Sleep and the Six month old

WWe recently visited a GP for our 6 month check and we’re told that, the latest evidence was irrefutable that babies who don’t sleep through at 6 months can become “agitated” and “their brain development can be affected”. I was wondering what your view on this is? Currently our breastfed 6 month old who started solids 2 weeks ago, goes down at 7pm but is fed at around 10.30pm, 2am, 5.30am and wakes at 7am. We were told to stop all overnight feeds and let him cry to self settle and he would start to sleep through in a few days…..

Let us assume you misunderstood your nice GP! As a bald statement, of course, this is not a true as 25 -60% of 6 – 12 month old babies are defined as having ‘sleep disturbance’ in most studies.

There are a few aspects worth discussing.

  • It is true that after 6 months infants don’t need feeds at night physiologically i.e. they can survive without. But that’s not to say that in your family, with your particular breastfeeding practice and bed arrangements that it’s not perfectly all right for you and your baby.
  • Leaving babies to cry to self settle (so called ‘controlled crying’) is not recommended for a number of reasons one of which is, as your GP said “their brain development can be affected”. It is in their first year that babies create specific basic brain connections in response to being secure and loved – or otherwise being abandoned when the dark of the night comes. These beliefs (of being loved and cared for – or not) have the capability of lasting a lifetime. In addition these connections provide the underpinning of later connections to do with all the other so called ‘executive functions’ of the brain, the ability to organise thoughts and regulate emotion, for instance, that our brain needs to function efficiently.
  • At six months babies start to develop ‘working memory’ hence the ability to learn things – especially things for which they are rewarded. So it is true that the more you feed them at night the more they will wake up for it. But that is no reason to abandon them to cry.
  • If you want to continue just the way you are doing now, please do. Nobody will come to any harm as long as it is mutually satisfying and you can cope with the broken nights.
  • If you would however like him to settle better, at six months you have your first opportunity. It is at this age most babies are getting their act together at night and they can certainly be helped in this ability by the following steps:
  1. Get to know their tiredness signs. By now these should be clear to you and very distinct. Irritability, distraction, yawning, and eye rubbing are among the most common.
  2. Arrange regular daytime naps. At this age most babies need at least 2 nap times of an hour each and should be offered them whether they are demanded or not. If the infant does not wish to sleep, the time should be a quiet, calm timeout. At this age good naps equals good nights.
  3. Too much daytime excitement can lead to night-time waking. So a busy schedule from the carer tends to lead to a wakeful baby later. Conversely a busy schedule of activity for the baby may make the baby more sleepy at night. Only trial and error will tell you what works for your particular baby’s personality.
  4. It is really important from this age onward to adhere to a bedtime schedule. This should be an enjoyable routine, looked forward to by the parent and infant and includes feed, bath time, perhaps a gentle massage, then reading, or gentle conversation. For a full hour or more before sleep time there should be no excitement at all.
  5. The infant should be put into a cot which is now exclusively associated with sleeping. Except on special occasions the child should always fall asleep in the same location as she will wake up.
  6. Ideally, he should be put down drowsy but awake. If possible there should be minimal fussing after tucking in. Unless it is your choice and the baby’s habit, once down, avoid rocking, cuddling or patting to sleep. And if it is, you have a choice to gradually (step by step, night by night) wean the baby off such input or continue it.
  7. There should never be TVs, computers or other screens in the bedroom.
  8. After putting him down, allow a little time for the infant to self soothe. If not settling, administer low stimulus soothing or lie with him for the minimum time necessary for him to settle.
  9. Any activities later such as nappy changing, should be done quietly, with dim lighting and minimal conversation

If transient problems occur, such as if the child becomes ill, or holidays intervene, don’t stress too much. Almost all children have short periods of sleep difficulties and as long as the parent does not reinforce the problem, they will soon disappear. So keep all interventions at a low-level with minimum stimulation and minimum reward.

There is more on this fascinating subject in my forthcoming book “Your Cherished Baby” (Pan Macmillan) out on 1st. August 2014.



By |June 23rd, 2014|61 Comments

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  1. sam June 24, 2014 at 1:18 am

    Hello Dr Chilton
    I am following most of these points with my 6 month old but when he wakes at night (3-5 times) he will not settle until I have breastfed him. We have tried the pick up put down method (waiting each time until he stops crying) but this will go on for hours and I end up feeding him. Also my partner works away a lot so i often become too tired to resist feeding him after trying to settle without. He eats 3 lots of solids and has at least 4 breastfeeds a day. Can you offer any advice please?

    • Howard Chilton June 24, 2014 at 5:12 pm

      If you are following most of the points and are getting nowhere, back off trying to progress for a month or so , then try again later. Six months is a woolly number, some babies are ready then, some earlier, some later. Don’t worry, he’s still very young and will change month by month!

