You made it, through the 4th trimester, that 4 month sleep “progression” and now entering a new dimension of baby sleep! Many babies really settle into a good night pattern at this age and some are still waking quite a lot. Both are normal, expected, so don’t think your baby should be sleeping through the night just because your friends 5 month old is.
Here are some things for you may like to know about 5 month old sleep…
Sleep needs at night is approximately 11-12 hours
Day sleep needs approximately 3 - 4 hours
Many are still on 4 naps a day but it is possible to get to 3 naps a day
Night feeds are still expected at this age, often 2 a night
Some babies have dropped all night feeds naturally
Many babies only nap in the pram/ with motion
Many babies only fall asleep at night by feeding or rocking
I have worked with a huge amount of 5 month old babies. Mostly they are waking every 2-3 hours in the night and only able to fall back asleep with a feed or bed sharing with a parent. Most fathers have been relegated to the spare room by this point! Sound familiar? Parents come to me in the hope they can get their baby to sleep through the night because they are just exhausted and find their days they are barely functioning due to the lack of sleep. My aim is to encourage and educate parents on how to help their baby sleep well at night and not rely on needing that feed to get back to sleep or dad to rock them for an hour only to wake up again as soon as they lay baby back into the crib. I really tap into the child’s needs and I will encourage to keep a night feed or 2 because that is normal and expected needs at this age. If the baby sleeps through that feed then wonderful, a sign you are doing something right and baby is not hungry! I have worked with 5 month olds who have dropped all night feeds so it can happen!
At 5 months your baby will start to transition to 3 naps a day. Read more about nap transitions HERE. Your baby will need approximately 3-4 hours of day time sleep.
You may find your baby is waking after 40 minutes into a nap which can be very frustrating for you, I know, I have been there and boy was it hard. Some are taking great day time naps and we start to look at having a shorter morning nap to protect the long lunch nap a little more.
The last nap of the day will start to be capped to 30/40 minutes to ensure bedtime is smooth! Your baby is ready to start linking those sleep cycles together, you may need to help them a little bit but it can be done!
Below is a couple of schedules you may like to try but please, do not think this is what you have to be doing. Your baby is individual and what suits one baby may not suit another. This is just a guide and your feeding journey has to be respected through this.
You will see that the wake window between naps are starting at 2 hours and extending to 2.30 at the end of the day. This is usually how wake windows work by slowly extending them through the day.
The schedule below is using same wake windows but a longer morning nap.
This schedule works best for those babies who like to have a longer morning nap in which case the lunch nap will be slightly shorter at only 1.5 hours.
Some babies however are high sleep needs and staying awake over 2 hours is a challenge for them so you can tweak your day accordingly.
Whatever schedule you are on, if you are happy and your baby is happy and thriving then you don’t need to change anything. My schedules here are just suggestions, NOT gospel!
Peaceful nights to you all,
You’re Paediatric Sleep Consultant