Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
7
Early Bedtimes
December 28, 2020

Found in age groups

Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
A Step-by-Step Program for a Good Night's Sleep

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Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child

5th Edition: 
Chapter 1 (only 16 pages!) outlines everything you need to know about your child's sleep.

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Introduction

A Healthy Child Needs a Healthy Brain, A Healthy Brain Needs Healthy Sleep

Sleep is serious business. If you have not already done so, please read Blog Posts 1 through 5 that describe how sleep is important and beneficial, from the point of view of the United States of America Department of the Army. A major point, emphasized by the Army, is that more sleep produces more benefits for Soldiers. Also, more sleep produces more benefits for children. Even small amounts of extra sleep help Blog Post 6. At every age!

Another point made by the Army Blog Post 5 is that “Soldiers [Children] best accomplish sleep extension [more sleep] by going to bed earlier.” The Army is clear about who is in charge: “Planning for sleep is a leader [Parent] competency”.

Blog 7Early Bedtimes

EARLY BEDTIMES PROMOTE HEALTHY SLEEP

EARLY BEDTIMES PREVENT SLEEP PROBLEMS

An early bedtime may prevent sleep problems from developing in the first place. A slightly earlier bedtime alone might completely or partially solve a sleep problem. An early or an earlier bedtime, even just a slightly earlier bedtime, might produce:

  • Longer night sleep durations.
  • More deep, restorative sleep that occurs mainly earlier in the evening.
  • Falling asleep faster after being put down (shorter sleep latency).
  • More sleep consolidation.
  • Fewer and briefer night awakenings requiring parental soothing back to sleep.
  • Fewer and briefer silent awake times occurring after sleep onset.
  • Better quality and/or longer daytime sleep (naps).

In short, your child may fall asleep and stay asleep better when the bedtime is early. This is because a bedtime that is too late causes increased brain arousal that interferes with easily falling asleep and staying asleep. This results in a shorter duration of sleep and less consolidated (or more fragmented) sleep. 

An important point for babies and young children is that, when the bedtime is too late, although night sleep may be shortened, and naps may be longer, often, the total (24-hour sleep time) is less. Long naps do not fully compensate for short night sleep. Further, when the bedtime is too late, even when total sleep is normal due to very long naps, the child suffers adverse consequences because the short night sleep alone harms the brain. Again, long naps do not fully compensate for short night sleep.

EVEN A SLIGHTLY EARLIER BEDTIME MAY PRODUCE BETTER SLEEP

A SLIGHTLY EARLIER BEDTIME MAY SOLVE A SLEEP PROBLEM

If your child has a sleep problem, moving the bedtime just a little earlier, perhaps 10 to 20 minutes earlier, may produce a small amount of extra sleep that, in turn, solves the sleep problem, because a small amount of extra sleep makes a big impact Blog Post 6.

SIX WEEKS OF AGE

At about 6 weeks of age, counting from the due date, not the birth date, three predictable changes occur because of brain maturation:

  • Your baby makes specific social smiles in response to your smile.
  • The longest single sleep period regularly occurs in the evening or night.
  • Your baby’s brain wants to go to sleep at an earlier time in the evening.

The failure to move your baby’s sleep schedule earlier will cause a cumulative sleep debt to occur that will eventually produce bedtime resistance and night wakings.

Comments

  1. Hi Dr Weissbluth,

    My 5 month old child has problems sleeping at bedtime. We have tried bedtimes between 6pm-8pm after a warm bath and an evening formula feed. Most of the time he falls asleep within 30 mins of his meal, but then he ALWAYS wakes up crying after 30 mins, no matter what time we try to get him to bed! Within an hour of this crying he is easily soothed to sleep (10-15mins) but wakes up within 10-15 mins again. This continues for an hour or so, after which he seems no longer sleepy and just lies awake in bed, playing by himself. Most nights he only manages to fall asleep around 9-10.30pm. We have tried soothing him many times but it does not help him sleep earlier. This also seems to lead to his long night waking (1.5 hrs of awake time!) after his 2am/ 3am feed. Help! What should we do?

  2. Because his bedtime is too late, he is at a higher level of neurological arousal that causes him to have difficulty falling asleep and staying asleep at night. Either use his drowsy signs (Blog Post 9) to determine an earlier bedtime or just move the bedtime to 5:30-6:30pm for just a few nights. Then, evaluate naps and bedtime routines. He might nap better and after a few days you can move the bedtime later to maybe 6:30-7:00pm, but 8pm is too late. Please report back and describe how it goes.

