Jacob, 6 months: Night waking and early morning waking
Jacob's sleep story...
At 6 months old, Jacob was a really good napper in the day! He had slotted into a predictable routine, with 3 naps totalling just over 3 hours cumulative day sleep:
Morning nap: 9am-10:30am (1.5 hours)
Lunch nap: 1pm-2pm (1 hour)
Afternoon nap: 4pm-4:45pm (45 minutes)
His mum Heather was pretty happy about how he was napping, however, she was not happy about his nights...
Recently, Jacob had started waking 45 minutes after going to bed in the evening and needed Heather's help to resettle back to sleep - sometimes for quite a while! After this, he was waking around 3am, seemingly wide awake and then again at 5:30am, ready to start his day.
Heather wasn't sure what was causing these wakes all of a sudden, as Jacob had been sleeping through the night from around 3 months old. He didn't seem interested in a milk feed at the 3am wake, so she knew he wasn't hungry but she struggled to get him to go back to sleep.
After a frustrating couple of weeks, Heather got in touch with us and asked if we would recommend doing some "sleep training" with Jacob. We could see quite quickly though that there was no need for sleep training and that Jacob was just having a wee bit too much daytime sleep. And given that he was now 6 months old, the last nap of the day was the thing that was most likely causing his night wakes and early morning wake.
As a baby ages and develops their nap requirements also change and mature. This can mean their nap timings and lengths need constant refining so that their napping doesn't impact their night time sleep. We could see that Jacob was now napping a bit too much in the day, meaning he genuinely wasn't tired enough to sleep longer overnight.
In a baby this age, the late afternoon nap can also start to wreak havoc with bedtime settling if it's too long or too late in the day. For some babies beyond 6 months, ANY amount of sleep past 3PM can correlate to a wakeful period at around 3AM. In that case, it's time to drop the afternoon nap!
Heather was understandably nervous about changing Jacob's nap pattern because he was such a good daytime sleeper and she worried it would all backfire! After some encouragement from our sleep consultants though, Heather started following the nap structure in our Program.
Since this nap structure was quite different to what Jacob had been doing previously, Heather started out by focusing on gradually reducing his morning nap, which would help to achieve a longer, more restorative sleep at his lunch nap. Once Jacob had some time to adjust to this change, Heather then started working on reducing, then dropping, the late afternoon nap.
Almost immediately after dropping Jacob's afternoon nap, his wake 45 minutes after bedtime vanished, as did his 3am wide awake period. He also started sleeping later in the morning - until 6/6:30am most days!
There are lots of different factors that can trigger early morning waking but in Jacob's case, his 5:30am wake was caused by his nap timings the previous day. Reducing, then removing, that late afternoon nap really helped Jacob to consolidate his early morning sleep.
Heather was grateful that she didn't need to implement any sort of actual "sleep training" with Jacob and that we were able to improve his nights in a far more holistic way:
I hadn't really thought that the night time waking would have been caused by his naps! We were always told that sleep breeds sleep so I thought it was good he was napping that much! I'm quite surprised how easily we were able to take on board these small changes and how big a difference it made.
You don't need "sleep training" to get a better night's sleep - a few small changes can make a world of difference! Everything you need can be found in our Little Ones App, including age-appropriate nap and feed schedules, gentle settling methods, and support from our team of expert sleep consultants.