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The 45 minute intruder is when your baby starts waking up about 45 minutes into his/her nap. Baby is waking earl from naps and you aren’t sure why.
There will be always naps baby wakes early here and there and there will always be naps that go well. But what about when the bad days become weeks? It is the 45 minute intruder!
When I was a first-timer, Brayden took 45 minute naps until he was 6 months old. I always just fed him right when he woke and moved on with my day. Then one day he suddenly started sleeping 2 hours and never looked back.
Kaitlyn does extremely well for her naps now (8 months old), but we had the 45 minute thing for 3-4 weeks. She would go to sleep without crying at all, then wake up 30-60 minutes into her nap. If it was only 30 minutes in, I would have her CIO back to sleep. If it was 60, I would give her time–I think about 10 minutes–to get back to sleep. If she didn’t, I would just move her to the swing to finish her nap. I wanted her to stay well-rested. If she didn’t fall asleep within 10 minutes in the swing, I would feed her because I figured she was hungry. This lasted for about 3 weeks.
I know it is so hard to believe it will get better. It would be easier, I think, if you knew it would be like this until 20 weeks then it would get better because you would just wait it out. To face the short naps with no concrete end date ahead is difficult.
Tips for Stopping the 45 Minute Intruder (Short Naps)
Keep working on trying to fix it and keep trying to figure out if there is anything you can do to help it, and then just relax. Here are some tips to hopefully help:
- On Becoming Babywise says to first treat the 45 minute intruder as a feeding problem. By feeding “problem” they mean baby is in need of food. It can be that baby is having a growth spurt or didn’t get enough food for the previous feeding. Try feeding your baby once you know he is awake for good. If it is a feeding problem, it will fix quickly and easily. If you put it off, you will make things worse.
- Don’t interfere too soon. One day Kaitlyn woke early from a nap while I was out in the garden (I use a monitor so that is how I knew she was awake). I ran inside to get her—she was asleep upstairs. By the time I got there, she was back asleep. If I had been inside, I would have gotten to her before she fell back asleep. Give your baby some time–whatever you are comfortable with. I think ten minutes is reasonable.
- Watch your use of a monitor. Use it when necessary, but not too much. With a monitor, you hear every little peep and can rush in when baby is actually just transitioning.
- Check other common reasons for waking. Check the Naps: Troubleshooting–Revised and Updated post on this blog. Go through that list and check each possibility out.
If you are sure none of the things listed are the culprit to your baby’s early waking, try to just accept it and wait it out. I would also recommend you analyze the situation and try to think of what it could be. Keep a log and watch for patterns. But once you have given it your all, don’t stress yourself out too much! The problem I see with this culprit (45 minute intruder) is that little is known about it. You just have to do your detective work and try to figure it out!
Also keep in mind that it might be a transitional issue. I have read that babies transition about every 45 minutes, going from REM to deep sleep. It seems a lot of babies will wake up at that transition while they are getting the sleeping thing down. Even if they can get to sleep well initially, there seems to be a learning curve with the transition. That is why it should pass. That is also why it might require some training (read, CIO). Do whatever you are comfortable with.
You can find information on the four month sleep regression here.
Related Posts/Blog Labels:
- 45 minute intruder
- 45 Minute Intruder
- The Cornerstone for Good Naps
- Baby Whisperer: 45 Minute Naps
- Chronic 45 Minute Naps
- Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later
- Easy Nap Fix
- Reader 45 Minute Nap Questions
- Poll Results: Did Baby Ever Experience 45 Minute Naps for a Consistent Length of Time?
- Baby Whisperer: Sleep Transitions
- Kim said…
Just to share in case it helps anyone else out there, my almost 4 month old son has been waking up from the 45 min. intruder for a couple weeks. I started to feed him since that is what Babywise suggests to do. After awhile I noticed that he wasn’t acting that hungry when I nursed him, he wanted the attention and comfort more I think. That is when I decided to let him cry it out since I didn’t want to condition him to always want me instead of self-soothing back to sleep. So I’m currently working through that and although its tough, its slowly working and he’s figuring out how to get back to sleep on his own. Sometimes he even wakes up happily talking instead of crying. I usually let him cry up to 30 minutes before I’ll go in and get him, but 99% of the time, he’s fallen asleep within 10-15 minutes of crying. So I guess my point is when you try feeding them after 45 min. pay attention to whether or not they’re really eating or using you as a pacifier. That may be the clue as to whether you should get them out of their crib or leave them in to cry it out.(although I realize everyone’s situation is different!)
