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HELP PLEASE! 5mth old sleeping for 20-30 minutes at a time?
how do i get her to sleep longer?

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12 replies to this topic

#1 katiebear26

Posted 14 January 2013 - 03:36 PM

i've had a quick look at other posts but didn't find anything that answered my questions for this age. i'll try to give as much relevant detail as possible, any hints or tips would be appreciated!

DD is 5 months old and sleeps fairly well at night - in bed by 7/8pm and up around 5am, and in the early hours she half wakes up and i usually can give her a dummy and she's right back to sleep. this happens 2 or 3 times from about 2am onwards. she's just started wanting a bottle in the night, ever since i started solids 2 weeks ago.

overall i can handle the night sleep, i think we're pretty lucky to get what we have.


during the day she has only ever catnapped. you could time her to the minute sometimes - 40 minutes asleep then she'd be wide awake. this seemed to suit her as she was usually pretty happy when she woke up and not grumpy. on the odd occasion she was grumpy after sleeping for less than 40min but it wasn't a big issue.

Now, she is sleeping less during the day - 20-30 minutes at a stretch normally, and wakes up cranky and tired. i have tried to resettle her, tried sitting next to the cot and patting her from about 30minutes on to try to get her into the next sleep cycle, but she just wakes up and won't go back to sleep as she can see me there. if i leave the room she screams the place down, and while i'm not against leaving her to grizzle i won't leave her when she's screaming/crying hysterically.

i've read the baby whisperer book, save our sleep, and sleeping like a baby. nothing has really helped so far. i really want to get her to sleep longer, AT LEAST 40 minutes at a time if not a bit more. she seems to be getting the total sleep required for her age but in such short bursts in the day that she's cranky most of the time, and i'm worried about her.

i would love to have a 'routine' but i expect she's not that kind of baby. i've read a lot online that says it's about now that i should be getting her into a good sleep routine.

can anyone share tips on getting a 5 month old to sleep longer during the day?

has anyone tried to implement a routine at this age successfully?

thanks original.gif

#2 FeralAlpacaWarrior

Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:46 PM

OMG I could have written your post word for word. I have no advice unfortunately but DD is seeing a paed on Thursday and I'm going to ask then. I'll let you know what she says, and lurk here to see if anyone else has any advice original.gif


#3 Girlo

Posted 14 January 2013 - 05:55 PM


I could have written that post when my DS was that age. We used persevered and did the same thing every sleep. Pat, "shushing" noises, singing, rocking (still in the bed) until he calmed down.

We had a few rules that we stuck to:
If you're not going to get him out of bed, don't pick him up to comfort. The MCN nurse told us that would be like teasing him. So if you aren't getting him up, don't pick him up to comfort. (I'm not saying you shouldn't comfort, but try and find a different way of doing it.)

Try not to get him out of bed when hysterical. So if you have decided that he won't go back to sleep, pat/sing/rock etc until he is at least a bit calmer so that he doesn't associate getting picked up as a reaction to crying.

It took about a week of serious hard work and not leaving the house for sleep times but we got there in the end.

Hope some of that helps!

#4 niggles

Posted 14 January 2013 - 06:08 PM

If she used to sleep for 40 minutes at a time I'd hazard a guess that this is the length of her sleep cycle. For her now to be waking in the middle of a sleep cycle suggests to me that something is bothering her.

My guesses would be:
Sore tummy or constipation (pretty common to have some issues of this nature when starting solids - you could try backing off the bread, bananas and rice products or any other usual suspects)
Teething (this is the usual suspect for my babe when he wakes mid cycle)
Developmental leap (will probable resolve on it's own after a week or so if this is the issue)
Practising a new skill (rolling or crawling or getting out of a wrap can all be done in her sleep and then cause her to wake when she gets into an uncomfortable position she hasn't yet learnt to get out of)

I wouldn't try resettling for much longer than 10 minutes if it doesn't look like working. It's frustrating for you both and just generates tension around being in the cot.

A predicatable set of events or a routine if you like could help but it's not going to take away teething pain or a sore tummy or a range of other issues that can cause waking. It's certainly worth a shot but I wouldn't blame anyone if your baby just needs a bit of flexibility and TLC while she is getting used to the world of food, movement and not being the centre of the universe like she first thought.

I feel your pain. We had 2 months of "Where the hell did our baby go?" and "I just want to put you down for 30 seconds while I do something for myself!" once our son started teething. It was like someone swapped him. Before that I was working from home while he played on the mat next to me and then BAM! "I don't think so mum. I'm not sleeping with any predicatability and I'll have your undivided attention from sun-up to sun-down and a few of the hours to other side too thanks very much." But he did come back to his usual sunny self eventually. And with each tooth he reverts, but seems to be coping marginally better.

#5 José

Posted 14 January 2013 - 06:57 PM

I've been having lots of trouble with DS.  The thing that seems to be helping is ensuring up time is full of active play and very little being held  if needed take baby to another room or outside to stimulate them. An active play time has helped wear DS out and helped with his sleep. Thank goodness!

#6 katiebear26

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:26 PM

niggles i think you're on the mark - thank you for your post! she was constipated a couple of days ago as no one actually told me that bananas would cause that (i have a heap of recipe books and websites for babies, not one mentions it :-/) and guess what - she loves bananas and it's the only thing she will take more than a teaspoon of. but i think we moved through that as i gave her pears and higher fibre food and everything, ahem, loosened up...

we think the developmental leap happened about 2 weeks ago but she is rolling onto her tummy a lot in bed (although not as much during the day) so the practising a new skill probably figures in this as well. tonight we're trying to get her to not sleep on her tummy with her face down in the mattress.... i think we need to practice getting onto back again some more.

