So you thought that your household had just mastered this whole sleeping thing.
And then the 5-month sleep regression hits.
First up, it’s likely that all the progress you made was not for naught.
5-month-old sleep problems are normal.
And they don’t mean that any progress you’ve made towards the holy grail of sleeping through the night has been lost.
In fact, many experts are reluctant to call them sleep regressions at all.
They’re simply a natural response to all the growing, changing, and developing that happens at this time of life.
While it may be little comfort when you’re running on caffeine and positive thinking, this phase is only temporary — and often means your baby is doing exactly what they’re supposed to do.
We’ll take you through the details.
In this article: 📝
- Is there a sleep regression at 5 months?
- Why is my 5-month-old suddenly not sleeping?
- How long does 5-month sleep regression last?
- How to deal with 5-month sleep regression
- How to get 5 month old to sleep through the night
Is there a sleep regression at 5 months?
There can be.
In fact, sleep regressions can happen at any time in your baby’s first years on the planet.
They’re also not a given — so if your baby doesn’t go through one, it’s not a cause for concern.
While you may hear more about the 4-month-old sleep regression, these snooze disruptions don’t always stick to a strict schedule — so it’s totally possible that they could appear a month earlier or later.
5-month sleep regression signs include:
- Increased fussiness, both at sleep times and when they’re awake
- Taking longer to fall asleep
- No longer sleeping through the night (in 6 to 8-hour stretches) when they had done so before
- Not wanting to nap
- Short naps
- Frequent night wakings
Why is my 5-month-old suddenly not sleeping?
First up, your baby is learning to sleep like an adult.
Their circadian rhythms (that’s the internal clock that dictates our sleep cycles) haven’t developed yet.
So they sleep whenever they wish, which usually amounts to somewhere between 14 and 17 hours a day of slumber.
They also spend far more time in REM sleep (the sleep state associated with dreaming) than adults do.
In their first three months of life, they start to fall more in line with day and night and spend more time in a deeper sleep.
But this transition is not without its potential humps.
As they become proficient at sleeping like a grownup, there may be a bit of an adjustment period.
By the time they get to 5-months, their sleep schedule looks something like this:
- They need between 12 and 15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period.
- That’s typically divided into 3 or 4 naps and a longer sleep at night. (The naps should total between 4 and 5 hours
But things don’t always go according to plan.
During this time, they’re figuring out all sorts of incredible things about their bodies and the world, and all this excitement can get in the way of a good night’s rest.
They also want to reach out and grasp objects around them.
But as exciting as all these physical and cognitive leaps are, unfortunately, they can get in the way of their sleep.
And bad sleep for baby means bad sleep for you.
How long does 5-month sleep regression last?
The good news is that in about two to six weeks, this sleep regression should be a thing of the past.
In some cases, they only take a few days to get through it.
(Of course, this can feel like an eternity if you’re in the middle of one, but know there is a light at the end of this tunnel.)
Some babies start sleeping through the night from 3 months old — but this is not a hard and fast rule.
It may be a little later for your child — or a lot later.
Of course, it can be incredibly frustrating if they have been sleeping through and are suddenly waking up multiple times.
But it’s usually nothing to worry about, and it’s likely that this phase will pass quickly.
If your little one’s sleep disturbances are accompanied by other symptoms, like a fever over 102.2°F (39°C), diarrhea, or vomiting, it’s worth checking in with your doctor as these could be signs of infection or illness.
How to deal with 5-month sleep regression
First, look after yourself.
This can be truly taxing.
And you can only be there for your baby if you take care of your own well-being as well.
Now’s the time to call on your community.
Partners, friends, and family can be great allies through this transitionary period.
Take naps when your baby naps, eat nutritious meals, and make sure you do something for yourself every week — something simple like a walk with a friend can go a long way.
Then, here are some tips to help your little one get the zzz’s they need:
Get into some sort of routine
Schedule naps and bedtimes at about the same time every day.
(It doesn’t have to be perfect — do what you can.)
Start a bedtime routine.
Now’s the time to get your snuggle on — leaving the digital distractions at the door.
Rock, sing, comfort, relax.
A white noise machine can also help.
Learn their sleep cues.
Yawning, rubbing eyes or ears, looking away and general fussiness are usually good indicators.
Put them to sleep drowsy but not asleep.
And ensure that they’re well fed and that their diaper is changed.
If they wake up during the night, wait a moment before checking on them.
They may fall back to sleep themselves.
If they don’t, try to comfort them without lifting them out of their bassinet or crib.
Through all this, remember to follow the safe sleep guidelines.
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that babies sleep in their own crib or bassinet, on their backs, dressed according to the room temperature so that they don’t overheat.
Steer clear of loose bedding and soft toys as these pose a risk of suffocation.
How to get 5 month old to sleep through the night
There’s no magic formula here, but there are various sleep training methods that can really help.
Experts recommend that you wait until your baby’s about 4 months old, so this might just be the perfect time to start.
We give you the full lowdown on sleep training here.
And head here for tips on baby sleep from education specialist Rachael Shepard-Ohta that she wished she’d been given as a first-time mother.
You’ve got this.
And if you need support along the way, your Peanut community is here for you.