Sleep Schedule

Updated on December 15, 2007
J.B. asks from Arvada, CO
15 answers

My 5 month old has yet to be on a regular schedule. Some days he will have long morning naps, other days he they will be shorter. Afternoon naps are a constant challenge. He never goes down at the same time each day. He will usually only take a 45 minute nap in the p.m. I am a working mom, so I feel a sense of guilt that I am not around to help him get his naps. Should he be on a schedule by this age? Am I worried about nothing?

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So What Happened?

Thank you everyone for your responses. I really appreciate it. My goal is to have my son take at least a hour nap in the afternoon. I will have a FT nanny starting in January and I think this will help immensely as far as having a consistent environment and routine.
Cross your fingers for me!

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D.S.

answers from Phoenix on

Read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, M.D. immediately. It is broken into ages, so you don't need to read it all at once. It is so helpful. I read it between 3 and 4 months and my son has been napping and sleeping perfectly ever since. (Knock on wood!) Good luck!

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A.S.

answers from Tucson on

I don't think it's that big of a deal. My kids slept when they were tired and woke up when they were done sleeping. Before you get all Babywise-d take a look at what the AAP has to say about it and make an informed decision.

I am a working mom as well, my kids are 7 and 4. I would say, if all you have to worry about is how long of a nap your kid is taking while you're gone, you're doing just fine! If your childcare provider is complaining about his schedule, talk to them about making some gradual changes that you are comfortable with (do you want them woken from morning naps or not? what about letting your kid cry it out or be isolated in a separate room at a specified "naptime"? what about rocking to sleep (or not?)). It's something you can work on as a team. If they are not complaining I say leave it be.

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T.N.

answers from Phoenix on

I read the book On Becoming Babywise about eating and sleeping schedules and it's a big proponent of schedules. Kids thrive off of consistency, and knowing what to expect next gives them security. But your child can still be a well-adjusted, happy child without one, like my nephews. I personally like a schedule because I plan outings around it and have a pretty good idea when my kids will be well-rested and fed, so they won't be grumpy. Babywise gives you an idea of when they'll eat/wake/sleep for the different stages of the first year.

Getting my baby to fall asleep was a little bit of a struggle, but it became much easier as we followed the same routine every time and just pat her and talk/sing to her when she's fussy instead of picking her up. She learned to soothe herself and fall asleep on her own, so it's worth all the effort and energy.

Here's my schedule that works great for me:

7 or 7:30 Baby wakes and nurses, then eats rice cereal
9:30 Baby naps until 11
11:00 Baby wakes & nurses & immediately has babyfood for lunch
12:00 Baby naps
3:00-ish Baby wakes and nurses (no babyfood this time. Maybe some baby cracker puffs as a snack--the kind that dissolve)
5:00 Baby naps (this is the nap I'm trying to get rid of)
6:00 Baby wakes and nurses, then eats babyfood or rice cereal
8:00 Baby goes to bed with cuddling and story and song
9:00 I wake baby up for one last nursing without food, and then put her right back down to bed unless she's so smiley I can't resist playing a little with her. I'll eventually merge this and the 6:00 nursing and just nurse her once at 7:00-ish before bedtime and then not have to wake her up again after that.

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A.H.

answers from Phoenix on

I have a 3 and 4 yr old and I never realy could get them on a schedule at this age. I admit I did not put alot of effort into it either! Maybe when you are there his schedule is a bit off. By the time he is one I am sure his schedule will be better and I would not overly stress.

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K.W.

answers from Denver on

Hi J.,

I think the sleep issue is one of the hardest, and everyone seems to have an opinion. Maybe that is what makes it so tough. I haven't seen other's responses, but I would be sure to touch base with your pediatrician if you have major concerns. I recommend the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth. It helped me to gage what is age appropriate and to be clear about what is truly a problem verses a phase.

Our son is now almost 1 yr. and a pretty darn good sleeper. I don't remember exactly when his schedule set, but it was around 6 mths I think. We also had the experience of two steps forward one step back in that he slept well for a good stretch, a few weeks, and then was off for a bit. There is definately an ebb and flow to this process.

I don't know what your child care situation is when you are at work, but it is great if you can work with your child care provider so that you both are on the same page with schedule and methods.

Best of luck!

K.

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K.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

I have 5 month old twin girls and their naptimes vary everyday. I wouldn't worry too much about it. Does he have a nighttime schedule where he goes to bed at a specific time every evening and you have a nightly routine with him? I tell myself that as long as we have a nighttime schedule/routine the daytime isn't that important. My girls are in bed everynight by 7 and one of them sleeps until 7 the next AM and the other wakes up at 5 for a bottle then sleeps until 7. But I don't complain :) I also have a 22 month old son and he doesn't have a set daytime nap schedule either. Also try not to beat yourself up about being a working mom. I know its hard not to. I hope you can figure out a schedule/routine that works for you :)

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J.J.

answers from Phoenix on

i babysit my 6 month old grandson. it is very important that he has a schedule when he is with me during the week so that i can get my stuff done. i started just putting him down after he ate. he usuall cried at first but i stood by his bed so that he wouldnt feel alone then walk away. he would evenually go to sleep. i also have been swaddling since birth because he was a preemei. when he wasnt taking long naps during the day he slept very little at night. he is now on a schedule and is sleeping through the night. i usually put him down at 9;30 and he goes right to sleep and sleeps for about an hour. then again at 1 and at 4. mom puts him down at 8 and he sleeps til 6. i also play a lot with him in between so he is tired.

