Lucas' sleep story...
Lucas (7 months) was napping really well in the day, with a 1.5 hour morning nap, 45 minute lunch nap and 45 minute late afternoon nap.
He had also been sleeping pretty much through the night, with just one wake for a quick feed, since he was around 5 months old. His room was set up perfectly for sleep (dark room, white noise, sleeping bag) 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!
His mum, Sarah, wasn't sure what had happened for his sleep to have regressed so much and she was uncertain how to respond to his night wakes. Sometimes she would feed him, sometimes she would resettle him without a feed. At some of the wakes, Lucas just seemed so wide awake and it was difficult to get him back to sleep.
Sarah wondered if she needed to do some sort of "sleep training" with Lucas to improve his night sleep and messaged us asking which method we would recommend. We suggested Sarah use our Older Baby sleep program to 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.
A trap that a lot of parents fall into is in not realising how quickly their baby's sleep needs change. Lucas still had the nap structure of a 3 or 4 month old baby and, at 7 months old, this was starting to negatively impact his night sleep.
Now that Lucas' sleep needs had matured, he needed slightly less daytime sleep in order to be able to sleep well at night. This is very common between 6-8 months, as babies go through a nap transition at this time, dropping the late afternoon nap.
Signs that your baby may be ready to drop the afternoon nap include:
- resisting or refusing the late afternoon nap
- difficulties settling at bedtime
- more frequent night waking
- early morning waking
- or all of the above!
Sarah was reluctant to change her baby's nap structure seeing as he was napping so well, which is totally understandable! However, after we explained to her how a baby's daytime sleep can have such a big impact on their night time sleep and settling, she decided to give it a go.
Following our age-specific sleep schedules, Sarah readjusted Lucas' naps so that he was having a shorter nap in the morning and his longest nap across the middle of the day, with no late afternoon nap. This meant he was still well rested but definitely ready for sleep come bedtime in the evening.
After just a few days, Lucas was back to sleeping like a champ at night and a week later his one regular night wake had vanished too, so that he was sleeping through the night from 7pm to 7am.
As it turned out, Lucas didn't need "sleep training".
We never recommend "sleep training" as a course of action until we are first confident that a baby's night waking isn't being caused by other factors like their daytime sleep, hunger, discomfort or an issue in their sleep environment.
In Lucas' case, his night waking was caused by his nap pattern during the day and a few easy changes 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.
If your baby's sleep has suddenly regressed, our Little Ones App has all the information and tools you need to get their sleep back on track. You'll get access to our trusted sleep solutions, detailed troubleshooting notes for when things don't go to plan, gentle settling methods and more!