Baby sleep solutions

Is your baby keeping you up all night? Don’t fret! Our top sleep experts have the answers…

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Q: How long should my 4-month-old sleep during the night, and in total over a 24-hour period?

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A: Vicki Dawson, sleep practitioner and founder of The Children’s Sleep Charity, says: “Generally speaking, a 4-month-old should be sleeping around 10 hours at night and around 4-5 hours in the daytime; in total, sleep about 14-15 hours in a 24-hour period.”

Q: How do I get my 9-month-old to sleep through the night without letting her cry it out? She’s still taking a night feed.

A: Sarah Ockwell-Smith, director of BabyCalm, says: “Night waking at this age is normal. It’s the stage when separation anxiety can develop as your baby realises that you could leave her – understandably making her anxious. Work on helping her feel secure so that when she wakes at night, she doesn’t need to call out for you. You could try bringing her into your bed until it passes, or if you’d rather she stays in her own cot, try using a comforter.”

Q: My friend swears by controlled crying, while another has said it’s been proven to be psychologically damaging. Who’s right?

A: Hannah Love, baby and child sleep expert and founder of Yummy Baby Group, says: “If followed through [controlled crying] can result in a baby settling independently, but it can fail, too. There are other ways of teaching your baby to self soothe, such as gradual withdrawal, pick up, push down or shush pat. Find a sleep solution you’re happy with, research it, follow it through and it’ll work.”

Q: I have to keep replacing my 5-month-old’s dummy when it falls out until he falls asleep. How do I wean him off it?

A: Hannah says: “Start by only using the dummy at sleep times and remove it from all awake times for a few days. Build up to removing it completely, and then avoid temptation by throwing all dummies away. After a couple of unsettled nights (when your baby will naturally need a little more comfort), he’ll be dummy free.”

Q: My son sleeps beautifully at home but fights it when we’re out. How can I get him to nap in a pushchair?

A: Sarah says: “Think about the environment your son has his naps in. Can you replicate this when you’re out? You could take with you a comforter associated with sleep time or try a pushchair that fully reclines so he can lie flat as he does in his cot. Even carrying your baby in a sling or carrier can work wonders, too.”

Q: My 4-month-old will only sleep when she’s in the pushchair or car. I often find myself driving her around at night to get her to drop off. Help!

A: Hannah says: ”The good news is your baby does sleep, we just need to change the situations in which she’s comfortable sleeping. Start by setting a good routine with sleep triggers (such as music), as this will tell your baby when it’s time to sleep. Once this is in place, slowly change how she’s sleeping by a form of gradual withdrawal. A starting point could still be in the pushchair but make sure this is in the house and, finally, the big step of getting her into her cot. Consistency is paramount to the success of any sleep programme.” 

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