I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!


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Ask Malia: Three Quick Questions From Across The Pond

Dear Malia,

We live in a small town in England and it is very difficult to receive sleep or lactation advice out here. Though everyone here is super nice and helpful, I would like more professional advice.

Liam is our first child so it is all new for us! He is breastfeed and is not sleeping through the night yet, which is fine. I do not want to push him, and we are planning to start him solids at six months.

The issue is, he naturally gets up at 8 a.m., so our day starts later than all the sample sleep schedules I see out there. I try to fit in three naps a day but by the time of the third nap, he might as well go down for the night.

Here are my questions. I hope you have time to help!

1. For a five-month-old, is it better to have two shorts naps ex (9:30 – 10:30 a.m., and 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.) then bedtime at 5.30 p.m. OR three shorter naps ex (9:00 – 10:00 a.m., 1:00 – 2:00 p.m., and 5 – 5:30 p.m.) then sleep at 7:30 p.m.?

I know it seems really similar but I find if he sleeps at 5:30 p.m. sometimes he will just sleep through the night, he doesn't want to get up!  So far either way, he gets up around 7 or 8 a.m.

Most children his age have three naps per day, one in the a.m., one after lunch, and short nap (30-40 min) around dinnertime. I would lean toward maintaining a three-nap routine if possible. If he seems extra tired, ill, or like he need the extra sleep on a particular day, you can always put him down at 5:30 p.m. But you run the risk of having him start to wake up far too early if you put him down at 5:30 p.m. every night.

2. I currently am still rocking him to sleep but I really like your idea of holding him for 20 -25 mins, then shaving two mins per day. It’s the best idea I found so far as I do not want to try CIO. But generally I only need to rock/shush him for about five minutes and then he will fall asleep. Does this mean he is overtired?

No, it does not necessarily mean he is overtired (though he may well be). It means this process should be easy and quick for you! Just make sure you stay with him in his room until he is in a deep sleep for the first few days, which takes about 20 minutes.

3. I try to let him have a nap in his cot once or  twice a day, for about 30 - 45 mins. He will naturally wake up. But once a day, I will hold him so he will nap longer and sometimes if I let him, he can nap for three hours. So then I try to wake up him but, if I try to wake him up around two hours, he's mad! Is this because he is in deep sleep or he is overtired?

If his other naps are only 30-45 minutes long, he may not be getting enoug naptime in. So he may indeed be overtired, which can result in the crying when he wakes up. I would begin trying to encourage longer naps in his cot. One way to do this is to gently increase the amount of time he is awake before naps by 10 to 15 minutes per day. At nearly six months old, he may be able to stay awake for 2-3 hours between naps. Many times, babies need a shorter activity period in the morning but can stay awake longer midday. So you could try having him awake by 8, nap 1 by 10, nap 2 by 2, and a brief 3rd nap around 5:30 or 6 p.m.

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