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Question:

I have a 4.5 month old boy, who is a chronic catnapper!

I can set my watch and he will wake up exactly 42 minutes after he’s gone down during the day! Which as I’m sure you’ve heard before is quite frustrating!

We have quite a good Eat/play/sleep routine but it really gets out of whack when the sleeping isn’t for longer than 45minutes. He is EBF and has 6 feeds a day (dreamfeed at 10:30pm) and he will usually wake once in the night ranging from 3:30-6:00am. He’s slept through to 7am twice and that was just last week.

We attempt naps at 9, 1 and 4 – but it’s a bit of challenge as we live rurally so to go anywhere is at least a 20 minute drive and sometimes it just doesn’t fit with what we have on that day.

He was born at 3.12kg and when I popped him on the scales last week he was over 7.5kg with clothes on. So no issues there!

We used to use a miracle blanket, but transitioned to a merino sleeping bag for day and night sleeps and it didn’t change anything, as the catnapping has been around for a while… He used to take a dummy and would sometimes resettle with that, but now he spits it out or pulls it out with his hand (and laughs)! So we haven’t tried that for a month or so.

We have white noise going and a good nap time routine, nappy change, sleeping bag, story and cuddle – he self settles usually in a few minutes and has been self soothing by thumb sucking.

When he wakes up at the 42min mark, on the odd occasion (once or twice a week) he will self sooth and go another sleep cycle, but it’s not that often.

Wondering what else we can do to get the day sleeps more consistent.

He is usually in bed asleep by 6:30pm and will wake up between 7-7:45am. With one wake up if half an hour for feed and resettle.

He usually wakes up at the 42min mark grunting and grizzling and cries out, I usually wait at least 10
minutes before I go in, but as soon as he sees me then he’s happy as and doesn’t seem tired after his quick nap.

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Answer:

Ideally his wake times for a 4.5 month are around 2 to 2 1/4 stretching out to 3 hours by the time he is six months old. Nap times he will be having around 3 naps a day with a minimum 1 1/2 hours OR he will be having 2 naps with a minimum of 1 1/2 hours and 1 band aid nap of less than 30 minutes to get through to the evening routine .

His wake time routine will be he wakes, feeds, plays, gets offered a top up feed, then sleeping bag and then down for a nap.

GASTRIC EMPTYING
The gastric emptying of a breast fed baby after 120 minutes is 16 to 18% so when you are trying to put him down for naps he may be hungry. This will not cause a feed/sleep association as long as you feed, then swaddle/sleeping bag then into his bed. Also you need to be aware that he doesn’t fall asleep while feeding unless you choose to do this.

SETTLING AND RESETTLING NOTES
Settling and resettling take TACT – time, acceptance, consistency and tranquility
Sleep is a learned behaviour. Sleep is also a nutrient and walks hand in hand with food.
It takes a minimum of ten days to see any changes and the change at the end of the light is just a dim light. The first 3 to 4 days is always the hardest and to change their circadian sleep cycles it takes a minimum of six weeks.

When you go to bed you read a book, meditate, watch TV, or chat with your partner – a baby can only do one thing and that is cry. There is nothing unhealthy about a baby crying before going to sleep. As a parent, it can be difficult to listen to but as long your baby is happy and contented generally, crying is just part of life. Remember you are not leaving him there to cry it out; you are leaving him there to give him the ability to find his own sleep.

You will not get anywhere by leaving your baby to cry for hours. You will succeed quicker by giving him space and then helping him find his sleep.

Dream feeds
In my experience dream feeds are controversial and need to be carefully considered before incorporating them into a feeding schedule.

Dream feeds are given between 10pm and midnight and involve feeding a sleeping baby as opposed to one that wakes naturally. They are supposed to lengthen a baby’s sleep cycle to give a tired parent a reprieve. However, there is no evidence to indicate that dream feeds guarantee parents’ extended sleep.

Research shows that dream feeds are thought to interfere with a baby’s most precious and deepest phase of sleep that occurs between 9pm and midnight.

Make sure you are well informed before making your own decision, as once in place dream feeds can be difficult and disruptive to eliminate from your baby’s routine. If you do decide to include them, ideally aim to drop them by the age of six months.

Neuroscientists believe that deliberately feeding a sleeping baby meddles with digestion, growth and development and can disrupt long-term sleeping patterns.

These include white noise, music, movement, night-lights and dummies.

In my experience, props will tend to interfere with your baby’s ability to self-settle and re settle

It is very difficult to sleep train a baby that uses props for going to sleep. My advice is to take away all the props and start afresh. So, that means no rocking, no dummies (not in the first instance but certainly later if your baby is struggling to settle) and no white noise (unless you and your partner have white noise to sleep with).

The more props that you introduce into your baby’s routine the more complicated you are making your life as your baby grows.

The best way to get a fast-forward idea of how restricted life may become is to imagine that you are travelling with your baby . Visualize that when you are in the middle of a plane, train or bus and it is your baby’s nap or sleep time that you need to provide him with all his props to help him sleep. Whilst you may be able to provide some of the props other are not so easy – you cannot replace a baby’s white noise with a substitute, as they will be looking for their ‘white’ noise.

Thank you so much for your question I hope this helps, just remember you are doing an amazing job and being a Mother is the hardest job in the world.

Kind Regards
Dorothy

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