Baby & Child Sleep Specialist Q&A

by Jennie on November 17, 2015

You all met Kate, our sleep specialist, and we asked you to send in your sleep questions for her. We all want and need more sleep as a mom so you asked and Kate answered! For additional information on your sleep needs and questions you can visit Kate’s website

Baby Sleep

Question: My son, a couple weeks after he turned 6 months, started waking 3-4 times a night! It then went back to 2 times a night, now 1-2 times. Recently though, since he’s hit 7 months and started to pull himself up, his naps suck! 30-45 minutes tops! Unless I go into his room and cuddle him and then he falls asleep for longer. I’ve heard that babies of 7 months old can go through the 9 month regression? Depending on how fast they develop? We are into our 4th week so sleep troubles, which have changed from night struggles to day sleep struggles. I’ve heard regressions can last 6 weeks? Does this sound like normal regression behaviour? Thanks.

Answer: Regressions seem to pop up constantly throughout the first year of life making for A LOT of sleep troubles.  Some babies are more sensitive to each and every growth spurt and milestone so their sleep may be disturbed for up to several weeks.  The most important thing for us to remember is parents is to respond consistently through out these regressions. 

It is very typical for a 7 month old to still only be napping for 30-45 minutes, this is a sleep cycle and when they are not able to soothe themselves back to sleep yet, they wake up looking to us for help.  If you are cuddling him to get him back to sleep, he will expect this and need this every time he wakes up.  He is at a good age to allow him some space to learn how to self soothe.  You can offer him some support by sitting next to his crib, using calming words, and an occasional pat on the back.  Just make sure you don’t get stuck sitting next to his crib or he will always expect that.  The idea is to allow him the opportunity to figure it out for himself, but without completely abandoning him.

Question: She was doing 2 short naps and we probably should’ve begun to transition her to 1 nap but then all of a sudden *boom* crying for each nap. 1st nap took 45 mins to settle when the DAY before it was 5 mins. 2nd nap never happened. Now I’m going on 4 days of her only napping for 30 mins a day! I think she’s also cutting 2 molars to I’m not sure if it’s just that or what! This morning was an early morning and we were previously already putting her to bed early to compensate for the short naps, but at least there was 2! I’m having a hard time finding any other information out there about nap regressions. Can you point me to any other resources on this particular subject?

Answer: Nap transitions can be a very trying time on everyone because even children who are ready (at least 15 months of age to switch from 2 naps to 1) can take several weeks to adjust, so you may be dealing with a cranky toddler.

Depending on the age of your little one, it may be time to switch to one nap. There are several ways to do this. You can either go immediately to one nap, making sure to keep morning activites (for a at least several days) stimulating and distracting. Go outside if you can or have a play date. Have an early lunch and then go down for nap around 12:30 eventually pushing back to 1pm depending on how difficult it is to stretch out the morning. You can also go gradually starting to put her down later and later until you reach the goal of 1 pm.

Most children will typically start fighting the afternoon nap when they are ready to transition, not the morning nap. While you are going through the transition, it is ok to go a couple days with one nap and then do a catch up day of 2 naps if she seems to need it. It takes time though! Good luck!

Question: My daughter is 18 months now. I am 99% sure we are going through the 18 month sleep regression, except it’s not how she described it. How she’s acting is what is described in the 24 month regression. She is screaming for 1+ hours in the middle of the night when she wakes up, she wants to play at2am. Last night it was 2am-3:30am and then she slept soundly until 8am. Tonight she woke up at 4am and I broke down and got her at 6am. I am at my wits end already. She will not take naps, and has been refusing to for over a month now. I am a full time student in two different schools. I do not have the time or patience for all this. I need my sleep.

Answer: It doesn’t matter what age or which regression, they are ALL difficult and seem to last forever. But as you know, this too shall pass. At this age, some night time shenanigans and wanting to play has a lot to do with language development. There’s so much learning going on in their little brains that they want to share it with you! It’s important to keep interaction to a bare minimum in the middle of the night and let her know it’s time to sleep. You can stay in the room if you feel that’s helpful, but do not let her into your bed or rock her back to sleep unless that’s something you want to do every time she wakes up. In terms of the naps, continue to put her down as you normally would every day. If she doesn’t fall asleep after an hour, get her up and have an early bed time. She will eventually start to nap again after she’s mastered the language she wants to practice. J Hope this helps!

Question: I have a thirteen month old who used to sleep from 8pm till midnight before waking and crying. Now he sleeps less than an hour. On a “good night” he’ll sleep 1 1/2 hours to 2 hours.  He falls asleep with me holding him in the glider while drinking some milk around 8pm. I then put him in the crib, then he wakes anywhere from 9-10pm. I usually put him back in the crib a few more times, then around 2am I’m so danged tired I just carry him off to bed with me. I HATE the cry it out method, I’m very against it, but sometimes I think about doing it even though its against every fiber of my being. 
HELP!