  2. sam June 24, 2014 at 1:19 am

    Hello Dr Chilton
    I am following most of these points with my 6 month old but when he wakes at night (3-5 times) he will not settle until I have breastfed him. We have tried the pick up put down method (waiting each time until he stops crying) but this will go on for hours and I end up feeding him. Also my partner works away a lot so i often become too tired to resist feeding him after trying to settle without. He eats 3 lots of solids and has at least 4 breastfeeds a day. Can you offer any advice please? I would love some sleep!

  3. Tania August 14, 2014 at 4:17 am

    Hello Dr Chilton.

    My son is 3 months old. Are babies less than 6 months of age incapable of learning to self settle, etc? He only catnaps during the day and will only sleep in the day in my arms. I’m worried I’ve spoiled him : )

    • Howard Chilton August 20, 2014 at 5:17 am

      You cannot ‘spoil’ a baby of 3 months old. They do not have the memory capability. Have a read of the new book and it will all become clear. There is no harm in young babies sleeping in your arms. What could be more comforting and natural! As they head towards 6 months so they get better at settling. Don’t worry.

  4. Emma October 14, 2014 at 5:29 am

    Dr Chilton,

    Putting baby down “drowsy but awake” is recommended by most sleep trainers as a means of teaching the child to put itself back to sleep between cycles. In fact, many people claim it is the only way of teaching a baby to sleep for long stretches. However, is there any scientific evidence to back this up?

    Further, our wakeful (2-5 times a night) but otherwise healthy, happy six month old cries if we try to put her down while drowsy so we nurse or rock. Assuming there is evidence that this method must be implemented if she’s to sleep for longer, can you suggest anything to help her through this transition (i.e. to minimise crying and stress for bub)?

    Thank you

    • Howard Chilton October 24, 2014 at 6:56 am

      The evidence is mostly related to the fact that babies develop sleep associations around the six month mark. It has been compared to you waking up in the night and your pillow’s on the floor. You cannot return to sleep until to pick it up and put it back on the bed.
      If your baby always falls asleep on the breast she may come to believe that sucking on a breast and falling asleep are one activity and you can’t do one without the other. Hence when she wakes in the night (and babies tend to rouse about every 50 minutes to light sleep or a waking state) she cannot return to sleep without your breast.
      So: as she feeds and starts to fall asleep you put the end of your finger in her mouth and pop her off the breast and put her in her cot. She will object. You return her to the breast, as she is falling asleep you do it again ,and again. Until you’re sick of it. Then you let her fall asleep on your breast. Next feed you start all over again.
      It may take you a few days but she will eventually figure it out. If you don’t want to do this of course you don’t have to, but her sleep patterns will be hard to influence without this first step.

  5. Megan October 30, 2014 at 8:38 am

    Hi Howard, thanks for your website and blog. I’m looking forward to reading your books. I am a mum of a 6 month old, whose sleep has slowly deteriorated over the past two months. Sometimes her day sleeps are anywhere between 30 to three hours. I watch her like a hawk to see her tired signs and often these are after an hour of being awake. I put her down to sleep for her naps between an hour and 30 and two hours. We also have a routine at bedtime that has been the same since she was a week old. However recently she will often drift off to sleep, but seemingly wake up anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes later. She is also waking several times a night. I am feeding her which I don’t mind but would prefer to only feed her once, not twice. We can often spend up to an hour trying to settle with no result without feeding. Can you advise how long you should try to settle before feeding? And the possible reasons she may be waking after settling – I suspect she may be under or over tired in some cases? Many thanks

    • Howard Chilton October 31, 2014 at 8:35 am

      Hi Megan, That’s what 4 – 6 month old babies who have previously been sleeping through the night do, I’m afraid. It’s very common. Don’t over-think it. The reasons relate to their development and they go through changes like this periodically. She probably doesn’t strictly NEED a feed but it would certainly settle her a little. Babies over 6 months old actually don’t need food at night. But it’s still OK to feed her. However she will respond to such reward by continuing to wake…. Is her weight normal. Is your milk supply OK? Are you in Sydney and can you come and see me? It difficult to answer your questions by email as there are too many variables and definitely no set time to settle her before feeding…

      • Megan November 2, 2014 at 8:27 pm

        Thanks for the reply Howard. We are still feeding twice overnight and she settles well afterwards. She is putting on weight but is at the lowest end of the scale. I think I have enough milk as she continues to put on weight and sleeps reasonably most of the time. Even if it is not in a regular pattern. She will be 7 months next week and I am hoping the sleeping will settle soon. Unfortunately we are not in Sydney :(. Is there a way we can drop a feed overnight?

