Updated: Oct 3, 2021
When you make that decision & realisation that your little ones current sleep situation needs a shift, perhaps you were once getting a good night's sleep, but now things seem to have changed and your baby is waking frequently and you have no idea why?
Is it something you are doing wrong?
Why are they suddenly waking now?
They used to sleep through, so what has happened?
When will I get some sleep!?!
All of the above questions are so common and it is so confusing when your baby's sleep takes a knock and you have no idea why. It can feel daunting just the thought of attempting to tackle the sleep setback. Or maybe you have attempted already with no success, just screams and protesting which may have possibly resulted in a very stressful night & perhaps a game of musical beds as you try to get at least a few hours of asleep!
So what the heck happened to our baby's sleep?
Depending on the age of your baby, there are many reasons that sleep takes a shift. For example, if your baby is around the age of 4 months old, they can go through that dreaded sleep regression (you may have heard of it!) where your baby develops cognitively, they become more aware of surroundings, they may have found their voices and become quite vocal which also means they interact with you more. This can shift your little ones sleep pattern significantly as they become more aware when coming out of one sleep cycle and into another. Your baby may begin to wake more, may call for you, may find it harder to settle.
Other potential reasons could be weaning. Lots of us think that because our baby's are eating more, that their sleep will improve or that it won't have an effect on their sleep, but in actual fact, some foods can trigger certain reactions, can cause tummy discomfort & as a result, sleep can often be disrupted.
"My baby used to sleep so well at naptimes too but now she wakes after 20 or 30 minutes!"
Why have daytime naps become so short?
Developmental leaps, awake windows, weaning, new milestones, significant changes at home, new siblings are just some of the reasons that impact your baby's sleep.
One common factor is your baby growing and developing, which means that they are much more capable of staying awake longer. Your baby's naptimes may not be at their usual times anymore if they are now able to stay awake longer than usual and therefore not tired enough to go down for their typical 12pm lunch time snooze.
When this happens, take a look at extending those windows and shift your baby's nap to 1230pm for example. If you find your baby goes down better at this time, then you may have just pin pointed your sleep issue. On the flip side, maybe you are trying to drag out that lunch nap when your baby is already tired and perhaps needed to put down earlier....
In this instance, notice those tired cues, work out when they were last awake and you may find that they have in fact, stayed awake a little too long and therefore they have become overtired. This means that your baby will find it much harder to settle off to sleep.
Its all about finding the right balance.
Take note of your baby's day, write down those timings and sleeps to see if you can find where your timings need to be stretched or even shortened. Sometimes when we look at what is written in front of us, it can be much clearer and easier to spot. If not, play around with those awake windows and see how your baby's sleep improves. Keep a food diary if your little one is weaning, note down when sleep is impacted as you may be able to pin point which foods are consistently disturbing your little ones sleep. You can then eliminate those foods and see if sleep improves.
It can take time to tackle those sleep setbacks, so when you do make those all important changes to your baby's sleep, stick with it for a good few days as sometimes improvements are not seen straight away and it's easy to assume that something isn't working, when actually persevering can help to see those small improvements firstly. Consistency is also key and just try and stick with it. Take a look at the awake window table below which will help you to work out your baby's average awake period, helping to improve your baby's sleep. Play around with it, you can start at the minimum and push it slightly if you feel your baby is capable!
Happy Sleeping Guys!
"Louise helped us with our baby boy. She helped us figure out what changes needed to be made to our boys day & gave lots of sound advice to help improve our current sleep situation. Our baby went from waking several times per night, to sleeping through again! Louise was a life saver!"