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Our 7-month old boy is only sleeping an average of 11-12 hours each day. During the day, he usually takes 3 naps, and each one only last approx. 30 mins. From 3 months onwards, he has always been a light sleeper compare to other babies at his age, but the situation seems to be getting worse recently.

A little sound can wake him up, especially during the day. I'm not sure if it's due to bad habits (we used to rock him and sometimes my parents would hold him during his entire nap, which usually only lasted for 20 mins). For naps, we still hold him in our arms till he's almost asleep and we give him a pacifier. At night, we usually have a routine to play some music, hold him and pat him and until he's totally relaxed, we put him in his cot with a pacifier.

When he's awake, he's usually very alert and doesn't seem like he's having a lack of sleep... We read about babies at this age should be sleeping an average of 14-15 hours a day, so the baby have sufficient rest, which is essential for brain development.

I also heard the sleeping problem could be caused by his diet (e.g. he's not getting enough food so he keeps waking up). He just started solid at 6 months and he now takes approx. 700ml of formula (similac stage 2) each day.

Here is his general routine:

  • 5am - 6am: start waking up/ falling back to sleep - usually we give him a small feed (e.g. 60ml of formula or 90ml of water)
  • 8am - 150-210ml formula
  • 9-11am - nap/play. nap usually only lasts 30 mins
  • 12pm - 120ml formula + 4 flat tablespoons of rice cereal with veggie
  • 1-4pm - play/ 1-2 naps. each nap lasts only 30 mins
  • 4pm - 180ml formula
  • 7pm - 120ml formula + 4 flat tablespoons of rice cereal with veggie
  • 8-9pm - bed time
  • 12am - sometimes if baby wakes up, we give him 60ml milk (dilute with extra water)

We've been talking about letting him cry, but it's very hard to implement (mainly for us, emotionally), I'm also not sure if our 'soft' routine is a problem. my friends been raving about gina ford's first year contented baby book, i do believe in it but since our son sleeps so little, it's very hard to keep the routine.

Thank you in advance for your help!

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8 Answers

I am a child developmentalist and I deal with children who have neurodevelopmental disabilities who also have problems with sleeping and so I know by heart how much sleep a child needs at various ages. Your 7 month old is getting exactly the right amount of sleep. A child with no problems at 7 months of age should be having 11 hours of sleep at night and 2 - 3 naps during the day There is nothing wrong with his sleep pattern, so stop worrying!

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About 15 hours. Have you considered using a sound machine? My baby girl is extremely sensitive to sound and I've found using a sound machine app on my iPad works wonders.

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He has only 3 hours difference with the average hours. The average of 14H to 15H is just an indication for parents to not let baby sleep too much or trouble him when he needs to sleep. If he wakes up on his own, then it is his rhythm.

Now, it looks like he is taking a lot of short naps, and little noises can wake him up. Is he going out and play often?

What we are doing with our daughter from the beginning is:

  • Never hold the baby while she's sleeping. (thanks to this she could sleep on her own from 3 months old for many hours)
  • When she wakes up in the morning, go out with her or play
  • Before bedtime, go out or play
  • We try to let her go out, meet people and get used to the city noises. (she can sleep in the subway as well as in her quiet bedroom)

Forget the noise generators. Your son seems healthily active. Just play a lot with him when he's awake and active and let him alone when he is relaxed in his bed. You might need to come to his room every 5 minutes when he starts crying (just wait 1 or 2 minutes after he started crying so that he doesn't think crying = papa is coming), after a couple of weeks he should get used to sleeping alone.

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It seems that your son is getting nearly the right amount (number of hours) but is waking up too often and not sleeping when it is best for the whole family.

You may want to encourage him to fall asleep on his own and learn how to fall back asleep himself. It may be a bit early for this. Unfortunately, many things could wake him up. Diet/body discomfort, sound, odor, temperature, vibration, or lighting. Work through all of these possible discomforts to help him sleep his best.

Here are a couple of resources for infant and toddler sleep concerns.

  • In this New York Times article, 'When Lullabies Aren't Enough: Richard Ferber' the Ferber approach to getting babies to sleep well is discussed.
  • Sleep needs chart from a National Sleep Foundation article:

    enter image description here

Best of luck with his sleeping!