        • Howard Chilton November 5, 2014 at 8:38 am

          If she’s just putting on the right amount of weight I would tend to feed her at night if she wants it for the time being. See how you go when she’s into more solids.

  6. Eve November 2, 2014 at 9:13 pm

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    I read your book “Baby on Board” before my first child was born and I think the concept of creating a “womb-like state” was the very most helpful advice I ever received, thank-you!! I’m just wondering what you’d advise for my second baby, now 7 months old, who has been sleeping from 7pm until 5am but has recently started waking around 1.30am and staying awake for 2-3 hours. I have tried feeding, rocking/pacing/patting and co-sleeping but nothing seems to make a difference… I am also following all of the guidelines you list above.

    Many thanks,

    • Howard Chilton November 5, 2014 at 8:40 am

      Babies often do this at this age. Just make your interactions with her to be very business-like and not much extra fun. Give it time and not much reward and she’ll probably cease it soon.

  7. Allison December 18, 2014 at 2:31 am

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    My son is now 7.5 months and is still waking in the night in which I have been breastfeeding him. He goes to bed around 7pm then I was getting him up for a feed at 10pm before i go to bed. He usually wakes at 2am and then sometimes at 5 or 6am. Recently we attend child and family health as I wanted to try and get him to sleep through the night. We were told to withhold the breast between the hours of 10 and 5am. The first night it took my husband and hour to settle, the following night it took 3 hours. We were exhausted and so was he, he also has a cold as well but the nurse said we could do it now anyway. He was hysterical for most of the time and we had to put him in front if the TV to stop him from screaming. After that night we decided it was too hard. I felt terrible, worried that maybe he was thirsty and he has been tired for days. Is there another method you could suggest? I am also wondering if I am expecting him to sleep too much within 24hrs. He has 2 days naps around 1.5 hrs each and then I try and get him to sleep from 7pm and up at 7am. That’s 15hrs in totally. I thought that maybe if I get him up earlier in the morning he might not wake up as much. I also wondered what your opinion is on the dreamfeed- waking him out of his sleep at 10pm?

    • Howard Chilton December 20, 2014 at 8:33 pm

      This whole subject is complex and not amenable to email answers. If you’re in Sydney come and see me in the office. If you are elsewhere get a phone (or better yet) a Skype consult from this website (‘buy online’). I agree that the advice you have had so far can be improved on.

    • Howard Chilton December 20, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      It sounds like your situation is not amenable to an email reply. If you are in Sydney come and see me in the office (call 9650 4966). If elsewhere get a phone or Skype consultation and see can talk about it.

  8. Courtney January 9, 2015 at 1:41 pm

    Hi Dr Chilton,
    My son is 10 days off 5 months and was sleeping from 9:30pm thru to 5-6am but has now started waking up to 2-3 times inbetween. Its hard to tell if its because hes teething, uncomfortable, reflux or just wanting dummy/breast for comfort. I can sometimes get away with putting his dummy back in and him falling asleep but most of the time he wants to be fed which then leads to him falling asleep happily. I’m not 100% happy about the dummy and I don’t want the Breastfeeding at night to become a sleep association, what would you suggest? He has recently started solids and is at a good weight, he can self settle during day naps too.
    Thank so much. #tiredmama

    • Howard Chilton January 21, 2015 at 6:50 am

      He’s doing what many babies do at this age. He’s not teething, it’s unlikely to be reflux or discomfort. A bit of sleep regression is common at this age. Don’t worry about sleep associations. If the breast calms him then go with it. It could change for the better at any moment. Always put a little pressure on him though. At night, delay the feed for a few minutes, with patting. Don’t listen to your friends with their scary stories!

  9. alice March 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Hi Dr Chilton,
    My 6 month old son has been waking every 2 hours of a night and the only thing that settles him is to breastfeed. He has been doing this for the past 2 months. He doesn’t sleep well during the day he usually has 2-3 45 Min to an hour Sleeps. We have a bedtime schedule which has been the same since about 8 weeks. I’m worried I’ve started bad sleep association habits by feeding him when he wakes during the night and what will happen when he is no longer breastfed how will he settle? What can I do to help him sleep longer at night? I am going to buy your books tomorrow! Can you offer any advice please? Thank you

    • Howard Chilton March 30, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      It sounds like you’re going fine. Babies change week by week. Don’t fear the worst that could happen. It rarely does. Feeding to sleep is okay – just try delaying the feeds at night and trying some patting or ask your partner to try and settle him for a while. Check out the information in ‘Your Cherished Baby’.

