start with eliminating the dummy at the morning nap, if he uses it at this time of day. Do this for two days but let him have it at all other naps and sleep times.

The next nap from which to eliminate the dummy is the lunchtime one. To help this be less stressful, and to ensure he does sleep for most of the time, take him out in his pram for this nap. Do this for at least two consecutive days. This may not be so easy if you have an older child so arrange the days to fall at the weekend when you may be able to have your partner around to help you cope.

Once he has stopped having the dummy during the day you can stop offering it at night.

Before you begin, read through the instructions for controlled crying, on page 45 of The Complete Sleep Guide, so you are quite clear about how to lengthen the timings over consecutive days.

It is obvious that your son may be more demanding and clingy whilst he is going through this process so do make sure you have as much help as you can get with your other child.

Sleeping FAQ: 6-9 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

Since starting nursery my 8.5mth old is not settling or sleeping well at his daytime naps

Since staring nursery in the last couple of weeks, my 8.5mth son has become very clingy and has dreadful separation anxiety. He is unable to sleep at his naps now having previously been a great sleeper. Initially his lunchtime nap got shorter and shorter and he seemed unable to settle himself back. Now his morning and lunchtimes nap are just crying sessions. Today I read to him until he fell asleep then he woke 40 minutes later and has cried for the last hour. I don’t know if I am right or wrong in letting him cry it out at the moment until he realizes that a) I will be back and also that b) he relearns how to settle.

He still sleeps from 7pm until 7 am no bother. He has breakfast at 7.30 am, a snack about 10.30 am, lunch at midday, snack about 3.30 and meal at 5 pm.
I’m pretty confident this is mixture of separation anxiety, teething . Please help me with advice on how to get back on track!

My son is still breast fed at 7.30am, 2.30pm and 6.30pm. He is offered water through the day and eats his main protein meal at lunchtime.

His nap times are 9.15-9.35 and 12.15-2.15pm.

This is the classic age for separation anxiety to start. If it coincides with a change to a baby’s routine the anxiety can become quite acute. This is also a time when a baby’s sleep needs in the day begin to change and you may need to push his naptimes on a little, especially as he sleeps well at night. This would mean he is really tired when going down for his nap and so may not fight it so much.

Begin to push his morning nap towards 9.30am. You may need to do this by moving forward 5 minutes every few days or he may be ready to stay up until 9.30am straight away. Keep this nap to 20 minutes long so he is awake again before 10am. This slightly later time will help push his lunchtime nap on towards 12.30pm. Just putting him down 15 minutes later at this time may help him to settle back to having his two hour sleep. Again, you may need to move it forward slowly or he may already be able to stay up until this later time. Eventually the lunchtime nap may move to 1pm and last until 2.30pm/3pm depending on your child’s sleep needs.

When you are at home with him on his non-nursery days make sure you do have a good 15 minute quiet time together before you want him to start his nap. This will help his feelings of insecurity. Take him to his room and enjoy a couple of books together. Sometimes using the same few stories at this time can help a baby recognize the signals for nap time. Tuck him up with a favourite toy if he does not already have a comfort object. If your son does not have a comfort object consider finding a small toy which he can have at naptimes both at home and nursery.

If he wakes during his longer lunchtime nap allow him 10 minutes of controlled crying to see if he will settle back. Then go in to him and reassure him with your voice and stroke him so he quietens. Considering the recent changes to his daytime routine it is kinder to use some kind of checking system than leaving him to cry for long periods.

If you feel you want to try controlled crying at this nap, to get him to learn to resettle, read the full account of how it works in The Complete Sleep Guide, page 45, before you begin and also get your son checked over by your doctor.

If you do controlled crying properly, it should begin to work within three or four days. As you gradually increase the times that your son is left to settle he will not spend long periods crying without getting some reassurance from you. This is what he needs at present as he still is adjusting to you leaving him at nursery three days a week.

During the day be aware of his need to be with you. Separation anxiety can be a difficult phase to cope with but it is better to keep him close beside you during the days when you are home together. Play lots of games of Peek-a-Boo with him so he gets used to the concept of you disappearing and appearing again. Begin with staying close to him and hiding behind a cushion. Then gradually move yourself further away from him in the room, hiding behind a chair or sofa. Once he is used to this go out of the room completely and then reappear.

