Seeking Sleeping Help to Change Schedule

Updated on June 08, 2009
H.M. asks from West Hills, CA
13 answers

My 5 month old goes to sleep between 8-9p.m., and does not wake until the following morning until 9a.m. or 10 sometimes. Sounds great... I know. But, she does not sleep through the night just yet. She wakes about two or three times, until I finally breast feed her around 5am. She will sleep a little bit longer and then I feed her again within an hour or hour-in-a-half. Then she sleeps a few more hours. Her naps are only 30-40 mins during the day. Usually around 3 of them. Is this ok?

I am going back to work soon and I want to change her schedule so that she will wake up around 7am for a few hours. I know it seems easy, but it has been a challenge. Any suggestions?

1 mom found this helpful

What can I do next?

  • Add yourAnswer own comment
  • Ask your own question Add Question
  • Join the Mamapedia community Mamapedia
  • as inappropriate
  • this with your friends

More Answers



answers from Honolulu on

Here is a link on how much sleep a baby needs:

Unless you want her to be entrenched in her late sleep schedule... then that's fine. But what if, by some reason she has to get up earlier.. per your/Hubby's work schedule or later, when she starts school. And right now, she is having to change her sleep schedule, because you are going back to work.

Personally, I feel that's too late for a 5 month old to be going to bed... but that's just me. Nothing personal.

Next, it is NORMAL NORMAL NORMAL for your ONLY 5 month old baby to be waking that many times.**For the 1st year of life, a baby MUST be fed on-demand 24/7... this is per our Pediatrician. Next, during "growth-spurts" a baby NEEDS to be fed more, more often, and in larger quantities... because their body is growing. THIS is normal. If they do "not" get enough intake, they WILL be hungry, they WILL want to feed more to make up for inadequate intake, AND they will not sleep well and will cry. Some babies even "cluster feed" which means they even need to feed EVERY HOUR. THIS is also normal. Breastmilk/Formula is the PRIMARY source of nutrition for a baby's first year of life... NOT solids, NOT other liquids.

Next, a baby wakes. Your baby is only 5 months old. A baby does not sleep according to 'adult' expectations or standards. For a BABY... "sleeping through the night" means sleeping for at least 5-6 hours straight. BUT NOT all babies do this, much less this young. A baby wakes and it's normal. That's what babies do.
And once they do "seem" to get into a good sleep pattern.. it WILL change again, as they change and grow and change developmentally and hit milestones.

Next, a baby ALSO wakes because: teething, or, illness, or hunger, or discomfort, or separation anxiety, or developmental changes, or growth spurts- at this age and older.
"Wakings" will continue... throughout childhood.

Next, going until 5:00am, when you finally nurse her, to me, is a long time. She is waking up a lot, prior to that... and you should nurse her instead of waiting until 5:00am. The reason is: if and whenever a baby is going through growth-spurts or changes... they wake, because they need to feed. If you do not feed them... they will wake more, cry, be constantly hungry, and not be satisfied. It has been proven in numerous studies that feeding only according to a "schedule" results in a baby NOT getting adequate intake and not enough calories and not enough nutrition... and in extreme cases it affects their weight gain/growth/development and their bonding with their Mom.

Switching a baby's sleep schedule, suddenly, is not easy. For all her life, she has been used to sleeping at 8-9:00pm. You need to do it gradually... perhaps giving her 2 naps (which is NORMAL for this age), instead of 3 short ones. To me, 3 naps of ONLY 30-40 minutes is not a "nap" it is just a quick wink. By the time a baby gets into the "deep sleep" and REM cycles, then her nap is already over... if not even deep enough of a sleep.

Naps at this age is: wake in the morning at anywhere from 6:00am-7:am. Then, nap about 9:00am, for 2 hours. Then afternoon nap at about 2:00pm, for 2 hours. For example.
A baby, this age, typically gets tired about 2-3 hours AFTER waking.

I once baby-sat a baby, that regularly went to bed at night anywhere from 11:00pm onward... her parents said "this is when she gets tired and we're so busy & we're night-hawks too... " Fine. Then their baby would wake up for the day at like 12:00 in the afternoon. Fine. BUT... that meant their baby was not really developing well, was always tired, and they were ALWAYS late to appointments and meetings and the Doctor appointments, and even in dropping her off at my house. Their daughter is now about 5 years old... and from what I hear, their child STILL has a hard time keeping up with a regular schedule and they are always late in taking her to school... because they say their daughter just has her own "sleep schedule." Oh well.

