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Why is my child awake for long periods of time in the night? What can I do?

Is your little one awake for a few hours in the night? These are 'split nights,’ and your child may seem quite content, alert and whatever you do, they are not going back to sleep.

What causes a split night and what can we do?

A few possibilities to consider.

  • Daytime sleep/balance of the daytime sleep – too much daytime sleep. If your little one is having more daytime sleep than they need, this can result is them being more wakeful at night. Then they catch up during the day and the cycle continues.

  • Going to bed too early. Putting your little one to bed to early can mean that when they do wake in the night, they wake feeling fully rested and ready to start the day.

  • Learning a new skill – all babies go through developmental changes at different times and they can often wake up in the night and want to practice their new skill. Have patience and this phase will pass. You can give them lots of time in the day to practice to try and reduce them wanting to do this through the night.

  • Maybe they are ready for a nap transition. Its really common that split nights can happen when your baby is getting ready to drop one of their naps. Their daytime sleep requirement has dropped, but their daytime routine hasn’t adapted.

  • Little one doesn’t fall asleep independently. Some babies can be helped to sleep and sleep perfectly, however, some children struggle to get themselves back to sleep after they have had a chunk of sleep and need the support getting back to sleep. Practicing independent sleep skills can help.

  • Parents jumping in too soon. If your baby is happily awake in their cot then leave them too it. If we rush in and when they are not calling for us, they think its playtime. Give them he space and time to get themselves back to sleep on their on. If they become upset then of course comfort them, do not take them out of their bedroom or start watching TV with them as this can reinforce the wake up.

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