Sleep,baby,sleep 0–3 months: newborns
Your baby’s G ranic describes typical sleep at this age
as “random chaos.” That’s because
Respond to your baby’s needs and don’t
nightlife, from babies are not born with a circadian rhythm, try to force a schedule — it’s too early.
birth to three which allows them to differentiate day and
night. Some babies even have a mixed-up
“Baby needs to know that she’s in a safe
environment and that she can trust you,”
by LAURA BICKLE
period when they have long stretches of sleep says Granic.
during the day and are more alert at night. Encourage baby to differentiate day and
crawled in my journal is this At around eight weeks, the circadian night by exposing her to light during the
entry from when my daugh- rhythm begins to develop, but in the early day and keeping rooms dim and quiet in
ter Zoe was two months old months, says Shelly Weiss, a neurologist at the evenings.
and her sister, Paige, almost 2½: Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children and Learn and respond to your baby’s cues
Paige went to sleep at 7, but woke the author of Better Sleep for Your Baby & that she is sleepy: Yawning and drowsi-
up at 9 p.m., back down at 10:30. Child, “you have to go with baby’s eating ness are obvious cues, but rubbing her
Zoe up until midnight. Restless and sleeping schedule.” eyes, increasing irritability and jerky,
night. Paige up at 5. This is crazy. Sleep challenges: Your newborn’s tense limbs can also be signs of a tired
And it was crazy. But also normal. schedule will be erratic, but one thing you baby. If your young baby has been awake
My daughters’ night waking, early can count on: frequent feedings, around the for two hours, she is probably ready for
waking, erratic napping and reluc- clock. Newborn stomachs are tiny, so they more sleep!
tance to settle were all typical — but need to refuel often. Experiment with swaddling, which many
did they have to be that typical? One in ﬁve babies also suffers from the young babies ﬁnd calming.
Somehow, just knowing that dreaded colic, characterized by uncontrol- Introduce a comfort object that your
sleep in the early years can be lable crying lasting up to three hours, often child can begin to associate with sleep,
crazy-making helps parents handle around bedtime. While not exactly a sleep such as a soft blanket or a piece of your
the sleep deprivation and setbacks problem, it is certainly exhausting! There clothing (your scent may be soothing).
better, says developmental psych- is no treatment other than comforting your You will hear it a thousand times, but
ology researcher Isabela Granic, Thinkstock baby and knowing it usually resolves by it still bears repeating: Sleep when your
the co-author of Bed Timing and a four months. baby sleeps.
mother of four-year-old twin boys.
“Babies go through major chan-
ges that affect their sleep. But these
Alicia (two months old) is pretty happy during the day and naps every two or three hours.
changes aren’t common knowledge
But at 7 p.m., she turns into a different baby. She cries and is irritable for a good three
and parents feel they are doing
hours — rocking and nursing seem to be the only things to calm her down. I feed her
around 10:30 p.m., and she usually falls asleep. I put her in her crib and she wakes every
So, here’s a guide to your baby’s
couple of hours through the rest of the night. – Wyn Mitchell, Toronto
wacky and wonderful sleep life.
28 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 29
My son slept through the night by three months. Then at around six months,
he started waking up at night every couple of hours. At seven months, he
woke up once or twice a night, would need a cuddle and then go back to
4–12 months: settled babies
sleep. Not too bad, but almost every night. – Elva Patterson, by email
B y four months, the circadian rhythm
is more developed, making sleep times
more predictable. By six months, baby may
Establish a sleep routine that helps baby
understand that sleep is coming (like
be sleeping in four- to ﬁve-hour stretches at bath, feeding, brush teeth, cuddle, into
night. Many (but by no means all) babies will crib). Without being unrealistically rigid,
start sleeping through the night sometime try to start your bedtime routine at about
before the ﬁrst birthday. the same time every night.