  3. Hi Dr Weissbluth,

    Thanks for the prompt advice!
    We have tried an earlier bedtime between 5.30-6.30pm for a week. He still woke up exactly 30 mins from when he fell asleep. There was a slight improvement where for 2 days of that week, he was able to go back to sleep after 30 mins of soothing (but woke up twice in between needing soothing before going down for the night around 9pm). For the rest of the week, he treated the 5.30-6.30pm bedtime as a 30 min nap, waking up fully for 2 hours after, before he goes down for the night at around 9pm.
    His wake/sleep times are: 7.30am wake-up, naps 9am-10.30am, 12nn-1pm, 3-4pm, 6.30pm-7pm (attempted bedtime), actual bedtime around 9pm. In the night he used to be able to sleep 5-6 hours and wake up just once around 4am for a feed, but in the last 3 weeks has been waking up twice in the night at 2am / 5am for feeds. We started him on solids as he turned 6 months last week but it doesn’t seem to change anything… Help! 🙁

    1. If the ‘slight improvement’ was a novel event, be optimistic that you are on the right track. At 6 months of age, 84% of children are taking 2 naps a day and 16% are taking 3 naps a day. Please continue the plan but additionally, eliminate the 3rd nap (perhaps start on a weekend when you have extra help to get through a rough patch in the late afternoon). Read Blog Posts 19 and 24-27 to think about possible ways to help him sleep better.

  4. Dr. Weissbluth, My son is five months old. We began sleep training using your method about three weeks ago. He is doing very well going down by himself at night. He stays asleep for about three hours and then weeks for a feeding. After that, he is waking about every hour and a half to two hours. I know he does not need to be fed that frequently, but he cries for about 45 minutes each time that I do not go in and breast-feed him. Please help!

    Thank you so much for your wonderful book!

    1. The Sleep Solutions chapter in my book is long because there are many age-specific and family-specific variables to consider when creating a successful sleep solution for a particular family. For your child’s age, the general principles underlying a successful sleep solution is to focus on early bedtimes (Blog Post 7) based on drowsy signs (Blog Post 9), and naps (Blog Posts 53-56). Try to be flexible (Blog Post 14) and optimistic (Blog Post 66).

  5. Hi,

    My baby is almost 6 weeks old, and I want to create a “bedtime” for him so that he hopefully starts sleeping longer stretches. I’m not really sure how to being that he doesn’t have so much awake time and I’m having a hard time keeping him up in order to nurse him right before he is ready for an early bedtime. I’m not sure if this makes sense, but I can’t seem to create a different situation for an actual bed time to occur for night.

    1. This might help organize your thoughts:
      A. Healthy Sleep includes soothing, timing, and ‘many hands’.
      1. Encourage sucking (nutritive or non-nutritive sucking) when soothing to sleep.
      2. Begin soothing to sleep when drowsy signs (Blog Post 9) appear.
      a. Get Dad or others to help with soothing to sleep (Blog Posts 17 and 18).
      B. More calories do not make your child sleep longer.
      1. If your child is hungry, then feed your child.
      2. If your child is drowsy, then soothe your child to sleep.
      3. Feeding and soothing may, or may not, occur at the same time.

  6. Thank you for responding, Dr. Weissbluth! I’m going to try to keep those points in mind and see if it helps my baby sleep longer.

  7. We’ve been putting our 8 month old down between 5 and 6 based on drowsy signs for about a week now and she still takes a long time to fall asleep. She could be falling asleep in my arms but still start to scream and stay awake for a minimum of a half hour after I put her down. She won’t usually fall asleep before 6:30 no matter when we put her down.

    1. Please describe a typical nap pattern, a typical overnight sleep pattern (awakenings for feedings and awakenings for only soothing), and the usual wake-up time in the morning.
      Please describe in detail her mood and behavior around 4PM.

