The principle of sleep education principles is a topic that parents are quite familiar with.
By continuously maintaining the 'eat-play-sleep' schedule, the same sleep ritual is repeated. Part of building a strong sleep schedule involves helping your child increase their stomach capacity as they get older so that they can stop needing feeding at night, and instead sleep soundly.
But when it comes to real situations, there will come a time when you are unsure of what to do. Today, we have collected questions and answers related to sleep education for babies aged 4-5 months.
Q&A on Sleep Education for Parents of 4 to 5-month old Babies
CASE 1: Suddenly my baby’s napping got worse.
I have a 5-and-a-half-month-old baby who wakes up at 7 am. They take three naps a day and need feeding five times a day. When I put my baby to sleep after finishing the last feeding at around 9-10 pm, my baby rolls around and falls asleep within 30 to 40 minutes.
They tend to sleep for about 9 hours until morning, but these days, the quality of their second and third naps is getting worse. Why is this happening?
It seems that your baby might be beginning a phase of new growth. It might be time to change the number of naps you give them a day. You can overcome this issue naturally over time, so don’t stress too much and practice consistent sleep education with your child.
First of all, a baby’s daytime sleep is much more influenced by the environment than their temperament. If everything is fine and your child only wakes up from sleep during the day, use blackout curtains and white noise to create a comfortable environment for your child. If they start tossing and turning about 20 minutes after falling asleep, give them the pacifier immediately.
There are many opinions about pacifiers, but it's okay to get some help while putting your baby to sleep. However, if they have otitis media or while your child is playing during the day, please do not give them the pacifier unnecessarily. When they fall asleep, gently remove the pacifier. Avoid hugging and comforting them during their naps if possible to help them fall asleep and stay asleep independently.
CASE 2: My baby is sensitive.
I have a 5-month-old boy who has found sleeping difficult since he was a newborn. He also had a very sensitive back. He doesn't eat well either.
I tried sleep training in the 4th month, and somehow during naps, he is sleeping on his own. But he still wakes up every 2-3 hours at night. He hasn’t completely stopped needing breastfeeding during the night yet, so I still have to feed him once in a while. He takes naps three times a day and breastfeeds five times a day.
If your baby is sensitive to sleep, you can set the sleep education goals a little loosely.
However, the more sensitive the baby, the more important it is to make the baby's routine stable. Once you are consistent with your daily routine, your baby will be able to predict the next schedule for himself. It may reduce your baby’s anxiety.
If you have a 5-month-old baby, gradually increase the amount of baby food you give at each meal and adjust the interval between feedings during the day to about 4-5 hours. It is necessary to practice both at the same time, as this will help with reducing the amount of breastfeeding during the night by increasing the amount eaten during the day.
If your child does not eat well, it is difficult for the mother to sleep at night because your baby will keep wanting you to feed them more. However, if your baby does not stop feeding at night, they will feel bloated and full, and they will not eat more during the day. This is a common issue with babies who are sensitive to sleeping and eating and they may often cry.
For the time being, if you have the feeling that your child waking up at night is unavoidable, try not to worry. Gradually adopt a strategy that makes your child more responsive to sleepiness. Just for 3 days, don't respond right away to the crying of your child to help him sleep more independently.
CASE 3: Is it ever too late to start sleep education?
I haven’t practised any sleep training with my baby. She’s now 4 months old. Every day she goes to bed and wakes up at a different time. She seems to be feeding about 7 times a day and takes short naps about 4 times a day. Especially after 4 pm, we still do breastfeeding and naps about 2-3 times before I put her to bed. Would it be too late to start sleep training now?
It's never too late for a baby. Besides, she’s still only a 4-month-old baby. You still have time to build a good sleep habit. The most important thing in sleep training is to increase your baby’s stomach capacity so that she can develop a regular schedule.
First, record your child's sleep and feeding schedule for a few weeks. According to her natural timetable, you can make a regular schedule suitable for your child. Gradually increase the feeding period from 2 hours 30 minutes to 3 hours and finally to 4 hours.
Try to extend her nap times so that she can sleep 2 or 3 times for 1 to 2 hours instead of breaking the day down into short naps. After 4 pm, if she still wants to eat a little and sleep a little, help her to take a longer nap before 4 pm and focus only on breastfeeding after 6 pm.
It's hard to try and change many things at once. Just prioritise the overall goal of creating a regular timetable so that your child can start developing her sleep schedule slowly.
Author: Eun-Kyung Beom, Pediatrician
- Baby Sleep Education Expert
- Director of Baby Sleep Research Institute
- Formerly Director of Gwangju Central Children's Hospital