Hi. I’m Kim West, the Sleep Lady, and in this video, I’m going to answer Alexandra’s question about her son who wakes for night feeds. She wrote:
My almost eight-month-old is still waking for milk. He’s sleeping with me because if I put him in this crib he wakes up about ten times crying and he won’t go to sleep if I don’t give him milk. He drinks my (breast) milk in a bottle. He’s been eating solids for about a month, and he naps two to three times a day for one to two hours. I just want him to sleep more at night. And he usually goes to sleep very late – around 10 or 11 p.m.”
Consider His Naps
I’m not sure if you mean he naps two to three times for one to two hours each nap, or one to two hours total for the day. If he’s getting at least three and a half hours of sleep total during the day, that’s great. If it’s two to three long naps per day — potentially 6 hours of naps total — that might be a little on the high-end. That’s likely why his bedtime is so late.
Your 6 to 9-Month-Old’s Sleep Schedule
I would encourage you to look at an article on my blog that outlines a typical schedule for a six to nine-month-olds. Start by regulating his wakeup time sometime between 6 and 8:00 a.m. (usually its 6-7:30am at this age) Next, schedule his naps so that he’s tired and well-fed by bedtime.
You’ll have to play around to see whether you want to take the big leap right away to an early (7p.m. to 8 p.m.) bedtime, or whether you want to push it back slowly. Some of that will have to do with how he’s acting between 7:00 and 8:00 p.m., and his naps. Watch his sleep cues to find his ideal bedtime, which at this age is usually between 7 and 7:30 p.m.
RELATED: Ideal Bedtime: How to Decide What Time Your Child Goes to Bed
Drowsy But Awake
Next you’re going to put him into his bed awake after a great day of naps and a soothing bedtime routine. Feed him, but have the lights on. You can read a short book, give him kisses, do prayers or songs, and then put him into his crib awake. He should be awake and aware that he’s being put into the crib. Putting him down too sleepy can lead to waking up crying hysterically.
RELATED: Drowsy But Awake — The Cornerstone of Successful Sleep Training
Bedtime and When He Wakes for Night Feeds
When you put him in too drowsy, he wakes and wonders, “where did Mommy go? The last thing I knew I was in her arms being fed a bottle! How did I get into this crib?”
We don’t want to trick him. We want him to know that he’s being put in his crib. You can stay there and offer him physical and verbal reassurance while he learns to put himself to sleep, and then slowly move out. This gentle sleep coaching method is called The Sleep Lady Shuffle. Once he has learned to fall asleep on his own at bedtime, he will be able to do it when he wakes for night feeds.
Resources to Check Out
All of this is outlined in more detail in my book or you can work with a Gentle Sleep Coach in your area or thru my helpdesk, who can also coach you through the process.