You need to let him sleep whenever he feels sleepy- sleep is most beneficial when it is during a biologically-driven "sleepy time". I think you're seeing that he is going to sleep whether you like it or not Also, sleeping a baby MORE will yield MORE quality sleep- even though it seems contradictory. What happens is that if they are kept awake when they want to sleep, their body starts pumping cortisol (anti-sleep hormone) and adrenaline in order to stay awake. Those hormones stay in the body for a long time, so then when they are truly tired they can't fall asleep and are extremely irritable and overtired. So keeping him awake (or trying to) will just make him overtired and then he will sleep LESS.
That being said, I have also never heard of an infant being awake for a 7 hour stretch- that is, if I am reading what you are saying correctly. Not that he isn't doing that, but I think perhaps he is needing a nap (or two!) in that 9-4 stretch and he just isn't able to get it (thus being flooded with the anti-sleep hormones). So I'd start by trouble-shooting that time period- like Jaimee said, he should be ready for a nap within an hour or two of waking. So literally, when he wakes look at the clock and START trying to put him to sleep about 45-60 minutes after that. Keep things low-key in the morning- just eat, keep play time quiet and soothing, lights lower. Do whatever it is that you need to do to get him to sleep- I think you are at school during this time, right? Have your DH try ANYTHING- dark room, white noise, shushing noises, rocking, walking him around, swaddle if he likes it, sling him if he tends to fall asleep in there, pacifier, ANYTHING you can do to get him to sleep. Once he wakes from that morning nap, try to sleep him again in 1-2 hours. Rinse, repeat ALL day long. At his age, he shouldn't be staying awake for more than 1-2 hours at a time (a shorter break is better, but 2 hours if you need him to be awake that long for some reason).
Then at around 7-8 pm you can try to sleep him for a longer night-time stretch. It may take a while for his body to realize that that is the night sleep time and he should stay asleep, but keep things dark and boring/quiet at night and he'll learn.
The earlier the bedtime, the better, honestly. If your babe needs to go to bed at 6pm, let him! It will take Connor a while to get to that point given his current schedule, but keep that in mind for the future. Babies will sleep later in the morning if they go to bed earlier. Again, it is counterintuitive but it's true!
You and DH both need to learn his sleep cues (not that you aren't doing this, I'm just throwing out all the advice I have!). It may be different from other babies but eye rubbing, yawning, generally less movement, glazed eyes, etc could all be a cue. If a baby is crying and fussing and eye rubbing a lot you have MISSED the earlier sleep signs. That baby is overtired. Try to catch the very first cues and rush him off to bed at that time. Remember, an overtired baby is a baby that is not going to sleep anytime soon.
Another thing is to prioritize his sleep. Do not leave the house or plan activities/visitors at home during the times when he will be napping. This may mean you can't leave the house until his schedule is figured out, but you have to do that in order to work this out. He needs to be sleeping in a quiet place meant for sleep, too. Crib, your bed, whatever- just away from any noise or activity that would stimulate him and keep him awake.
You're probably doing some of this stuff, but I just threw out everything I could remember about infant sleep. Also, I think Connor is 5 weeks old- 6 weeks is usually the point at which most babies know night from day. It's important to get a good routine down with him ASAP because at the 4 month mark he will start forming habits, so always try to have the same "bedtime routine" (it can be different for bedtime vs naptime, but have at least one thing that is the same from day to day, i.e. a sleep song, or rocking, etc. Keep it portable so that when you travel you can still do that *one* thing that he associates with sleep). Also, you have to be consistent starting with that very first nap otherwise the whole day will be thrown off. Bad naps/ no naps = bad night time sleep. You have to set/fix the naps first.
Ok I can't think of anything else right now :-) good luck!
Originally Posted by Jaimee
My first didn't get onto a nap schedule until she was about 5 months old. My second was quicker to regulate- maybe 3 or 4 months old. And that meant taking 3 fairly predictable naps during the day. It goes down to two naps after a few months and then down to one nap as early as a year old (but many toddlers keep their two naps for several more months). Often when the third nap is dropped, bedtime comes earlier just naturally. There is some evidence that babies are "wired" to be in bed around 6 or 7pm. This is early for a lot of families and trying to push bedtime to an easier time like 8 or 9pm can result in baby not going to bed until much later in the end.
All this being said, Connor's sleep schedule is nothing like I have experienced. To be clear, when you say he's up from 9-4, do you mean he is awake from 9am to 4pm?! No nap in there at all? Then he takes a 5 hour nap? And then doesn't go down for the night until 3am and sleeps for 6 hours? Usually young babies are ready for a nap about 1-2 hours after they wake up in the morning. I would maybe try to encourage him to sleep around 11am if you could by nursing and rocking/wearing him in a carrier. Maybe even taking a car ride or stroller ride if that works for him. Maybe if he took a 1-2 hour nap then, he would take a shorter nap in the late afternoon and be ready for "bedtime" earlier. Then he's slowly start to wake up earlier and the naps would shift earlier and earlier until he's getting up more like 7 or 8am napping around 10 and 3 and going to bed closer to 7 or 8pm. There are many, many good books out there on sleep if you're interested in reading more.