March 7, 2008 4:25 PM
Thanks Kim! That always helps to hear other’s success!
March 7, 2008 4:57 PM
- Meredith said…
My child is doing this now and today I picked him up and fed him and he took a full feeding. What do I do after this re: the schedule? For example, he eats at 7:00, then ate again at 9:00, but it is usually 10:00. He didn’t go back down after the nine feeding b/c it took him 30 minutes to eat and then he was a wake. What do I do at 10:00? feed him again and continue with the regular schedule? I don’t know if he will eat.If they won’t go back to sleep after a 45 minute intruder feeding, then do you just adjust the schedule until it can be ironed out again? What are your thoughts on this?
January 30, 2008 9:31 AM
Good question. If I experience the 45 minute intruder and baby is hungry, I just continue on the day more on a “pattern” than a “schedule.” So baby ate at 9. I would then shoot for the next feeding to be 2.5-3 hours from 9, but perhaps sooner. If this is a growth spurt, then it will be sooner. Feeding baby as often as necessary for a few days will get him with the extra food he needs and he will then go back to normal schedule. So I would feed at 9, do the normal waketime, then put down for a nap. If it turns out he was just hungry for that one feeding, he might sleep a little longer for the next nap and get back on schedule at some point in the afternoon. If not, don’t worry. Tomorrow is a new day 🙂
January 30, 2008 9:45 AM
- Maria said…
Excellent blog! Thanks for your efforts with it. My son (20 weeks) has, for about the last 8 weeks, been taking 2 out of 3 daytime sleeps for only 45 minutes each (I can look at the clock and say within a couple of minutes when he’ll wake!).Sometimes his first sleep of the day is also 45 minutes. I have tried everything – putting to bed earlier and later, swaddling, closing curtains. He is a wonderful nighttime sleeper and is now sleeping about 10 hours a night. Any suggestions? I’ve tried the things you’ve suggested too but each day is the same. I leave him to cry for about 15-20 mins each time he wakes – sometimes he goes back to sleep but not often. He has just started solids this week. I may just have to wait it out. I’d love to hear any feedback you could provide. Many thanks.
February 11, 2008 1:54 AM
Once you have tried everything, there isn’t much else to do but wait it out. My son just clicked one day. I hadn’t changed anything that day, though several things had changed in the couple of weeks before.Some babies might just sleep 45 minutes until one day they get it. Others might need the changes for a couple of weeks before you see any improvement. I would say to still try to problem solve, but in a casual way. In a way where you won’t stress out over it. You have worked hard enough, no need to stress! Good luck.
February 11, 2008 9:43 AM
Thanks for your reply. As I mentioned, I do leave my son for about 15-20 mins once he’s woken, depending on how hard he’s crying, to see if he’ll go back to sleep. Do you think I should just leave him in his bed for longer, until his normal time for a feed? This would probably involve a lot of crying though.
February 11, 2008 11:21 AM
I wouldn’t leave him in there just to cry if you know that is going to be the result. Before too long, he should wake up happy and be able to play after he wakes up. At that point, you could leave him, but for now, if it were me, I would get him up if he was going to just cry. Have you looked at the waking early post? There are ideas there for what to do when they wake early.
February 11, 2008 1:20 PM
- Kim said…
Thanks for all the work you do for this blog…its so helpful! I have a 3.5 month old son and I’m in the middle of this 45 min. intruder thing with his naps. I just have a few questions. 1. How long does it typically last? Its been weeks now and I’m afraid that he’s so used to waking up 45 minutes into his nap that its just going to be habit. I try to let him cry it out, but after 30 minutes, I usually end up getting him since its almost time to feed him again. 2. I’ve considered darkening the room because he sleeps so much better at night. But I don’t want to confuse his days and nights (he’s sleeping through the night great). Do you think it would be bad to make his room darker if I still limited his naps to 1.5 – 2 hours? Thanks again!
March 1, 2008 4:58 PM
1. It is hard to say. I think the book gives numbers…I would remind you to treat it as a food need first, meaning, try feeding him every time he wakes early jut to see if that is the reason he is waking. 3 months is a growth spurt age. If he hasn’t already had that, he could be doing it right now. He will continue to wake early until he gets his good need fulfilled.2. I think darkening should be fine since you have waketime each day cycle and also you would wake him up.Good luck!