  10. Stanley Garland May 4, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    What do you suggest for toddlers who get up out of bed and open the bedroom door and climb into mommy and daddy’s bed. We would like them to sleep in their room, if possible.

    • Howard Chilton May 5, 2015 at 11:12 am

      Depends on the age, the older the more directive you can be. If you are determined a loving return to the cot, over and over again will suffice but it might take several (?many) goes until it gets through. Toddlers do what they are rewarded for and love to test the boundaries. Just returning them with a quiet voice, no threats, no punishments, no coercion should make it unrewarding enough to stop it. As they get to two and older, minor bribes and serious praise when they stay in their bed can help. The main thing is no shouting or excitement, just pragmatic return to their their bed without too much attention to them. Pretend you’re half asleep. Good Luck!

  11. Holly MacArthur-king June 4, 2015 at 8:56 pm

    Hi Dr. Chilton

    Please help! I have a 5 month old who from the age of 4 months started waking at night every hour on the hour. Now he’s 5 months he’s still doing it only now he’ll wake during the night and be wide awake for up to 2 hours. When I do get him back to sleep he’ll still wake an hour later. I Try tend to him as soon as I hear him stir, either put his dummy back in, pat him or offer him a feed but if I get to him to late he wakes up, is wide awake and it’s almost impossible to get him back to sleep. If I leave him in his cot he’ll be ok for a short while then he’ll start getting upset but as soon as I walk over to him he stops and smiles. Iv tried getting my husband to tend to him but he starts crying and getting himself into a state and I end up taking over anyway.
    I was told by our health nurse of how to get him to start learning self soothing which has helped with his day naps, he use to only nap for 40min at a time, now he’ll nap for up to 2hours but it hasn’t seemed to improve his night sleeping
    I feel like I’ve become part of the problem.
    He use to be a pretty good sleeper
    What went wrong?
    How can I help both him and I get some much needed sleep!

    • Howard Chilton June 5, 2015 at 4:17 am

      Hi Holly, Are you in Sydney or the Northern Rivers. Email is hard to do consultations on. Howard

  12. Sarah September 16, 2015 at 7:37 pm

    Hi there,

    My 6month old boy was sleeping through 7-7 however for the last two months now he\’s been waking through the night anywhere from 4-8 times.
    I\’ve tried everything with him. I know he can sleep through cause on the odd night he will. Last night he slept from 6:30 – 4:30.then whinged so I went and gave him his dummy and he slept till 6:15. Great night!!! Why can\’t we get that all the time? I\’m also trying to work on his day sleeps. He onky has 3x 40min naps and I\’m thinking if I can extend them we could have better nights sleep?
    Please help me? Of tell me if this is totally normal…

    • Howard Chilton September 23, 2015 at 9:34 pm

      “Why can’t we get that all the time”? Because he is a human baby! They change day by day, night by night. It’s okay. Take him as he comes. As far as sleeps go you use trial and error. Then when you think you’ve found the answer he develops and changes. So you start again. 3 naps of 40 mins and a night’s sleep is a lot of sleep. Maybe more than average…. I think you have a great baby.
      They aren’t babies for long…

  13. Kate December 18, 2015 at 3:27 am

    Hello Dr Chilton,
    My son is 6 months old and is waking every hr and a half to two hrs nightly. He has never been a lengthy napper during the day (usually 2-3 half hr naps) and as soon as 6pm comes around, he is wide awake. It takes my husband and I hrs of rocking and putting down and picking him back up before he goes to sleep and then he only stays asleep for an hr or so before he wants to nurse. Throughout the night he nurses about 4 or 5 times and they are full feedings not just little sips to go back sleep. The past few nights he has not gone to sleep unless I am laying beside him so I feel like his sleep problems are getting worse. We have never co-slept and I certainly do not want to start now. At 4 months he was sleeoing 3-4 hours at a time but that stopped about a month ago for no apparent reason. Any guidance you can provide would be very helpful!

    • Howard Chilton December 24, 2015 at 6:56 am

      If you are in Sydney or Northern Rivers come and see me. If not, we could phone or Skype consult. One size does not fit all! Email is a poor medium for this discussion!

  14. Elizabeth January 8, 2016 at 1:59 am

    Hi Dr Chilton

    One of your patients but out of Sydney atm

    My almost 9 month old sleeps very well and always has so with a dummy. We havrnt been able to get her to put herself to sleep though for a while and she always needs to be held and rocked.

    Do we cry it out?

    We have tried routine sleeptimes and comfort and walkaway. Nothing is working.

    Any tips?



    • Howard Chilton February 4, 2016 at 6:53 am

      Keep it up, rocking and holding. They come and go with this in the first year. Don’t push the envelope unless you’re desperate. Babies move at different rates with these abilities. Also separation anxiety can start at any time. Come and see me in a month or so if no change. Don’t break the trust you have already established with your baby.

