There is something so exciting about the half year mark. I remember it so well with all 4 of my children. You survived some of the hardest and sweetest 6 months, your baby is starting to develop the cutest personality and you start thinking about their one year birthday which is not far away and it’s hard to fathom. Then all of a sudden, the 7 month mark hits and it feels like you have a new baby all over again. Your baby who has been sleeping so well starts to fight any and all sleep or maybe you just thought after 6 months sleep would get better and it’s only getting worse. One of my favorite ages to sleep train babies is 7 months so be encouraged there is a lot to do to improve your little one’s sleep.
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Bedtime for a 7 Month Old
A lot of times when working with clients we focus first on bedtime. There are numerous studies that show why a bedtime routine is helpful really for anyone but especially babies. The consistency and repetition reassure a baby with what is coming next especially with sleep at the end. If you do not have a bedtime routine then this is a great age to introduce one.
Or if you have a bedtime routine already then I am pretty sure we will be making some changes to the order (see below) that will help sleep overall. I recommend your baby’s bedtime routine to be 20-30 minutes long so that your little one has some time to unwind and prepare his or her body that sleep is coming. An ideal bedtime routine for a 7 month old would be:
Step 1: Bath
Step 2: Into PJs and Sleep Sack
Step 3: Feed
Step 4: Some Books, Songs, Prayers
Step 5: Say goodnight
Step 6: Into Crib awake
Wide Awake in the Crib
Many times when starting a bedtime routine with a client we find the feed is the last thing in the bedtime routine which means you are putting your baby down either drowsy or asleep. This works well for younger babies but for a 7 month old the more awake he or she can be going to bed the better sleep will be all around.
Another common problem we see with this age is sometimes the beginning of separation anxiety starts to kick in and your baby starts to cry because he or she knows you will be leaving them. This is where a consistent bedtime routine will really help them know exactly what to expect and then be reassured that sleep is coming at the end.
Stay consistent with the routine, offer lots of love and snuggles but try to be confident putting your little one down knowing sleep is most important and this will pass.
Feeding a 7 Month Old
Another big change I usually make with clients is following the eat/wake-play/sleep schedule with the daytime feeds being anywhere between every 3-4 hours.
With this schedule you are offering a feed after your baby wakes up not before they go to sleep.
This helps to make sure your baby is wide awake and alert for a nice full feed and not getting too dependent or drowsy on a feed to go to sleep so that we’re breaking any feeding to sleep association. This also helps to ensure your baby is getting enough calories during the day to help get longer stretches at night.
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Another big change I usually make with clients is following the eat/wake-play/sleep schedule with the feeds being anywhere between every 3-4 hours. With this schedule you are offering a feed after your baby wakes up not before they go to sleep. This helps to make sure your baby is wide awake and alert for a nice full feed and not getting too dependent or drowsy on a feed to go to sleep. This also helps to ensure your baby is getting enough calories during the day to help get longer stretches at night. Depending on your little one’s weight many pediatricians give you the go ahead to drop the night feed/s so offering full feeds during the day really helps stabilize your baby’s metabolism so they are able to sleep more in the night.
Here is an example of a 7 month schedule:
7:00 am: Wake up, eat
10:00 am: Nap
12:00 pm: Wake up, eat
1:00 pm: Solid feed
2:00 pm: Nap
3:30 pm: Wake up, eat
7:00 pm: Start bedtime routine with a feed
7:30 pm: Bedtime
We hear it all the time that parents think once you introduce solids then this should help your baby sleep through the night. While eating more during the day can help a baby sleep more this is not really true and sleeping better at night has more to do with learning the skill of independent sleep vs solids.
However, if you are dropping a night feed then making sure your baby is eating enough during the day is important. The schedule recommended above makes sure your baby is eating full feeds and introduces a meal or two but your baby is still depending on the milk for most of his or her calories.
7 Month Old Naps
Another reason I love working with 7 month old babies because they are usually ready for the 2 nap schedule. The first 6 months have so many schedule changes but once your baby hits 6 – 7 months then you will be on a 2 nap schedule for a consistent amount of time which is really nice.
As shared in the schedule above, the ideal awake window for a 7 month old is anywhere between 2.5-3 hours and then ideally 2 naps anywhere between 1.5-2 hours. This gives you more time to be out running errands and some good down time at home for everyone while your little one is sleeping. Dropping from 3 to 2 naps can also help with a struggling bedtime and early mornings.
So while you have a set bedtime routine, full feedings, good daytime/feeding schedule and consistent naps one major factor that plays a role in 7 month olds starting to fight sleep is needing to learn how to sleep independently. If your baby needs to be held to sleep or rocked to sleep for naps then your little one is going to fight harder when it is time to go to sleep or when he or she wakes in the night.
The more you can let them do to put themselves to sleep the more confident and peaceful they will get with naps, bedtime, night wakings and early mornings. You can slowly remove yourself to allow your baby to do more and more while reassuring them that you are there just doing less and less to help them get to sleep. Same goes for a night time feed…if your little one depends on eating to get to sleep or throughout the night then over the course of a few weeks offer less and less until you eventually drop the feed.
7 Month Old Early Morning Waking
Early mornings are tough but so normal. Your baby is going through a lot of changes and maybe crying, talking, sitting up before the sun has risen. We know this age needs anywhere from 10 – 12 hours of sleep at night so if your baby is waking up early try to give them some time before you respond or offer some check ins without getting them up but with time and practice if they can stay in their cribs until morning time then they most likely will go back to sleeping. Or you can try the Wake to Sleep Method.
Early mornings are so common and come and go but just because they are awake does not mean it’s time to get them up. This is usually the last to get all the way there and a reason some of my clients come back asking for some more help but if you can stay consistent with when it’s morning time this will get better.
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.
Final Thoughts on 7 Month Old Sleep
It’s common for 7 month-old babies to experience sleep difficulties due to developmental changes and milestones such as learning to crawl, sit, stand and communicate. These changes can affect good sleep and make it more challenging.
The good news is that following these tips above can help improve your baby’s sleep
If you’re looking for more information or would like to talk to me more about what to do then please don’t hesitate to schedule a 30 minute information call. I will give you as much as possible in these 30 minutes to help you and your baby get some sleep!
Bedtime for a 7 month old can be one of the most wonderful times of the day. It is an amazing bonding experience snuggling in the bedtime routine. And there’s nothing more beautiful than watching your baby put themselves to sleep.
About the Author
Katy Adams is a Senior Sleep Consultant at Live Love Sleep with over 15 years of experience working with children and families. Before becoming a sleep consultant, Katy was a 2nd grade teacher and a leader at her church.
She lives in Houston with her husband and 4 children – Daniel, Joseph and twin girls Adeline and Amy Kathryn.
When she found out she was pregnant with my first child, she was overcome by the initial rush of excitement. Then came fear. Her biggest fear was “am I ever going to sleep again?” One of her best friends, a recent mother, told her about a newborn baby sleep book. She bought it right away. After reading it in one night, she felt somewhat better. She still couldn’t help but wonder if it was really going to work. She was simply overwhelmed by the glut of information and my own lack of experience. This same friend became my go-to person for any advice and questions.
S soon realized she could not have fully implemented the sleep plans and helped her son learn to sleep independently without someone to support her. After this experience, one of her primary goals has been to help parents develop and implement an effective plan to get their babies to sleep. She has learned that no single plan is perfect because every child is different. But having someone to walk alongside you on this journey to restful nights is incredibly beneficial.