5 months old
The Sleep Basics
- At 5 months, your baby might be starting to sleep less during the day and more at night.
- Although your baby might be gearing up to transition from three naps to two in a month or so, he or she is probably still taking three naps. Some babies take one longer nap in the morning and then two shorter ones, while others take three naps of an hour a piece. (Note: Once your baby drops down to two naps, expect each nap to be about two hours long.)
- Your baby should be sleeping about 14 or 15 hours total, with 11 of those hours being during the night. Keep in mind, however, that some babies need less sleep than others. If he or she seems happy and content on 13 hours of sleep a day, then that’s probably all that’s needed.
- If your baby isn’t on a consistent schedule, expect him or her to need a nap after about 2 or 2.5 hours of being awake.
Still Not Sleeping Through the Night?
- At 5 months, your baby is capable of meeting all of his nutritional needs during the day, making nighttime feedings unnecessary. Unless your baby has an underlying health concern or was born prematurely, he or she is probably only waking for comfort or because her body is accustomed to night feedings.
- In fact, if your baby is still waking two or more times in the middle of the night and isn’t able to fall back asleep without some assistance, it might be a good time to look into some form of sleep training.
- There are several sleep training philosophies: the laid-back and intuitive baby-led method, the strict and focused parent-led schedule, and a combination of the two.
- All babies wake throughout the night – even us adults do – but your baby might need to learn self-soothing techniques in order to fall back to sleep. We know you want to comfort your little one, but the longer you rock or nurse him to sleep, the harder it will be for him to fall asleep on his own.
- Before sleep training, there are other measures you can take to steer your baby into a more beneficial routine:
- Establish a bedtime routine, if you haven’t already. Experts agree that the consistency before bed (such as bath, baby massage, story and feeding) helps indicate that sleep time is near.
- Make sure that there aren’t any medical reasons as to why your baby keeps waking through the night, even something like a cold or teething.
- Feed your baby more throughout the day to make sure his or her calorie requirements are being met.
- When your baby starts to whimper in the middle of the night, wait it out for a minute or two. Instead of rushing to comfort your baby, wait and see if he or she falls back to sleep without you.
- Although most people interpret sleep training to mean letting a baby cry and cry until he or she passes out, there are actually quite a few approaches you can take – none of which include the scenario just described:
- The “cry it out” method – most notably associated with Dr. Richard Ferber – consists of putting your baby down to sleep drowsy but awake, and then checking in at scheduled intervals to assure him or her that everything is fine.
- The “no tears” method is a slower, more gradual approach that focuses on creating positive sleep associations by rocking, nursing and singing them to sleep. While it’s a more intuitive method, it will also take much longer to accomplish the self-soothing goal.
- While you’re thinking about sleep training at night, keep in mind that those same practices can be carried over to nap time.
- If you’re breastfeeding and are concerned that going a full 11 hours without feeding will decrease your supply, you can either pump or ‘dream feed’ your baby by picking her up and feeding her (without waking) before you go to sleep.
- If your baby is having trouble napping, try putting up room-darkening shades or blankets.
- Whichever sleep training methods you choose, the most important thing is to be consistent. Changing up your tactics – sometimes picking her up and sometimes letting her cry – will only confuse her and set back her progress.
If your baby is sleeping through the night, there may be one tiny problem you may have overlooked: He or she is waking at the crack of dawn, ready for the day. Back when your baby was waking up at 1 a.m., at least you knew that you’d get a few more hours of sleep. But getting up for the day at 5 a.m. might feel even more exhausting. Realistically, you’ll have to accept the fact that your baby probably won’t be sleeping until 8 or 9 a.m., but there are certain things you can do to push back that wake up call a bit:
- Put up room darkening shades to keep those early sunrays out of the room.
- Try adjusting your baby’s bed time. Babies do best with a bedtime between 7 and 8 p.m. Surprisingly, putting your baby down on the early side will sometimes help her sleep longer.
- You might also have to adjust your baby’s daytime routine as well in order to push back your baby’s bedtime. The easiest way to do this is to try and postpone your baby’s first nap by 15 minutes each day, which will hopefully help shift his or her routine forward.
- If you live on a busy road, consider buying a sound machine to block out the sounds of the early morning hustle.
- This might be a tricky one, but make sure your baby isn’t sleeping too much during the day. By 5 months, most babies are still taking three naps a day, but only for about an hour each. If your baby is sleeping five hours during the day, he or she simply might not be tired enough for a full night’s sleep. However, be careful not to deprive your baby of needed daytime sleep because he or she will actually sleep less at night if overtired.
- Some parents like to put up a soft baby mirror or other crib toys so babies can keep themselves occupied while parents catch a little extra sleep.
- When you hear your baby start to stir, don’t rush to the crib immediately. There’s a chance your baby might actually go back to sleep.
- Take into consideration that your baby just might be an early riser, which you’ll unfortunately have to work with.
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