Have you ever felt like a sleep intruder creeps in during your baby's nap and steals some of that precious time away?

If your baby wakes early out of a sound sleep with a strong cry, consider whether the cause relates to Baby, Mom, waketime, or the sleep environment. This phenomenon has become known as the 45-Minute Intruder and can visit your baby at anytime; but it usually shows up after eight weeks of age and peaks around six months of age. It might stick around a day or two or decide to take up residence for a week.

If you have ruled out the simple explanations, we suggest you begin by treating the sleep intruder as a hunger problem. Try feeding your baby first. If he shows no interest in feeding or does not feed well, you have just ruled out hunger as the cause.

But if he 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 this is not a feeding issue, then it's time to seek another solution. The key to fixing the problem is to identify the source of the problem and then work toward a solution. Even if you cannot identify the source, the problem tends to be temporary and usually fixes itself.

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Finally, be aware that some sleep advocates advise moms to keep their babies on fixed schedules, even if their babies wake early from their naps. Their advice is to allow the baby to “cry it out” until the next feeding, but this ignores the potential needs of the baby. A hungry baby should always be fed! Withholding food is never a way to fix a sleep problem.

Waketime will become an increasingly important part of your baby’s day, because it is a time of learning. There is a balance however, that parents must stay mindful of. Over-stimulating a baby during waketime impacts the next set of feedings and naptimes.

Remember, everything is connected. When parents help their babies by establishing healthy feed-wake-sleep patterns, everyone in the house wins.

When there are a number of disruptions in your baby’s feeding or waketime routine, there will be corresponding changes in his sleep patterns. Stay on top of this by being as consistent as possible with mealtime and age-appropriate waketimes.

You can read more articles on Baby Sleep here on Babywise.life to help you make the most of your baby’s waketimes and naps.

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Excerpted with permission from On Becoming Babywise by Gary Ezzo, M.A. and Robert Bucknam, M.D., copyright Parent-Wise Solutions, Inc. You can learn more and purchase the book here.

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