How do you improve naps in 4-5 month old babies? (If I don’t hold him, he won’t sleep.)

How do you improve naps in 4-5 month old babies?  (If I don’t hold him, he won’t sleep.)


Getting enough day sleep any way possible  is the building block for night time sleep and sleep skills. Night time sleep skills is the building block for daytime sleep skills. Especially in alert babies. Maximize day sleep by using your sleep crutch blessings. Work on night skills if your baby is ready and then work in nap skills.


Do people describe your baby as “bright eyed”, curious, observant, social, aware? If so then his alert temperament likely means he has an active mind and has a hard time shutting if off to sleep. It also means he is probably very smart. I have 5 of these alert children. They are very fun as they grow up but sleep is a real challenge at first.


Learning to self-regulate (manage stress like going to sleep without mom) is much more difficult for alert temperaments and he needs you to help him. If he is over 18 weeks, was born full term, is heathy and you have seen an increase in his perceptiveness for over 2 weeks, then you can gently do some sleep shaping to begin working on night skills but take it slow. Usually, once the nights get to using less crutches, the naps get easier.


Gentle sleep Tip for immediate results: Catch the sleep window. Doing this for naps prevents the cortisol hormone from complicating things. Cortisol is the hormone the body produces when it is ready for sleep (run out of energy) but not going to sleep. It’s a defense mechanism. It feels like the second wind you as an adult get when you stay up later than usual. In fact, that is exactly what it is.


How do you do it?   Try napping him after 60-90 minutes of wakefulness when you see him staring into space, zoning out, glassy eyes, disinterest. That should happen before yawning and eye rubbing. Pay close attention, it’s easy to miss.  If all you see is yawning, take note of the timing interval from the last wake up. Then try for a bit shorter interval next time. So if it’s been 1.5 hours since the last wake up when you see him yawn, try watching his body language closely after an hour and 15 minutes next time to see if you notice the earlier sleep cues. Some babies pull their ears, bonk their head against mom or have some other unique but subtle signal.  When you see this, put your baby down to sleep. You may even get a longer crib nap if you have caught the sleep window. Try a swing nap. Motion sleep is better than no sleep.  If notch at still doesn’t get you longer naps, keep doing it while you spend some time on removing night crutches.  For some babies, naps just don’t get better into 6 months and nights improve. Just be sure to get lots of those 30 min naps. (More than 3.)


If you are happy snuggling or nursing your baby to sleep and/or holding for naps, and you are both bonding, eating enough and getting an adequate amount of sleep, don’t let anyone tell you that you have a problem. For young babies, sleep crutches are not a problem. You are a terrific mom taking great care of your baby.


If you want to talk to me about gentle sleep shaping plans or your baby is older and need a gentle sleep coaching plan and don’t want to do cry it out, give me a call. I’m a certified gentle sleep coach. No cry it out. I’m different from other sleep trainers. I’m pro nursing, pro attachment theory, and you can night feed and co sleep or not depending on your family goals. I look at your unique scenario and your unique baby and I will come up with the right gentle plan for your family. And it may not be what you think. I prefer resonsive methods that support the baby’s healthy growth and development.


Contact me for a free 15 minute sleep assessment.


Tracy Spackman  602-524-7610

Nap Transitions

Questions Asked:
My daughter Ayven is 17 months and has been a great sleeper thanks to you! We are now transitioning to 1 nap – any tips on the best way to do this and is there a best time for that once a day nap? Rises at 6:30 bed at 7pm used to nap 9-945 (we’d wake her) and then in the afternoon going down between 1:30 and 3 depending on our plans for the day and would usually nap 1.5-2 hours. Any tips would be appreciated!

My Answer:
The afternoon nap may lengthen. One way to transition is to drop the am nap and switch it to a cat nap (20-30 min). 1 pm may be a good time for your afternoon nap. The transition period can be long and there are a few ways to do it but this is my favorite one to try first.
If you need sleep help, I do personal consultations.

Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610

“My 2 year old was a great sleeper and now for the past 2 weeks has been having sleep issues. Why?”

