Twitter chat: EPC expert Mandy Gurney answers your baby sleep questions

Printer iconPrint article
Brought to you by Tesco Babyclub and the Essential Parent Company: Experts in everyday parenting

We held a Twitter chat with Essential Parent Company sleep expert and director of the Millpond Sleep Clinic Mandy Gurney – and so many of you sent in questions! You wanted to know about bedtime routines, nightmares, sleeping through the night – to name just a few topics. If you missed our chat with Mandy, see below for our round-up of the top questions and answers – there’s some great advice.

You can also catch up on our Q&A with Professor Robert Winston, another Essential Parent Company expert.

How can we encourage our six-month-old baby to sleep through the night? We put him to bed at 8pm and he wakes at 3.30am to feed.

At this age he could sleep through the night. If his weight is okay, slowly reduce this night feed and then he won’t wake up for it.

My toddler has started waking in the night screaming, every hour or so. But he seems to be asleep!

It’s important to ensure he’s not in pain from teething, constipation or an illness. Take him to see your GP. If all is well, it may be a behavioural issue and in that case I’d recommend seeking expert sleep help for advice.

How much sleep does my nine-month-old son need?

On average, babies that age need 11 hours’ sleep at night with two naps during the day – a 45-minute nap mid-morning and a 90-minute nap mid-afternoon, but it’s best he wakes up by 3.30pm so he goes to sleep at night. Get more advice on encouraging your baby to sleep

At what age should my baby sleep through the night without a feed?

Research shows that healthy three-month-old babies can sleep for six-hour stretches, but by six months most babies can sleep through the night.

My eight-week-old baby stays downstairs with us until 10 or 11pm. Will this affect her sleep in the long run?

At the moment it’s fine, but you should start a bedtime routine by the time she’s 12 weeks old.

Our four-year-old has started screaming in the night about monsters. When we wake her, she’s distraught. What should we do?

This sounds like a nightmare. These occur in the middle of the night in dream sleep and it will feel very real to her as at her age she will find it hard to distinguish between fantasy and reality. Don’t try to look for the monster as it’ll heighten her anxiety. Instead, talk to her when she is having the nightmare. Listen to her, reassure her and stay with her until she is calm, then settle her back to sleep.

My daughter is 12 weeks old and doesn’t settle easily. How much sleep should she have?

The average amount of sleep for her age is 15 hours – 10 to 11 hours at night and the rest during the day.

Today is my due date! If my baby doesn’t currently wake me in the night, will he or she be a good sleeper once born?

That would be nice but all babies wake for feeds, especially in the first few weeks. All the best with your newborn!

How do I get my two-year-old to use a blanket? He’s too big for sleeping bags now.

You could start by introducing a duvet for his daytime nap and once he’s used to this, use it at night. Plus, read Essential Parent Company tips on choosing the right bed for your toddler

My little one, aged six and a half months, used to sleep through the night, but is waking up a lot now. She isn’t hungry when she wakes.

It sounds as though she could be having too much daytime sleep. It’s best not to have more than three hours of sleep during the day at this age.

How much sleep should a four-year-old have each night?

Four-year-olds should have on average 11-12 hours of sleep each night.

Do you have any tips for helping my four-month-old get an afternoon nap when his noisy two-year-old brother is home?

My advice is to keep your two-year-old occupied with quiet play. See here for some toddler craft activities

My baby is nine months old but is still having three breastfeeds a night and she stirs several times for her dummy. Do you have any advice?

Gradually stopping the night feeds will help. Reduce each feed by a minute a night. Then teach her to either find the dummy herself or consider encouraging her not to need it anymore.

My little one (20 weeks old) used to go to bed at 9pm and would sleep for four or five hours at a time, for a total of around 11 hours a night. But in the last few weeks she has been waking three or four times a night for a feed and she’s also taking longer to settle. Could teething be the problem?

It could be her teeth but it may also be due to a growth spurt. It’s best to visit your health visitor for further advice. Read more advice about teething