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A Blog from Your Kaiser Permanente Pediatricians in Northern California

Baby sleeping in crib

Your FAQs about Infant Sleep Answered, Part 2

Parents often have so many questions about helping babies sleep that they didn’t fit in one post! Here are additional questions I hear the most with answers from me, my fellow pediatricians, and pediatric health educators.

When and how do I get our baby on a schedule? 

Wait until your baby is at least 3 to 4 months old. Younger babies’ sleep patterns are variable and you can do more harm than good by trying to follow a rigid schedule.

Babies younger than 3 months tend to sleep for shorter periods of time and they usually wake up because they need to eat.

Our baby used to be a great sleeper, but that’s changed. What happened? 

It’s normal for babies’ sleep patterns to change as they grow and develop. Learning new milestones (rolling over, sitting, pulling to stand, walking) can disturb sleep for a while. Illness, travel, and a parent returning to work can impact a baby’s ability to sleep.

All of these are temporary changes – your baby will usually settle down into a routine soon.

Why does our baby nap during the day, but won’t sleep longer stretches at night? 

Try adjusting your afternoon and evening routines. Some parents find it helpful to:

  • Start the last afternoon nap a little earlier and try to keep it to less than 2 hours.
  • Go for a walk outside in the early evening.
  • “Top off” your baby with a final feeding right before you go to bed, so they’ll be less likely to wake up hungry.

We have twins, and neither one sleeps! Help! 

Getting twins to sleep – especially during certain developmental stages – can be challenging!
Most methods to help babies sleep are the same for twins, but can be more complex for parents to put into place. Here are some tips:

  • Get both babies on similar feeding and sleeping schedules which is key, advise many parents of twins.
  • Take turns or shifts getting up with the babies at night.
  • Try separating twins into different rooms and train them one at a time, if you’re considering sleep training. You may have better luck this way.

Should we sleep train our baby?

There are several “sleep training methods” to help babies learn to fall asleep on their own. All are safe when done correctly and consistently.

Don’t start trying until your baby is over 4 months old. After this point, sleep training won’t hurt your baby physically or emotionally. Most parents who sleep train their children are glad they did.

We tried sleep training and it made things worse. What now? 

If you tried sleep training a while ago, your baby may be readier now if they’re bigger, more mature, or in their own crib or room.

Learning to sleep is a process. You didn’t “fail” sleep training. You learned more about what worked, what didn’t, and what you might want to try next.

Maybe you or your partner’s needs or schedules have changed, and now you’re ready to try something new.

Most importantly, remember that this period of struggling with a baby who won’t sleep is brief. It will soon pass, they’ll learn to sleep – on their own, the whole night through – and you’ll soon be a bit less exhausted.

Find more resources for parents:
My Doctor Online
Pediatric Sleep Council
American Academy of Pediatrics

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