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You may be able to do a much earlier bedtime. :) Little ones are funny, the more sleep they get, the more they sleep (if that makes sense). We played with our son's bedtime and found that even if we put him to bed at 6:30-7, he'd still wake up at 5-6am. And it gave us a wonderful evening to hang out. We were surprised that he didn't wake up earlier when he went to bed earlier and it even made his naps longer.

For guidelines on the amount of sleep, I loved this article, I referred to it often.

My guy is now 27 months and sleeps 12 hrs total a day. He has one nap that is 1.5-2 hrs and then goes to bed by 8 and wakes around 6:30-7.

Around 6 months we found a wonderful book by Polly Moore. She has a method called NAPS, which basically says that by 6 mo a baby's awake cycle is 90 min. (link)

  • When the baby wakes, start a timer. 90 min later put them down for a nap.
  • After the nap, start the timer again. Feed/play and 90 min later, another nap.

I know it might sound ridiculous! It took my son a week or so but he really responded to this schedule. As your kiddo gets older, the awake period gets longer but doing this really helped to regulate his naps and his night sleep. It was like a miracle for us because he used to doze for 15 min, 30 min or just never nap and was a cranky mess.

You may also want to consider not holding him for naps. That could be contributing to his light sleep, he's become so used to the snuggles that he has a hard time napping on his own. :)

The noisemaker is a SUPER idea! My son loved his white noise machine but we used to keep it pretty quiet because we didn't want him to get dependent on it. As your baby's sleep regulates, he may become less of a light sleeper too.

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+1 for trying earlier bed time - we've also made the experience, that going to sleep earlier or later not necessarily means waking up earlier/later, but that the child very often wakes up at the same time in the morning. (I'd give another "+1" if I could for the remark, that the noise maker could create a dependency - I'd hesitate to use such "artificial tools" - I heard about children, which can not go to sleep without the noise of a running hair-dryer next to their bed. –  BBM Jul 7 '11 at 7:56
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Sleeping more is healthy, especially for children. There is nothing wrong with children sleeping long hours, as well as nap.

I have a friend, who has a baby, and he is really healthy, and he grew really, really quickly, because he slept so much.

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how do you know that sleeping much is the reason for your friend's baby being healthy and growing really, really quickly? –  BBM Jul 7 '11 at 7:52
    
Because otherwise, he is normal. Also, his mom says its so. She's more exprienced than I am. –  Cryst Jul 7 '11 at 7:54
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This sounds like a very adventurous argumentation for me. How can she know, that the baby is growing quickly because it sleeps much? Does it grow less on days when it sleeps less? And even if she had real data as evidence, that there is a correlation between his sleeping hours and his growth, it would not mean that sleeping much is the cause for its above-average(?!) growth. .. And even if it would be true and proven for this one baby, you can not say that in general "sleeping more is healthy"... –  BBM Jul 7 '11 at 10:06
    
there seem to be also studies stating that not only not enough but also too much sleep is not good for your health. bitsofnews.com/content/view/6195 –  BBM Jul 7 '11 at 10:07
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May I say, at 40, I am quite jealous.

If there isn't an apparent problem beyond sleep hours. I'd let it be.

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As long as he's hitting his milestones, his health and attitude are appropriate, and he seems to be otherwise OK, there shouldn't be a problem.

My son is just coming up on 8 months old and has a pretty similar sleep schedule to yours. He sleeps from 8 or 9 pm til 6 or 7 am, and just a few short naps during the day.

If you think that noise wakes him up too easily, having some kind of noise generator might be useful to keep small noises from waking him from naps. You can either get a purpose-built device (like one of those devices that makes "beach/waves" or "forest sounds" or "rain/storms") or just a radio tuned to a light music station. It's also handy because it doesn't make you feel like a captive in your house while baby sleeps.

If you're particularly concerned, ask your pediatrician.

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+1 for a noisemaker. We found out by coincidence that our son sleeps much better when he can hear that it's raining outside. So we have a device to play just that, and it seems to help him sleep both deeper and longer. –  Torben Gundtofte-Bruun Jul 6 '11 at 14:42
    
will definitely give noise maker a try (usually we only have that on for a short while for him to fall asleep). thanks alot! –  Jo Cheung Jul 6 '11 at 15:47
    
we' made a similar experience - our son also did sleep about 12 hours (if I remember correctly) when he was a 1 year old and that has not changed much (now he's 3.5 years old). It can be hard for the parents sometimes, especially if the child is very active as long as he does not sleep. –  BBM Jul 7 '11 at 7:52
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