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Welcome To The Members Area! Forums Baby Sleep Help 7-month old forgetting how to self-soothe? Reply To: 7-month old forgetting how to self-soothe?

  • Emma H

    May 24, 2024 at 2:21 pm

    Hi Diana,

    Thanks for the answers!

    Based on what you’ve shared, there could be a few reasons for the sudden change in his sleeping patterns:

    1. Learning to Crawl: When babies start learning to crawl, it can affect their sleep, making it harder for them to fall asleep and causing more frequent wakes overnight.
    2. Having Too Many Naps: Another possibility is that he’s having too many naps during the day. He might be ready to drop that third nap. It’s easy to mistake boredom for tiredness and continue putting him to bed at his usual time. However, if he’s ready to drop this nap, it can result in changes to his sleep patterns. For example, he might fall asleep initially but then wake up soon after because he’s not truly tired enough to stay asleep. This can lead to shorter naps and more frequent nighttime wakes.
    3. New Sleep Cues: Another factor could be the introduction of a new sleep cue. Often, when babies start having trouble sleeping, we introduce new habits or techniques to help them fall asleep. For example, you might begin to hold him until he falls asleep. While these methods can be effective in the short term, they can lead to your baby becoming reliant on them to fall asleep. This means that when he wakes up during the night, he may not be able to fall back asleep on his own and will need the same sleep cue to do so. This dependency can cause more frequent nighttime wakes, and shorter sleep stretches.

    Since he’s waking every 1-2 hours overnight, it sounds like he might be relying on being held to fall back to sleep.

    Here are some suggestions to help him sleep for longer stretches:

    • Try transitioning to two naps a day. Reducing the number of naps can help consolidate his sleep, leading to longer, more restful periods of sleep both during the day and at night. Additionally, stretching out his wake windows during the day can build up enough sleep pressure for him to sleep more soundly. Here’s an example schedule for transitioning to two naps per day:
      • If he wakes at 6 am, his first nap could be around 9-10:30/11 am.
      • The second nap could be around 1-2:30/3 pm.
      • Bedtime might initially need to be at 6:30 pm and can be adjusted later as he becomes more settled with just two naps.
    • Reteach Self-Soothing: To help him sleep longer overnight and have longer naps during the day, he needs to relearn how to fall to asleep on his own. At this age, staying in the room after placing him in the crib can be confusing and upsetting since he’s more aware of your presence. So instead of staying in the room, you can try the following:
      • Pre-Sleep Routine: Complete your pre-sleep routine.
      • Place in Crib and Leave: After finishing the pre-sleep routine, place him in his crib while he’s still awake. Walk out of the room and close the door. Then, keep an eye on him using a baby monitor. (So what do in the Live Example: Reading Cues at 5 Months of Age video)
      • Watch and Listen: Observe and listen to him on the monitor. If he calls out, but there are breaks between the cries, he’s likely trying to settle himself. Give him a little time to do so without rushing in right away.
      • Respond if Necessary: If his calls get louder and more continuous without breaks, go back into the room to soothe him.
      • Move Up and Down the Pyramid: Use the settling pyramid method as needed, and move back down the pyramid as he settles so that he completes the last step of falling asleep on his own. This might mean you need to pick him up and put him back down a few times.
      • Consider the Timing: Reteaching him how to fall back to sleep on his own can be challenging when you’re also caring for a toddler. You might find it more manageable to focus on this at bedtime when another adult can entertain the toddler (and this might also be easier as sleep pressure and his circadian rhythm will work together to help him fall asleep). Alternatively, you could start this process on a weekend when another adult can help.

    Is this something you could try?

    I understand it might be frustrating to hear that he needs to relearn this skill. However, it might be comforting to know that this process should be quicker than the first time you did this with him. Plus, you already know he can do it! Once he relearns how to fall asleep on his own, his naps should lengthen, and the number of overnight wakes should decrease.

    Let me know if you have any questions or need further help!