Routines are important as they help children develop a sense of stability and order. A predictable routine also allows children to feel safe.
Meg gives advice on how to deal with these four night-time routine concerns:
My son is 20 months old and is in a good routine of a two hour nap during the day and a bedtime of about 7.30pm. Recently, he has been waking at either 11.30pm or 3am crying and screaming inconsolably. He does not want to be picked up and tries to get back into his crib if we take him out. Sometimes we offer him a bottle, but this doesn’t always work. Eventually he will calm down but then wants me in the room, right next to his crib, while he falls asleep.
Answer: It sounds like the day sleep needs to be shortened slightly. Take it down to 90 minutes or even 1 hour – it will help. Also deworm him.
My four-month-old sleeps from 6:30 until about 10/11pm, feeds then sleeps until 1 or 2am and feeds. He then wakes up at 3:30am and will have a few sips, then falls asleep only to wake 20 mins later and repeat this pattern until 5:30am or sometimes not fall asleep or feed at all. What could be the reason for this and how can I help him? He is currently weaning off Nexium and has been sleeping in his own room for a week.
Answer: At this age, before solids are introduced, 2 to 3 night feeds can happen at 10/11; 2/3am and 5/6am before waking for the day. If he wakes more than this, try white noise to keep him asleep and block out lining on blinds to help him sleep later than the sun rises. You can also offer water if the wakings are more often.
My five-month-old is taking about four short naps a day as he wakes up after every sleep cycle so only manages a 40-minute nap at a time. How do I change this or is it OK?
Answer: Most babies have 45 min naps until they are six months old. At six months, when on full solids, it tends to shift. To assist with the shift at six months, have one nap (45min) at about 9am, then offer lunch at 11:30, then a little milk and then down for the midday sleep. In time, this sleep will lengthen.
I have a five-month-old who started solids three or so weeks ago. Bedtime is between 6:30 and 7pm. If we’re lucky, he makes it to midnight before waking for a feed, and then he’s up every three hours. Mostly, he wakes between 10 and 11pm and will only sleep if I’ve fed him. The past two nights he wakes up at midnight and is wide awake. I leave him in his cot to chat and gurgle and eventually he falls asleep, but it’s disturbing our sleep at night and his! He normally wakes for the day between 6 and 7am.
Answer: At five months, you can expect a midnight and 3/4am waking, until full solids are established. I think it’s a good idea to listen before you respond (as you are doing) in case he falls back to sleep. If he is distressed at these times, offer a feed. As solids become more established, the feed will move to 1 and 4am and then eventually 2am as the only night feed. By six months, he should shift to one early morning 4am feed only.
Xanet is an award-winning journalist and Living and Loving’s digital editor. She has won numerous awards for her health and wellness articles and was a finalist for the Discovery Journalist of the Year in 2009 and again in 2011 for the Discovery Best Health Consumer Reporting and Feature Writing category. She is responsible for our online presence across social media channels and makes sure our moms have fresh and interesting articles to read every day. Learn more about Xanet Scheepers.