Help! My Six-Month-Old Has Never Been a Good Sleeper and it’s Getting Worse!

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  • July 02, 2017
six-month-old sleep


Hi! I’m Kim West, The Sleep Lady, and in this video I’m going to answer Chloe’s question about her six-month-old. Here’s what she wrote in:

“I have a six-month-old baby who has never been a good sleeper and it seems to be getting worse. She does have a late bedtime and I can’t seem to make it earlier.  I have to put her down at 6:30 or 7 but then she’ll wake up after just 2 to 2-1/2 hours and won’t settle again without a bottle or breastfeeding.

She’s sleeping in a cot and will not sleep unless she’s swaddled and has her dummy. I have tried just using the “safe to sleep” to make her feel secure and not swaddle her but she won’t even fall asleep this way. So I almost always rock her to sleep or at least to a sleepy state and then put her down for the night at about 10 o’clock and she’s been waking hourly, if not more frequently the entire night. I am beside myself with exhaustion and I’m sure she is too.

She’s a very spitty baby and I think it could also be a bit of reflux. Would this likely be causing her frequent wakings? (Yes, by the way.)

I’m going to start her on thickened bottle feeds and Gaviscon and see what helps. What else can I do to help? She naps well in the day and will sleep an hour-and-a-half in the morning and have two naps of about 45 minutes to an hour but night time is horrendous.”

Talk to Your Doctor

If you haven’t already done so, please talk to your doctor about reflux and treatment. It’s always better to run that by your physician and make sure you are giving the right thing, the right dosing, and also if thickening her feedings is the right idea. Go over the whole feeding plan — both during the day and at night. This will also help you create a night-time feeding plan.

The Pacifier Decision

I gather she uses the pacifier and the swaddle for naps, too. You are going to have to decide about the pacifier. The pincer grasp or the ability to pinch the pacifier, pick it up, and put it in your mouth usually isn’t developed until 8 months. Sometimes I’ve seen some 6 month-olds do it, but not a lot.

If she’s not capable of doing that—especially swaddled—then you might consider two things.

  1. Weaning her from the pacifier if she does not have the pincer grasp and you do not want to keep re-plugging it for her until she does get it.
  2. Weaning her from the swaddle using either the Magic Sleepsuit or the Swaddle 50/50 by Love to Dream. If your baby is rolling, then this is essential to start right away.

From Swaddling to Sleepsuit or Sleep Bag

The Magic Sleepsuit is a sleepsuit that gives the body input similar to the swaddle, but the arms and the legs are free. They can bend their arms and get to the pacifier if you decide to keep the pacifier.

The Swaddle UP 50/50 by Love to Dream is a sleep bag where you can unzip one arm from the swaddle at a time so you can transition slowly.

Discuss Nighttime Feeding With Your Doctor

I would also talk to your doctor about the feeding at night. Ask how many feedings she needs given how much she is eating during the day. If night feeding is necessary, find out how many and how many ounces if bottle feeding. It looks like you’re doing both.

This will help you create a solid nighttime plan that is consistent in your responses at night. It may very well be that if she has reflux, then she’ll need a feeding during the night. Lots of times babies who have reflux snack during the day and still need a feeding at night. Again, those are important things to talk about with your pediatrician.

Moving Bedtime

In terms of bedtime, you could start to slowly move her bedtime earlier if you really feel like she’s not that tired at 7 o’clock. If you feel that she is that tired at 7 o’clock, then you could do bedtime at that time. Put her down awake at bedtime after a soothing bedtime routine and sleep coach her using The Sleep Lady Shuffle, my gentler method, so you can stay with her while she learns the skill of putting herself to sleep.

When she wakes 2 to 2 ½ hours later, count that as a night wakening just like all of her other night wakings. Build the feeding into your plan when and how often that you want to.

A Gentle Sleep Coach Can Help

Chloe, you might want to consider hiring a gentle sleep coach to help you create a plan and then support you through this process.

 

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

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