What should a sleep schedule for a 5-month-old look like?
At 5 months of age, you are probably experiencing the beautiful changes your baby is going through every day.
They are vocalising more with coos, babbles and gurgling as they experiment with sounds. You will also find your baby is becoming a lot more interactive at playtime. At this age, they may be playing with their rattles, banging on Tupperware with some help from you and showing an interest in stacking rings and cups.
Your baby may have now figured out how to roll onto their tummies and back again. Although some babies still get stuck once they have rolled over, which can cause them some frustration. Physically your baby is becoming stronger and may even be starting to cut their first teeth. All these changes can impact your baby's sleep, and you may experience early waking's, sleepless nights and some general fussiness. You may be left wondering what a sleep schedule for a 5-month-old should look like.
How Much Sleep Does a 5-Month-Old Need?
At this age, your baby still needs around 12 – 16 hours of sleep in 24 hours. They will usually have 2 – 3 naps, the duration of which are 1 – 2 hours. Your baby can manage longer awake windows of around 2 – 2.5 hours, and short naps are still perfectly normal. Your baby should have 10 – 11 hours of solid nighttime sleep with some babies still waking for night feeds.
Tips for Establishing Healthy Sleep Habits
You can continue to focus on helping your little once establish healthy sleep habits with these simple tips.
- Have a consistent bedtime routine – Now that your baby is more alert and aware of their surroundings, it is even more important to follow a consistent bedtime routine. A bedtime routine helps your baby relax and signals to them that it is time for sleep.
- Help your little one to practice new skills – As mentioned at this age, babies start learning to roll over if they have not already mastered this skill. This new skill can disturb sleep, especially if they have only learned to roll in one direction and then get stuck on their tummies. Let your baby practise during the day so that they do not practice during sleep and nap times. Your baby may also start attempting to creep or crawl.
- Use the crib for naps whenever possible – There will be days that your little one naps on the go, especially if you have other children. Try to put your baby down to nap in their crib as often as you can.
- Learn signs of tiredness – Each baby is different, so the more aware of your little one’s sleep signals you are, the better. Knowing their tired signals will mean you can put them down for sleep when they are tired but not overtired. Some signs your baby is ready for a nap are rubbing eyes, tugging at their ears, thumb sucking and yawning.
How Much Sleep Does My Child Need?
Sleep Schedule for 5-Month-Old
As with all sample schedules they can vary by baby. Some babies can easily stay awake for 2 – 2.5 hours whilst others may struggle to get to 2 hours before showing signs of tiredness. Use the sample schedule as a guide and adjust it where necessary for your little one.
The schedule assumes that your little one has awake times of 2 hours and takes three naps during the day.
Can You Sleep Train a 5-Month-Old?
Whether to sleep train a baby is a personal choice. If your 5-month-old still requires you to help them get to sleep through feeding, rocking, patting etc. then sleep training may help. There are five different sleep training methods, which range from gentle methods through to Cry it Out. If you do decide to sleep train your little one, then you need to choose a method that you feel comfortable with.
Related Article: Baby Sleep Training Methods
5-Month-Old Sleep Problems
During the 5th month, you may encounter some sleep issues. The most common problems are:
- Crankiness – If you find that your ordinarily good-natured baby is cranky, especially in the evenings it could be a sign of teething. You may not see the little white teeth popping through the gums just yet. Some signs of teething to look out for are chin rash, increased drooling (I know when my little one teethed, the front of his onesie or his bib were always wet) and tugging at the ears. Teething rings do help to ease some of the pressure.
- Dropping naps – This month can be tricky as your baby transitions from 3 naps to 2. You may find that you cannot quite fit in the 3rd nap but that the awake window before bed is too long. During this transition, be flexible with the schedule and bring bedtime forward even if it means your baby is going down for the night at 6:30 pm. You can always move it back later as they settle into the two-nap schedule.
- Night waking – The likely cause is your little one settling into their new sleep pattern post the 4-month sleep regression. When this happens, try to wait a few minutes before responding to your little one to see if they fall back asleep on their own. If you do have to check in on them, keep interaction to a minimum. Do not switch on the lights or pick your baby up if possible. Offer some gentle patting or shushing until your baby calms down and then leave. If your baby continues to fuss, it may be a sign that they are hungry, need a nappy change or are unwell.
Continue to be consistent, help your baby establish healthy sleep habits, and they will soon settle into a regular sleep routine.