6 Month Old - Sleep & Nap Issues

Updated on December 09, 2009
K.P. asks from Bothell, WA
4 answers

I need some advice on sleep issues for my 6 month old daughter. I feel her sleep is such a mess, I'm not sure where to begin. Granted, she has a minor cold right now so I know I have to wait for that to end before I begin any changes.

Naps. She has always been a horrible napper, since she came out of the infant stage. They were never long enough. Now its hard to get her down let alone have her sleep long enough. Yes, I have put her down when she is showing sleepy signs, but she fights it like crazy.

Nighttime Sleep. Nighttime wakings weren't bad but seem to be getting worse. She was waking once and now she is waking twice and then "getting up" at 4am. She will also have a poopy diaper at this time which makes her wide awake. Ughh. This 4am thing is very recent. She will go back down about 1.5 hours later and sleep for another two hours. She uses a pacifier at night and a lovey.

Other info. I'm familiar with most of the sleep books and are tying to find a method to deal with this. I'm not sure how to start. They pacifier should probably go, but she is in love with it. And it helps me with nursing as she is a fussy nurser and always has been. She is big 19 pounds, so its not like she needs night feedings. My husband is supportive and will help, but feels like he cannot soothe daughter. I realize he needs to go in at night and not me, as she smells me. But he gets all frustrated too easily.
We have not done full cry it out, as I don't think I'm strong enough. We did modified cry it out with my older daughter when she was 9 mos and it worked great. But the issues were different with her. She is not a child that can easily be rocked to sleep, or shusshed, or even nursed to sleep very easily. And of course, my other daughter is across the hall, so if we let her cry for awhile than big sis wakes up crying too. AGhhh!! I've tried to let her cry for awhile at nighttime and naptimes and it just seems to make it worse.

So advice? My husband is cranky and irritable about it all. He says he will help, but he is a bear at night about this stuff, when it comes down to it. My head is spinning from the it all, as well as all the reading on sleep books which are making me nuts. FYI, I exclusively breastfeed and she does not take a bottle. We have started solids foods. Be sensative, I am a well-read mom and feeling pretty desparate about it all.

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answers from Seattle on

I hope this doesn't discourage you too much, but this sounds exactly like my sons. Neither of them seemed to require as much sleep as the books suggest or what my most of my friend's children seemed to need.

My suggestions - Don't worry that her naps are short. She will sleep as much as she needs to sleep.

Some things that might help to make sure she sleeps better at night -

Make sure she gets lots of exercise and fresh air. Take her for walk outside in a stroller or in a backpack in the late afternoon or early evening. (It's a great time of the year to walk around the neighborhood looking a Christmas lights and there's nothing like coming into a warm house after being outside in the cool air to make someone drowsy!)

Give her lots of playtime to crawl or roll around freely in the afternoon and evening and then give her a bath to enjoy some play time with water toys to help her relax. Try to make sure she is mentally and physically tired!

Try delaying her bed time until later to make sure she is tired enough to sleep soundly and avoid the 4am poopy diaper. (I didn't try to put mine to bed until around 8 or 9pm!) If she eats/nurses later and goes to bed later it may delay the dirty diaper to a later time that is more reasonable for her parents.

You are not alone - it seems like a lot of babies go through an adjustment in their sleep habits when they are about 6 to 8 months old.

I know parents who would put their kids in their carseat and drive around the block to put them to sleep. I tried that and it didn't work for me! They did fall asleep in the car, but they always seemed to wake up when I took them out of their car seat to put them in their bed.

Good luck!



answers from Seattle on

Oh dear, this all sounds just like my first son. I can't offer much advice, as none of the sleep books worked for us (he's still a bad sleeper and he's almost 3!). But yes, all hell broke loose at 6 months when he started getting up first once a night and then as much as 4 times a night. I'm not really into cosleeping, but I ended up bringing him back to bed with me and my husband slept downstairs in the spare room. We did this until my son was 17 months old, which is when he started sleeping through the night again. I don't want to scare you - yours may get better soon! In any case, his sleeping through the night coincided with his one-year molars being fully in. I don't care what the sleep books say, teething does interfere with sleep!! Is there a spare bedroom where your husband could get sleep and then take over from you in the morning? My husband is also a bear at night but much better than I am in the mornings... Also, I wouldn't try getting her to give up the pacifier yet! Most kids I know don't get rid of it until they are about 2 or so and the binky fairy comes... We'll see what happens with our second and third. My four-and-a-half-month-old twin boys are starting to suck their thumbs and to be honest, I'm thrilled as I'm pretty sure they will soothe themselves back to sleep this way eventually. One can dream! Anyway, I wish you luck and sleep! Sorry I couldn't be of more help!


answers from Seattle on


Take heart. This is a phase. Usually at about 6 months there is a growth spurt. Part of her crankiness right now could also be from her cold.

Six months is the earliest we did our own modified CIO. Like you I can't really stand listening to my kids cry and scream when I know all I really have to do is go into their room and pick them up.

What we do:
1) normal bed time routine (cuddles and watch Wheel of Fortune). When Wheel is done it's bed time. My kids give each other a hug and then it's off to bed where I tuck them in. They're 6 and 2 1/2.
2) If the fussing starts I'd give five minutes for my kid to soothe themselves. After five minutes I'd evaluate the crying. If they're still going strong I go in to comfort, but if they're petering out I'll give an additional five minutes.
3) At the end of this second five minutes I evaluate again. If they're still going strong I go in and comfort.

If at any time the fussing and protests turn into an angry scream I go in immediately to comfort.

As for your grumbly bear of a husband he sounds like mine. They talk the talk about helping, but when it comes to walking the walk they fall flat on their noses. For my hubby it's a matter of his laziness and just not wanting to get off his <ahem> and help with the kids.

I'd say give it some time, let her get over her cold, and don't have too many expectations from your husband. When he says he's supportive that really means he'll help you out as long as he gets a good night's sleep. Or, that he'll help and support you as long as there's no real expectation that he follow through with what he said he'd do.

Hope this helps,



answers from Seattle on

K. - You have gotten some sound advice so far so take heed and know that this will pass. I would respectfully like to remind you that your baby is only 6 months old. She still might need to suck and crying it out at 6 months is too soon. They baby is still trying to bond with you. She was inside you for 9 months -- she hasn't been "out" that long. Try to have patience...I know it is hard and I have been in your shoes ...my guy is 2.5 and is still getting up at 5:30. Forget about your husband helping at night...they just don't get it. See how he might help during the day (take her for that walk to get fresh air?), or help with the older daughter so you can get a break. Hang in there...before you know it, they will be teens!

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