Thanks for your input! I have been (and still am) trying to treat it as a hunger need. He does usually take a full feeding after 45 minutes, but my problem is that by the end of the day, he’s so overtired from his shorter naps that he gets hysterical and misses even more sleep. Did you ever run into that? I tried putting him down 15 minutes early for his naps, but he still cries more than he sleeps. Is that normal?
March 2, 2008 4:31 PM
Is he still working on self-soothing? If that is the case, that could have a lot to do with waking early–he wouldn’t be able to make it through the transitions yet.When we were in the beginning with Kaitlyn, I tried to keep her as well-rested as possible because I knew that meant the most success and the most growth. If she was too tired, I would just put her in the swing because she slept well there. I knew she could get caught up and be ready to start again for the next nap. You have to make sure you don’t let it become a habit if you do that, but it is an option.If he is hungry, continue to feed him when he wakes. If you are still working on CIO, keep it up. He will get it!
March 2, 2008 9:57 PM
- Maria said…
I’ve finally got a copy of the BWII book (1995 version). I’m keen to get your opinion on a comment (pg 109) when it’s talking about 45 minute sleeps – “It’s not uncommon for PDF pretoddlers between five and eight months of age to begin waking halfway through their naps and give all the appearances of being ready to get up. If this begins to happen with your baby, don’t get him out of bed. Instead train him to fall back to sleep on his own. Pretoddlers need to nap longer than forty-five minutes”.
1. What do you think about the advice to leave the baby in bed – I leave my son for about 20 minutes once he wakes from a short sleep to see if he’ll go back to sleep. Sometimes he does, sometimes he doesn’t. I can’t leave him for much longer than that because his crying normally gets worse and I can’t see him putting himself back to sleep if he’s not settling at all.
2. Do you think me getting him out of bed rather than leaving him is teaching him a bad habit?
March 7, 2008 1:05 PM
1. I have never left my kids in bed to CIO after a nap (save 2 times when Kaitlyn was 4-6 weeks old and woke up after sleeping 20 minutes). I think it is a good idea to leave the baby for a certain amount of time (determined by you) and see if he will go back to sleep. After that, move on to something else.UNLESS you think it will work for your baby. A woman I know recently tried CIO for the second time to finish off a nap (first time didn’t work), and that time it worked.
2. Possible, but needs to be determined by you. My son woke up after 45 minutes of sleeping until he was just over 6 months. I always got him and fed him–kept the cycle going. We were still on a 3 hour schedule. Then he suddenly started sleeping through for 2 hours. Good luck!
March 7, 2008 2:32 PM
- Rachel said…
My 5.5 week old is sleeping for about 30-45 minutes and then she screams for another hour or more. What do I do? I feel so helpless and on the verge of tears right now. She has been crying for about 50 minutes now….
April 6, 2008 3:47 PM
Rachel,Here is my comment from a post on another thread:Rachel,If it were me, I would only give her about 15-20 minutes to fall back asleep–whatever time period you know she won’t fall asleep afterward. Then I would move on to some other method (as described in waking early from naps/won’t fall asleep for naps post–Waking Early From Naps/Won’t Fall Asleep For Naps: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/waking-early-from-napswont-fall-asleep.html). Good luck!Some other things to be sure of, I would look into figuring out the reason she is waking up. Look through the troubleshooting naps post to figure out why she is waking up so you can remedy that.
April 6, 2008 10:26 PM
- Kate said…
So, I think we’re going through this now. For the past 1 1/2 weeks my daughter has been falling asleep really quickly but then waking up usually 50-60 minutes after. She used to either sleep almost 2 hours or I would have to wake her.I don’t get her right away and sometimes she’ll fall on and off back to sleep for a little while or she just won’t fall asleep and I go get her. My BW question is that it said in the book it could be an eating thing. Do I continually feed her at about every 2 hours while this is going on or should I see if she can hold out until 2.5 hours. I just don’t want to teach her to snack all day. Also, how do you know when they’re ready to extend wake time? Right now she falls asleep an hour after eating. She falls asleep almost right away, but she also doesn’t act cranky/sleepy before I lay her down.Thanks!
April 24, 2008 10:48 AM
How old is she? For waketime, it depends on her. My son was to 2 hours by 6 months, my daughter was still at 1 at 6 months (see the Sample Schedules post for more on that).
April 24, 2008 10:07 PM
She’s 14 weeks old. Since she’s waking after 40-60min every nap I wonder if she can be awake longer. I’ve tried putting her down less than 1 hr of wake time and that didn’t make a difference.My concern about snacking is b/c she’ll eat no matter what. So I can’t really tell if she’s hungry or just eating b/c I’m offering.
