Brigitte Langevin is a sleep specialist. She is a speaker and author whose goal is to
improve the quality of sleep and understand dreams. She is the author
of several books on the subject. Helping my child sleep provides a great deal of information for parents. She is a dynamic
person who is much sought-after for her humour and ability to make
theoretical and scientific concepts accessible to all. Nights are more
satisfying so performances during the day are improved thanks to her
Baby only sleeps well during the day
My five and a half month old daughter sleeps very poorly during the night. During the day she naps three times without any problem. In the evening, she drinks a bottle around 8:15 PM and only falls asleep around 10:00 PM. She sleeps until 1:00 AM. She drinks another bottle and sometimes takes as long as two hours to fall asleep.
Once she does fall asleep, she wakes up every half hour claiming her pacifier. She sometimes is wide awake and laughing...she doesn't seem to want to sleep at all! I am exhausted. I also have a son who is 19 months old who wakes up at 5:30 AM. I cannot let my daughter cry because I am afraid she will wake up her brother. Please help me. I am on the brink of a depression. Thanks.
I fully understand your distress. Lack of quality sleep and too little sleep will sap any parent's energy. In fact it will consume anyone's energy, big or small!
First of all, I think we must define the length of your daughter's daytime naps to make sure she is not sleeping too much during the day which could affect her nocturnal sleep needs. At 5 months, she should take one morning nap for 60 to 90 minutes, generally between 8:30 AM and 10:30 AM. She should then take another nap early afternoon for 2 to 2 ½ hours, generally between 12:30 PM and 3:00 PM. Finally she should have a 30 minute nap between 5:00 PM and 6:00 PM. If your daughter takes three very long naps during the day and sleeps longer than the abovementioned times, this may explain why she isn't tired during the night. She should be able to sleep from 8 to 10 hours straight. If this is the case, limit her daytime naps to create a need for sleep during the night. The best way to wake a sleeping baby is very gently: open the door, open the curtains or blinds, make soft noise in her room, caress her, etc. You should see a big difference immediately. She should sleep much longer as of the first night.
Also, it is important to mention that at this age, if your daughter is healthy and weighs at least 12lbs (5kg), she no longer has nutritional needs during the night. A bottle at 8:30 PM is fine but she no longer needs the night-time bottle. If you are comfortable with this, I would suggest reducing the quantity of milk you give her during the night. The goal is to completely eliminate this bottle which is affecting her sleep. You may also offer her a bottle of water during the night. Generally, babies do not appreciate this and find there is no point waking up for it. As I often say, speak to your daughter. Inform her of the expectations you have for her sleep-wise. Babies understand much more than we may think. Also, warn your older baby that his sister may cry during the night but that you are there to take care of her. Often, the confidence a child hears in his parent's voice is enough for the child to continue sleeping in spite of the other baby's cries.
Be confident in your interventions and begin as soon as possible. A parent with sleep debt is unable to fulfill his role during the day. It is important to act now since your distress seems very prominent. If you wish to be guided further in your interventions, I invite you to purchase Helping my child sleep on the educatall online store. It comes with a free telephone consultation.
Brigitte Langevin, author
Speaker and teacher
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