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D.P.

answers from Fort Collins on

Hi J.,

I struggled like you with my daughter's naps and waited much too long to do something (until about 7 months). My friend gave me the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, M.D and it truly changed my life. I was so skeptical at first because I did not think that I could set a sleep schedule for ymy daughter. However, I started a bed/naptime routine - putting her in a sleep sack, having calming music playing from her Ocean Wonders crib toy, reading her a book and placing her in bed. I also started the bedtime routine about a half hour before I wanted her to go to sleep - 9am, 1pm & 7pm. She cried at first when I put her down to sleep. However, it did not last that long and now, I put her down to sleep at her scheduled naptimes and she happily goes to sleep (no crying)and she naps for about 1 -1 1/2 hours during the day and sleeps a full 12 hours at night (6:30pm-6:30am). Also, she is a MUCH happier child because she is well rested. Before, she would get fussy for no reason. But, now she is the happiest little girl and hardly ever gets fussy. Establishing a sleep schedul is the BEST thing I ever did for myself, my family and my daycare provider. Feel free to email me if you have any questions. I rave about "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, M.D and cannot recommend the book enough. It is a well written book and will convince you to step in and help your child learn healthy sleep habits.

D.

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R.J.

answers from Phoenix on

Yes, sweetheart, you're worried about nothing. Your little guy has just decided no one is going to tell him when to do what babies do. I've got two of those myself. :)

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L.G.

answers from Phoenix on

It is just as important for you as it is for your baby to be on a schedule. There is a great book called "On becoming babywise". My daughter used it and loves how it helped out.

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H.C.

answers from Phoenix on

I think it depends on the child. My oldest daughter (now 17) was not on a schedule, I let her sleep when she was tired, eat when she was hungry, etc. It made my life more difficult at the time, but I was working full time and did not have total control of all of her time since I had to hire a sitter. She lives the same way, now without a schedule. My youngest daughter (now 14) was on a schedule. I was able to stay home with her so I had us on a sleep/food schedule and she now thrives on order and consistancy. In fact, she has a little trouble with change and unexpected surprises in her schedule. My oldest daughter might do better with change and "rolling with the punches" my youngest daughter is more responsible because her need for order causes her to write lists and keep her appointments. But, they are both wonderful just as they are. You may want a routine, as might they, or even the so called specialists, but remember, life is not routine - it is full of surprises and changes, most of which are out of our control. We not only have to teach them how to thrive in the routine of life but also how to thrive (not merely survive) in the unexpected.
I believe as a parent, we are required to do our best to help form happy, secure adults that will do their part in this world but essentially they are their own little persons that grow up too fast. I don't think there is a right or wrong to schedules, just enjoy him, every stage, every age, every whim.

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M.M.

answers from Las Vegas on

I tried to put my daughter on a schedule and it didnt work. I figured that I can lay her down but that doesnt mean that she will fall asleep. Almost like that old saying "You can lead a horse to water but you cant make him drink it" The only time that my daughter was on a set schedule was bed time. 8:00p. It also helps out with the day naps too. The baby will usually sleep alot when going through a growth spurt and eat alot when not in a growth spurt. Its hard to get a "set schedule" for a baby. Usually when the baby is tired he/she will fall asleep.

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K.R.

answers from Phoenix on

Healthy sleep habits book is great. I never woke my daughter after so many hours of sleep. but I definitely tried hard to keep the nap schedule. She is 14 months and I still aim for the 9:00ish and 2:00ish naps. A bedtime routine helped too - bath, lotion, pjs, bed. good luck.

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J.C.

answers from Phoenix on

My two children were never on a nap schedule when they were infants. I stayed at home and just let them sleep wherever they wanted and when they wanted. I know that probably wasn't the best idea, but I do have to say that they can now fall asleep wherever we are and they stay asleep! I feel that they are very well-adjusted and flexible children. However, they are now on a nap schedule.

I started a home daycare in June and it was very important for me to get all of the children on the same schedule, so that I could have at least a little break during the day. I made our daily schedule predictable and consistent. We always eat lunch at the same time, then we change diapers and then we ALL go down for a nap. We do this everyday without fail. They all sleep for 2.5 hours or MORE:) I do have a seven month old that I watch and she did not fall into our schedule until recently. Once she was eating solids at the table with us, she fell into our routine. She eats her food, has a bottle and then goes to sleep for two hours. It is all very predictable to her and if I am only a few minutes off, she is screaming. I guess what I am trying to say is to be consistent and the rest will follow. He might not sleep the first few days, but you need to lay him down at the same time and try to leave him there for however long you would like him to sleep. If he cries for more than ten minutes, I myself, would probably cave in and go get him. But, the next day do the same thing, etc.

I don't know if you have a sitter or not, but you definitely need to be on the same page as her. She needs to do the same routine as you do on the weekends or on your days off. If he does go to a sitter, it might be wise to ask what their schedule for the day is. If she is not consistent with him, it will not work. I am sorry this is so long, but hopefully some of the information was helpful.

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D.K.

answers from Denver on

At 5 months it is up to you to set his schedule. You need to wake him after a certain period of time, feed him, play with him, change him and keep him awake. If he never goes down for a nap at the same time you have the power to change that. Even if he doesn't sleep, putting him down to rest at 10:00 each morning, then again at 2pm every single day will get him in the schedule of naptime. One thing with both my kids I learned quickly is that I controlled their sleep schedule, not them. Not sounding harsh but you need to inform your caregivers when he is to take a nap. I am very suprised as most daycares have the same naptime daily. If it a at home caregiver, have her lay your son down the same time each morning and afternoon, not allow him to sleep over an hour or so. I let my kids nap an hour and half in the morning, then an hour and a half in the afternoon. I learned too that with my daughter who was a champion sleeper until she was 4, my son was not, he only needed one good nap a day and then at 3 just didn't need naps at all, so each child is different too. Put him down the same time every night too, with a routine at bedtime, bath, snuggles and story. It takes you and your caregiver to get him to be in a routine and kids love routine!

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