All your questions about your baby's sleep needs at this age, answered, with tips from a sleep consultant.
Your seven-month-old baby is probably having all sorts of fun these days—they may be crawling, sitting up and basically be a food connoisseur of sorts by now. But while you might think that all of the newfound discoveries and activities happening in your little one's life would mean that sleep at this age would be a no-brainer, the opposite is actually true. Thanks to all the new commotion and fun around them, your baby may actually have more trouble falling asleep. Weird, right? But babies need guidance to learn how to sleep, and that's where you come in.
Here are some tips from a sleep expert on how to ensure your seven-month-old baby doesn't lose track of the sleep progress you've made.
How much sleep does a seven-month-old baby need?
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, at seven months old, your baby still needs around 12-16 hours of sleep per 24 hours. Some babies naturally start to fall more into a pattern of needing only closer to 13-14 hours of sleep per day, but every baby is different and even different stages can require more sleep too.
"At seven months old, your baby is starting to become more active and interested in the world around them, which is exciting!" notes Rachel Mitchell, a certified pediatric and maternal sleep consultant and founder of My Sweet Sleeper.But all of the excitement around them can actually be a little too exciting for some babies—and cause them to get confused when it comes to sleep. "Because of this new phenomenon, you may notice that they become more easily distracted, which can sometimes interfere with sleep," Mitchell points out.
Fear not, however, because Mitchell is here to guide the way to better sleep for both your seven month old and you. She stresses that the right amount of sleep per day and night is crucial to development, as well as continuing healthy sleep habits that have already been established.
"Your child should be getting about 3 to 4 hours of day sleep and 10 to 12 hours of night sleep in this stage," she explains. "If they are getting less, it's important to address any underlying issues or challenges that may be present, as the right amount of sleep is crucial for their brain development."
To help make sure your baby is getting the right amount of sleep, Mitchell recommends sticking to a sleep schedule that can be customized to your baby's own needs. Here's a sample one.
7-month-old baby sleep schedule
One of the key things to note about your baby's sleep at seven months old, according to Mitchell, is that your baby should no longer need to wake up at night to eat. I know—it's a huge change, right?
You're probably so used to getting up at night this might seem hard to believe, but it's true. Instead of automatically offering a bottle or the breast at night, if your baby does wake up, Mitchell assures us that it's okay to switch things up and try new techniques for getting them back to sleep.
"At seven months, your child shouldn't need a night feed as long as they are getting adequate nutrition during the day," Mitchell explains. "So if your baby still wakes up looking for a feed, try to allow them to self-soothe or respond with other soothing techniques."
Wake windows for a seven month old
By seven months old, your baby's wake windows are slowly increasing, but Mitchell cautions that you should continue to take it slow. It might be tempting to let your baby play and explore, because it's fun and exciting for both of you, but keep in mind, trying to "tire" a baby out will usually just backfire.
Instead of causing them to sleep more, keeping a baby awake can actually just disrupt their sleep even more. So, to help your baby get the best sleep possible, she recommends sticking to your sleep routine as best you can and keeping wake windows to between 2 and 3.5 hours for a seven-month-old baby. "Remember to pay close attention to your little one's sleepy cues, as not all babies can handle a 3.5 hour awake window before bed just yet," she says.
Sleep tips for babies
What else can you do to set your seven-month-old baby up for sleep success? There are a few additional tips that Mitchell offers:
- Try sleep training. If you haven't already incorporated sleep training into your routine yet, Mitchell says 7 months is a great time to start implementing some sleep training methods. There are several different methods and strategies you can try, so remember that you can do what works for your family and try out a few methods to find something that feels right.
- Keep sleep spaces dark. It might not seem like it matters that much for babies, but Mitchell encourages parents to keep sleep environments dark. Your baby is undergoing a lot of commotion during the day and their brain is basically exploding with development, so switching to calm, quiet, and darkened spaces for sleeping can help cue them that it's time for rest.
- Wake windows are key. Once again, Mitchell also stresses that awake windows are key. Just like Goldilocks's porridge, you have to aim for the right amount—too much or too little and you can miss that precious sleep window. Aim for awake times of more than 2 but less than 3.5 hours.