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Help! Why does my baby wake up Soon after being laid down?!

Updated: Jan 25

What to Do when your baby won't stay asleep at bedtime.

Does your baby wake up within an hour (usually 30-45 minutes) of going to sleep for the night?

Does this sound familiar? You work so hard to get baby down to sleep, and they finally fall asleep, you walk out, and think "I am going to go get X done." You go to the bathroom, check your phone, and just as you sit down to start Project X, baby pops up and says, "Surprise! I'm awake again!"

And you're left feeling, "What?! Are you kidding me?!" I know the feeling. It can leave you saying some truly unkind words. It can be so frustrating!

This is called a False Start - and it happens when baby is tired enough to fall asleep but not tired enough to stay asleep.  

While having not enough daytime sleep (being overtired) can cause false starts, most commonly it is because baby has too much daytime sleep (undertired).

It can be so frustrating. So what can you do?

False Starts

Here are some things you can do to prevent false starts so that Baby doesn't wake up immediately after being laid down.

1. Check Bedtime Timing:

Is bedtime timing age-appropriate? Is it too early or too late? Baby may be treating bedtime as a nap so try another nap and later bedtime.

bedtime timing

2. Are daytime sleep totals on target?

Sleep needs change as baby ages. The younger the baby, the more daytime sleep they need. A baby at 4 months needs 4 naps and 4 hours of daytime sleep. A 15-month-old needs 2 (sometimes 3) naps with 2-2.5 hours of sleep. If baby sleeps too much during the day, they will struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep.

If you're unsure if your child's sleep schedule is on par for his/her age, check out my FREE Sleep Chart Cheat Sheet!

3. Do wake windows need adjusting?

A wake windows is how long baby is awake between sleeps.

Ensuring baby is on age-appropriate daytime wake windows is critical to a good night’s sleep. Following wake windows helps baby from getting over or under-tired and works to build the right amount of sleep pressure. 

4. Sleep pressure

Sleep pressure is our sleep drive. It is determined by how tired we are and it increases the longer we are awake. We need enough sleep drive to be tired enough to fall asleep and stay asleep. For kids, this means making sure their wake window before sleep is long enough to build that pressure but not too long that they become overtired.

Try to find your child’s sweet spot! If a baby sleeps too much during that day, they will really struggle to go to sleep that night. The sleep pressure simply isn't great enough because they're not tired enough.

5. Is baby waking somewhere other than where they fell asleep?

It’s confusing to babies when they wake somewhere other than where they fell asleep. They fell asleep with help and think they need that help again to fall back to sleep. 

6. Wake-up time is too late.

Ideal wake time is between 6-7:30am for little ones. If you’re aiming for 7:00pm bedtime and your day started at 8:00pm, baby is likely not tired yet. Wake baby about 12-13 hours before desired bedtime timing.

If your baby wakes up immediately after being laid down, try these changes to stop the false starts so your baby will stay asleep.

If your baby struggles to fall asleep in the crib or on their own or is struggling with False Starts and you'd like to learn how I can help you, simply schedule a FREE 15-minute sleep consult with Caryn, the owner of Sleep Tight Tonight.


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