Sleep matters

Every person, and especially every parent, knows that sleep is vital, both for you and your little one. So how can you make sure that your little one gets as much sleep as they need? To help combat the confusion and simplify some of the gargantuan amount of information out there, we’ve compiled a sleep guide that will help you understand your little one’s sleep and sleeping needs in their first year of life. Whilst there’s no one size fits all approach to children’s sleep patterns and challenges, we’re here to help with some of the most common issues that parents can run into, and potential solutions.

We’ve broken our guide down by age brackets:

From there we’ve addressed things in 6 sections, going from ‘How much sleep do they need?’ all the way to ‘Common mistakes and how to fix them’. As children grow they are likely to experience growth spurts and psychological developments which hinder their sleep temporarily. Scary though it may be, this normally shouldn’t worry you, it’s all part of them growing.

Without further ado, let’s get to it, because you’re probably already tired, you’re a parent after all.

6 – 9 months

  • How much sleep do they need?

Total daytime hours: 2 hours 30 minutes

Total night time hours: 11 hours

Between 6 and 9 months, babies usually fall into a pattern of sleeping through the night, or waking up far less frequently. During the day the 2 hours 30 minutes of sleep will usually consist of 2 or even 3 shorter naps.

  • Where should they sleep?

At this age you can make the decision about whether you’re ready to move your baby into a room of their own. You can have your bedroom back to yourself, and you don’t risk waking your baby if you’re watching TV in bed, or just feel like being a little louder.

How to get a good night’s sleep

As your baby gets older, you can certainly change some of the activities to make sure they are appropriate for her age (for instance, add a quiet interactive song or change the bedtime book), but keep the same general bedtime routine. Similar to when your infant was younger, make sure feeding is the first step of the routine instead of the last, and work toward helping her fall asleep independently at bedtime.

Just like younger infants, some older infants wake during the night then return to sleep on their own, without crying and alerting the adults taking care of them. Other babies wake naturally during the night then cry because they need some help to return to sleep.

Know, too, that babies typically no longer have the physiological need to be fed overnight once they are about 6-months-old, unless there is a significant feeding or growth issue. If your older infant still needs to be fed to go back to sleep after a natural night waking, make sure you move feeding to the beginning of her bedtime routine or before the routine altogether and outside of the bedroom altogether. This will help break the association between feeding and falling asleep.

Until she knows how to fall asleep on her own at bedtime, respond to night wakings calmly and consistently to help get you and your family back to sleep as quickly as possible.

  • Recognising sleepy signs

From this age onwards the ‘sleepy’ signs are pretty much the same through every age group. As your baby refines their motor skills you might notice signs such as clumsiness, other signs tend to relate to behaviours, and can include:

    • clinginess
    • grizzling or crying
    • demands for constant attention
    • boredom with their toys
    • exceptional fussiness with familiar foods

  • Sleep training

At this age you may choose to start ‘sleep training’ your child. Sleep training refers to any consistent approach you take towards helping your little one sleep through the night. Sleep training might involve techniques such as controlled crying through the night, or employing a set bedtime routine to help your little learn to fall — and later return to — sleep on their own.

Controlled crying does not mean abandoning your baby through an entire night and ignoring them entirely. Instead, it focuses on training your little one on getting themselves to sleep and empowering them with that skill. There are several approaches to controlled crying, just one is outlined below.

STEP 1: Put your baby in their cot awake, say goodnight to them, and then leave the room.

STEP 2: If they cry, wait for 2 minutes before going in. Stay for a few minutes to reassure them of your presence, then say goodnight and leave the room.

STEP 3: If they are still crying after 5 more minutes, go back in and repeat the entire process.

Sleep training comes with its own pros and cons, and you shouldn’t underestimate the toll this will take on you as a parent. You’re programmed to respond to your child’s cries, and letting them cry on their own for any set period of time can be exceptionally hard. It is up to you whether you opt for training strategies such as controlled crying, or whether you want to leave to a later stage in your little one’s development.

  • Mistakes and fixes

The biggest focus at this stage is retaining consistency with your little one, help them understand when it’s time to sleep and the whole process is likely to become easier, so:

  • Keep to a set bedtime and sleep location, if they look like they’re going to pass out on the sofa, put them to bed in their cot.
  • Keep your routine simple and replicable. If you have to go through 10 or more steps to get your little one to sleep, you could start simplifying the process. Whatever you choose to do, it should be something that you can do every single day, instilling the routine is vital to help your little one learn to sleep at night.
  • Don’t be lured back by every single noise. When your little one is settling down they might grizzle slightly, but you should avoid going straight back to them when this happens. Give your baby a chance to settle themselves before going back to help.

Read the Other Parts of This Guide: