As a baby sleep coach, I often receive concerns from parents about their 5 month old not sleeping well. If you’re one of these parents, know that you’re not alone. Many parents face this challenge as their babies reach this age. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to help your baby sleep better.
Let me share a story about one of my clients, Sarah and Dennis. Their 5-month-old baby, Liam, was not sleeping well, and they were feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. Liam would wake up every hour, crying and needing to be fed or rocked back to sleep. Sarah and Dennis were struggling to function during the day, feeling constantly tired and stressed. They knew they needed to get Liam sleeping better, not only for their own sanity but also for his development and growth.
As they worked with me, we created a customized sleep plan for Liam that addressed his unique needs and challenges. Within a few weeks, Liam was sleeping longer and more deeply, and Sarah and Dennis felt like they had their lives back. They were happier, more rested parents, and Liam was thriving with better sleep.
There’s a lot of things that we worked on to get Liam sleeping well from teaching him how to sleep without his sleep props to creating a fun and consistent bedtime routine. And I am going to share a few of those tips with you today.
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5 Month Old Not Sleeping Because of Developmental Changes
At 5 months old, a baby goes through several developmental changes that can affect their sleep patterns. Changes, such as learning to roll over and sit up, can cause discomfort and make it difficult for the baby to find a comfortable sleeping position. Additionally, teething can be a painful process that may disrupt sleep and cause your 5 month old not sleeping well.
As their cognitive skills improve, babies become more curious and interested in their surroundings, making it harder for them to settle down and fall asleep. Furthermore, babies at this age experience rapid brain development, which can lead to more vivid dreams and night wakings.
It’s important to understand these developmental changes and adjust your baby’s sleep routine and environment accordingly to help them get the rest they need. A consistent and age-appropriate sleep schedule can help your baby navigate these changes and improve their overall sleep quality.
5 Month Old Not Sleeping Because of Sleep Associations
If your baby has formed a habit of relying on certain sleep associations such as rocking or nursing to fall asleep, they may have difficulty falling back asleep without them. Sleep associations can cause a 5 month old baby to wake up throughout the night because they rely on these associations to fall asleep and don’t know how to self-soothe when they wake up between sleep cycles.
For example, if your baby associates being bounced or rocked with falling asleep, they may expect the same experience when they wake up in the middle of the night. If the sleep association is not present, the baby may cry and have difficulty falling back asleep.
As a result, parents may find themselves repeatedly soothing and comforting their baby throughout the night. This can create a cycle where the baby becomes dependent on the sleep association to fall asleep, and the parents become exhausted from providing the association every time the baby wakes up.
Bedtime for a 5 Month Old
A 5 month old baby should go to bed between 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM, with the ideal bedtime being around 7:00 PM. Babies at this age require around 12-15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period, which includes both daytime naps and nighttime sleep.
I know that a 7 p.m. bedtime may seem insanely early for us as adults, but trust me, for your baby it is not. Their body’s natural body clock does have them ready for sleep around this time. And if you keep them up much later than this, your 5 month old will be fighting sleep because they’re up past when their circadian rhythm has them ready for sleep.
To determine the best bedtime for your 5 month old baby, observe their sleep patterns and choose a time when they are naturally drowsy and ready to sleep.
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By establishing a consistent bedtime routine and sticking to a regular sleep schedule, you can help your 5 month old baby establish healthy sleep habits that will benefit them throughout their life. Having a consistent bedtime routine can help signal to your baby that it’s time to sleep. A typical bedtime routine might include a warm bath, followed their bedtime feed, a story, then a lullaby before being put down to sleep.
Your bedtime routine should last between 30 – 40 minutes at 5 months old. If it goes on too long, your baby may begin getting overtired, which can make it much more challenging for them to fall asleep.
Keep in mind that every baby is different, and their sleep needs may vary depending on their individual habits and temperament. So you may need to play around with the timing of their bedtime to find the time that works best for your family and for your baby.
Follow Proper Awake Windows to Avoid Your 5 Month Old Fighting Sleep
Following proper awake windows is important to get a 5 month old baby sleeping well because it ensures that your baby is getting the right amount of sleep and is not becoming overtired or overstimulated. Awake windows refer to the amount of time your baby is awake between naps or before bedtime.