Sleep challenges: But also at this time, When baby wakes in the night, keep things
says Granic, “babies are undergoing mam- boring: Turn the lights low, limit talking
moth cognitive development. They are ﬁnd- and interaction, meet his needs (feeding or
ing the world much more interesting and changing), then put him back to bed.
they don’t want to turn it off, which can If you suspect teething pain is disturb-
cause sleep disruptions.” A baby learning to ing your child’s sleep, talk to your doctor
crawl, for example, may be up on his hands about giving acetaminophen or ibuprofen
and knees every time he rouses, leading to before bed.
more full-blown awakenings. The baby who Encourage her to fall asleep on her own by
used to fall asleep in the middle of a party putting her to bed when she’s groggy and
may now need to be taken to a dark, quiet helping her to bond with a comfort object.
room, away from distractions. By eight months, babies are physically ready
Teething, which begins around six to to give up night feedings. But it’s easier said
eight months of age, is often blamed for than done. That middle-of-the-night nurse
Sleeping through night waking and difﬁculty settling. While (or bottle) is often as much about comfort
Ah, the holy grail of sleep. And it’s just as elusive for many families. Children are physically many experts feel it has little effect on sleep, and connection as it is about nutrition. If
able to sleep through the night from around six to eight months, but it’s not that simple. parents who have endured sleepless nights you want to stop night feeds, “don’t stop
Since children (and adults) wake several times through the night, those who aren’t able to prior to a tooth erupting would disagree. cold turkey,” says Weiss. “Over a couple of
get themselves back to sleep on their own will cry for you. If your child depends on nursing At eight to 11 months, separation anxiety weeks, slowly decrease the amount of milk
or a back rub to drift off at bedtime, she will probably require that when she wakes in the often peaks. Kids start to understand object and time, but make sure you are comfort-
night. At least that’s the theory of sleep associations, and why many sleep experts stress permanence — the idea that out of sight is not ing and holding them.”
the importance of teaching babies to fall asleep on their own. out of mind. “The child you may have been If your baby is over six months old and
A piece of the puzzle that is often neglected is the baby’s temperament, which in uences able to lay in his crib and leave is now scream- his sleep habits are unmanageable, you
how easily a baby can learn to fall asleep alone and how quickly his sleep patterns mature. A ing for you,’ says Granic. “He knows you are may be thinking about sleep training (see
recent University of Regina study asked parents how their babies woke up. Those who said there but not in his room. He’s missing you.” “Should You Sleep Train?”). Make sure
their babies were crying hard even before they were fully awake had less success teaching If that’s the case, says Weiss, “go to her if you and your partner are both comfort-
their babies to go back to sleep on their own than parents whose babies were less upset she is crying. Brieﬂy, positively let her know able with the plan, since it will be easier
when they rst woke up. that you are there.” to do if you are both committed.
30 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 31
Before her rst birthday, I was
12–36 months: toddlers able to give my daughter a
bottle, hold her for a bit, and
then place her in her crib while
she was still awake. Now, she
B y now, everyone who doesn’t have kids,
and many who do, will assume your
child is sleeping through the night. But a
change can result in sleep disruption, says
Witmans, “but it will go better if your child
has learned to soothe herself to sleep and you
just wails when I put her down
and she wakes up screaming
a few hours later. She cannot
surprising number of toddlers either still stick to your regular bedtime routine.” That
settle down on her own even
wake up at night, or begin night waking said, the new-found freedom of being able to
if I go in to see her and try to
after a period of sleeping through. escape can result in nighttime wandering.
soothe her — she will only
Sleep challenges: As with younger
settle down if I am holding her.
babies, developmental milestones, such as SLUMBER HELPERS
– Sarah Knowlton, Montreal
learning to walk or talk, can cause difﬁculty Don’t try to do too many things at once:
falling and staying asleep. So can changes in Toilet training in addition to moving to
your child’s world: starting daycare, moving a big bed in the same week, for example,
house or the arrival of a sibling. When tod- is too stressful.
dlers are feeling unsettled, you can expect a Similarly, if a new baby is in the picture,
temporary period of disturbed sleep. make any changes to the bedtime routine
Starting at 18 months, says Granic, well beforehand, or after your child has
“there’s the explosion of language and adjusted to life with a sibling.