If you feel that he is getting too clingy and not willing to play alone for short periods during the day use the same way of gradually leaving him. After a time of sitting beside him on the floor whilst he plays, sit up on a chair or sofa near to him for a short while. Gradually extend the times you do this and he will become better at being on his own for short periods. If you need to pop out to the next room use your voice to reassure him, rather than just leaving the room. If you need to be out for any length of time then take him with you. The more sympathetic you are to this phase, the quicker it will pass. By responding to his need to be with you, but also helping him to cope with the idea that you will go away but always come back, should also help it pass.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

I can’t get my baby of almost 6 mths to settle without his dummy

How can I get my baby who has been recently weaned from the dummy to
sleep more easily at nap times without creating another sleep association
problem? Every nap and bed time involves a lot of crying. He is missing naps because he is finding it hard to get to sleep and this in turn making it difficult to keep to the routine.
Harrison is almost 6 months. He wakes at 7am, then is sleepy. We have problems going to sleep for naps. He is often sleepy throughout the day but difficult to get to sleep. He seems to need all 3 naps – but I can’t get him to go down for them.
He used to have a dummy and went off to sleep really well, but woke up to
10 times a night for the dummy! So I took the dummy away and after 3 days he
started sleeping through at night. However, it takes a long time to get to sleep. I have to rock him to sleep at night (which is not great either I know) now but this does not seem to work at nap time. I have tried leaving him to cry but he is capable of crying for hours – even though it is clear that the only thing wrong is that he is sleepy. As a result he is really tired, and can’t stay up until a 7pm bedtime. It’s also very distressing to hear him cry like this.
A mother from France

By six months your son will have learnt to associate going to sleep with his dummy. As you rightly state you don’t want another sleep association to take its place so will have to “cold turkey” him. This will mean some periods of crying in the beginning as he has to learn to settle himself. Although your baby’s sleep will be affected for a few days it is better to eliminate the dummy from all sleeps.

You do need to eliminate hunger as a possible reason for his not settling well. A baby of six months should be on the way to three solid meals a day, depending on when you weaned him to solids. He should have some cereal or toast for breakfast, some protein such as chicken, beef or lentils at lunchtime and a tea of pasta or mini sandwiches. In addition he needs four full milk feeds a day.

If you are confident that he is not hungry and that the problems are sleep association, then you could use the controlled crying technique. Put him down for his sleep at 6.30pm if you feel he is ready to go then and leave him 10 mins before going in to reassure him by stroking but do not take him out of his cot or speak excessively. Continue with this every 10 mins until he settles to sleep. You have to be committed to the technique and be prepared for several days of crying but it will work if you are consistent and practice it at every nap as well as at night.

If possible take your son out in his stroller during the day when it should be a nap time. He may be able to settle easier with the motion and this will help him catch up on his sleep until he is settling well in the evening and night. Once he is able to do this begin to put him in his cot for daytime naps as well.

Does your baby have a soft toy he seems attracted to? Between six to nine months many babies become attached to a certain toy or item of linen such as a muslin. This “comforter” helps the baby feel secure. If kept in the cot for night and rest times only such an object can help him settle alone. Sometimes a t-shirt worn by yourself and then given to him at bedtime will work. He could be comforted by its smell, which reminds him of you. Small soft toys, especially animals with long ears can work; small blankets with silk edges and muslin squares often end up being a comforter.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

Illness has given all the wrong sleep associations to 5-month-old Daniel

Daniel is five months old and has slept through the core night from about the age of 8 weeks, although he had never really slept much longer than about 1 hour at a time during the day. When I started weaning at 18 weeks, he dropped his 10pm feed and started sleeping right through until about 6.30-7am. By 21 weeks he was having two good solid feeds a day and four bottles (about 28oz total). Around two weeks ago, he had gastroenteritus and lost his appetite completely. He woke up frequently with a dirty nappy in the middle of the night. When this happened I would change him and then offer a bottle, as I knew he hadn’t had much during the day (only about 10oz total and no solids) – sometimes he would take about 2oz and would only go back to sleep with his dummy. When his appetite returned after about five days, he continued to wake in the night looking for a feed and would guzzle 7-8oz easily before going back to sleep. After a few nights of this, I realised he was now waking more from habit as he would not take much in the morning so I began to give him his dummy when he woke. I had always ensured he was well fed during the day. My problem now is that he wakes up at least three times a night screaming and is also difficult to settle at 7pm without his dummy. He used to go straight to sleep after chatting or moaning – now he screams until we go in!

