Dealing With The 45 Minute Intruder

Today Valerie, from Chronicles of a Babywise Mom, is guest posting on my blog, and I asked her to write on something I’m currently dealing with… the dreaded 45-minute intruder.

When it comes to sleep training, getting baby to sleep through the night is a huge milestone, but good naps can continue to be a struggle even if night sleep improves. Especially when the nap routine gets thrown off track from baby being awake right in the middle of afternoon nap time!

The Babywise Book (disclaimer: affiliate link) is a sleep training method that covers the topic of sleep issues when the sleep cycle wakes baby up mid-nap. The book helps go into details on what to do to avoid feeding early and to get baby back to sleep for the remainder of nap.

Val offers additional insight into all things sleep training – thanks Val for the helpful post!

Dealing with the 45 Minute Intruder: by Valerie Plowman

What Is The 45 Minute Intruder?

The 45-minute intruder is when your baby wakes up 45 minutes into the nap, whether it’s the first nap or not. The 45-minute intruder can be quite stressful for you as a parent.

This is true whether your child has always been a 45-minute napper or if your child suddenly started taking short naps at some point.

Here are some tips for dealing with the 45 minute nap intruder and getting your baby to take longer naps.

45 minute intruder

45 Minute Intruder: Try to Figure Out “Why”

The first thing to do is to try to figure out why baby’s naps are getting interrupted after 45 minutes.

Knowing why will allow you to address it appropriately. Unfortunately, figuring out why usually involves a lot of trial and error.

The first thing to consider is a growth spurt. You always want to treat it like a growth spurt first.

You want to feed baby when hungry, so make sure baby isn’t hungry before you try other solutions. Growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks usually, so it is frequently!

If it isn’t hunger, I always consider sickness, pain, or teething next.

Trying to address sound or light when it is a sickness or pain will get you know where but feeling guilty when you figure it out. Make it a habit to always consider the possibility of pain or sickness right after you consider hunger.

Another common reason for waking early from a nap is an overtired baby. You want to make sure you get those wake windows right.

Know your baby’s Optimal Waketime Lengths. And realize that what is optimal at 14 weeks will be different from what was optimal at 10 weeks. Awake times are a constantly moving target. Babies keep you on your toes for…ever basically :).

Other common reasons for waking early include learning a new skill, wonder weeks, light, and noise. You may need a dark room or blackout curtains in baby’s room to simulate nighttime sleep or a sound machine to eliminate outside noise. See a comprehensive list of reasons and what to do about it in my Troubleshooting Naps post. A solid bedtime routine always helps!

45 minute intruder

Know the Sleep Hierarchy

I have sleep hierarchy depending on baby’s age with different rules I apply based on how many months of age baby is. Young babies have different sleep needs than older babies, which will help you a lot when figuring out their sleep schedule. Read more here:

Honestly Look at Your Baby’s Self-Soothing Ability

All babies transition at right about 45 minutes into a long nap.

If your baby can’t put him or herself to sleep alone, then there is a good chance baby will wake from that nap fully at 45 minutes rather than settling back down into sleep for another cycle.

If your baby uses some sort of prop to fall asleep, there is a good chance you will encounter a run with the 45-minute intruder during the nap transition.

If your baby can’t fall asleep alone, your baby will need your help at that 45-minute mark. This is the time to consider, is it the pacifier? Is it the rocking baby to sleep?

Honestly look at your sleep routine and decide if you want to continue it or if you want to try to remove sleep associations. People go both ways.

45 minute nap intruder

Give Baby Time To Go Back To Sleep

When Kaitlyn (my second child) was a baby, I remember one day she woke early and Brayden was in the tub. I got him out as quickly as I could, dried him off, and got him dressed.

From the time she started to cry to the time I had him out and ready, it had been ten minutes. And she was done crying and back asleep.

That experience along with the years since in having other children besides the baby, has taught me that sometimes if you wait 10-15 minutes, the baby will just go back to sleep. So I make it a policy that if baby sounds okay (and you do get used to knowing what is okay and what isn’t), I let the baby cry for 10 minutes before I get baby.

I know it sounds like a long time, but don’t reply to every sound. You can create a 45 minute waking habit if you respond every time your baby makes a peep.

Know You Will Make Mistakes With the 45 Minute Intruder

You are human. You are learning. You will get waketime lengths wrong. You will overstimulate your baby. You will dress your baby to warm or not warm enough.

You are going to make mistakes along the way. You won’t ruin your baby for life. So know mistakes are inevitable and don’t beat yourself up about it.

When Do Babies Outgrow the 45 Minute Intruder?

With a little troubleshooting, the 45 minute intruder will go away eventually. But as for when, it really just depends. There are some babies who are 45 minute sleepers. My oldest was quite consistent at the 45 minute nap until he was about 6.5 months old.

The best thing to do if you are in a chronic short sleep situation is to accept that it is what it is (while still troubleshooting) and don’t take it personally. See Chronic 45 Minute Naps for more. The good news is, it’s not forever!

It’s a glorious day when baby finally sleeps through the night consistently and when you know it’s time to move the the 4 hour schedule!

Valerie is the mother to four (ages 9, 7, 5, and 2) and blogs at

Looking for more help with Babywise? Be sure to sign up for my exclusive email series guide for everything you need to know to get started:

Looking for more help with baby nap schedules? Here are some of my personal posts that can help get your baby back on track:

Here are more recommendations for sleep training and baby sleep books:

Moms on Call 6-15 months
Moms on Call 0-6 months
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Pre-Toddler Wise
Wonder Weeks
Babywise Book 2
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
On Becoming Babywise
Moms on Call 6-15 months
Moms on Call 0-6 months
Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child
Pre-Toddler Wise
Wonder Weeks
Babywise Book 2
The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems
On Becoming Babywise

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