April 25, 2008 7:45 AM
At that age, I am actually going to guess a food issue first. Babies have a general increase in the need of food–they need more–around four months. Also, many people find they have issues at four months with sleep (see the poll results on that topic–95% of responders had sleep issues). My hypothesis is currently that the issues at four months are actually food related.You can always try extending waketime. Also, if you have four naps, you might need to drop the fourth. You could try feeding every 2.5 hours and see if that helps. Good luck! There are a lot of factors at play.
April 25, 2008 9:55 AM
Thanks. I’m going to try feeding every 2.5 for the next few days.I also think you’re right about dropping the 4th nap b/c just recently she’s been waking earlier and earlier in the mornings and isn’t necessarly hungry, just awake and won’t lay in her crib.I was going to try that today actually but it didn’t work. She took such short naps today that her 3rd was over by 3:30. She ended up falling back asleep around 4:15. Is it okay to add a 4th nap if she didn’t take good naps during the day, or should I try to keep her up and then put her to bed early? Thanks again!
April 25, 2008 3:05 PM
Yes, think if the nap dropping as more of a weaning than a dropping process. You can have some days with it, some without, some days with shorter, some with longer…at some point, the nap will be totally gone.
April 25, 2008 3:24 PM
- marisa said…
My 4 week old son will lay awake for about 15 min. in his crib. Then he will cry for 10-15 min. and fall asleep. He wakes up 20-30 min. later. It is too early to eat and he hasn’t had enough sleep. I am not sure if I should try feeding him or letting him cry it out. Sometimes it has only been 1 hr.45min or 2 hours. He doesn’t usually have the same problem when I let him nap in his crib. I am not sure what I should do. I am hoping someone else has had this problem.
May 20, 2008 3:15 PM
You likely need to find the best waketime length for him. At his age, it should be 45 min-1 hour. Also, be sure he doesn’t fall asleep while he is having his awake time (like while eating).
May 21, 2008 11:14 PM
- Mockabee News said…
Hi, my son is 10 weeks old. The 45 min-intruder hits us probably 2 or three out of his 4 naps. Sometimes I think it’s overtiredness, other times, it simply can’t be! I know it’s probably a “developmental glitch”… the question is, I use a sound machine when he wakes (if I let him CIO, he will never stop!). The sound machine literally puts him back to sleep immediately. Do you think it’s becoming a prop? He doesn’t need it for his first nap, rarely ever. He doesn’t need it at night (he sleeps great from 7pm-6am!)… just during the last three naps of his day. I read you used the swing, so I guess that was a temporary prop as well? I just want him to get his full nap. Funny thing is, once it’s on, he’ll sleep past the second 45 min-mark! (still on 2 hr naps here)
June 3, 2008 3:23 PM
If it seems he won’t sleep without it, then I personally wouldn’t use it. But if he will sleep without it, then I think it is fine. Especially at this young age. I personally like to keep things as simple as possible for naps so we can be anywhere without me worrying about what we do or don’t have with us. I do know a lot of people who use sound machines regularly.
June 3, 2008 11:43 PM
- Emily said…
My daughter (just turned 5 months) has trouble with her 3rd nap. She wakes up after about 30-45 minutes. At first I thought maybe she just needed a catnap, but she’s too tired in the evening so it seems like she still needs that nap.I’ve tried letting her cry to see if she’ll fall back asleep but she never has.Here’s my problem. We give her a pacifier when she falls asleep, but we don’t put it back in if she wakes. THis works for us and we don’t ever have to put it back in during the night so she’s learned to soothe herself back to sleep.There were 2 days where she really needed that nap (had evening plans). When she woke up I went up and put the pacifier in and she went back to sleep for at least an hour.I really don’t want to start that habbit since we’ve worked hard not to do that, but I don’t know how else to get her to fall back asleep, since CIO doesn’t work.What do you think?
June 25, 2008 3:19 PM
It is totally normal for that third nap to be short. She is approaching the age range when they drop the nap, and she might be starting with just shortening it.I don’t think I would start the pacifier thing since she doesn’t need it otherwise. You would hate for her to think she needs it reinserted at other times. She should adjust to sleeping a shorter amount of time after a week or two (perhaps sooner). You might need to put her to bed early sometimes.
