Is your five-month-old baby waking up every two hours? Every baby is different, but many little ones start sleeping a solid six to eight hours nightly after three-months-old. If you’re used to long stretches of nighttime sleep, your baby waking up every couple of hours again can be overwhelming and stressful.
It’s not anything to worry too much about – this won’t be something that you have to live with for long! Sleep regression can be a normal part of development. There are ways to deal with it and techniques to encourage your baby to once again be in dreamland uninterrupted for the vast majority of the night.
What Is Sleep Regression?
Sleep regression is when your baby’s sleeping patterns shift, they start waking up regularly during the night, and find it difficult to fall back asleep. This can be a sign your little one is going through a developmental leap, or a sign that something in their schedule isn’t supporting full nighttime sleep.
As your baby grows, their needs change. One example is naps.
Make Sure Your Baby Is Getting Enough Naps
The older your baby gets, the less naps they need. While every baby is unique, most five-month-olds need three or four naps a day.
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that if your little one only takes one nap, they’ll be tired enough to sleep through the night. That’s not how it works.
If your baby is overtired and overstimulated, falling asleep and staying asleep is going to be way harder for them. One way that you can tell whether your baby is overtired is if they wake up within the first three hours of falling asleep, or if they nod off during their bedtime routine.
Move Bedtime Up By Half An Hour And Avoid The Witching Hour
The Witching Hour is that time in the early evening during which your baby suddenly feels stressed and needy. They seemed to be happy, then the next thing you know they’re having a meltdown. This fussiness is usually caused by tiredness.
“…if your baby gets fussy around 6 p.m., start getting them ready for bed at 5:30 so that they’re already dozing off before the crankiness begins,” says Parents.
Moving their bedtime routine up by half an hour can help promote calmness and relaxation earlier, so that their tiredness doesn’t catch up with them.
Make Sure They’re Getting Enough Calories During The Day
As your baby starts sleeping through the night, nighttime feeds get dropped. But, it’s important to make up for these feeds during the day.
Insufficient calorie intake could be the reason your little one is waking up every couple of hours.
If you’re breastfeeding, make sure your supply is keeping up with your baby’s needs. (Find my free Breastmilk Pumping Log here.) You know your little one is getting enough nutrients when they’re meeting their weight milestones and showing signs of being full, such as turning away from the breast, getting easily distracted, and lighter suckling with longer pauses.
Five-month-old babies should get 24 to 36 ounces of milk a day.
If you want to transition from breastfeeding to bottle feeding, click here.
Have Exciting Wake Windows
During the five month mark, your little one is experiencing amazing developmental leaps. They’re gaining manual dexterity and exploring their toys and may be chatting adorably.
At this age, they’re also trying to sit up. “Sitting up with support in the stroller while you take a neighborhood walk is an especially good way to encourage this milestone. As you walk, point out all the new things she can see from an upright, sitting position, like dogs, cars and other babies in strollers,” advises What To Expect.
Also, natural daylight helps regulate their circadian rhythms and promotes better nighttime sleep.
Make your baby’s wake windows exciting with playtime so that they can have fun gripping things and moving their body, and get outside.
So much lines up to help support quality sleep for your baby. If your five-month-old has suddenly stopped sleeping through the night, get curious about the “why” behind this change. Go back to basics and make sure their calorie intake is sufficient, they’re getting enough daytime sleep, and their wake windows are meeting their needs.