Once your baby has sailed through the newborn months sleep becomes more predictable as a routines begin to form.
It is very normal for babies to wake during the night for various reasons such as feeding time, reassurance checks, developmental milestones etc. This is all normal biological infant behaviour and these wake ups tend to be relatively short.
However, some babies / toddlers will also experience long term night waking each night (for hours) due to a split night. In this case, your child's sleep pressure and circadian rhythm are separated from one another.
A 'split night' is essentially your baby waking up wide-awake in the middle of the night for hours at a time before falling back to sleep. During this time period it may feel impossible to get your child back to sleep as your usual methods are not working.
Here are my top tips for dealing with split nights:
1: Rule out developmental changes. Babies are prone to experience intense night waking during changes such as crawling, walking, standing etc. Ensure you're providing your baby with time during the day to practice these skills and hang on in there... it will pass.
2: Check daytime sleep. If your child is having more daytime sleep than needed, this can cause additional night waking. Is it time for a nap transition? Remember to always look at sleep within a 24 hour period.
3: Is your current bedtime the right bedtime? An earlier bedtime may cause your baby to wake up well rested in the middle of the night. Experiment with different bedtimes to see which one suits your little one best.
4: Is your baby waking too late in the morning? A common cycle I see with split nights is an late start to the day. Generally this indicates your baby is making up for lost nighttime sleep in the morning. To try and break the cycle I would begin waking your baby up at a set time each day to help adjust their circadian rhythm.
5: Do you provide additional stimulation when your baby wakes up? Ensure you keep your little one in their main sleep space with darkness to remove the risk of providing additional stimulation.