Contrary to common belief, many babies over six months of age require feeds overnight.
The key difference now is that you’ll most likely begin to see some sort of a pattern.
According to Registered Nurse, Midwife and Maternal and Child Health Nurse, Helen Stevens, we’ve put together the following guide for baby sleep expectations aged over six months.
The pattern is now much clearer, your baby will most likely be able to sleep for one or two sleep cycles, around 2 hours (give or take) in the morning, wake, feed and play for about 2 hours and back to sleep again.
This is a typical pattern or a six month old and the afternoon nap is often short, just enough to get them through to sleep time. Night times are most often 1 to 2 feeds only. Babies generally sleep for around 1 ½ to 2 hours during the day, every 2 hours or so and are into bed around 7pm. Mobile babies move around when they sleep, but there is no reason to neatly place them back into the centre of the cot each time they stir, just leave them and comfort them so they can calm for sleep.
Separation anxiety the occurs around 7-8 months means your baby knows when you are out of sight, you are somewhere else and they often want you back.
Keep in mind they are not meaning to be clingy but they need additional reassurance at these times, then off they can go and explore some more. Don’t be alarmed by the sudden clinginess at sleep time, just pop them in their cot and stay a while if needed. When babies are more mobile they move around the cot during sleep, they may bump the rails, it’s okay because that’s how they learn… and they learn to go gently quite quickly.
Mobility in the cot may mean you are trying to settle your baby by repositioning them to a lying position. If your baby wakes often overnight and you have been feeding them back to sleep it is probably they are picky with foods and are also grumpy and tired. It is time to help them sleep more at night and gain their nutrition during the day. Offer considerate and gentle settling interventions in a kind way. ASK for help if you are struggling.
Toddlers love control and they love to know they are doing well. Prepare them for sleep saying 5 minutes till pack up and help them pack away toys. Book time and massage times are lovely ways to calm toddlers, anyone for that matter, at sleep time.
Go to an area of low stimulation, dull the lighting and offer them a special cuddle time. Some toddlers quieten by just playing a quiet game such as puzzles or nursery rhymes.
Toddler’s can be very insistent if they don’t want to go to sleep, to make the transition easier, avoid overtired, do not intellectualise everything, offer them one or two books only and the choice of a cuddly toy. Respect that they don’t want to go to bed, but guide them in a kind and loving way. You can still be committed to actions and stay kind.
You may find the resources at www.helenstevens.com.au helpful to understand the needs and responses to babies.