Conquering the 45 Minute Intruder



I first glanced through Babywise when my son was about 4 weeks old. I laughed when I read it over – how could anyone possibly make this work? Our son was incredibly challenging and I was commited to following the “attachment parenting” approach, confident that he would naturally learn to sleep through the night when the time was right. He most definitely did NOT, and at 10.5 months old, after reading Weissbluth’s Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, we did extinction. He had been waking every 90-180 minutes, every night for 10.5 months. We were all exhausted!

Fast forward to our second child, a girl. While I was pregnant with her, I read and took notes on Babywise, determined to do a better job with healthy sleep habits for my baby from the very beginning this time. At first, Babywise was perfect – long nights, long naps, regular days. Easy peasy.

At 6-7 weeks, she developed the 45 minute intruder. I felt like I tried everything – rocking her, feeding her, letting her cry – for days to a week at a time! Nothing helped, it just persisted. Eventually it became her pattern.

Now she is 4 months 1 week old, and I think we may have a handle on it. There were a few keys, which I can see were outlined in Babywise but I hadn’t really recognized at the time.

First, it is utterly crucial that she get a good feeding first thing in the morning. She does not nurse for long periods normally, and especially in the morning, whether she had last eaten at midnight or 5:30am, she simply does not nurse very well. This means that sometimes I feed her right when she wakes up and again close to, but not directly before, naptime.

Second, we dropped the 4th nap around 3 months 3 weeks old, and did pure extinction for bedtime. She didn’t cry as much as I’d anticipated – 40 minutes the first night, 35 the second, 5 the third, and 1 the fourth. I think this helped her realize that even if she wakes after 45 minutes, she needs to go back to sleep, right away, on her own.

Third, the waketime is important but not as much as I’d thought. As long as I don’t go past what appears to be naptime by 10 minutes or more, we’re good. Even then, she usually does okay if she got a good feeding after the last nap. Her waketimes, for the record, are : 65-70 minutes, 80-90 minutes, 90-100 minutes, and 110-120 minutes for the day.

Fourth, we let her CIO mid-nap. Sometimes this would work and sometimes it wouldn’t, but we really tried to leave her in her bed until the official end of “naptime” if she woke after 45 minutes. If she made it past 45 minutes (say, 75 minutes), then we just got her up and considered it a short nap. (Also, the 3rd nap we have allowed to remain 45 minutes).

We still swaddle, her room is nearly pitch dark, she has a white noise machine, and the house is generally fairly quiet except for the normal noises of a 3 year old brother.

So it turns out that perhaps the 45 minute intruder was a feeding problem after all, but it took forever to figure out because if she doesn’t sleep well (ie, wakes at 45 minutes) then she doesn’te at that much, so it took me a long time to recognize that she sleeps better with a full tummy, even though she’s not waking early from the nap because she’s hungry – if that makes sense (it doesn’t! but it’s true in our case). Often when I’d get her at 45 minutes, she would only eat 2-5 minutes. It was very difficult to figure out.

I have absolutely loved using Babywise, loved this site for resources, references, and help – and I frequently recommend Babywise to new parents-to-be!


by Katie {My Paisley Apron}