2 months hey? oh boy... she's been so clingy and doesn't want to be put down, and today screamed everytime i was more than 3m away from her. it's tough when you just need to put a load of washing on / out to dry / eat lunch / go to the bathroom... just the other week i was impressed that she at times gets hold of a toy and plays with it for about 10 minutes, happily turning it over, eating it etc, and not worrying if i was briefly out of the room.

how the hell do people do thie with more than one????

feliz - i'll try to do more with her each day to wear her out a bit more, i think that sounds like a good idea.

girlo - i think tonight we've done everything you said not to! i ended up rocking her to sleep for about 15 minutes after DH had rocked her for ages and patted to settle too. she was a mixture of grizzly and excited - half the time she just looked up at me with her gorgeous smile.

thanks everyone, while i wouldn't wish this on anyone it's kinda good to know that we're not the only ones and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel! just many more tunnels to go, i guess....

#7 niggles

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:29 PM

That's the spirit. You'll get through this tunnel and the next one too. original.gif Good luck mate.

#8 MAGS24

Posted 14 January 2013 - 08:54 PM

Have you tried music? I had a music and light show that would project onto DS's roof so that he was distracted when he went to bed. I turned it on every time he went to bed during the day and night and he associated it with going to sleep, so he knew it was sleep time. Worked really well up until 12 months old, when he started to remove it from his cot.

You could try things like Brauers Colic Relief to help with tummy aches etc. It's all natural and can be purchased from most pharmacies over the counter.

At that age, there is probably a fair amount of teething pain. You could try panadol on one occasion to see if it makes a different to the sleep.

My DS1 was a lot like your DD. He would only sleep reasonably well at night and would wake up very early in the morning. He was a nightmare to put to sleep during the day. We developed a lot of bad habits to get him to go to sleep, like rocking him to sleep every time he went to bed and not wrapping him very well. So when DS2 was born we started a routine with him straight away, put him in a bag instead of a wrap and he has been a much better sleeper from the beginning. The main problem is just when you work out a good way to get them to sleep, they change again so you have to work out a new way of doing things again.

#9 Guest_divineM_*

Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:26 PM

One way to extend naps is to keep them in the cot for a second sleep cycle. This usually involves patting and shushing them back to sleep. Won't work immediately (DD took a few days but was slightly older maybe 6 or 7 months) and it really depends on whether it's important enough for you to persevere as it can be frustrating and let's face it boring! A mum in my mothers group had a very overtired little catnapper and at around 5 months turned him into a great daytime sleeper using the same method. I think it took her little one a while, might have been a couple of weeks but she was desperate as he was super grumpy.

#10 Moo point

Posted 14 January 2013 - 09:41 PM

That's DS to a tee. He is nearly 7 months old now, and went through a period at about 5 months of much shortened nap times like yours. By 6 months some days his naps were only 10 mins!

I've stopped stressing about it, he wakes up grumpy sometimes, but is usually awake/alert. If not I just put him down for another nap. Today for example, he was awake from 7am for a bit over 3 hours (we were out in the morning), had a nap, then about an hour after he woke up he needed another one. I'd rather let him play for that hour than spend it trying to resettle him.

His naps seem to have gotten longer again (40 mins or so) and a few times he has slept for up to 1.5 hours - I figure he'll do that again when he's ready. Oh, and I rock/pat him to sleep for naps too, takes all of a few minutes. He has just started putting himself to sleep in the evening with no real crying (just a bit of moaning/whingeing) so it may be that he's ready to do that for his day naps soon, too.

It is hard to get things done, I just take DS with me when I'm doing things, or talk to him while I do the housework. He's fascinated by the unpacking of the dishwasher and the running of the vacuum cleaner original.gif

We have never had any luck resettling, but you might. Best of luck.

#11 Kay1

Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:01 AM

One way to extend naps is to keep them in the cot for a second sleep cycle. This usually involves patting and shushing them back to sleep. Won't work immediately (DD took a few days but was slightly older maybe 6 or 7 months) and it really depends on whether it's important enough for you to persevere as it can be frustrating and let's face it boring! A mum in my mothers group had a very overtired little catnapper and at around 5 months turned him into a great daytime sleeper using the same method. I think it took her little one a while, might have been a couple of weeks but she was desperate as he was super grumpy.

I believe this is natural development. Day sleeps consolidate at 4-5 months. Personally I don't believe in resettling. Have spent hundreds of hours doing it with my three and I can count the times it worked on one hand. Just not worth it imo.

#12 Moo point

Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:12 AM

QUOTE (Kay1 @ 18/01/2013, 08:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I believe this is natural development. Day sleeps consolidate at 4-5 months. Personally I don't believe in resettling. Have spent hundreds of hours doing it with my three and I can count the times it worked on one hand. Just not worth it imo.

Agree with this, though it's taken until nearly 7 months for DS's naps to consolidate. Yesterday he had 2 x 1hr 10 min naps, a 40 min catnap in the afternoon, and went off to bed with no problem between 8 and 8.30pm last night. Didn't do anything differently.

Everything I've read about settling says if what you're doing isn't working within 15-20 mins it probably won't at that point. If DS has a short nap I find he just needs a bit of a cuddle and quiet time with me (or whoever is here) and about 10 mins later he's happy to play again. Yes the short naps make it hard to get anything - is also a good excuse not to get anything done! We just do washing and other big chores on the weekends when DH is home, lots of dad and son time and I don't feel so stressed during the week.

#13 bebe12

Posted 18 January 2013 - 07:38 AM


i was recommended by EBers to read "the wonder weeks" book, my ds is 3 months but just finished reading about the next leap which occurs about 19 weeks and it descibes that need to be with you all day to a t.

It might not help with the sleep but might with the other changes you LO is going through.

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