  15. Jasmine January 21, 2016 at 12:38 am

    Hi Howard,
    I just came across your article and one thing I read got me worried.. You mentioned -..’Leaving babies to cry to self settle (so called ‘controlled crying’) is not recommended for a number of reasons one of which is, as your GP said “their brain development can be affected”…’
    Now to our case. We have a almost 5 month old 9kg baby boy. After months of rocking I have realised that I have reached a stage where I sometimes rock him to sleep for an hour. Sometimes it takes 10 min sometimes it take an hour. Sometimes I put him to crib almost asleep only for him to awake and starts crying until I pick him up and start rocking. I don’t only rock.. He has a specific way he wants me to rock him, which is something like a mini squat – and Yes while I realise this is great for my fitness as after an hour of doing it I leave his room looking not only fitter and lighter but I look like I just left a 40 degree sauna as if I was dunk in a pool of sweat.
    After reading a ton of websites and consulting with Karitane and Trasillian as my last resort as well as chatting to our MACH nurse in ACT. We decided to shhh him to sleep (placing him into crib awake) We follow a routine as well of feed, play, sleep, but sometimes this is play, feed sleep. Depending on when his last feed was.
    So based on advice mentioned above we have decided to break the rocking/singing habit. We never wanted to do a CIO but our MACH nurse advised that some crying would be involved since a habit of rocking him to sleep was already formed. So we did everythig we did before, followed his cues for sleep, when he was sleepy we would put him in his cocoon. and off to crib. First day there was a half an hour mix of fussing, then crying then screaming, half an hour later he passed out from crying. Next nap time it took him 15 min to fall asleep, same scenario as first time only shorter. Then 10 min and for night time that night he fell asleep without crying. We still stay with him in the bedroom next to the cot, we just don’t pick him up. Is this as bad as CIO given it involves crying?
    We don’t rock him anymore.. we put him in his crib and he sometimes still fusses and sometimes he protest cries.. (he falls asleep anywhere from 2-20min)
    My question is.. are we doing this all wrong.. we had to come up with a solution of not carrying our 9kg chunky baby as he is only getting heavier and thought 5 months is a good time to start with try and teach him to fall asleep without rocking.
    Funny enough at night we feed him 1-2 times. He goes to bed between 5-6pm. Wakes up around 1 and 4-5 or only once around 3 am. For those times we feed him, burp him and place him in the cot awake and leave the room and he falls asleep on his own.
    Thank you, your help is greatly appreciated. We live in Canberra but can do Skype if you cant advise further via email.

    • Howard Chilton February 4, 2016 at 7:05 am

      I try in my writings to outline the principles of parenting. What you do with them is up to you and your family circumstances. . If you are happy with what is happening, don’t worry. Babies are very adaptable. Skype me if you would like to discuss it more fully or better yet buy Your Cherished Baby and read the “Quiet Nights’ chapter.

  16. louise March 5, 2016 at 4:17 am

    My 6 month old has started waking at around 3.30/4am. She used to have a quick feed or a rock and go back to sleep. Now she is wide awake at this time for about an hour. She isn’t upset, just seems to want yo be awake. It seems common at this age – any idea why and what might help? I really hope its just a little phase!

    • Howard Chilton March 12, 2016 at 8:30 pm

      Go with the flow and don’t overthink this. She will change soon. Then change again. Don’t worry!

  17. Saskia Zuman April 5, 2016 at 9:12 pm

    Dear Dr Chilton,
    I happened across your website the other night at midnight after a particularly fraught bedtime with my six moth old, trying unsuccessfully to implement the ‘Save Our Sleep’ ‘quick fix’ method of sleep training for the first time. Thank goodness I did! I finally read something on the internet that actually made sense to me and didn’t make me feel uncomfortable.
    I have since devoured your book, Your Cherished Baby and am just
    beginning Baby on Board. It is so refreshing to read information that is science rather than barely coherent analogy based. And I love the way you aren’t pious or bossy.
    I wonder if you could give me some advice? My six month old has suddenly become very energetic at nap and bedtime after displaying tired signs. She will play and sing in her cot for between 5 and 20
    minutes and this is followed by some fairly relentless screaming which can last up to and hour. Every time she drifts off to sleep, she shakes her head or rubs her eyes to wake herself up and begins crying more loudly than before.
    Eventually she may fall asleep or else I pick her up and feed her to sleep. I am trying to ‘camp out’ with her, offering reassuring words and stroking her head or tummy but this doesn’t seem to have much impact on the crying and I’m worried she’s becoming too stressed. If I pick her up and try to comfort her, she
    becomes energetic again rather than calming down. She hasn’t been in the habit of feeding to sleep for a couple of months now. In general, we have in place the preventative measures mentioned in your book but she is a London baby born to an Aussie mum and her paternal grandparents are spread across the UK so she has been dragged around the world a little more than some other babies.
    Hoping you can recommend some kind of solution!
    Kind regards,

