Sleep Tips from our Resident Expert

We were so happy our resident sleep expert, Rebecca Michi was able to answer your family’s questions about sleep. Here are the questions you asked and answers below.

How can I deal with the dreaded 40 minute nap? My 3 month old has taken only a handful of longer naps in the past 2 months.

Short naps are quite normal at this age. Naps develop after night sleep and they develop individually. They usually begin to lengthen out between 3 months and 6 months of age. The first nap of the day will begin to lengthen out first and then the second and third. Make sure you are having a good amount of awake time between those naps, an hour and half should be perfect, any less and he may not be tired enough, any more and he could be overtired.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

Our 9.5 month old still wakes 1x during the night, usually between 12:30 and 3. He’s bottle nursed breast milk, and is eating 40 oz per day, so we know he’s not hungry. Our pediatrician has suggested giving him water when he wakes to get him to go back down. Is there a better way? His bedtime is around 6:30 and he usually takes 2-3 naps per day, waking up around 5:30 for the day. It doesn’t matter if he gets 40 minutes or 4 hrs of naps during the day, he’s still waking up. Thanks!

I truly believe that some children need a feed during the night until they are a year old. You can try eliminating the feed, but it may stick around a little longer. You can try gradually reducing down the amount of milk he gets during that night feed. If he currently gets 5oz, try reducing down to 4oz for 3 nights, then reduce down another ounce. Keep reducing down an ounce every 4th night. When you get to an ounce you can then offer an ounce of water if he continues to wake. You may find that you get stuck when reducing down, that’s fine, just give him the amount of milk that he needs, then when he is ready to reduce that down you’ll have a much easier time doing so.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

Is it normal for babies learning to sleep a different way to regress? We have been rubbing our twins’ backs instead of nursing them to sleep and it was going well. Now they are waking up a lot again. Not needing to nurse but still needing back rubs. Should we trade down to another sleep association? Could it be teeth?

I think that the back rubbing is now the habit. It normal for humans to wake between 2 and 6 times a night and if we need something in order to get to sleep, and back to sleep (the back rubbing) we will need that every time we wake. Gradually reduce the amount of rubbing you are doing at the beginning of the night and during the night. Rub to soothe, but not to sleep.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

I have a 5mo old that WAS sleeping 8-10 hours a night w/o ever waking by 3mo old. Now he wakes up all around the clock never sleeping more than an hour at a time during the day and waking between 1.5-2 hours at night. If I tend to him he wants to nurse, so my husband gets him back to sleep. When my husband isn’t home, it’s so hard to get him to sleep. He also doesn’t fall asleep very well on his own. I try really hard during the day to just follow his sleepy cues and put him down shortly after. Maybe 10% of the time he’ll fall asleep without help. I’ve been keeping track of his schedule and try to make a better routine for him, which helps a little, but not much and not very consistently. He’s not hungry, wet/dirty, teething, or sick I’m so tired. I have 4 other children at home with me and I can barely function during the day. Please help!!!

He’s probably getting overtired when he is showing you those tired signs. If you were actively working on getting him down to sleep at that point he would have an easier time getting to sleep and remaining asleep. Consistent days will also make more consistent nights. I always begin working on the day routine when I am working with families.
Try have just 2 hours of awake time between naps. Introduce a nap routine if you don’t already have one, 10 minutes is perfect. Your routine needs to be consistent, same thing, same place, same order for all naps at home. Go into the bedroom, close the curtains, get ready for sleep, read a book, sing some songs and then work on getting to sleep at the 2 hour mark. Working on the daytime can have a very positive effect on night sleep.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

How long for a 1 nap a day child do you try for a nap before throwing in the towel and if you give up should you adjust bedtime to compensate or no?

This is quite personal, some people will try for the whole nap time others stop sooner. I think you should try for at least 30 minutes before abandoning the nap. I would make bedtime earlier if he didn’t nap, not too early as he could treat that as a nap and then be up for hours!

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

Need help with my newborn. He is 5 weeks old now and he is not sleeping well. He falls asleep in my arms being bounced or by nursing him with a bottle,but wakes in minutes of putting him in a bassinet. I hold him for 20-30 min till he’s in “deep sleep”, but he still wakes up soon after I put him down. Tried using a pacifier recently, but he still wakes when I put him down. He used to sleep for 1.5-3 hrs, but ever since 3 weeks his naps are getting shorter and shorter. How can I help him sleep better?

Short naps are completely normal at this age, your child may only be able to get between 30 or 45 minutes of nap which is one sleep cycle. There are some things you can do to try and encourage some longer naps, swaddling is really important at this age, even if you child fights getting into the swaddle it’s still worth doing, just make sure you swaddle a little before trying to get to sleep. White noise will also help. You may also want to see if he sleeps better in a bouncy seat, being snug and sat up a little more can really help. Hang in there this will get easier.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here.

My 10-month-old has recently had some rough nights and naps have nearly become a thing of the past. About a month ago she went from the 2-3-4 schedule for naps and waking once at night to eat to now barely even napping and waking at least twice to eat and wanting to play.

It sounds like you’re going through a regression. I have found that when children are going through a regression they are just awake during the night and they struggle to get back and nothing seems to be wrong! There is usually a sleep regression around 9 months of age, it usually happens when a child begins to move. They may also go through a stage of separation anxiety at this age which can make this regression a tough one! Hang in there, this too shall pass.

See the full thread and related questions and answers here, and additional questions here.


Rebecca Michi

‘Rebecca Michi is an English gentle children’s sleep consultant and author based in Seattle. Rebecca works with families who have children under 6 years old and uses only the gentlest techniques and encourages parents to use their instincts when helping their child sleep. Rebecca uses many different gentle sleep training techniques, and never uses cry-it-out. For more information or consultations, find her at her website.

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