This is a 2 part series about baby sleep disruptions. Here is the link to part 2.
Over the past year, we’ve worked through several bouts of sleep disruptions with our son. Our most recent set of sleep disruptions came after traveling from the United States to Japan. Everything went okay for the first week.
And by okay, I mean it wasn’t perfect, but for the most part he was sleeping through the night. After the first week, however, he was waking during the night and staying awake for several hours! The hardest part wasn’t that he woke up, but that he refused to go back to sleep for several hours. Thankfully, we worked through it, and we are now back on track (see below)!!
Today I’d like to continue with my Baby + Sleep series and explore several different types of baby sleep disruptions and reasons for them. I’d also like to talk about how we managed sleep disruptions in the past and present and what techniques I think are most useful for anyone currently struggling with this.
Recognizing a type of baby sleep disruption is one of the most helpful things a parent can do to help his or her child sleep better! Let’s discuss.
This is actually my favorite sleep disruption because there is a lot you can do to fix it. Habitual sleep disruptions is when your baby wakes at the same exact time every night. Somehow the baby’s internal sleep clock got inadvertently programed to wake up at that time.
Solution: One way to manage habitual waking is a technique called ‘wake to sleep,’ which I read about in the book The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems.
Here is how you do ‘wake to sleep’:
Say your baby wakes at 3:30 am every night, you would set your alarm for 3:00 am, go into your baby’s room rustle him around slightly (such as a rub on the back) to get him to wake up slightly but not really wake up completely. This will reset your baby’s sleep cycle. (Remember when I talked about sleep cycles and transitions? Well, this is a great way to use that knowledge to your advantage).
Because you reset your baby’s sleep cycle at 3:00 am, your baby will be mid-sleep cycle at 3:30 am, which means he will be in a deep sleep when he would typically awake. Kinda tricky but it works! Do ‘wake to sleep’ for 2-3 nights and then stop. See what happens. Repeat this technique again if your baby’s clock is still set at 3:30 am.
If you do not want to do ‘wake to sleep,’ you can also be very consistent by going in laying your baby back down, saying your sleepy words, and telling him to go back to sleep every 15 minutes (or whatever interval you feel is appropriate) until he falls back asleep. If your baby is just waking up habitually, and thus, does not have a legitimate need, eventually he will learn to put himself back to sleep. Again consistency is key, and you will start to see results.
This could come in the form of teething or illness. This is a tough one because, while you have some control, sometimes you have to ride it out and get back on track once the illness is over.
Solution: If your baby is in pain and you feel comfortable giving medicine, then you could use over the counter Tylenol or Motrin as recommended on the packaging. If my child is sick, I also like to use steam, bulb aspirator, and baby friendly vapor rub to the feet.
For steam, I run a hot shower in the bathroom for about 10 minutes to fill the room with steam. Then I turn the shower off and give my son a bath. This way he can take a bath in a room full of steam to loosen up any congestion.
For the bulb aspirator, I only prefer to use the one from the hospital as it sucks better. I personally do not feel the over the counter ones are effective. However, the Nose Frida is something I haven’t tried, but I know other moms swear by. The beauty here is that you cannot ever suck too hard with the Nosefrida nasal aspirator(affiliate link).
For the vapor rub, I buy a baby safe (i.e. natural vapor rub). Usually found at a local drug store near the regular vapor rub or children’s medicine, this vapor rub is equally effective. Using in on your baby’s feet is the most effective area you can rub it on. The feet have the most absorptive skin on the body so the rub will enter the blood stream the quickest, thus yielding the best results.
Rolling, sitting, standing are all types of movement that can cause sleep disruptions. For babies, movement involves a huge novelty factor in the beginning. When a baby learns a new skill it’s very common for him to practice it over and over again, especially when alone in the crib.
Solution. When my son first started rolling over, we had major sleep disruptions for about a week. He rolled incessantly, and after night feedings, this would cause him to spit up all over the crib.
In my own experience, being patient over several days helped because after a little bit of time, the novelty started to wear off and he would just roll over once and go to sleep. Another thing I always did was remain very consistent. When dealing with sleep disruptions that are not related to pain or illness, being firm and consistent is so important.
Using 15 minute intervals, I would simply go in and tell my son to go to sleep and lay him down if he was sitting or standing. This usually did not make him particularly happy, so I used this technique minimally, but it is very effective. If your baby is truly tired and it is nap time, he will eventually go to sleep using this technique.
Okay, so those are my first 3 sleep disruptions. Click here to read Dealing with Baby Sleep Disruptions Part 2.
Print this free sleep printable!
This post comes with a free printable average sleep needs by age chart. It’s time to take the mystery out of baby sleep. This printable simplifies it! Here’s a preview:
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable, plus get my Free 3-Day Baby Sleep eCourse! Just click here to download and subscribe
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Use it as a quick reference and don’t forget a thing!
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