Babies at this age have specific sleep needs and require a balance of awake time and sleep time to feel rested and refreshed. If a baby is kept awake for too long, they can become overtired, making it difficult for them to fall asleep and stay asleep.
On the other hand, if a baby is kept awake for too short a time, they may not be tired enough to fall asleep easily. Following appropriate awake windows will help ensure that your baby is well-rested and can establish healthy sleep patterns.
To determine the appropriate awake window for your baby, observe their sleep patterns and take note of how long they are able to stay awake before becoming fussy or showing signs of tiredness. A typical awake window for a 5 month old baby is around 2 hours.
And that 2 hour awake window will typically put your 5 month old on a 3 nap a day schedule. Although if you’re seeing shorter naps, you may need to throw in a fourth nap to ensure that your baby isn’t awake too long before bedtime.
By establishing and following a consistent sleep schedule that includes appropriate awake windows, you can help your month old baby get the sleep they need to thrive.
Create a Conducive Sleep Environment
Ensure that your baby’s sleeping environment is quiet, cool, and dark to promote better sleep. Creating a conducive sleep environment is important for a 5 month old baby to help them sleep well and stay asleep. The environment should be comfortable, quiet, and safe, allowing your baby to feel secure and relaxed.
Start by choosing a comfortable and supportive crib or bassinet, and ensure that it is free of loose blankets, pillows, or toys that could pose a suffocation hazard. Since your baby is under a year of age, we want to make sure there’s nothing in the crib except the mattress with the fitted sheet, and your baby on top of that in an arms free sleep sack.
Keep the room temperature at a comfortable level, between 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit, to prevent your baby from overheating or becoming too cold. That’s the temperature that I find more 5 month old babies sleep best in.
Use blackout window covers or shades to create a dark and calming environment, which can help your baby fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer. A nice, dark, cool room will help your baby sleep longer in the mornings and take better naps during the daytime.
Consider using a white noise machine to create a consistent and soothing background noise, which can help mask other noises that might wake your baby. The world is a noisy place! Whether it’s the neighbor’s dog barking, or the garbage truck driving by, you want to help buffer that noise to help your baby continue to sleep during those noises. My favorite white noise machine is the Hatch.
Overstimulation refers to a situation where a baby is exposed to too many sensory stimuli, such as bright lights, loud noises, or excessive movement, that their brain is not yet able to process or handle. When your baby is overstimulated, it can make it more difficult for them to fall asleep, and they may become fussy or irritable.
One reason overstimulation can make it harder for a baby to sleep is that their developing brains are not yet able to filter out or ignore unnecessary sensory input. This means that when they are exposed to too much stimulation, their brains become overloaded and they may struggle to calm down and settle into a sleep state.
Additionally, overstimulation can interfere with the production of melatonin, a hormone that helps regulate sleep-wake cycles. When a baby is exposed to bright lights or electronic screens before bedtime, it can suppress the release of melatonin and disrupt their natural sleep rhythms.
Furthermore, when a baby is overstimulated, they may become overly tired and have difficulty winding down. This can lead to overactive behavior, fussiness, and resistance to sleep.
So avoid screen time before putting your baby down to sleep and keep their bedtime and nap time routines calming.
Encourage Self Soothing
Earlier we talked about how one of the reasons your baby may not be sleeping well could be because they don’t have the skills needed to soothe themselves. They might require you to do something in order for them to fall asleep. Your baby may need you to pat them, rocking them, or feed them to sleep. And as a result, when they wake up in between sleep cycles, they’re going to expect the same thing from you in order to get back to sleep.
And I get how scary it can be thinking about how you’ll get them to sleep without needing all that assistance before. Is there a way to do it without having to leave them alone to cry it out? There is actually!
I work with families to teach their baby how to fall asleep happily at bedtime and sleep through the night using gentle sleep training methods. I’d love to help your family!
Let’s see if we’re a good fit for each other by hoping on a Discovery Call. I’ll ask some questions about your baby and family and walk you through the sleep training process. I look forward to chatting with you soon!