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12 month old waking at 4am

12 month old waking at 4am

Overview of baby sleep problem

Age of baby: 12 months  

Where does your baby sleep? In his cot

Tell me about your daytime routine ie what times does s/he have feeds/solids/sleeps/bedtime?  Wake up, bottle at 6am, breakfast at 7am, sleep again for 2 hours (2hours from wake up), morning tea 10.30-11am, lunch 12-1, nap 1-2, bottle 3pm, dinner at 5.30pm, bath, bottle at 6.30pm bed at 7pm

How do you settle your baby at sleep time and bedtime? Lay in cot with grobag, dummy and blanket.

What times does s/he wake in the night? Always about the same times? Usually around 3am but self settles, cries out and self settles 2-3 times in night. Wakes in morning anytime from 4-6am

What happens when your baby wakes?  Cries, sometimes talks, sometimes screams

Always fed when s/he wakes? Only at 6am with bottle

Is s/he swaddled or in a sleeping bag? Yes

Does s/he move about in her cot? Kick off blankets? Stand up? yes

Does s/he have any sleep cues, such as being fed to sleep, rocked, needs you there, sleep music or mobile? no

Does s/he use a dummy? Only put in sometimes at nighttime, and between 4-6am when he can't self settle

Does s/he have a blankie or special toy that s/he always has at sleep times?  blanket

How do you feel about leaving your baby to cry? Have you tried it, for how long and what happened? Yes we leave him to cry and he just gets even more wound up after 4am in the morn.

Are there any other relevant issues or information? Yes he always falls back to sleep 2 hours after he wakes! And sleeps for 1.5-2 hours (norm 7.30-9.30am). No problem going to sleep at night, always happy to go and asleep within 15 minutes

Our recommended toddler sleep solution

It sounds like there are a number of things that may help your baby sleep through the night:

Movement in the cot

Moving about and in the cot is a really common reason for older babies waking, and this causes them to wake up fully, which is why he isn’t resettling. This is a really easy issue to fix - I highly recommend the Babe Sleeper. This sleeping bag is attached to the base sheet, and really helps a baby to stay in one place and go to sleep.

You can put your Grobag Sleeping Bag inside the Babe Sleeper, so he will be warm all night and won’t be able to go anywhere. In the summer, you can just use the Babe Sleeper by itself. They are also great when you are traveling, as you can use this on a single bed and avoid having to cart a portacot with you.

Waking at 4am is often due to the cold, as it’s the coldest part of the night. So I would try a warmer weight sleeping bag, an extra layer of clothing etc etc, to rule out the waking from the cold. The best option would be a merino sleeping bag and merino PJs, so he will be really snug but the merino is excellent for regulating temperature if it does get warmer.

Sucking association

From your information, it does sound like your baby may have a strong association between sucking and sleeping, meaning he thinks he needs to be sucking his dummy or a bottle to fall asleep. So when he wakes in the night, he is looking for the sucking to fall back to sleep.

You have a couple of options:

  1. Put several dummies in his cot. Show him how to find one and resettle himself. Explain that you are not coming in to do it for him – then don’t!!!

  2. Teach him to fall asleep without the dummy. (see self settling below), that way he will be able to resettle during the night, provided he is warm enough and can’t get into an uncomfortable position.


It sounds like he is in an excellent routine, however there is one major change I would make:

Don’t give him a bottle until 7am, then get him up for the day.

If he goes back to sleep after having the 6am bottle, that’s like a feed during the night for him. So when he wakes at 4am, how does he know that it’s not time for the 6am bottle?

Positive sleep associations

Having a blanket and sleeping bag are both great sleep associations, and use them both for all sleeps to reinforce that. And I recommend only letting him have his blankie for sleeps.

You may also like to try some sleep music, left on repeat all night. If he gets used to hearing this as he falls asleep at bedtime, it can help with resettling in the night.

Self settling / sleep books

Given he can settle at bedtime and other times in the night, I think the above suggestions will solve his 4am waking. However if not, you are going to need to teach your baby to self settle at that time.
Teaching Your Baby to Self Settle covers all the options for doing this. If you choose a crying technique to settle him, then make sure you keep an eye on your clock, as it can seem like hours when a baby is crying at 4am!

Own room

am assuming your baby is in his own room. If not, this could really help. I also recommend shutting your bedroom door and his, so you don’t hear him unless he is really crying.

Where to now?