June 27, 2008 10:25 PM
- Christine said…
In your original post you said that you would put your daughter in her swing if she woke after 60 min. How long did you do this and did you have to break her of this or did she just transition well? My son has been waking up almost every nap at about an hour. He is getting the right wake time. I put him in his swing some of the time but I dont want him to get used to this. Thanks.
July 16, 2008 5:24 PM
I think we did the swing thing consistently for about a month. It wasn’t for every nap, but at least once a day. I never had to break her of it. She just started sleeping through. I honestly wonder if part of the reason she needed it was because of her reflux; she got a lot better once the meds were worked out to the right dosage.
July 21, 2008 2:52 PM
- Rach said…
I would just like to say I’ve spent the last 30 minutes reading everyone’s comments about the 45 minute intruder and am feeling rather refreshed. My 3month 3week old son is/was a great sleeper, he sleep two 1.5-2.5 naps per day and then a 45 minute one. Night sleeps, he’d wake once for a feed around 4am and sleep for a total of 10 hours. However in the past 3 days this has changed, now he naps for 45 minutes and at night he is waking up to 3 times for food but sleeping for 12-13 hours. I’m trying to put this down to a growth spurt and hoping it changes again soon. I just wish he would be happier going to sleep. He constantly cries for up to 5 or sometimes 10 minutes before he babbles to himself. I fear I am going to create a toddler that doesn’t like to go to bed! Is this an indication of what is to come? In saying this he has on a SMALL number of occasions gone off quite happily with no tears and big smiles! I want more of them!
July 25, 2008 6:26 PM
Rach, no this isn’t an indication of toddler sleep. I would watch a couple of things. One is that if he is going down and having a hard time falling asleep all of a sudden, consider lengthening his waketime. Start with only 5 minutes, sometimes that does the trick. It also can be the four month problems (see 4 month Sleep Problems : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/05/4-month-sleep-problems.html ). Also, if it is a growth spurt (and good chance it is), make sure you are feeding him as soon as he wakes from those naps. Hang in there!
July 28, 2008 1:49 PM
- Krista said…
I am going through the same thing as “rach.” My son wis 3 months 3 weeks and has been doing the exact same thing the last two days. He has always been a really good sleeper. He was taking 4 naps still up until yesterday. He would sleep at least 2 or more hours for 2 naps, 1 1/2 for one, and about 30-45 minutes for the last one. He is also sleeping about 11 hours at night (8-7) with a dream feed at 10:30. He would literally go down with no fussing whatsoever and would maybe stir at the 45 minute mark or cry for 1-2 min., but go back to sleep. Now he will only sleep 45 minutes and then wake up, roll over (his new favorite thing to do) and talk for like 15 minutes before he starts to cry. I try and roll him over to go back to sleep, but he just cries and cries. He is not hungry (I pump my milk and feed him bottles and have been increasing his intake the last couple of days–plus, he is fine if we pick him up hold him which he wouldn’t be if he was really hungry). He will really start screaming after awhile and WILL NOT go back to sleep. So, now he is getting much less sleep than before, but definitely tired. I always put him down when he shows signs of being tired and he would go right down. It’s just the staying down which is not going well. He is still eating on his schedule 3-3 1/2 hrs., but will get up and play until it’s time to eat. Could it be that his new skill (rolling over) is interrupting his ability to sleep? He slept through the night last night like normal. I don’t know what I should do because CIO is not really working. We spent an hour trying to get him to go back to sleep rhis morning and he worked up to a really good scream until it was eventually time to eat.
July 26, 2008 10:02 AM
Krista, I would offer the same advice to you as Rach, but also add that yes, it might be the new skill. See this post:Nap Disruptions: Rolling, Standing, Crawling, etc: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/01/nap-disruptions-rolling-standing.html Also, for both of you, keep in mind teething possibilities. They might not be close to actually getting teeth, but Brayden’s pains started at 3 months old.
July 28, 2008 1:52 PM
- WoodardFamily said…
Love your Blog! So in regard to the 45 min waking, I have a question that I am sure has been answered. She is getting up about 30-45 min before her next feeding with this new trend. For “waketime” do I start from when she woke up or from her feeding? If I go by when she woke up then she is only up for like 30 min after eating and then a whole new schedule arrises! I do leave her in her crib after waking to see if she will go back down. Thanks!!
August 13, 2008 11:41 AM
Thanks!See these posts:Waketime When Baby Wakes Early : http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2008/04/waketime-when-baby-wakes-early.html Waketime When They Wake Early: http://babywisemom.blogspot.com/2007/11/waketime-when-they-wake-early.html
August 13, 2008 8:42 PM