Question: My 3 month old has 3-5 naps per day depending on how long he sleeps. Most days we'll get at least 1, 2hour nap but when that nap occurs varies. Usually he will wake up on the dot at 40 mins. He goes down drowsy but awake, and I know that the 40 mins wake up is usually him completing a sleep cycle and waking up. I usually let him fuss for about 5 mins to see if he puts himself back to sleep. The thing is, I know that he CAN make it through a sleep cycle because he can have a nap longer than 40 mins.
We have a great bedtime routine: bath, feed (sometimes just a top up), a little cuddle and then into his crib. He used to be able to make it through straight until 11pm-12am, however for the past month 4/7 days he wakes up at the 40 min mark and needs to be resettled. I am just unsure why sometimes he wakes up at the 40 min mark and why sometimes he does not.
He wakes to eat anywhere from 1-2 times per night and will wake up between 6:30am-7:30am for the day.
Any advice would be great, because whenever he is down sleeping I feel like I am watching the clock like a hawk waiting for the 40 min wake up.
Heidi's Answer: Hi Lisa,
You're absolutely right that he's waking at the end of a sleep cycle, transitioning to the next. And it is a good sign that he sometimes does sleep through that delicate moment. It shows that he is capable of doing it and that is a great start!
The reason why he does wake up at times can be little things: a small discomfort like a little cold, a little hungry feeling or a wet diaper can be enough to keep him from sleeping on. It can also be be too little or too much light, noise around the house or from the street, or even the lack of noise ...
So I suggest you start with checking these possibilities and try to avoid them. Make sure he keeps nice and warm (never too hot of course), a wearable blanket or baby sleeping bag can work wonders.
Use an extra layer or a different size diaper to help avoid the wet diaper, and of course always change it right before he goes down.
Other than this, there are two sleep-through-sleep-cycle methods you can work on:
1. 35 minutes into his nap/sleep: quietly go to his crib so as not to wake him, but place your hands around his shoulders, place your hand on his tummy, gently stroke his forehead, ... choose something you know he finds comforting.
Of course all very softly so he does not wake up. Continue for at least 10 minutes, until you've helped him through to the next cycle. Do this as often as you can manage, for a week or two and you should see improvement.
2. At naptimes, why not put him in a baby sling every now and then and go out for a walk that takes longer than 40 minutes? It gets you both outside and it's another good exercise for him to sleep for longer than those 40 minutes.
If you want to use nap time to get things done around the house, you can use the sling too of course. As long as you're moving a bit so he stays asleep easily.