Your baby’s fifth month is typically filled with giggles, rolling over and lots of babbling. That’s the cute stuff. But let’s be honest. It can also be an exhausting, sleepless time.
Many people will tell you that your baby can sleep through the night at 5 months old. The truth is, some babies naturally do this and many others need to be taught.
If your baby isn’t on the path to naturally sleeping through the night- and you can’t cope with her countless night wakings- don’t worry. These 7 sleep training tips will get your 5 month old baby sleeping better at night.
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Sleep Training Tips for Your 5 Month Old Baby
- Have realistic expectations
- Start a calming bedtime routine
- Set an age-appropriate bedtime
- Play white noise during naps and at night
- Black out the bedroom
- Help your baby nap frequently
- Teach your baby to fall asleep on his own
Have realistic expectations
Your 5 month old’s bedtime should be between 7-8:30 pm. He should sleep 10-12 hours overnight (with some night feeds.)
Ask your doctor how many night feedings your baby needs. This will depend on your baby’s individual growth and weight gain, but most 5 month olds still need 1-3 night feeds. Once your doctor gives you a clear expectation of nighttime nutrition, you know what you can realistically expect.
For example, if your pediatrician says your baby can go 6 hours between feeds overnight, you can wean down to 1 night feed. Or, if your doctor recommends feeding every 4 hours overnight, you can wean down to 2 night feeds. Check out my guide on Weaning Night Feedings here.
It’s important to keep your 5 month old well-rested during the day. Short naps can be common at this age, so don’t worry if your baby only naps for 40 mins. What’s more important is to let him nap often.
Your 5 month old baby should have awake times of 1.5 – 2.5 hours throughout the day. Longer awake times can over-tire baby, which worsens overall sleep.
This video has more 5 month old sleep tips.
Start a calming bedtime routine
When starting sleep training, we always begin at bedtime. The best way to set your baby up for sleeping long stretches at night is to begin a calming bedtime routine.
This routine relaxes your baby, so that her body can welcome sleep. Certain activities have been proven to relax babies, and when done in the right order, it sets your baby up for sleeping longer at night.
Set an age-appropriate bedtime
In order for your 5 month old to fall asleep easily and sleep well at night, bedtime must be age-appropriate and consistent. Most 5 month olds are ready for bed between 7-8:30 pm.
Try to keep your baby’s bedtime within a 20 minute range every night. So, if your baby’s ideal bedtime is 7:30 pm, make sure she’s asleep each night between 7:20 – 7:40 pm. It makes a big difference!
Play white noise during naps and at night
White noise has been proven to help people of all ages sleep deeper. And yes, it’s safe for your baby.
White noise prevents sudden noises from waking your baby- like an older sibling, barking dog or the garbage truck at 5 am. For this reason, you need to play white noise all night long.
You can use portable white noise (or an app) when your baby naps in the stroller. And have a sound machine in your baby’s bedroom.
White Noise Favorites
Black out the bedroom
Sometimes even the smallest rays of light can have a strong impact. When your baby’s eyes sense light, it sends a signal to his brain to wake up.
That’s why you should do a full black-out of your baby’s bedroom. In fact, your baby’s bedroom should be so dark that you can barely see past your nose when the lights are out!
A simple way to black out the windows is to put cardboard on them! You can pull the cardboard down during the day when baby is awake to let sunlight in.
Help your baby nap frequently
When beginning sleep training, we focus on night sleep. Otherwise you’ll end up with a cranky and exhausted baby day and night!
So while you focus on nighttime sleep training, it’s ok to help your baby nap. “Whatever works” is our motto.
Naps in the crib tend to be the best quality sleep. But it’s ok to use motion to help your baby nap too. Your 5 month old can nap in the stroller (lying flat) or baby carrier while you wear them- as long as you supervise these naps. If it helps your baby nap longer, go for it!
Most 5 month olds take 3-4 naps everyday. But remember that number of naps isn’t what’s important.
Instead, staying well-rested take priority over number of naps. So make sure your baby naps every 1.5-2.5 hours all day long and gets 2-3 total hours of daytime sleep.
Teach your baby to fall asleep on his own
The way that your baby falls asleep at bedtime is the way he needs to fall back to sleep each time he wakes at night.
We all wake throughout the night, it’s completely normal. We just don’t remember it because we can easily put ourselves back to sleep.
If you feed your baby to sleep at bedtime, he’ll need you to help him fall back asleep each time he stirs during the night. You probably already know this, because you’re up feeding your baby 5 times a night!
When your baby can go into his crib awake, and fall asleep without your help- he’ll be able to resettle himself throughout the night. And he’ll only wake when he’s truly hungry. (This applies to breastfed and formula fed babies.)
The big question is “How do I do it?!”
The truth is, there are many sleep training methods that are effective for 5 month olds. But, the best sleep training approach is the one that’s suited for your baby’s temperament, his age and your parenting style.
In my program, 21 Days to Peace and Quiet, I help parents choose the best sleep training method for their baby. Some babies are better suited for a “no cry sleep training” method. While others respond better to quick methods, like “cry it out.”
I recommend you start with my free Exhausted Mom’s Survival Kit. It walks you through the first essential steps of getting your baby sleeping better. It’s filled with helpful tips & advice!
(See the green box below for more details.)
You can certainly sleep train your 5 month old on your own, too!
If you prefer a gentle sleep training method, you could focus on lessening your direct support each night.
For example, if you rock your baby for 20 minutes at bedtime every night, tonight rock him for 15 minutes. Tomorrow, rock him for 10 minutes. Place him in the crib and give him hands-on soothing until he falls asleep.
As you may imagine, gentle sleep training methods like this take time. But as long as you focus on lessening your support every night, you’ll get there!
One last thing…
It’s ok if you feel overwhelmed and frustrated with your baby’s sleep. It’s completely normal for parents of 5 month olds to feel this way! Life with a new baby is exhausting on most days. Just remember, there’s always hope.
Once you start these 7 sleep training tips, and do them consistently everyday, your 5 month old will start sleeping amazingly well!
? Got a question about sleep training your 5 month old? Ask Jilly in the comments below.