Bedtime False Starts: Let's Kick Them to the Curb!
Updated: Sep 14, 2022
Is your baby suddenly waking up 30-45 minutes after putting them to bed?
That's called a bedtime 𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐬𝐞 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐫𝐭.
This can be extremely frustrating, especially if your baby is older than 4-6 months, but there are ways to help prevent false starts!
𝟏. 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐎𝐕𝐄𝐑𝐓𝐈𝐑𝐄𝐃:
If your baby is overtired, you are likely to experience frantic crying, arching of the back, their little body becoming rigid, and overall becoming very difficult to console. Many times overtired babies can look like colicky babies but once you really learn to read those sleepy cues and put your little one down before they've reached that overtired state, it’s amazing how that frenzy can resolve.
Overtired little ones result in the overproduction of cortisol, causing difficulty to not only fall asleep but stay asleep. These little ones often have a FULL wakeup after one sleep cycle.
Have a little one on your hands that has difficulty taking naps during the day? Daytime sleep protects nighttime sleep so learn how to get naps going in the right direction.
𝟐. 𝐌𝐚𝐤𝐢𝐧𝐠 𝐬𝐮𝐫𝐞 𝐲𝐨𝐮𝐫 𝐥𝐢𝐭𝐭𝐥𝐞 𝐨𝐧𝐞 𝐢𝐬𝐧'𝐭 𝐔𝐍𝐃𝐄𝐑𝐓𝐈𝐑𝐄𝐃:
This can either be caused by too much daytime sleep or a bedtime that is too early. After 4 months, we recommend capping daytime sleep in order to protect overnight sleep, since overnight sleep when the restoration occurs.
Babies have very specific number of sleep hours they need over a 24-hour period and in order to aim for an 11-12 hour sleep period overnight we want to cap daytime sleep otherwise they will sleep less at night because they've already had enough sleep within that 24-hour window. We focus on having solid, uninterrupted night sleep because this is when your baby does most of their growing and developing, as well as adults.
💫 Max daytime sleep with 11-12 hour nights:
3-4 months = 5 hours
5-7 months = 4 hours
7-9 months = 3.5 hours
10-24 months = 3 hours
Babies take a while to learn the skill of sleep and we act as their coaches to help them develop this skill. As coach, we help them regulate their nap hours in order to establish and maintain a circadian rhythm to reinforce the difference between daytime and nighttime needs.
Need a max daytime sleep total chart, download one here!
𝟑. 𝐃𝐞𝐩𝐞𝐧𝐝𝐞𝐧𝐭 𝐨𝐧 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐬 𝐭𝐨 𝐟𝐚𝐥𝐥 𝐚𝐧𝐝 𝐬𝐭𝐚𝐲 𝐚𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩:
Are all sleep props "bad"? NOPE! Rocking, bouncing, walking, nursing, feeding, ect. are all things that we consider "unsustainable" sleep props because they are hard to maintain during the overnight hours or your baby cannot do on their own. These props can also result in multiple wake ups throughout the night.
Sleep props are sustainable if they aid in your baby getting the best, most restorative sleep possible without contributing to multiple night wake ups that you need to attend to.
Sustainable 𝐬𝐥𝐞𝐞𝐩 𝐩𝐫𝐨𝐩𝐬: white noise, dark room, sleep sack, lovey, etc.
Please note: If you are able to feed or rock your baby to sleep and they sleep great (or they’re up multiple times but you don’t care) then totally keep doing all the things.
𝐈𝐟 𝐢𝐭 𝐚𝐢𝐧’𝐭 𝐛𝐫𝐨𝐤𝐞, 𝐝𝐨𝐧’𝐭 𝐟𝐢𝐱 𝐢𝐭!
Helping lay sleep foundations will allow your little one to use their own, internal strategies to get themselves to (& back to) sleep.
Establish a Consistent Routine
Maintain Proper Wake Windows
Practice Putting Self to Sleep
Connecting Sleep Cycles
We know, we know you’ve heard it before, but I promise these 4 fundamentals tips are what you need to help your little one begin to sleep solidly so everyone in the household is well rested and ready to tackle the never ending ‘to do’ list.
Are you feeling a little overwhelmed about your child's sleep habits and just need some input and advice on what to do? Serenity Sleepers is committed to helping families develop peaceful sleepers by integrating child development, parental health, and normative childhood sleep patterns at the center of our sleep philosophy. With a combined 19 years of professional experience as a certified sleep consultant and occupational therapist + 5 children between them, Kelley and Bailey are ready to help you tackle your sleep goals. Healthy sleep habits (and confident parents) make for healthier, happier children.