  8. Hi,

    I have a few issues that I’m not sure how to handle. My baby is now about 2 months old. (1) I’ve been doing an early bedtime for weeks already, but he still won’t really sleep long stretches at night. I have a bedtime routine, and I put him in somewhere in the 6s. He usually doesn’t fall asleep until somewhere in the 7s. He’ll only sleep for around 3 hours for that first stretch. A couple times he has done a 4 hour stretch, but that is not the norm, and it is very exhausting that he is not doing any type of long stretch. And after that first stretch, he sometimes isn’t even sleeping for more than 2 hours straight. (2) Additionally, once it reaches around 4 am, he doesn’t seem to be fully sleeping and fusses around for hours. (3) Another issue is that during the day, for his naps, he often wakes up after 20 min, or sometimes more, and I have to put him back to sleep (usually with a pacifier but it can take time). He doesn’t generally stay sleeping for even an hour straight. I generally put him down before he gets overtired, and he thank Gd can self soothe and fall asleep on his own (with or without a pacifier). So I’m not sure what the problem is.

    Any advice would be much appreciated. Thank you!

    1. What was your child’s gestational age at birth?
      How does he behave and look around 4-5pm?
      About how long is the bedtime routine?
      What’s the most common time you are leaving him at night after the bedtime routine?

  9. He was born at 40 weeks + 4 days.

    Usually around 4-5 pm (and later) he’s a little fussier and won’t nap as well, although sometimes he does nap.

    The bedtime routine is short. I change him, talk to him quietly, say a prayer with him, and sing a bedtime song.

    Do you mean how long do I leave him after the bedtime routine? I usually have to keep going in to put his pacifier in and stroke his cheek for at least a half hour if not more until he falls asleep. I sometimes pick him up again for a minute and just rock him (but not until he’s sleeping. Just for a minute to calm him)

    1. Early bedtimes emerge (around 6 weeks) before naps begin to get organized (around 3-4months). So, for now, because he is “a little fussier” around 4-5pm, I suggest a trial of 3-5 days with a bedtime that is 20 minutes earlier. Over time, this should improve night sleep (first) and naps (second) at which point the bedtime might become a little later. Also, to enhance self-soothing skills, try to either give less attention after the bedtime routine or have someone else do the curtain calls or both. What are your thoughts?
      Sweet Dreams, DrW.

  10. Thank you so much for all your advice! I will definitely try that and see if it helps, including giving less attention after the bedtime routine. I have referred to your book for all my kids and really appreciate your approach.

    Thanks again!

  11. Hi again Dr. Weissbluth,

    My now 2 1/2 month old (11 weeks) still does not seem to be picking up on longer night stretches, despite my attempt to do an early bed time (even earlier than I was before, like you suggested). He keeps waking up after just 3 hours of sleeping, sometimes even less, sometimes a little more. He only once recently went 7 hours without eating – so I know he could do it – but that was with me putting the pacifier in 1-2 times instead of nursing. He didn’t seem to be waking up to nurse because he went right back to sleep with the pacifier. I try doing that other times too, but even after 3 hours he sometimes just continues to fuss/cry a bit until I nurse him.

    I’m trying to set him up for success to be a good sleeper so that hopefully he can get into a good routine and maybe I won’t have to let him cry it out to train him.

    I’m so tired though being that I also have 2 other kids to care for (and a very helpful husband thank Gd, but neither of us can do everything).

    Any advice and help would be much appreciated! Is my child just defying the rules and being stubborn :)?

  12. He nurses 3 times a night usually, which basically ends up being every 3 hours and sometimes less. And he usually gets up 1 or 2 other times and either needs a diaper change or just fusses a bit and I put the pacifier in and he’ll go back to sleep (that often happens in the early am, around 5).

    1. Here are some possibilities to consider; they are not mutually exclusive. Most children this age need 1-2 feedings at night: One in the middle of the night and one in the early morning.
      1. With 3 children keeping you busy, perhaps your breast milk supply is low and he is awakening at night because he is hungry. Here are some ways to make that determination.
      a. Watch the suck-swallow patter: If he is truly hungry, the general pattern is suck-swallow, suck-swallow, suck-swallow, etc. If not truly hungry, it is more like suck, suck, suck-swallow; suck, suck suck-swallow; etc.
      b. Offer a test bottle once (perhaps have Dad do it) to see how much and how quickly he swallows.
      c. If you are expressing breast milk, perhaps there has been a recent decline in the volume pumped.
      d. Ask yourself, have you become more thirsty recently?
      e. Has his recent weight gain been appropriate?
      If you determine that he might be hungry, consider drinking much more fluid during the day or talking to a lactation consultant or your pediatrician.
      2. The night waking might be a developing habit. If so, a 3-4 night trial of a sleep solution (‘No cry’ or ‘Let cry’) might be considered with only 1-2 feedings at night.
      3. With 3 children, perhaps your baby has not had the needed nap opportunities that are age-appropriate. If so, he is then way over-tired at the end of the day and has difficulty settling.