kids are starting to negotiate their social You may need to adjust your bedtime rou-
world.” But these developmental advances tine when your child moves to a big bed.
can also result in deﬁance, temper tantrums Make sure caregivers know the routine.
and another period of separation anxiety. Try to keep naps and bedtimes consistent,
New fears, nightmares or night terrors may even on weekends.
also surface as a child’s imagination grows, Some older toddlers respond well to
says Manisha Witmans, medical director rewards, such as stickers or the promise of
of the Northern Alberta Pediatric Sleep a special activity, for following the bedtime
Program at Stollery Children’s Hospital routine or staying in bed, says Weiss.
in Edmonton. Use a baby gate in the bedroom doorway
At around two years, kids may start if your toddler is a night wanderer. Naps
climbing out of their cribs, which often If nightmares are a frequent occurrence, Most four-month-olds have three to four naps during the day, consolidating them into two
necessitates the move to a big-kid bed. “This speak with your doctor. in the second half of the rst year. By around 12 months, kids are generally down to one
afternoon nap lasting one to three hours. Doesn’t that sound neat and tidy?
Is there something wrong? Unfortunately, with every shift in nap schedule, there tends to be an unsettled transition
While there is a wide range of normal in children’s sleep, medical conditions, such as that can also disrupt nighttime sleep. Imagine the toddler almost ready to drop his mor-
gastroesophageal re ux or asthma, can affect sleep. Trust your instincts, says paediatri- ning nap. For a while, that means he falls asleep right before lunch, waking up starving
cian Manisha Witmans: “If anything worries you about your child’s sleep habits, talk to and unhappy at 2 p.m., then sleeps again in the late afternoon, which means he won’t be
your paediatrician.” ready for bed until 10…
32 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010 33
The night shift
I t’s 2 a.m., your four-month-old is wail-
ing, and you’re so tired, you can hardly
see straight. Though you and your partner
WHEN DOES IT HAPPEN?
We asked parents at Todaysparent.com
at what age their child consistently slept
agreed long ago that the family bed is not
through the night. The bad news:
for you, you bring your baby into bed with
you, latch her on, and you both drift off.
Under 6 months 487
Sleep — heck, parenting altogether — is
6–12 months 271
rarely just what we imagine it will be. So it’s
1–2 years 175
important to be ﬂexible and know that it’s
Over 2 years 106
OK to change your course in the interest of
“I’m still waiting!” 212
better sleep. (But if you are going to bring
your baby into bed with you, make sure you
are being as safe as possible. For more infor- think about the parents’ well-being. Sleep-
mation, check out our guide to safe sleeping deprived, irritable parents are not loving,
at Todaysparent.com/safesleep.) warm parents.” And take heart, she says,
Developmental psychologist Granic’s if you fall into a habit that you want to
opinion? “If it works, do it. We have to
Should you sleep train?
When you hear “sleep training,” you likely Isabel Granic and Marc Lewis based
envision sitting outside your child’s room, their book, Bed Timing, on the idea that
your heart breaking as he wails for you. there are windows in a child’s development
The truth is that there are many methods: when sleep training has a better chance of
Some do require a steely resolve, while working. For example, they say 51⁄2 to 71⁄2
others take a gentler approach. It’s import- months is a good time because separation
ant to know not every method will suit anxiety has not yet surfaced.
every family and some babies are easier Here are some other books to check
to sleep train than others. But “if you are out. Each has a different philosophy, one
consistent, calm and not punitive, you have of which may work for you: The No-Cry
a good chance of being successful,” says Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley;
neurologist Shelly Weiss. Secrets of the Baby Whisperer by Tracy
Developmental issues and illness can Hogg; Solve Your Child’s Sleep Problems
undo sleep training, so you may have to do by Richard Ferber; Sleeping Through the
it more that once. Night by Jodi Mindell.
34 Today’s Parent baby & toddler spring/summer 2010