The Peaceful Baby in March: Sleep (Part One)

I have had three local mothers in my over twelve years of parenting counseling who had babies under the age of six months who truly did not sleep.  It was very difficult.   All three cases were very active little girl babies who had a difficult time gaining weight, and once they became mobile older babies/toddlers they were so active that no one other than the mother could seem to watch the baby without the child ending up on the top of refrigerator,etc.  They were also toddler  masters of getting through baby locks and other child-proofing devices.  Whew!

I would like to go over a few points regarding sleep for these types of babies and then children in general. 

For babies under the age of 6 months who “don’t sleep”:

1.  Realistic expectations are key.  Know that there will be times they don’t sleep well due to teething and other developmental stages.  Also, how many hours a day are you expecting them to sleep?  Babies need time to be outside, time to play on the floor as well as the older babies.  They can also be a passive witness to what you are doing from the viewpoint of a sling.  Some babies also sleep very well in a sling.

I am sure many of you have seen “the sleep table” in “The No-Cry Sleep Solution” – there are things in this book that I vehemently disagree with, but I like the sleep table 🙂  It details the number of hours each day infants of different ages sleep, how many naps a day of different ages take and how long those typical naps are.  For example:  a six-month old is typically taking two naps a day for a total of 3-4 hours and sleeping 10-11 hours at night for a total of 14-15 hours whereas a 2 year old is typically taking one nap a day for one to two hours and sleeping around 12 hours at night for a total of 11 hours of sleep. 

2.  Biologically, we do not want babies to enter a deep sleep and “sleep soundly” though the night at an early age because 1.  this decreases calories for most breastfeeding babies;  studies have shown even babies at 10 months can receive up to 25 percent of their calories at night if mothers will still nurse their babies at night.  2.  not breastfeeding at night increases the chance of you getting your menstrual cycle back at night and takes away natural child spacing and  3.  the rate of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome is highest between 2 to 5 months, so we don’t want deep sleeping then.  We want arousal out of sleep here and there to keep our babies breathing.

Please see these back posts regarding sleep and co-sleeping:

3.  For a baby under 6 months who is not sleeping well, but in a developmental plateau, not getting sick, and not teething, please check yourself. How anxious are you about them not sleeping?  Babies pick up on your anxiety! 

4.  Check warmth.  I find babies who are like this, and who are not gaining weight well,  are often actually  cold.  Check these back posts on warmth:

5. Check for food allergies and sensitivities, reflux and colic.  There have been some studies showing a positive resolution of colic with care from a qualified pediatric chiropractor; this may be worth a try.  For reflux, try

6.  As these children grow, I think it is VERY, very important to institute quiet activities with active ones, and yes, periods of rest.  We have had several posts in the past regarding “quiet time” that were hot debate.  You can see those here:      and here:

Some of these children, particularly when small, will not just go and lay down at a rest time.  But it is worth it to all lay down together, to read a book or light a candle and snuggle together for storytelling.  That break is important. 

It is also important to note, I think, that these children NEED time in nature.  That may be only time they actually slow down and get involved in digging in the dirt or other really rhythmical activity that really transports them to a quieter place.

In the next part of this, we will look at what to do when sleep for the whole family is an urgent need, and also a Waldorf view of sleep!

Many blessings,


10 thoughts on “The Peaceful Baby in March: Sleep (Part One)

  1. Emerson was born 7 weeks early due to pre-eclampsia. She spent 4 weeks in the NICU. sleep was always a challenge when she was newly home…she weighted only 4lbs when she was brought home. When she hit 8lbs, she started to sleep at longer stretches (until 3 or 4 in the morning)

    she slept in a bassinet by my bed and was bottle fed pumped milk until 3 months, when we finally figured out how to breastfeed…which we did until she was 2.5.

    I never let her CIO, and there were times, especially at 8 months, when she would get up CONSTANTLY to nurse…I was a wreck LOL .. and she slept in our bed alot.

    But it’s worth it. We have no resistance to sleep…it is a peaceful time and she looks forward to it

    of course there are occasional issues when things are disrupted…changes in day care…teething (she is a BEAR when she is teething), illness…etc

    But mostly, she goes right to bed…we sing a few songs…sometimes I rub her…and she’s usually out in about 15 minutes.

    Sometimes I think those tough times in the beginning were a result of not having as much physical contact in the 4 weeks she was in the NICU. I went every day, but coudln’t hold her the whole time I was there…though i did for long stretches…strange times indeed…

    i approach sleep the way I approach nearly everything else…I’m just along for the ride LOL

    • Jennifer – blessings, did you know I have done NICU work for the majority of my out of the home work?
      Carrie 🙂

  2. Carrie-I didn’t know that…NICUs are amazing places…both scary and nourishing at the same time

    the mass general NICU (brought on line in 2006) is BLOODY amazing.

    they took such good care of Emerson…and apart from being lithe and having a weak immune system (she cannot tolerate a daycare center), she is absolutely perfect in every way.

    We are so thankful for the awesome staff at Mass General — and truly appreciate all the people who work with such special little babies (emerson was 2lb 15oz at birth and only 16.5 inches)

  3. Pingback: The Peaceful Baby in March: Sleep (Part One) « The Parenting … | Babies Grow

  4. Carrie,

    I have just stumbled across this site and spent the last hour or so reading bit and pieces from your last few years. Its been lovely to read such sensible comments with such a pleasant undertone.

    May I echo a previous poster and ask if you are going to talk about naps for the toddler (18 months plus)? It seems to me that it is a particularly difficult time transitioning from nursing to sleep or some other prompt to trying to provide appropriate calm and encouragement to sleep at a time when the child is not yet able to respond to your vocal suggestions.

    Please keep up the good work!

  5. Hi Carrie,
    I’ve recently found your blog also. I’m a fellow P.T. so it’s always exciting when I find P.T. bloggers (about things other than P.T. ;). You mentioned the “No-Cry” books. I have all the ones dealing with sleep by Pantley. I was just wondering what the things are that you “vehemently” disagree with. Not that I’m totally pro-Pantley, just wondering what your take is of her methods.

    I’ve had my share of sleep-issues with both of my kids. My now 7 wk old baby has recently gone to only 45 min catnaps during the day, although he sleeps great at night (7-8 hr stretches at a time). I decided I’d had enough of the short naps so have been changing things up a little. Previously I was following the 90-minute Sleep Program (book by Polly Moore PhD) and was able to get him down easily albeit for short intervals. Now that I’ve loosened up on that program, I can hardly get him to sleep except in a baby wrap (similar to Moby) and it’s now hard to get him to sleep at night.

    Anyway, always a struggle…and yes I do need to “check myself” as you mentioned because I find myself getting stressed about

    Thanks so much for all the great info in general too. You’ve opened my eyes to the Waldorf way…something I’d never heard of but am now loving all I’m learning about it.

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Pingback: Struggling At Bedtime « The Parenting Passageway

  7. Pingback: peaceful baby sleep « Articles « Baby Sleep Made Easy

  8. Pingback: Sleep and Rest: Eight Facets Of A Healthy Family Culture | The Parenting Passageway

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