      Please share your thought with me.
      Sweet dreams,
      Marc

  13. Hi Dr. Weissbluth,

    Our daughter just turned 5 months old. We were committed to your strategies with our first child with great success. He was self settling from 3 weeks old and required minimal efforts when learning to sleep through the night. He’s testing the waters again now with many curtains calls (which we respond to with a silent return to bed) and early wake ups (5:15-6:00) where he is super emotional for the first hour of his day and sometimes longer. He goes to daycare 5 days a week and fights nap but always at least rests. His bed time is between 6:00 and 7:00 pm depending on how his day has been and how he is acting. Yesterday he probably needed to be in bed at 5pm but I was struggling to get dinner on the table and had a grandparent drop by for an unannounced visit just before our typical dinner time at 5:00.

    All that, and I’m actually here to ask about my 5 month old.

    She self settles well and has done so since she was about two months. She typically naps from 8:30 or 9:00 until 10:00 or 10:30, 11:30/12:00 until 2:00 (I have to wake her by 2:00 to go pick her brother up from daycare), and 4:00-5:00 – this nap is the one I struggle with the most as we are often on the go at this time trying to stay out of the house as my husband works from home, but when she does get this nap it’s an hour long at least. Bedtime is about 6:30 or 7:00. She goes down for most sleeps with little fuss and can connect sleep cycles during the day with typically no fussing. Her night sleep is a whole other story. She wakes every two hours and screams her head off until she is fed. I have to say, I am terrible at settling her any other way. She screams until I cave and she’s at the breast. The only time it doesn’t end with me feeding her is if I put headphones in and crank up white noise for myself. She is a healthy weight and I have been told by our pediatrician that it’s time to start dropping some of those night feeds (no joke!) but I just can’t seem to get over the hurdle. She will scream for over an hour at each waking. If she does return to sleep, she’s awake again within an hour. I’m utterly exhausted. Between her being up all night, and her brothers frequent curtain calls and night visits I hardly sleep. She can’t be truly hungry can she? Is it just a habit at this stage? Why can she self settle during the day and not at night? Is it the rocky 3rd nap?

    Any guidance would be much appreciated!
    Abigail

    1. Let me first say that my advice might not comport with your values and lifestyle, therefore ignore that which is unacceptable to you. Secondly, I apologize for having to be concise and blunt in this format. Additionally, you are currently very sleep deprived so I deliberately want to keep this simple.

      Because your older child is not napping well at day care, his current bedtime is too late, and this is causing his night awakenings. Simultaneously, attempt to move his bedtime earlier and implement a ‘let cry’ sleep solution. If both are doable, you will see improvement in 1-2 nights. Also, be strict about sleep on weekends to help compensate for not napping well in daycare.

      Because you have to wake your baby from the second nap, the best strategy is to skip the third nap and strive for a much earlier bedtime. Feed her only 1-2 times overnight and implement a ‘no-cry’ or ‘let cry’ sleep solution.

      The ultimate success or failure to help your children sleep well depends on your husband’s help. Have him read the relevant sections in my book, especially the role of the father. Blog Posts 17,18, and 23 might help. You cannot do this alone.

      Please share your thoughts with me.
      Sweet Dreams. DrW.

  14. Thanks so much for such a prompt reply. We will implement your suggestions and report back. Fingers crossed we see some improvement. I have two questions. My firs question is related to dropping the third nap. I worry her wake time will be quite long. How early are you suggesting for bedtime? Second question is related to the night feeds. When you say 1-2 feeds is that from when I initially put her down for the night?

    Thank you again,
    Abigail

    1. As your daughter begins to show drowsy signs, then begin to soothe her to sleep. Or as soon as you can thereafter.
      Children her age are usually fed in the middle of the night and early in the morning (twice) or just once in the middle of the night.