Whatever sleep routine and schedule you start now and have kept up... keep in mind that it will affect the LONG TERM consequences and adaptability of a baby as she becomes a toddler, then a child. Because once sleep habits are entrenched... and the older they get, the harder it is to "transition" them to something else, per adult schedules. A child needs lots of time to switch schedules and get used to it. If you are going back to work in about a month or 2... then that's fine, you have time to 'transition' her to an earlier bedtime and nap schedule... BUT, if you are going back to work next week... then I would say no, that is not enough time. And your baby will not adjust in so short a time period.

Next, a baby will wake at night, sometimes many times, and it's okay. Breastmilk digests a LOT faster than say Formula... because of that, a baby gets hungrier and more often. ALSO, some babies have a bigger appetite than others... or a higher metabolism, so they need to feed more. Or, sometimes, there is not enough milk coming out, so a baby will wake more because they are NOT getting enough in their feedings, no matter how often. Make sure, your milk production IS sufficient.. and that she is latching on well.

Well sorry for rambling, just some ideas, all the

3 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

You need to nurse her more often, even if it is inconvenient for you. Breast milk does not sit in their stomachs like formula, therefore they need to eat more often. Babies shouldn't be on a feeding schedule, instead feed her on demand. Cereal should not be given before 1yr because babies don't produce the necessary enzymes to digest grains. This can cause constipation or other stomach upsets.

My four month old wakes every 3-4hrs to nurse during the night. In the morning he goes back to sleep about an hr after waking. Then he will sleep after about 2-3hr of being awake throughout the day.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

If you gradually make her bedtime earlier, she will probably start waking earlier. We always aimed for 7 pm for bedtime, then I would wake the baby and feed him before I went to sleep. Then the baby would sleep until about 7 am. Both of my babies were always tired again by 8:30 so that is when they had their morning nap. I have heard it is pretty common for babies to nap only 30-45 minutes at a time, but I read from a baby sleep expert that it is because that is the length of a baby's sleep cycle and they don't know how to get themselves back to sleep. If your baby wakes up from a nap crying, it is a pretty good sign she has not had enough sleep and is waking because of a sleep cycle. For my babies, I had to let them cry through that. My 2nd baby was especially stubborn, but they soon got the hang of it and would then nap for 1-1/2 to 2 hours at a stretch. And then woke up happy, talking and cooing.

From what I have read, a baby at this age needs about 10-12 hours of sleep at night, 2 daytime naps of 1-1/2 to 2 hours each, and possibly a 3rd shorter nap. Of course, babies are not robots, but that is the average. Both of my babies fell within those guidelines, and it sounds like your baby may be making up for shorter daytime rest with a longer stretch at night. If she still needs all that sleep at night, you could try making her bedtime early enough so that she gets up in time for you to leave for work.

This is just from my experience and I hope you find it a little bit helpful so that you can find what works for you. Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from San Diego on

Enjoy it while it lasts. lol. My 14mo old had that schedule,similarly, now he goes to bed at 9 and gets up at 6 with 2 naps during the day AND still wakes to nurse around 1. Growth spurts and teeth may throw a wrench in your schedule every once in a while, but this is there schedule...changing it is wasted energy.



answers from Los Angeles on

At 5 months old, she has a biological NEED to breastfeed several times during the night. She's hungry, and she cries because she has a need that must be met. A short napping pattern during the day can also be very normal for some babies, although if you breastfeed her more often at night, she might end up being able to nap a little longer during the day. At 5 months, she should still be breastfeeding every 2-3 hours. This is natural, normal, and should be expected and encouraged to promote healthy growth.

Most pediatricians (and lactation consultants and the AAP and WHO) will tell you that breastfeeding her on demand is the way to go at this point as breastmilk is so quickly and efficiently digested. Babies under a year have needs. Nature intends for them to wake in the night to have those needs met.

Here's some more info on why you should NOT give baby formula or solids to help them sleep:

Also, please remember that the AAP and the WHO both state that a baby should be exclusively breastfed until 6 months of age, so you should not add in solids at this point. Not only will this not help, but it could cause serious problems down the road. More info here:

Best of luck to you.



answers from San Diego on

Hi H., rice cereal at bed time will help your baby sleep through the night, we had our baby's on rice cereal at 6 weeks, slept through the night from 6 weeks on, and baby's who sleep on their backs don't usually sleep for very long, My 3 month old in my daycare, feel asleep during tummy time on the floor slept for almost 2 hours, on her back 15 minutes at best. J. L.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi. Take a look on the website under "Tips and Tools" and then under "Sleep Schedules" and it will give you an idea of a typical sleep schedule for your little one. At 5 mths typically there day would look like this:

