The sleep/nap challenge of waking early is so common among babies that over time, it has gained a reputation and become known as the ’45-minute Intruder’. While the intruder can visit your baby at any time, it often shows up between seven and eight weeks, at four months, and again at six months of age. It might stick around a day or two or decide to take up residence for a couple of weeks.
What should you do if the intruder visits your baby’s normal naptimes? If you have ruled out the simple interruptions (need for a burp, trapped gas, or diaper rash), we suggest you begin by treating the sleep intruder as a hunger problem and not a sleep adjustment problem. Try feeding your baby first; if he shows no interest in feeding or does not feed well, you have just ruled out that ‘hunger’ was the cause. But if the baby does take a full feeding, you have narrowed the problem to a feeding issue. This could be an indicator that he is starting a growth spurt, or there is a decrease in your milk supply or the quality of your milk.
If the intruder turns out not to be a feeding issue, you then must consider one of the following explanations:
- His tummy is troubling him because of a newly developed condition of reflux
- He is starting a sleep/nap transition and is sleeping too much over the course of twenty-four hours.
- Waketimes are over-stimulating or too long
- Baby’s crib is too stimulating
- Baby is waking up in response to familiar pleasure-associated sounds
- Baby is not being exposed to enough daylight
- The first feeding of the day has too much flexibility
The key to fixing the problem is to identify the source of the problem and then work toward a solution. If there is any silver lining with the transitory sleep/nap challenges, apart from it being a nutrition issue, sleep intrusions are temporary and if Mom does nothing but feed more often (if appropriate), the problem usually fixes itself. The only cost to Mom is the noticeable appearance of the first gray hairs on her young head.
Excerpt taken from Preparation for Parenting by Gary & Anne Marie Ezzo