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Battle the 40 Minute Sleep Intruder!

Battle The 40 Minute Sleep Intruder!

You put your baby to bed and 40 minutes later, she’s up screaming.  Sometimes she can fall back asleep on her own, but sometimes you go in and rock her or feed her to help her fall back asleep.  What is that?

It’s called a 40 minute sleep intruder!

OK, so forget the fancy name, what does it mean?  Hate to say it, but it’s a good indication that your baby is over-tired.

 How to battle the 40 minute intruder:

1) Try an earlier bedtime: An early bedtime is a great way to battle a sleep problem, especially if your baby isn’t getting the sleep that they need.   An earlier bedtime is like magic but without the magic wand!  Start by moving your child’s bedtime 15 minutes earlier and see if that makes a difference.  Keep moving the bedtime earlier by 15 minutes to find an optimal bedtime when your child goes down easily and stays asleep for the longest duration and wakes up happy and well-rested.  Creating a sleep journal will help to see the trends.

2) Give your baby the benefit of falling back asleep on their own: It’s so easy to rush into your baby’s room at every cry.  But find a time that you are comfortable waiting (even if it’s just 1-3 minutes to start) to help your baby fall back asleep on their own.  For a baby older than 4 months, I suggest start with 5 minutes and work up to 15 minutes.  Let your baby surprise you with their awesome soothing skills.

Say goodbye to those 40 minute intruders and say hello to a well-rested baby!

Susie Parker

Susie Parker is founder of Sleep Baby Love and a Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant through the Family Sleep Institute. When Susie's not ridding the world of sleepless families, she loves spending time with her two girls that have given her a ton of real world sleep experience head on.

This Post Has 8 Comments
  1. I am totally going through this right now. My daughter is 11 months and I am finally getting serious about having her sleep in her crib, instead of on me, but she always wakes up after 40-50 minutes and still seems so tired. I will have to try leaving her for a few minutes and see if it works. Thanks for the tip!

      1. I am at my wits end! 9 month old baby has been overtired since birth!!!!

        45 min naps, will got to bed awake around 7pm then is up every two hours

  2. We struggled with this for a LONG time with my 20 month old. Bottom line – he was overtired. We had tried transitioning to one nap and he wasn’t ready. He was napping once a day for 40 minutes. Needless to say, he was a beast! It was also affecting he nighttime sleeping. We went back to a morning nap (3 hours after wake up) and an afternoon (again 3 hours later). At first, he was still doing 40 minutes each time but it was better than 40 minutes one time. Eventually (within two weeks!!) the naps got longer, and he started sleeping 13 hours per night that he naturally went to one nap. Waking at 8, back down at 11, sleeping till 1:30, in bed at 7. It’s about as close to a miracle as I’ve ever come! And it was good timing bc we had all had it!

  3. Ugh! We have been battling this for over a month now. But, it started about a month after we sleep trained and his naps got longer. So I don’t know how he is overtired. He’s 6 months now so tried cutting the last nap but that isn’t helping. He is up after 45 minutes for naps and up every hour at night. Help!

  4. Hi Susie,
    I realize you make a business from giving advice and I’m asking for your opinion for free so no pressure to respond!
    Just looking to see if this sounds “normal” for a baby who just turned 4 months:
    (general info: she kind of “complains” herself to sleep in her crib anywhere from 3- 20 mins 20 being the longest time and is only for the 1st nap when my partner puts her down which is weird) She doesn’t use a pacifier or need anything special. She is still swaddled though and exclusively breastfed. We follow the eat-awake-sleep-you program so that either of us can put her down.
    The following is a rough schedule, varies by 15mins- 60mins and seems to change week to week. Last week she was sleeping 2 epic naps during the day (nighttime was the same though) and this week it’s completely different! Is a sleep regression during the day a possibility?
    Bedtime is between 6 and 8pm – usually 7. She wakes twice: between 10-12pm and between 2:00 and 3. I’m not sure why she is waking sometimes only 2 hours after her last feed.
    Waking up usually between 7 and 8am.
    First nap of the day usually 1.5 hours after her wake up. so around 830 or 9 for 1 hour
    second nap 1115-1215
    third nap 2:15-3:15
    fourth nap 5:15-6:15

    Just wondering if that sounds “normal” and if you have any advice for us!
    Thanks!
    Kim

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