  15. Thank you for all those pointers and thoughts. Regarding the “no cry” sleep solution: Is that what I was doing with just putting the pacifier in instead of nursing when he wakes up around 9/10 oclock? Then I skip that feeding and he goes longer. Would he eventually just stop waking up at that earlier time in theory, and then hopefully only wake up 1-2 times a night? Based on what I read in the book, I would just keep trying to soothe him back to sleep without nursing him if I use that solution?

    And what about for “Let cry” – can I do that with delaying the time when I go in and console him? At what intervals should I delay? Do you have other advice about that aside from just letting him cry without checking and consoling at all (I’m not sure I’m ready to do that just yet)

    Can I try one of those sleep solutions for a few nights and then switch it to a different one if it doesn’t work? (Assuming the baby isn’t hungry). Thanks!

    1. Blog Post 19 summarizes ‘No Cry’ sleep solutions and Blog Post 25 summarizes ‘Let’Cry’ sleep solutions. Many parents start with a ‘No Cry’ sleep solution and see partial improvement and later switch to a ‘No Cry’ sleep solution and see more complete improvement. Blog Post 26 compares these different approaches.

      With 3 children, another factor to consider is ‘teamwork’: Please review Blog Poss 17, 18, and 23. Perhaps your husband’s contributions is more important than you have considered.
      Please tell me what you have decided and how it is, or is not, working.
      Sweet Dreams,
      DrW.

  16. Hi Dr. Weissbluth. Im trying check and console for now because I don’t think I am ready to just let him cry. Some nights I can go in and put the pacifier back in between 9-10 when he wakes up and he goes right back to sleep for another 2 hours or so. So I don’t think he is waking up to nurse really. But other nights, I try the pacifier and it doesn’t work. Then I try to hold him and he goes back to sleep basically right away, but he wakes up when I put him down. So on those nights after trying that for a little, I end up just nursing him. I read in your blog that this is still part of check and console being that I’m trying as little interaction as possible (with just putting the pacifier) and if not, I hold him. And if that doesn’t work, I nurse.

    Should I just keep trying this for a bit longer and see if it gradually improves a bit more?

    He can fall asleep on his own without being rocked and even without a pacifier sometimes. But he can’t seem to implement those self-soothing techniques when he wakes up at that 930 pm wake up when I don’t think he needs to nurse (although he does usually go to sleep on his own after nursing as well).

    For naps, he still wakes up after about a half hour/45 minutes and needs to be put back to sleep – and sometimes, he won’t even go back to sleep even though I can see he’s tired. He’s just 3 months tomorrow, so I know that naps can take another month to be more consistent possibly, but he just never sleeps for an hour or more straight. I’m not sure how to improve that as well.

    I have had my husband go in a couple times at that 930 wake up to try to put him back to sleep instead of me, but so far, it hasn’t worked. I can keep trying.

  17. It’s really different everyday – I’m not sure there is any consistency yet. Today, it ended around 4:15 I think and he ended up not falling asleep and napping again after that. I put him to sleep before 6:15. He went to sleep very easily and didn’t cry at all – I didn’t even go in once to put the pacifier in or anything. He was very calm around 5-5:30 today. But other days, his last nap is earlier and even though I try to have him nap again so that he doesn’t get overtired, he doesn’t always. And then he won’t be calm at 5/5:30…

    1. 1. Your son has self-soothing skills: “He can fall asleep on his own without being rocked and even without a pacifier sometimes.” Congratulations! Because of his age, naps are highly variable in duration and length. I would not attempt to start a new nap after around 4:00pm in order to protect an early bedtime, even if he appears like he might want a nap. Please review Blog Posts 9 and 83 regarding Drowsy Signs and think of a bedtime that is temporarily super-early (around 5-6pm). the bedtime will vary because the naps vary. Try to determine the bedtime based on drowsy signs. Over time, the naps will get longer and he will comfortably have a latter bedtime.
      2. Be consistent at times of curtain calls at bedtime and throughout the night: For check and console, respond promptly to crying (perhaps delay your response to low-level fussy sounds), soothe him but do not pick him up and do not feed him unless it is for a feeding.. Continue to have Dad do this, as much as possible.ant
      3. You decide when you want to feed him (once or twice) overnight.
      Please share with me your thoughts on this plan.
      Sweet Dreams,
      DrW.