11 to 12 hours of night sleep;
3 to 4 hours of nap sleep (2 to 3 naps)
•Bedtime 7:00 PM
•Waketime 6:00 AM
•First nap: 8:00 AM
•Second nap: 11:30 AM
•Third nap: 3:00 PM

11 to 12 hours of night sleep;
2 to 3 hours of nap sleep (2 to 3 naps)
•Bedtime: 7:30 PM
•Waketime: 6:30 AM
•First nap: 9:00 AM
•Second nap: 1:00 PM
•May need to make bedtime earlier as child drops 3rd nap

11 to 12 hours of night sleep;
1½ to 3 hours of nap sleep (2 naps)
•Bedtime: 7:30 PM
•Waketime: 6:30 AM
•First nap: 9:30 AM
•Second nap: 2:00 PM

11 to 12 hours of night sleep;
1½ to 3 hours of nap sleep (1 or 2 naps)
•Bedtime: 7:30 PM
•Waketime: 6:30 AM
•Nap: 11:30 AM
•May need to make bedtime earlier as child drops to 1 nap



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi H.,

What I did was, just adjust to my baby's schedule. - I got up early with my daughter (at 4:30 or 5) and made that the start of the day, and left early for work. She took a nap in the car, then I had breakfast after I got to work (since it was so early, no one was there anyways!). This only lasted a couple of months until she started sleeping later.




answers from Los Angeles on

I would start feeding her some cereal if I were you. She may be waking up because she needs more to fill her tummy. I would also work on getting her to bed 2-3 hours earlier than you are. Babies need approx 12 hours of nighttime sleep at that age and 2 naps. I would nurse her around 5:00, give her a little cereal, bath and then nurse again about 6:00 or 6:30 and get her down by 6:30 or 7:00 at night. Put her for the morning nap about 9:00am and then again after lunch around 1:00. Just make sure she is up from nap by like 4:00 so you can get her back down for bed by 7:00 or earlier. No napping after 4:00, it is getting ready for dinner, bath and bed after 4:00. It will take a few days to switch her but I think you will be happy when she is on her new schedule. Babies want to go to bed by 7:00 and it is nice for you and her husband to have some time at night to kind of regroup as well.



answers from Los Angeles on

Hello H.,

My son was also, well still is a sleeper. I always had him in bed by 7pm and he would do the same thing, wake a few times..feed and go back to sleep. At first I loved that he slept in but then it started to become a problem when life kicked back in. So what I did was for the first week I kept the same time that he went to bed but I woke him up by 7:30am. All he would want to do is sleep, so I started doing things to make him stay awake. He would then go to bed a little earlier and his naps started to become 10 minutes longer. Eventually he got the swing of it, I think it helped to have him on more scheduled sleep time.
Your little one is only 5 months old tho.. You may not be able to structure her yet. Try waking up and playing with her so she doesn't go back to sleep.
Good Luck...



answers from Los Angeles on

a Few ideas.

Your child may have allergies. You may want to log onto to find out more about their allery eliminations. And your child may be prodigy or advanced and may be inspired on and off. You may want to log onto and search for books on prodigy and advanced children, and Indigo and Crystal children.

Be well.




answers from Los Angeles on


5 months is an easy time to make changes. How often do you feed/breastfeed?

Here is what I would try for the next couple weeks and then let me know how it goes:
-Feed at 7(about this time- when she gets up)-10-1-4-7(if she is tired and ready to go to bed at 6:30 feed her and put her down then)

-Have her nap at 9am and 1pm (give or take 30 min)- probably not earlier for the morning nap. If you still swaddle, then do that (also check out this post for more sleep tips, think about sleep environment, routine...:

-Feed her after a simple and soothing bedtime routine and put her down by 7- earlier if she is really tired which realistically could be the case- and don't go and get her until 7- within a few days she should be sleeping through the night

I am not telling you that she won't cry- she probably will as she protests the change. But, she needs to learn to soothe herself to sleep when she wakes at night- it will make her a better sleeper overall. (It is natural to wake 5-8 times a night:

Any other questions, please contact me.

C., mother of 3, sleep consultant, sleep blog writer



answers from Los Angeles on

Hi H.,it sounds that she has her days and nights mixed up wake her up during her nap time just let her sleep about 20 minutes and try to keep her up until night time.

I would let her nurse for 30 min. on one side and she can nurse on the other side the next time. It sounds like she has 2 problems one is her sleeping and nursing. If you go to at ten let her stay up until you go to bed.

But just take one problem at a time.Beth W.

For Updates and Special Promotions
Follow Us

Related Questions

Related Searches