Answer: If it helps at all, what you are going through is very common. What used to work to get them to sleep (rocking, nursing etc) stops working and you are saying to yourself “now what?” The important thing to note is that your son has not been given an opportunity to fall asleep on his own, so he’s waking after every sleep cycle looking for and needing your help. When I’m working with a client, we always start with bedtime. Give them an opportunity to stretch those self soothing muscles with your presence and support. This is different from CIO which means you leave them to figure it out on their own. There will definitely be some protests and crying, but you are there in the room showing them that it’s ok. Without giving them an opportunity to learn how to fall asleep on their own, in their bed, they will never learn and will always need you to hold them and feed them. You can still snuggle and feed, but you want to be sure to put them into their crib drowsy but awake.

For the middle of the night wakenings, you want to be sure you are responding consistently. If you don’t want him in your bed, you can’t have him in your bed say only after 2 am. They can’t tell time.

I never recommend a client do anything they don’t feel 100% comfortable with because they will never follow through and that is the most important thing needed for success in sleep training. If CIO is not for you, don’t even attempt it because it won’t work and it will only make things worse. There are lots of ways to support your child through sleep training that I customize to suit every families needs.

Question: My son is 2.5 years old and has always been put down to sleep awake and has been amazing. Suddenly in the last 4 nights he is screaming that he doesn’t want to go to bed before we even enter his room. We have dropped his day sleep so he is tired, he has a great night routine but the screaming cries are unbearable. He literally fights us when putting him down and is running to the door before we have even left. 
I have now resorted to lying on the floor while he goes to sleep, which doesn’t take too long at bedtime but he is also waking at night, normally between 12-2 and the exact same thing happens.and I end up lying in his floor till he sleeps which at that time is anywhere from 1-3 hours. 

Help!!! What else can I do???

Answer: Poor baby and mama! It’s always difficult to answer these questions too accurately because I don’t have all the information. But hopefully some of what I say will be helpful. 2 ½ is quite young to give up the nap. Even a short, 45 minute nap can be helpful. It sounds like since he is over tired, that cortisol has started kicking in before bed time even approaches which is what’s causing the fight. No well slept child should fight bedtime. It should be a welcome time that they are happy has arrived. With this in mind, adjust his schedule to make sure he’s getting the right amount of sleep and bedtime should become easier. The middle of the night wake ups are a sign of sleep deprivation as well, so giving him back even a cat nap should help.

Toddlers this age are master manipulators as you know, so even if you are laying in his room one time, they will catch on and fight it out until you find yourself doing it every single night. When he wakes in the night, do your best to be consistent explaining to him that night time is for sleeping. It’s a hard fight for us to have in the middle of the night, but if you can get that bedtime back on track, the fight should be much easier. Good luck!

Question: I came upon your website regarding sleep regressions while searching endlessly to see what’s going on with my 12.5 month old. I’m hoping you can help me on how to deal with it. 
It seems like she’s going through the 12/13 month sleep regression. In the article it mentions to just let the baby “rest” if they aren’t crying during their nap time, but what do you do if she is crying and still resisting to nap even though is clearly tired? These days, the only way that she’ll take a nap is in the carseat or the stroller. I don’t want to create that habit, but also feel that a nap is very critical for her and us! It doesn’t seem to matter how long she’s been up, as soon as I try and put her down for her nap, she cries. I do try and soothe her and she doesn’t want that. If I leave her in her crib, she will cry for long periods of time but will not settle. I’m pretty sure there is nothing else that’s bothering her. 

This has been going on for about 2 weeks now…please help!! 

Answer: Sleep regressions are the worst, mostly because you fear that they will never end. But rest assured, they will. The important thing to remember is to be consistent. Once you starting “trying” new things, it becomes a very slippery slope and bad habits can arise very quickly. It is important that your daughter gets her naps, but you want to be very weary of allowing her to become dependent on the car seat or stroller. For a baby her age, she should be getting two naps a day for a combination of (on average) 3 hours of sleep and an average of 12 hours at night. If she is tired but resisting the nap, she may not be getting enough sleep. If it is truly a regression, just be sure to put her down at the same times every day. If she doesn’t fall asleep for the first nap, make that second nap a little earlier. If she doesn’t fall asleep for the second nap, make bedtime earlier.   Regressions can last for several weeks unfortunately, but the more consistent you are, the faster they tend to pass. Hope this helps!

-Kate

kate@babymineconsultants.com

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Kayla Walker June 21, 2016 at 7:07 am

Me to have a baby of 10 months and she is also facing the sleep regressions. At first i was too worried but after know about it from out family doctor and from here i am now little bit worry free. Though i get worried sometimes. Also the above Q&A will help a lot as almost all of my concerns are already asked.

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