After weathering the storm of countless restless nights, you’re now ready to establish a bedtime routine for your little one. In devising the perfect sleep routine for 4, 5, and 6-month-old infants, there are specific things to expect in a baby’s sleep schedule that can guide your approach.
1. How Much Sleep Will Baby Get?
Your infant’s internal clock has developed to the point where it can distinguish between day and night. They should be on their way to establishing a regular sleep schedule.
During this period, infants require an average of 14 hours of sleep every day. At four months, infants can go eight hours without eating at night; by five months, they can sleep 10 to 11 hours without waking. Both 4-month-olds and 5-month-olds will take three-four- to five-hour naps during the day.
At six months, newborns require an average of 11 hours of continuous sleep per night and two to three 3.5-hour naps per day.
2. Convert to the Crib
At this age, infants outgrow their bassinets and transition to a cot, preferably in their own room, where they may sleep undisturbed. But what if you’ve been utilizing a bedside crib or co-sleeper? Kim West, often known as “The Sleep Lady” and author of The Sleep Lady’s Good Night, Sleep Tight, advises, “If you appreciate the idea of co-sleeping, but everyone is constantly exhausted, it may be time for a change.” And don’t feel awful if you ultimately decide that sleeping in one room is not for you. “It is difficult to be a fantastic, responsive, and cheerful parent if you are always trying to keep your eyes open, and continuous fatigue is a risk factor for depression,” adds West.
3. Maintain Consistency
Creating a consistent sleep schedule for 4-month-old, 5-month-old, and 6-month-old infants is essential. Dr. Nadav Traeger, director of pediatric sleep medicine at Maria Fareri Children’s Hospital at Westchester Medical Center, explains, “Once the baby’s internal clock comes in, you’ll see he has a preference for when he wants to go to sleep.” And do you know about the “witching hour” that so many new mothers speak of? It typically occurs in the evening, and its major cause is fatigue. Therefore, if your infant becomes irritable at 6 p.m., you should begin preparing them for bed at 5:30 p.m., so that they are already asleep before the fussiness begins.
4. Recognizing Sleep Signals
Your infant will exhibit very obvious indicators that they are ready for sleep. Marc Weissbluth, M.D., a pediatrician and author of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, frequently advises parents to become sensitive to their child’s individual sleep signals. “This indicates that you should record the magical moment when the child is exhausted, ready for bed, and falls asleep quickly. The magical moment is characterized by a tiny hush, a slight looking off, and a trace of serenity.” Additionally, they may yawn, rub their eyes, and lose interest in other people or objects. The trick is to put Baby to bed before their weeping, fussing, or tantrums.
5. Consider Naps
According to West, the 30-minute power nap is no longer sufficient. “At this point, napping is all about duration and consistency,” she explains. “Parents struggle with nap training. Like adults, infants have difficulty sleeping when it is not dark. In addition, infants are not yet adept at assisting themselves in transitioning from an active to a resting state. They resist sleep because they would rather play, explore, and spend time with you.”
However, if a baby does not nap appropriately during the day, they will get overtired and overstimulated, making it more difficult to get them to sleep at night. Ideally, 4- and 5-month-old infants should nap twice daily for 90 minutes or longer (the third nap can be shorter). Six-month-olds should snooze for 1.5 to 2 hours twice per day (the third, shorter nap is now optional). West also suggests that infants snooze in their cribs, not in the car seat, stroller, or swing.
6. Commence Sleep Training
Most people awaken multiple times per night. Adults can just turn over and go back to sleep, while infants expect assistance to fall back asleep. However, your infant must learn to self-soothe, and sleep training approaches can assist with this. Choose any approach you prefer, whether it be the cry-it-out method, the Ferber method, or the fading way (learn about the different options here). Dr. Traeger advises, “Think about your baby’s temperament and what she can manage.” Still not sure? Consult your pediatrician, who has received patient input and may even have experience with their own children!
7. Eliminate nocturnal feedings
If you haven’t already, eliminate nighttime feedings from your baby’s sleep pattern. “You must prioritize addressing the baby’s nutritional demands during the day so that he does not eat at night,” adds West. Either he should sleep through the night or he should eat only once at night. West suggests more frequent feedings in the late afternoon or early evening to achieve this objective. “This may help soothe him, improve his nighttime sleep, and comfort you that he is getting enough nourishment at night,” she explains.
8. Conquer Isolation Anxiety
Around six months, separation anxiety reaches its initial peak and worsens when Baby is overtired. To be near you, your child may resist naps and bedtime and wake up multiple times during the night. Helping your youngster self-soothe will assist in resolving this sleep issue. “A ‘lovey,’ which is a special stuffed animal or blanket that is sometimes referred to as a transitional object, can be a beneficial aid for easing separation anxiety and weakening other sleep-disrupting nocturnal routines,” adds West.
Meaningful articles you might like: 10 Common Sleeping Errors That Parents Make, How to Handle Sleep Regressions in Toddlers, How to Monitor Your Child’s Meals, Diapers, and Sleep