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Jun 10 2014

Ask a Sleep Coach: My 6-Month-Old Screams at Night

By at 1:53 pm

6-months-won't-nap

Anyone with kids knows that getting them to sleep is no easy feat. Luckily, there are people who specialize in these things, like Israeli sleep coach Batya Sherizen. Below she takes on a question from Kveller contributing editor, Jordana. Do you have a sleep question for Batya? Send them into info@kveller.com with the subject line “Sleep coach.”

My kid is 6 months old and in 95th percentile height and weight. Very happy kid. Her naps during the day are crappy to nonexistent. She maybe has 1.5 hours of napping total per day. She goes to bed around 6:30/7 p.m. with an 8-ounce bottle. Sleeps beautifully in her own room/crib until 1 a.m. or so. Gets up and starts talking very loudly. She is wide awake. Not crying, talking. Deafeningly loudly. For two hours sometimes. Eats. Goes back to bed. Up around 4 a.m. Sometimes goes back to bed but usually up for good by 5 a.m.

Jordana Horn 

First and foremost, all sleep is a 24-hour related cycle. Day affects night, which affects the following day and so on. Generally speaking, sleep induces sleep–that means the better rested a child is, the more qualitative sleep she will have, longer naps, easier bedtime, consistent night sleep, etc. The adverse, however, is also true. Over-tiredness creates further exhaustion, causing her to fight sleep, wake more frequently, and continue this vicious cycle like a snowball affect!

If your 6-month-old is only sleeping for a total of 1.5 hours during the day, then that is the first place to start to help improve her sleep overall. Most babies her age can stay awake for 2-3 hours between naps, so I suggest trying to introduce a more consistent routine to help her body regulate properly for sleep. Here’s an example (although it may not be what works for her and you!)

7 a.m. – wake up and breast milk or formula

9 a.m – nap

10:30/11 a.m. – breast milk or formula

12:30 p.m. – afternoon nap

2 p.m. – breast milk or formula

4:30 p.m. – a short catnap

7 p.m. – bedtime

*Keep in mind that sleeping and eating are directly correlated, and most babies really thrive on having predictability with their daytime meals as well….

As per her screaming at night, this is something that can commonly happen when a child is having disrupted sleep cycles. A disrupted sleep cycle is when a child is transitioning from sleep cycle to sleep cycle, but for whatever reason (being overtired, needing something or someone to help resettle, a change of environment, etc.) she is unable to transition back to sleep with ease. This is what’s happening with your baby. She falls asleep nicely at bedtime (which is AMAZING, by the way!), but then wakes in the night from her lack of daytime consistency and has a lot of trouble falling back asleep.

Once you are able to get her daytime sleep into a better pattern, her nights should fall into place as well.

Good luck!

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