  18. Thank you so much for all your responses!

    I can try this. But what if during a check and console time, he does not settle without being picked up and/or fed? How long should my husband try/should I try? What if he just continues to cry?

    He also will wake up sometimes at 530 even after he was just awake at 430. And he is definitely still tired. I assume it is all connected to his sleep patterns and that it will hopefully improve as his night sleep improves…

    1. For check and console, respond promptly to crying. If soothing without picking him up fails, then pick him up but do not feed him unless you are certain that he is hungry. If Dad does this consistently for 2-3 nights, he might improve faster. Do you ever hear him up or fussy at night and he returns to sleep unassisted?

  19. Ok, thank you. We will hopefully try that.

    Sometimes in the early morning he fusses a bit – not cries – and I think he sort of goes back to sleep but not into a deep calm sleep. So far when he has been up at night and I hear him, I end up just picking him up and nursing him before he even cries.

    1. “So far when he has been up at night and I hear him, I end up just picking him up and nursing him before he even cries.” Currently, how often does this usually occur? A few weeks ago, did it occur more frequently?

  20. Usually 3 times a night. But sometimes, like this morning, after waking up at 4:15 am to nurse (which was the 3rd time of the night), he woke up at 5:30 am, and I’m not sure why. He still was tired but after I picked him up and he fell back asleep, he woke up again when I put him down.

  21. 9:30/10 if he doesn’t just take the pacifier and go back to sleep. Around 130 or so and then some time in the 4s.

    1. If your breast milk supply is ample, he does not these 3 feedings. Feed him once around or before midnight (for example, 9:30/10pm or later) and once after midnight (for example 3-4am). If you hear him in between, then Dad goes to soothe (hopefully without picking him up) or practice extinction or graduated extinction now for this middle of the night awakening. Today’s Instagram post (#marcweissbluth) is on this topic. Please let me know how you feel about this.

  22. My husband tried last night around 830 to first soothe him without picking him up, then he held him, but he woke up when he was put back down. And he wouldn’t settle until I finally nursed him (even though that wasn’t supposed to be the goal).

    Another question is don’t I want him to do a longer first stretch and NOT have 930/10 pm be the first nursing? I would rather get him used to skipping that feeding and do one at midnight or later.

    Thank you again for all your advice and prompt responses! I talk about your approach and book anytime a conversation comes up about babies and sleep!

  23. I’m not sure. I just wasn’t sure what else to do after my husbands efforts to soothe him didn’t work and the baby got very worked up

    1. If you are not sure he is hungry, then don’t feed him. Have Dad walk with him around the house, shushing, and rocking until he is drowsy agin and calm…then back to sleep. You should leave the house at this time for your peace of mind and your baby will sense that you are gone and he knows that Dad can’t nurse him so he’ll calm down sooner. It will be easier for all three of you. If, on the other hand, you persist in using your breast as a pacifier to soothe him, he will not be able to easily learn self soothing. Thoughts?

  24. Yes I totally agree and want to implement this. It’s just very difficult sometimes 🙂 But I know this is what needs to be done. Thank you very much for all the help!

  25. Hi Dr Weissbluth, I have read several blog posts and your book. We have had some success with my 17 week old using extinction, but some issues remain. He naps 4x a day- the first nap is typically very strong (1.5+ hours) while the others vary. Bedtime can be as early as 6pm due to short naps, and it is never later than 7:30pm. For several weeks, we applied check ins at bedtime as it was taking up to an hour to fall asleep. We pushed bedtime by 15 minutes to create more sleep drive and moved to full extinction eight days ago. Since then, he falls asleep independently within 5-10 min. but wakes approx. 40 minutes later. We do not go in unless we believe there is a need (usually if crying persists 40+ min.) but this wake up will last 2+ hours leading to a “new bedtime” that is very late and then creates a 5am wake up. How can we work past this “false start” at bedtime? Finding the peak of the sleep wave feels impossible. Thank you for your writings and research- it has been invaluable to me as a first time parent.

    1. Even though there is day-to-day variability, please describe the common times of day and durations of the 3rd and 4th naps. Also, if you have not already read it, please read ‘Parents Reports’ section 2: Bedtimes.