Getting Daniel back to settling alone will need some sleep training. He now associates going to sleep with his dummy, so when he comes into a light sleep at night he looks for it to help him settle.
If you are prepared to “cold turkey” him now, then take his dummy away for all naptimes and at night. Only do this is if you are sure that Daniel is feeding well again by day so there is no possibility that hunger is waking him at night. There is a case study on dummy dependence in The Complete Sleep Guide on page 82 which describes the controlled crying method. As Daniel does not seem to have problems in daytime settling, getting him to settle at night should be possible if you are consistent in handling this method. Make sure that you and your partner are in complete agreement over the amount of crying you may encounter for a few days.
If you feel that Daniel needs a dummy to calm him before sleep, use one whilst he is still awake, but remove it before he falls asleep. He is old enough to find his thumb, should he need to comfort himself.
As Daniel is still under six months, be aware that his Moro reflex could still be waking him at night. Make sure he is securely tucked in with a cotton sheet or cotton cellular blanket over a light-weight sleeping bag, using two rolled towels to wedge down the cot spars to prevent the bedding coming loose.

Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 months – Settling/Sleep Associations

How can I get my 4+ mth son to settle to sleep without using associations?

Before we started the CLB routines, my son was often an over-tired and cranky baby, as, once past the involuntary ‘sleep when tired’ stage, he hardly ever slept during the day. As a small baby, when he was still sleeping in a Moses basket in our room, I used to pop him into his cot bed in the mornings and he would play happily with his soft toys or watch/listen to his mobile while I had a shower. Then, all of a sudden, about the time he outgrew his Moses basket and moved into his cot bed in the nursery, he started to hate going into his cot bed and would scream if put down while awake.

Is there anything I can do to help him enjoy being in his cot bed again: e.g. should I put back the toys which I removed, to help him sleep/on the grounds of safety?
Although he happily falls asleep in his car seat and, provided there is no exciting external stimulus, his pushchair, the only way I can get him to sleep (either at night or for his naps) is by darkening his room, playing a calming CD and shushing and rocking him in my arms while sitting on my exercise ball! I do realise that, by doing this, I have probably created a problem for myself in the future, but I was desperate to help my son sleep and it is the only method that seems to work.

How and when should I start teaching him to fall asleep by himself?

Daytime naps are a particular problem, especially the lunchtime nap, as he really fights against sleep (he is a very alert and active baby and I can’t help thinking that he does not want to miss anything by sleeping). He generally wakes up around 7.30am and has a 45 minute nap at 9am (I have to wake him up). At lunchtime, however, he often wakes after about 75 minutes and then is very difficult to get back to sleep (if I do succeed, it may only be for 10-15 minutes).

He has 5x 8ozs bottles in the day and one in the night. He receives solids at 2.30pm and 6pm feeds taking about 4-5 teaspoons of banana puree, baby rice or gluten free cereal.
Is the anything I can do to encourage my son to sleep for longer at lunchtime?

Begin to use the gradual withdrawal method to get him used to spending time in his cot bed. Place him in there with a few toys and play with him for a few minutes until he is engaging with his toys then move away from him to tidy a drawer or shelf for a minute or two but reassure him you are still there. Do this on a regular basis through the day, not when he is ready for a sleep, gradually lengthening the time he stays there on his own, whilst you move further and further away.
Whilst it is not encouraged to have a lot of toys in the cot, placing one or two familiar ones towards the top end, so there is no danger of them falling on him, may help him feel happier about settling there.

As your son has learnt to associate falling asleep with being rocked and “shushed” it will take some amount of crying whilst he learns how to fall asleep on his own. You will need to be certain in your own mind and explain fully to any others carers he has, what you are planning to do and why. You will need to check with your doctor before beginning any kind of “controlled crying”. Take a look at The Complete Sleep Guide which gives a detailed explanation of this method on p45. Once you have begun this method you will need to implement it at every nap time and sleep in order for it to succeed. It may be best to start at the weekend when you have others around to help you. To begin with, reassure him every 5-10 minutes rather than the longer stretches of time recommended for older babies. Remember that persistency and consistency are the key to cracking this problem.
Once your son has begun to learn how to fall asleep on his own, he should be better able to also settle himself back to sleep at lunchtime when he wakes. This may take a while as he is very used to only sleeping for 75 minutes. Once you get to the stage that you know he is capable of falling asleep alone, you will find it easier to leave him for 15-20 minutes to do so in his lunchtime nap. Look at the article by Gina on the lunchtime nap to check through what could be disturbing him. It would be best to tackle learning to fall asleep first, before trying to get a longer nap. One of the most common reasons for a disturbed nap at this time is hunger or thirst. As your son is not receiving his first solids of the day until 2.30pm this could well be the reason. Move these solids to 11am which will become “lunch” as he increases the amounts he takes. Use the Complete Weaning Guide if you are unsure how to structure his weaning. Offer him a small drink of milk or water before going down to eliminate this reason.
Gina, Frances and the team