    • Howard Chilton April 7, 2016 at 9:41 pm

      Your baby is going through a developmental phase that is energising her and this will in all likelihood pass soon. Just don’t get panicked or despondent! Definitely ignore ‘Save Our Sleep’ and she is a little young for ‘camping out’. Stay calm, hold her or feed her to sleep. At 6 months she is only just getting the ability to learn anything, and may still need food, for sustenance or to calm her down, at night. For the next little while treat her like a baby and try to relax. Also read this from my lovely daughter, mother and midwife.

      • Saskia Zuman April 9, 2016 at 3:10 pm

        Thank you!
        I really enjoyed reading Georgy’s post.
        Save Our Sleep in on the recycling pile. ?

  18. bel April 22, 2016 at 4:13 am

    Hi there Dr,

    I have almost 7 month old boy.
    Prior to four months he would generally settle himself to sleep most nights. 6 weeks ago it changed and he wanted to be patted for 5-20mins. This is exhausting. If i cuddle him he will generally go to sleep quicker on my arms. This fear lingers though of bad habits!. Everyone is telling me to do comfort crying. Iv tried a few times but its hard or takes forever. I have anxiety and esp dont want to cause any harm or anxiety to my son. Others say do whatever works. I have too many opinions in my head and dont know what to do now.

    He is also waking once or twice a night for feed. Thoughts on farex in the last bottle? He has never slept through. Eg 7pm -5am. I wish!.

    Thank you so much.

    • Howard Chilton April 29, 2016 at 8:15 am

      A seven month old who only wakes a couple of times a night. What a lucky mother you are! My thoughts on Farex in the last bottle are very negative! Do whatever works! Do not do comfort crying! Stop listening to your friends and start listening to your heart and your baby. Go with the flow – he’s still very young and developing fast. Skype or see me if you’re still confused!

  19. Sherrie May 4, 2016 at 5:42 am

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    I have a 6 month old and from day 1, I’ve always followed his cues for feeding and sleeping. However I do feel as though I don’t have much predictability through my day as he doesn’t have consistent nap or bed times. The time that he wakes in the morning can also be anywhere between 6-8.30am. The most predictability I get is knowing that he usually gets tired after 2-3hrs of wake time. Do you have any advice or comments on how I can bring in a bit more predictability? For instance, I’d like at the minimum to have a consistent bed time every night, say 7 or 7.30pm but sometimes his last nap is too early or too late and he will already be asleep or won’t sleep until later. Many thanks.

    • Sherrie May 4, 2016 at 6:23 am

      Also regarding your point on having a bedtime routine, we currently put him in his sleeping bag and I will usually nurse him to sleep. On the odd occasion that he doesnt fall asleep I’ll hold/bounce him to sleep. Is this enough of a bedtime routine?

    • Howard Chilton May 9, 2016 at 12:57 pm

      Hard to suggest on your info. Get a consultation and we can discuss.

  20. Jemma June 9, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    I just had to leave a comment to say a HUGE thankyou. My nearly 7 month old baby had been waking every 1-2 hours at night since 4 months, and was hysterical if I didn’t feed her. My husband and I absolutely did not want to try any ‘cry it out’ method that people were recommending to us. But despite all my research I couldn’t seem to find a ‘middle ground’ that would help her learn to self settle but without all the stress of cry it out style methods. I was honestly at rock bottom with sleep deprivation, I was absolutely desperate and was at the point where I felt unsafe driving due to sheer exhaustion. The information in your blog and your ‘My Cherished Baby’ was incredibly helpful. We tried a few of the strategies and they started working literally overnight – honestly it was better than I thought possible. Within a week my gorgeous girl is sleeping through the night except for one feed, and is so alert and happy in the day that I know we’re all benefiting from the much-needed extra sleep. Thank you so much! I wish more people knew about your book.