Great Question from my Mom’s club talk:
“My 2 year old was a great sleeper and now for the past 2 weeks has been having sleep issues. Why?”
This is a common question. Sometimes, you just get a string of bad luck when you have even just 2 nights in a row of disrupted sleep, from maybe a cold or thunderstorms or summer guests and your response of bringing to bed with your of staying with them while they fall asleep is enough to create a new “conditioned response”. If toddlers, or older children have 2 or more disrupted nights in a row, they may start getting anxious about sleep. After 2 weeks has gone by, you may have forgotten the cause of the sleep stress. A manners chart to help focus on good sleep habits may help a lot. If you need sleep help, call me, Text me.

Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610

Back to School Bedtimes

Have your kids gone back to school? Planning to go soon? Take a good look at their bedtime. Do you know if your child is a 10, 11 or 12 hour sleeper for optimum benefit? If your child has a meltdown about having to write a few sentences about their summer for homework, chances are they are not getting enough sleep. Thinking of ideas to write about when writing is still a challenge for kindergarten-3rd grade kids, getting enough sleep can make all the difference. 11 hours is a common amount of sleep to need for young school aged kids. Teens typically need 9 hours. If you need sleep help, check out my website.

Not ready to commit to a plan or a sleep package?

Get a group together and we can do a group workshop. Minimum 5 people/couples. This would be different than the free talk I give to Mom’s groups. We will talk specifics and methods that you can implement immediately. If you have 5 or more people, the host gets to come free. $50 per family. Runs about 2 hours. Follow up support is available a la crate.

Workshop fee will be deducted from full package price if you choose to get a personal consultation afterwards.

A good sleep makes a world of difference.

Tracy Spackman


Reaction of a 5 Year Old

A 5 year old’s morning response to sleep coaching day 6 after lots of resisting last night, “That was the best sleep I’ve had in weeks!” Mom said, “That was the best sleep you have had in your life!”
I know it’s only going to get better for them.  This family has had trouble with sleep for a long time and needed to lay with their child to help her fall asleep and she repeatedly came to their bed in the middle of the night.  Sound familiar?

For sleep help, call me 602-524-7610, email me

Radio Guest on Baby & Toddler Instructions Show with Blythe Lipman

Today I made my first radio appearance. I was a little nervous but once I start talking about sleep I just get on a roll.  You can hear the podcast here .

I was a guest on Blythe Lipman’s show Baby & Toddler Instructions which broadcasts on on Wednesdays at 11am EST.  Or 8am Arizona time.  We talked about the common things that keep babies from sleeping, what I do, how I do it.  Who needs me and who doesn’t and funny stories about sleep coaching.  I’m a gentle sleep consultant which means I don’t use Cry It Out.

You can find me at

Tracy Spackman

Daylight Savings and Sleep Shifting

Daylight savings changes are around the corner for many families and I’ve been helping families prepare for this change. Your 6:30 wake up is about to become a 5:30 wake up. Yikes!   Or maybe you have a 5:30 wake up and a 5:30-6pm bedtime and want to shift everything forward.  Totally Understandable!
The easiest way to handle the shift is to add a late afternoon nap that is a full sleep cycle that would push the bedtime later and then follow up the next day by pushing the naps and meals the same amount of time later. You may be able to jump a whole hour or you may be doing 15-30 min “baby” steps.

If you can’t get a late afternoon nap, start in the morning by pushing light exposure, breakfast and the first nap of the day 15-30 minutes later. Use a lot of distraction. It’s better to have an overtired morning nap that can get caught up over the day than an overtired bedtime that sabotages the whole night. Then keep that shifted schedule all day.
If your baby has good sleep habits and skills, then you may be able to just jump cold turkey to the new time and they will surprise you by adjusting faster than you do.
If this is not your only issue and you need sleep help, give me a call
-Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610
Follow me on Facebook  to post questions and see how other families are doing with their sleep coaching.

Need Sleep? Tips for Early Rising

I talk to parents about this topic all the time and I know, it’s so hard when you are experiencing early rising.

