Baby Sleep Problem: My Child Wakes Up 20 Minutes After Falling Asleep at Bedtime

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  • May 07, 2013


Would you like to have me answer your sleep question in my next baby sleep problem video? If so, scroll down and submit your question in the comment section below. I will pick several questions a month to answer and post them here on the blog!


If you would rather read than watch my above video then here is the transcript of this week’s baby sleep problem video:

Hi, Kim West, the Sleep Lady and in this video, I’m going to answer this mom’s question. She wrote in:

“My 8-month old is sleeping beautifully thanks to your program except that every night after she goes to bed, my child wakes up after exactly one half an hour and cries for at least 20 minutes. She goes to bed at 7:30pm but even when we try a different bedtime, she’s waking up. She sleeps through the night for 11 hours and takes one or two naps, for an hour and a half to 2 hours during the day. We followed your plan and it’s worked for us. She’s sleeping finally. We thought she was teething but it’s been since she was 4 or 5 months old and she’s been doing this no matter what we do. Is this just a baby sleep problem that she’ll grow out of or has it become a habit? And if it’s a habit, how do we break it?”


Night Terrors or Too Drowsy?


One option is that she could be having a night terror. Night terrors usually happen after 13-15 months of age, but I have seen it in sleep and adhdyounger children. One of the most common causes of night terrors is going to bed too late, so I would just try to shift her bedtime to 7 o’clock for at least a week or two and see if there are any changes.

The second thing I commonly see when kids wake up 20 minutes after they go to sleep is that they’re put down to bed too drowsy. So, if you’re nursing her before bedtime, be sure to do it with a light on, or maybe even read a little book afterwards. Make it so that she’s more awake at bedtime. It could be the case that when you did The Sleep Lady Shuffle originally, she really didn’t fuss or cry too much at bedtime, and she may have been put down too drowsy.


Being put into bed too drowsy is the number one cause of children waking up after 20-30 minutes.


So what I would recommend is that you shift things up at bedtime so that she is more awake before going to bed. If she does begin to fuss or cry at bedtime I don’t want you to say to yourself, “Oh, no. Now, we’ve ruined bedtime!” I’d rather you say, “Aha! That’s it. She was just too drowsy when I was putting her down.”

Those are the two things I would recommend for this problem. Try to make that bedtime just a little bit earlier and make those naps in-sync with her circadian rhythm (around 9am and 1pm). You may even need to do a third nap on some days as nap deprivation can lead to this waking after bedtime also.

And as always, make sure you talk to doctor and rule out any underlying medical condition that may be causing your baby to walk up 20-30minutes after falling asleep at bedtime.

I hope this helps and that she can start to sleep through the night and stop waking up after 20 minutes. Good luck.


The Sleep Lady

Video filmed by In Focus Studios

If you have struggled with a child who is waking up shortly after you put them to bed at bedtime, feel free to share your experiences and support. Please feel free to click the “reply” link under this article and leave them a comment. Supporting each other makes parenting so much easier!

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