  21. Khioni June 30, 2016 at 10:35 pm

    Hi dr chilton

    My partner had come across your site and wants to start sleep training our 6 month old daughter, she is only waking for one bottle a night and usually goes straight back to sleep, she has been sick lately which has been causing here to be restless at night, I don’t see the need to try and sleep train her if it’s only one bottle a night , I also don’t feel comfy able with this . Any advice would really help, as I don’t want to have to starve my baby just because my partner has read this information

    • Howard Chilton July 4, 2016 at 2:51 pm

      If I have given anyone the impression that sleep training in your circumstances is okay then I had better re-write the article! It is totally unhelpful to the baby. What I said was that at 6 months babies’ bodies, in general, can cope without food overnight. That is not to say they don’t need comfort, attention and contact (and some of them might still need food – especially if they have just been unwell). If your baby is waking only once a night at that age you have an easier baby than most and you are very lucky. If you put her under pressure there is every possibility that things will get livelier at night not quieter.

  22. Tanya July 5, 2016 at 11:04 pm

    Thank you Howard. I have read baby on board for my first (2013). My 2nd is 5.5 mths and over the past month or so we have developed a habit of having a long early afternoon nap (2hrs) whilst I am wearing her in the baby carrier. This will typically coincide with her older brother also napping. I was wondering if you have any advice on transitioning her from napping in the carrier to napping in her cot? I breastfeed her to sleep at night and she typically wakes for one feed and will get a good stretch of sleep from 11/12pm to 7/8am so I am confident she can self settle.

    • Howard Chilton July 9, 2016 at 8:57 am

      Enjoy the habit! It sounds great. You can try putting her into her cot by removing her from carrier, and it is very likely she will object. She will change this for herself soon. She sounds like a very calm baby who sleeps well. Change nothing!

  23. Daniel Porta August 8, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Hello Dr,

    Wondering if you can provide some words of wisdom. We have a 5.5 month old daughter. She has never slept thru the night and would wake twice during the night for a feed, but sometimes spoil us with just the one wake up some nights which is where we want to be.

    In the last week there has been some changes. She has changed from cradle to cot, and started with some solids. However the biggest change is that at night she now wakes up crying every hour and have to be re-settled back to sleep by carrying/rocking – nothing else will work. She can comfortably sleep in the cot for approx 3-3.5 hours for the late morning and midday nap so we know that she can sleep in the cot, it’s just between around 12-7 that she will wake every hour. The routine the last week has been as follows:
    – Wake at 10-1030 – this is because there has been no sleep during the night for the wife and i
    – nap at approx 12:30 for 1.5-3 hrs (varies)
    – nap again at approx 5-5:30 for 45-60 min
    – bed at 9pm
    – dream feed at 10:30pm, otherwise she will wake at 11pm.
    – then she will wake up at anytime between 12-1:30am and need to be re-settled.
    – feed at around 2-3am
    – wake every hour and a bit till approx 7am
    – feed to sleep at 7am
    – wake at 10-10:30

    She can self settle most of the time especially during the day naps but there is no chance of her self settling when she wakes up crying every hour during the night. Wondering if this is normal and if there is anything we can do to try and rectify it.

    Looks forward to hearing from you.


    • Howard Chilton August 20, 2016 at 3:11 pm

      I am assuming that she is putting on weight and the breastfeeding is going well and there are no medical issues. If so, this is likely to be a temporary issue and the harder you push to ‘fix’ it, the worse and more prolonged it will be. Do what you have to do in the night to settle her. No pressure. If she needs a feed, feed her. If a cuddle will suffice then okay. But this pattern will change in a few days (or weeks). She’s still very young and has no idea about what is expected of her. If it continues for a longer time see me, or your local paed.

  24. Emily April 13, 2017 at 4:31 am

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    Im struggling in a big way with sleep with my 6 month old. Since birth, he has never slept well during the day. I have tried, day after day, to let him self soothe with comforting touches, patting without picking him up but it does nothing. He will sleep for 20mins twice a day but if i have a car trip during his sleep times he can be asleep for up to 2hours but his is very very rare. Most days he sleeps for 1hr max.
    Night time used to be better. We’d put him down by 7.30pm after a bath/feed/book/bed routine (since 1weekold) and every 3rd night would get a whole night sleep. Since we’ve hit the 6 month mark he wakes EVERY hour. I try not to feed him every time but he seems very hungry and searches for my breast. When i do feed him he drains both breasts. I cant continue like this as im back at work full time and luckily while i can bring him with me – my mental state is all over the place.

    What are some tabgible techniques i can try? Im so desperate.

    My babies overall mood/ deposition is calm, chilled and happy. He only gets cranky when he has wind or is over tired. Other than that its sunshine and smiles from the adorable little pest.

    • Howard Chilton April 15, 2017 at 3:42 pm

      Many babies go through patches of frequent waking. The most reliable way to make them continue is to oppose the situation vigorously and put him under pressure. Suddenly at night when it’s dark and scary and he is moving to another developmental stage he gets anxiety and withdrawal from his environment.
      Where do you live? Can we discuss this and what we can do at my office or on FaceTime? This isn’t a matter of a new technique, you have a happy calm child who doesn’t understand what is happening. We need to ‘reframe’ this situation temporarily and change his response.

