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'False Starts'

Is your little one waking up about 30 minutes or an hour after they’ve fallen asleep at bedtime? If so, you may be experiencing what we call a ‘false start’.

These are wakeups that tend to happen anywhere between about 2-60 mins after sleep onset at bedtime. So why do they happen and what can you do about them?

It’s really annoying when you’ve witnessed your little one finally fall asleep at bedtime, only for them to wake so soon after. They’ll often seem refreshed and awake. Some babies only have them occasionally, whereas for others it’s a near nightly pattern.


Here are a few possible reasons for these ‘false starts’:


- Bedtime is too early- Sometimes babies and young children may seem tired but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re ready to settle down for the whole night. If they’ve had naps that are too long or too late in the day, they may not have built up enough sleep pressure. Sometimes, pushing bedtime back by about 15 minutes can be enough to solve this. You may also want to look at the length and timing of their naps to see if the balance between day and night is right.


- How they’re falling to sleep- If your little one is relying on an external source to help them fall asleep, they may be waking after one sleep cycle and looking for help to be able to fall back to sleep again. This may mean it’s the time to work on how your little one gets to sleep, with a plan of action to help them work towards self-settling.


- Overtired- Overtiredness can often be the reason behind one of these ‘false starts’. You may notice a trend of your baby not napping as well during the day and then consistently having these false starts and disturbed nights. So again, try to look at their nap lengths and timings to see if any small tweaks can be made here. If they’ve had a day of shorter or oddly times naps, a slightly earlier bedtime can normally help you get back to normal.


- If there’s a disturbance- Is there something in their environment that might be disrupting them? The white noise machine turning off, a stimulating light, temperature being too hot or cold, noises around the house? Double check to see if there’s something happening around them that could be waking them and you can hopefully easily sort it out!


- Bedtime routine- Sometimes being overstimulated before bedtime can lead to more disturbed nights. Did you do something differently before bedtime? Were they passed around lots of family or friends right before bed? Were you late for their normal bedtime routine and have to rush it or not do your normal routine? Take a step back and think about your bedtime routine and if your little one has a chance to be able to wind down properly before their bedtime.



For more information on how I can help your little ones’ sleep, feel free to book a free chat with me (DM on Instagram "Free call") and we can talk about putting a full plan together for you.


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