CASE STUDY: 7 months, excessive night waking, sleep regression
Written by: Nicky Barker, Founder of Little Ones & Paediatric Sleep Specialist
*this is a case study from a real-life mum who reached out for help. We share our case studies in the hope it may help other mums who are in the same, or similar, situations. Not everyone parents in the same way, so please do not judge, criticize or demean these mothers and the parenting choices they have made in the best interests of their babies and their families.
Age: 7 months
Room: Dark room, baby sleeping bag, white noise
Naps: 1.5 hour morning nap, 45 minute early afternoon nap and 45 minute late afternoon nap
Lucas was napping really well in the day and had been sleeping pretty much through the night, being down to one night wake for a quick feed, since he was around 5 months old. His room was set up perfectly for sleep and he seemed to be eating and drinking really well throughout the day. However, for the last month Lucas had started waking MORE overnight, some nights 3 or 4 times. Sarah wasn't sure what had happened for his sleep to have regressed so much and she was uncertain as to how to treat the night wakes - sometimes she would feed him, sometimes resettle. Some of the wakes Lucas just seemed so wide awake!
She wondered if she needed to do some sort of "sleep training" with him to improve his night sleep and messaged us asking which method to try. We suggested Sarah use our Older Baby Sleep Program and tweak his daytime naps first, before venturing into sleep training territory. It looked to us like Lucas' night waking was actually being caused by that late afternoon nap he was having, meaning he simply wasn't tired enough to then go into a deep sleep overnight.
Sarah was reluctant to change her baby's nap structure seeing as he was napping so well! However after we explained to her how the daytime sleep can have such a big impact on night time sleep and settling, she decided to give it a go.
Our Program readjusted the naps so that Lucas was having a shorter nap in the morning and his longest nap across the middle of the day, with no late afternoon nap, meaning he was still well rested but definitely ready for sleep come bedtime in the evening.
A few days in to the Program and Lucas was back to sleeping like a champ at night and a week later his one usual night wake had vanished!
The trap a lot of people fall into is in not realising how quickly babies sleep needs change. Lucas still had the nap structure of a 3 or 4 month old baby and this was really starting to impact his night sleep. Now that his sleep needs had matured, he needed slightly less daytime sleep to allow him to sleep well at night. This is very common around the time of a nap transition and the first one of these happens between 6-8 months when babies lose the late afternoon nap. The reason you drop this nap is because it begins to cause:
- difficulty settling at bedtime
- more frequent night waking
- early morning waking
- or all of the above!
Lucas didn't need "sleep training". And we would never recommend this as a course of action until we were first confident a baby's night waking wasn't being caused by their daytime napping, which, in Lucas' case, it was. A few easy changes to his day made all the difference!
"Boy am I glad I found you guys! I was dreading the idea that we would have to sleep train Lucas and I could not work out why his sleep had so suddenly regressed! Thank you, truly, for getting us back on track in such a stress-free way." - Sarah
To get your baby's naps spot on and head towards better sleep, our Sleep Programs have everything you need.
Make sure you read NAPS: the art (and importance) of good day sleeps, Nap o clock: how and when your baby will drop their naps and Wakey wakey: why waking your baby can lead to more sleep.
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