  26. Question! Little one is eight weeks old. She currently sleeps from 8/8:30-6:15ish (depends on her naps– sometimes she is down at 7:30 if her last nap ended earlier in the day). Sometimes at 6:15 she is ready to get up for the day and other times she finishes her bottle and easily goes back to sleep for another 1-2 hours. I keep reading about the value of an early bedtime. In a case like this, would I want to try and move bedtime back at all? As she’s reached this stage, her naps have gotten shorter (30 min-75 min). She’s also pretty hard to keep awake after 45 minutes– it’s a struggle to reach an hour sometimes, let alone anything close to her 90 minute maximum (she’s typically always in bed after 60-65 minutes). Should I be putting her down as she gets drowsy at 45 minutes??

    1. Please keep it simple and enjoy your baby. If she appears hungry, feed her; if she appears drowsy, sleep her. Watching her is better than watching a clock. Go with the flow and try to not control her (“it’s a struggle to reach an hour sometimes”); be patient. Nap rhythms begin to emerge at 3-4 months of age but long and regular naps are not well developed until 4-6 months of age.
      Are you OK with this or am I missing something?

  27. Hi,

    I have not managed yet to skip a night feeding and to do extinction/graduated extinction. I am going to try in a few more weeks if he doesn’t get better on his own with sleeping. Recently, he seems to have been doing a longer sleep stretch/stretch without eating at night, although it’s still not consistent. I know I need to take out one of the 3 feedings to make it 1-2 a night, I just don’t feel ready to yet.

    But there have been times where I heard him fussing around at night and then he put himself back to sleep. So maybe we are on to something! There seems to be slight improvement in certain regards. He is now about 15 weeks.

    My question is though – he can fall asleep on his own without being rocked. Sometimes, I need to rock him if he is overtired or if he wakes up after a short nap and still tired. But he has the ability to just be by himself in the crib – with out without a pacifier – and go to sleep.

    But sometimes, I’ll just leave him to put himself to sleep, and he won’t fall asleep, but he won’t be crying. I’m not sure what to do in that situation. He’ll just stay awake for hours, not willing to let himself fall asleep, but also not be crying. And I can’t always rock him to sleep since I have other children – and I don’t even know if I should be rocking him to sleep for those times. He’ll let his eyes close for a minute and then just open them again – but not cry. Am I making sense? It’s not even a situation of “let him cry and fuss a bit to learn how to fall asleep on his own” because he is sitting there on his own, and just won’t go to sleep.

  28. He is still in our room next to me, and I feel like it will be easier once we move him out. I also keep giving in to nursing him every time we’ve tried to have my husband put him back to sleep and he kept crying. I need to be more committed to it so that I don’t give in and just nurse him. I know it’s okay to let him cry for a bit if need be, I just feel that I am not committed enough yet and then I will just keep giving in, if that makes sense.

  29. Hi Dr. Weissbluth,

    My twins are now 3 years old- we used your book to guide us through their younger years and we had really great sleepers until a few months ago when they turned 3. My little girl, who has always struggled more than he brother with self-soothing to sleep, is now strongly resistant to sleeping when we put her down. She naps for 2 hours reliably everyday, and rarely protests naps. She wakes around 6:30/7:00. When we try to put her down around 7:30, she has a difficult time and doesn’t go to sleep until 8:30/9:00. By the numbers, it seems like a decent amount of sleep and we’re happy she’s still napping. We are concerned bed time is “too late”. What are your thoughts? What constitutes “early to bed” for 3 years old? So far as proportion of time napping v proportion of sleep at night is 2:10 a good ratio? Is there much we can do to shift the time she wants to fall asleep at night to earlier? Her bother seems happy to go to bed at 7:30, and we want to keep them in the same rhythm as much as possible.

    1. Please describe your daughters behavior and mood between 5-6pm.
      Based on your report, because they are fraternal twins, I might, or might not suggest an earlier bedtime for your only your daughter. Is your husband available to help or do you have other help earlier in the evening?
      Please read about Bedtimes in my Blog in the sections “Blogs by Topic’ and ‘Parents Reports’.

  30. Thank you so much for responding! Around 5 I would describe her as a little fussy. This is when I first start cooking dinner so I always assume her blood sugar is a little low and now I’m focused a little more somewhere else. If her dad is home by then, she seems fine to play with her dad and brother. By 5:30/6:00 we are eating and I’d describe her as happy, calm, a little spunky/playful some days. But generally not crabby. My husband helps with bedtime most nights so we could stagger if we had to.

