What are split nights? When people use this phrase, they normally mean that their child is waking up in the night and taking hours to drop back off. The child is usually perfectly happy, but wide awake and ready to start their day, and it’s really hard to get them back off to sleep when they're ready to party!
What can we do about a split night? As with everything, there isn't just one answer! That would be too easy right? There are a few things which might be leading to those annoying wakes..
Firstly, don’t rush in if your baby wakes in the night. If they’re happily playing in their cot or chatting to themselves it can often be better to leave them to it! Going into their room can overstimulate them and send them mixed messages – they might think its time to start the day.
Consider their naps during the day. Are daytime naps on track? Overtiredness can cause night waking. Similarly, if your little one is having too much daytime sleep it can mean that they’re under-tired and more likely to wake at night. This can cause a vicious cycle because the following day they’ll want more daytime sleep to make up for the awake time the previous night, and so on…
It’s also worth checking that their overall routine is in good shape. Are they going to bed at the right time? What’s the last wake window? What time are they starting their day? Routine is a pillar of good sleep.
When your baby is going through a developmental milestone such as rolling or crawling they can wake at night to “practice” these new skills. This is a completely normal phase. We used to refer to it as the cot party with our little ones. Trust that this will pass, and the best thing you can do is give them plenty of time to practice in the daytime – and leave them to it at night.
Split nights can often be a sign of your baby’s readiness for a nap transition. This was the key indication for Kelly’s little one to go from a 2 to 1 nap day. We’ve got a blog all about this transition (which is often one of the trickiest) which will help guide you through.
During a split night the worst thing you can do is get your baby up! Resist the temptation to take them out of their sleep space to watch TV or play games. They will eventually go back to sleep and it’s often just a case of waiting it out. Sending them mixed messages about when it’s time to play and when it’s time to sleep will make the situation worse.