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Sleep and Your Older Baby

Adapted from Sleeping Through the Night: How Babies, Toddlers, and Their Parents Can Get a Good Night's Sleep by Dr. Jodi Mindell and JOHNSON'S® Your Baby and Toddler, From Birth to 3 Years.

At six months, your baby is busy, busy, busy. But not all this activity is visible. In addition to her physical developments, she is beginning to mentally "organize" her world. This is an age that thrives on schedules and routines, especially for sleeping and eating. If you follow the same routine every night, she'll soon understand that when it's nighttime, it's time to sleep, not play. A good way to begin the bedtime routine is with a warm, relaxing bath followed by a final feed, teeth-brushing, a massage, a bedtime story, then into bed. The key is to help your baby unwind, so avoid any stimulating activities.

Problem Habits
Feeding, rocking or cuddling your baby to sleep are major causes of sleep problems, so try to break that habit if you've established it. Many parents like having their babies sleep in the same room as themselves, and some medical experts agree that this is a good idea. However, at some point, you may choose to move your baby into a separate room. Babies can be easily disturbed while they sleep and may actually wake up when you come into the room to go to bed, or if you cough or turn over.

How Much Sleep?
Between six and 12 months of age, your baby will need about 14 to 15 hours of sleep each day. Babies are busy now, after all! Crawling, rolling over, sitting up - an active baby means a tired baby. It's important to realize, though, that every baby is different and some babies need much more sleep and others need much less sleep. Most babies take two or three naps a day at six months of age and two naps at 12 months. A few babies, though, give up their morning nap before their first birthday. Another interesting point to be aware of is that many developmental milestones, such as rolling over and pulling up to stand, can temporarily upset your baby's sleep.

Here are some ways you can help your baby get the sleep that she needs:

Set a regular sleep schedule for your baby: Settle on regular naptimes and a bedtime that allow your baby to get all the sleep she needs. Contrary to what you may think, cutting down on naps won't help at night. It can be a recipe for overtiredness and a worse night's sleep. But you'll also want to avoid naps too close to bedtime.

Give your baby soothing surroundings: Keep the bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. And make sure the lights and environment are the same at bedtime as they will be throughout the night.

Avoid making bedtime feedings a permanent fixture: They rarely help your baby sleep very long or very well. And after six months of age, nighttime feedings are rarely necessary. Move a bottle or nursing time earlier in the evening, to avoid the association between eating and sleeping. At this age, a better way to bond with your baby before bedtime is through massage and bathing.

Massage is a great way to help relax your baby: This is true particularly as she begins to use a whole new set of muscles with her newfound movements! Even if you have only a few minutes, the soothing movements will help your baby switch to "nightime" mode. To begin, use a gentle lotion, made especially for babies, to reduce friction. A soothing massage with JOHNSON'S® BEDTIME LOTION® with NATURALCALM™ essences is part of a clinically proven routine to help your baby fall asleep easier and sleep through the night better.

Bath time is a happy way to say "it's bedtime": If you've established bath time as part of your baby's nighttime routine, you may also wish to use a gentle cleanser with a soothing scent. Help your baby relax and let go of the day's excitement with the warmth of a bath and your comforting touch. Bathtime with JOHNSON'S® BEDTIME® BATH with NATURALCALMTM essences is part of a clinically proven routine that will help your baby fall asleep easier and sleep through the night better.

On non-bath nights, if you don't have time for a full massage, you can just take a minute to rub your baby with JOHNSON'S® BEDTIME® LOTION. Your gentle touch will help relax your baby.

Setting a regular schedule, providing a calm environment, bathing and massaging your baby, and eliminating bedtime feedings - all are wonderful ways to help establish a bedtime routine for your growing baby. And in addition to giving you a moment to bond with your baby, a good nighttime routine ensures that your baby will get the sleep she needs to stay healthy and happy.