Rise and Shine: Tips for Early Rising By Kim West, The Sleep Lady

Mornings for some of you, it seems, begin as early as 4 AM as others of you lounge around until 9 AM waiting for your baby to wake up. Both of these scenarios, however, can have their own repercussions. Waking up too early can mean a tired family and earlier naps, throwing off bedtime rituals later. Waking up too late does the opposite, pushing nap time to later in the day and sometimes prolonging bedtime. The solution is to find a schedule that works for you and your family and teach your child to stick to it!

Early risings sometimes have a very simple solution. If too much light is coming into the baby’s room, buy room-darkening blinds (also good for napping). If an external noise – garbage trucks, songbirds, or a dad with a long commute who has turned on the shower-is waking him, you might want to try a white noise machine. Unfortunately, it’s not always so simple.

If your child is awake at 6:00 or 6:30 a.m., cheerful, refreshed, and ready to start his day- even if you aren’t- you’ll probably have to live with it- that’s a common and biologically appropriate wake-up time for a baby or small child (as long as they went to bed at a reasonable hour). Remember to adapt the meal and nap schedule to suit his early hours.

If your healthy baby is under 9 months old and you think he is waking up very early because he is hungry, try waking him for a final feeding about 11:00 p.m. as an interim step, and also work on making sure he takes more food during the day.

When your early bird stirs, go to his room immediately. You want to try to get him back to sleep ASAP, not let him scream himself awake. Give him his lovey and try to soothe him back to sleep without picking him up. Follow the Sleep Lady Shuffle guidelines outlined in Good Night, Sleep Tight. Even if he doesn’t doze off again-and not all babies will at first-do not turn on the lights or get him out of his crib until 6:00 a.m. no matter how much he protests. Getting him up earlier, while it is still dark, sends a confusing message and is another example of intermittent reinforcement. He can’t understand why he can get up in the dark at 5:45 a.m. but not at 2:15 a.m. Also, many parents I’ve worked with have learned the hard way that if they let him get up at 5:45 a.m., the next thing they know it’s 5:30, 5:15, etc.

I usually recommend that the parent stay in the room for this early-morning routine. If, however, you feel your presence is encouraging him to be more awake, as often occurs with older children, you can try leaving his room after a bit of reassurance and see if he falls asleep again on his own. Check on him every ten to fifteen minutes. If you stay in the room, keep the interaction minimal. Try sitting in a chair with your eyes closed. When the clock finally strikes 6:00 a.m. and he’s not falling asleep-and it can seem like it takes a very long time to reach 6:00 a.m.-leave the room for a minute or two. He may cry, but try not to let it bother you, you will be right back in a minute. When you come back in, make a big deal out of “good morning” time. Do your dramatic wake-up. The morning routine is the flip side of the bedtime-routine coin. Your goal is to help him distinguish between day and night, to know when it really is time to get up. Your message must be clear: “I’m getting you out of the crib because it’s morning time-not because you were crying.”

If your child has already transitioned to one nap and still wakes before 6am, don’t let him nap before 12noon. If he naps from 11:00am-1pm he will then be overtired at bedtime which will lead to early rising again-the cycle continues.

If your early riser is over 2 or 2.5 years old and sleeps in a bed, then you will have to return your child to their bed and treat this like a night wakening. Continue with your Shuffle position until the clock strikes 6:00 a.m. Consider using an alarm clock radio to help signal to your child when it is wake up time. If you sometimes let you child get out of bed and start the day before the music comes on then he or she will not take the alarm clock seriously!

Important points about early rising:

  • Nap deprivation, going to bed too drowsy and too late a bedtime cause early rising!
  • Skipping naps and putting your child to bed later will cause early rising-I know it’s not logical- you and I would never do that – but it is true!
  • You can’t assume your child needs less sleep than the average until they are taking decent naps and sleeping through the night for several weeks.
  • Room darkening shades are critical!
  • Early rising takes several weeks of utter consistency to change so stick with it!
  • Rule out underlying medical conditions that can cause early rising.

Patience, consistency, and understanding of both your child and his needs are critical for this process to be successful. Be firm and be loving and good mornings will be right around the corner! I wish you both many happy mornings together!

You can find this article at

For great sleep help call Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610