Let me firstly begin with defining a false start just in case you are not familiar.
I am pretty sure that you will have experienced a false start. You put your Little Darling down for the night and they wake up after 20-30 minutes. This is what is called as a false start.
It is important to distinguish a false start from a usual night time wake up. A night time wake up is very similar but this would be after they have been asleep for over an hour.
Night wake ups are normally down to hunger or a babies inability to link their sleep cycles together. If your Little Darling is over 6 months old and they had a full feed before bed then it is unlikely that hunger is the reason in which they are unable to link sleep cycles. That is a completely different topic and a great reason to hire a sleep consultant!
False starts are totally different and can actually be solved pretty simply.
The first step, as with any problem, is to identify the cause, and when it comes to false starts, here are the three usual suspects.
If your Little Darling is uncomfortable, then there is a good chance they will not sleep well. The main reasons for discomfort tend to be teething, gas, reflux, or even just being too hot or too cold. . You can likely find remedies, temporary or permanent, to the first three by talking to your doctor. As for the temperature problem, I have a really handy guide to dressing your baby appropriately for different temperatures that I would be happy to share with you. Just send me an email and I will send it to you, free of charge.
2. Lack of Pressure
There are two things that enable us fall asleep. The first one is our circadian rhythm. The circadian rhythm signals our brain to start producing melatonin when it gets dark, and homeostatic sleep drive, which is the body’s natural urge to sleep as we spend time awake, exert ourselves physically, heal from sickness or injury, or experience exciting or stressful situations.
A babies homeostatic sleep drive builds up much quicker than it does in the average adult. As they get older, that pressure accumulation starts to slow down, and requires more time awake between naps to build up to the point where they can fall asleep, and stay asleep, at bedtime. If your baby takes a long time to fall asleep when you first put them down for the night, and seems active and happy during that time, low sleep pressure could likely be the cause, and it may be time to either drop a nap or reschedule their naps in order to allow that pressure to build up appropriately before bed.
This is where things can get a little challenging, because contrary to popular belief, overtiredness doesn’t look like a more intense version of regular tiredness. Overtiredness causes cortisol secretion at the time when we want it the least, and actually causes baby to get quite energetic, making it difficult for them to get to sleep. In this case, you might want to move bedtime up by 20-30 minutes.
And that’s the rub, because as you might already have noticed, we’re now dealing with the same symptoms that we were in the earlier scenario, except instead of baby not getting enough awake time before bed, they’ve actually had too much. Two completely opposite causes resulting in very similar symptoms, but requiring opposite solutions, which makes it difficult to know which course of action to take to remedy the situation. So, how do you know which scenario you’re dealing with and implement the right fix? Well, I happen to have a great little scheduling table that I’d be happy to share with you as well, (once again, just send me an email) or you could try the trial and error approach. If you do though, I strongly suggest you start with moving bedtime up. Overtiredness is a vicious cycle once it takes hold. Baby doesn’t sleep well which results in short, fitful naps the next day, which leads to bad sleep at night, and on and on it goes. It’s much safer to move bedtime earlier and see if that solves the problem.
Hopefully one of these solutions takes care of your little one’s false starts, but if the problem persists, it might be time to consider some one-on-one help from a pediatric sleep consultant, and it just so happens, I know a great one. :)