    Is 8:30/9:0 too late for 3 years old if she sleeps 10- 10.5 hours at night and naps for 2 hours? On one hand we are concerned she isn’t getting her best sleep by going to bed so late on the other hand I’m wondering if we are expecting too much and fighting some kind of biological setting that doesn’t want to sleep more than 12 hours.

    1. Your daughter’s sleep tank is going to dry around 5pm (“a little fussy”), not low blood sugar, but her sleepiness is masked by playful interaction with Dad and the family around dinnertime.
      On the 3rd birthday, 92% of children are napping 6 days a week. On the 4th birthday, 57% of children are napping 5 days a week. So depending on their birthdate, your twins will be napping less in the future and the bedtimes will need to be earlier because of less day sleep. Please read, and have your husband read about bedtime (Blog Posts by Topic #2 and Parents’ Reports #2). Because of individual variation, your daughter might always need a bedtime that is earlier than your son. Your daughter now has difficulty falling asleep with a 7:30 bedtime.
      My suggestion for your daughter is to attempt a 6:30pm bedtime (lights off) for only a few days to repay her accumulated sleep debt and after that, experiment with a bedtime between 6:30-7pm. Keep a detailed record of day sleep and night sleep and report back how sleep is going. Also. move your son’s bedtime earlier by 10-20 minutes to see if he falls asleep earlier. If so, then you know that his current bedtime is too late (keep a separate record of his sleep).

  31. Another relevant factor may be that our twins were sharing a room at night time (separate rooms for naps since they were roughly six months old) but we recently separated them for night sleep. When they shared a room, they would chat sweetly with each other about their day for a while before going to sleep. But then she started getting out of bed and it would really rile him up when we came in to put her back. So we moved him to his own room- he loves it. She seemed uneasy about it the night we switched him and she has said a few times that she wished he was back in her room at night.

    1. Transitions in sleep can sometimes be rocky. As you embark on earlier bedtimes and you know that their naps will decrease and disappear, I suggest that you utilize Sleep Rules as described in my book (page 309) so the transitions will be easier for the entire family. Let me know how it goes.
      Sweet Dreams,
      DrW.

  32. Hi Dr. Weissbluth;my 13 month old has this past week started waking up at 5am everyday and we are wondering how to get her to sleep longer? She is in bed between 615 and 630 every night. She also has been napping very poorly as well as of late (we’re lucky to get 45 minutes). Should we be trying an even earlier bedtime? Thanks for any advice

    1. An even earlier bedtime will help. Please read about early bedtimes in ‘Posts by Topic #2’ and ‘Parents’ Reports Topics #2′ and give me your thoughts.

  33. What causes my 5 month old to have a lot of nighttime awakenings screaming? Sometimes he will fall back to sleep on his own, sometimes just cuddling him, but most of the time i have to nurse him back to sleep.
    This happens frequently. Even if he has had three good naps that day and falls asleep without trouble at bedtime. Which is (6:30-7:30).

  34. Two good naps, he usually skips his third nap, which consist of him not sleeping past 4:30 and signaling bedtime around 6:45-7pm.
    Three good naps he is ready for bed 7:30-7:45.
    His first two naps are usually around 2 hours long and his third if he takes one, 1 hour or under. When he wakes up before two hours, say 1 hour 10 minutes I will try to soothe him back to sleep but if he doesn’t and stays awake, the rest of the day he just seems easily irritated and moody. Even when I move his next nap up a little and it is a good nap, it seems his body is just still out of ryrhym.

    1. How often doe he take 2 naps and how often does he take 3 naps?
      Is it possible that in either case that he might be able to fall asleep 10-15 minutes earlier?

  35. If sleeps past 4:30 then his third nap will be skipped. Which he does a couple times a week.
    Yes, I will try putting him to bed a little earlier way.

  36. I have been putting my 5 month old to sleep a few minutes earlier as recommended but he still is very restless with a lot of wakings at night. Last night he didn’t take his last nap of the day so I put him to bed at 6:35 and he was asleep in 3 minutes but woke up almost every hour, sometimes putting himself back to sleep and sometimes I had to cuddle him or nurse him. The previous nights I put him to bed around 7pm and he’s usually asleep in 10 minutes or less but still has the night wakings.
    Is he sleeping too much during the day?
    I haven’t let him sleep past 5:30pm.

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