      • Emily May 8, 2017 at 12:51 pm

        Hi Dr Chilton,
        I’m based in Berry NSW. That’s a very interesting way to put it, that he doesn’t understand, and we have to reframe it all.
        I would kill to speak to you through Facetime or see you (although, that’s harder for me because of distance to sydney but I will do it!).
        My goal, ultimately, is to have a happy and content baby but having a broken night every night (which is still happening) is taking its toll on me. I dont want to quit work and I can’t afford to but I’ll be damned if I continue work because I’m going to lose my mind juggling it all on no sleep.

  25. Lisa May 9, 2017 at 10:12 pm

    Hi Dr. Chilton,

    Thank you for your blog and for “Your Cherished Baby”, which has become my parenting bible.

    I’m hoping you can offer some advice – I have a 4 month old son. Right from day one he was sleeping through the nights; 7-9 hours of uninterrupted sleep, and napping well during the days. This all ended five weeks ago.

    Now he’s difficult to settle. Even when he’s very obviously tired he resists sleep and cries, and sometimes he can take well over an hour to settle. When he does finally sleep, he will wake up anywhere between 10 and 20 minutes later, and continues to do this for a couple hours. He is also waking several times a night, at irregular intervals. Sometimes he will sleep for 45 minutes before waking up again, sometimes 10. The longest he will sleep in one stretch at the moment is an hour and a half, and he can often take up to two hours to re-settle.

    Also, he used to be such a happy boy when he was awake. These days he’s grizzly and cries easily (although he’s still very alert and engaged). I’m attributing this to him having poor sleep.

    Any idea why he’s waking so often after settling, and why it’s taking so long to settle him? I am beyond exhausted and am finding it difficult to function.

  26. Eva Martino May 17, 2017 at 8:08 pm

    Hi There!

    My baby is 6.5 month old and since turning 6 and after been on holiday and been ill he has started waking up 2-3 times a night and I have to settle him by nursing.

    He has always had good naps routine and bed time on the clock everyday ha would only wake up once and able to self soothe back to sleep but he would every evening nurse to sleep! When left with his Daddy he would fall asleep on his own too and he still does if left with him day time. Not sure what is going on at the moment and if I should stop feeding him ect… he is on solid but not full 3 meals a day… I thought is digestive system could give him problems ect..? Or is it just a phase? Any suggestion would be appreciated!

  27. Hannah May 29, 2017 at 8:50 am

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    Thank you for your website – I wish I had found it sooner. I have a 9.5 month old boy who is waking three hourly overnight and needs breastfeeding to return to sleep. We were room sharers until 7 months and mostly coslept. He then transitioned to the cot in the nursery. I have had supply issues and have been taking Donperidone since he was 4 months of age. He is now putting on weight normally and has taken to solids with gusto. He is, however, an active boy who isn’t interested in feeding during the day unless it is before naps. Will his night feeding reduce without any intervention or is it time for me to take an active role in cutting them down? I fear the effect any forcing will have on his attachment but want optimal sleep for us both. Many thanks.

    • Howard Chilton July 2, 2017 at 4:55 pm

      Take it as it comes. If you can cope with it, he will change with time in a way appropriate for him.

  28. Karla July 19, 2017 at 9:59 pm

    Hi Dr Chilton,

    My sweet little Evie is nearly 6 months old and since the ‘4 month regression’, has been waking up more or less every 1.5-2hrs per night, since this time. Evie is breast fed, eating solids and gaining weight appropriately. Evie has a very happy disposition during her wakeful hours. My partner and I joke, she’d be happy 24/7, if she never had to sleep.

    She is a classic cat napper during the day, usually sleeps for 45-60mins , usually 4 times per day- whether it’s in her cot, in the car or in her pram. The day sleeps don’t concern me, it’s the frequent night waking that is really challenging- not only the sleep deprivation but also from a physical perspective- I have De Quervains in both my thumbs.

    Evie doesn’t protest too much when I put her down- we have a routine,I respond to her tired signs and she uses a dummy. The protest typically occurs during the night. I try to assist with settling by placing the dummy back in her mouth if she has spat it out, shushing and rubbing her tummy, but this usually leads to cries of distress. At this point, I pick her up, nurse her and then put her back into her cot to sleep ( if I haven’t fallen asleep feeding her- in my bed).

    I know she is still quite young, and fortunately I’m still on maternity leave so I don’t need to juggle work with broken sleep. I don’t expect Evie to sleep through the night, but 3-4hr stints would be welcomed!

    I live in a Sydney, would really appreciate some advice.


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