After taking the leap of faith to believe that your baby can be an independent sleeper, you are pleasantly surprised that the sleep training process is not as arduous as you feared. So now, the baby is able to fall asleep without any form of assistance, and is on a stable and effective schedule, you are starting to feel adventurous (and more well-rested).

Play-dates, swim lessons, staycations and late family dinners are all calling out, jostling for you and your baby’s participation. As tempting as it is to step out and embrace the slew of social activities that await, you are almost afraid of disrupting a well-tuned schedule. Will committing to activities break the sleep bank? What if my baby misses a nap? How bad will the night wakes be if my baby is overtired at bedtime? I am sure you are dreading to find out the answers to these fears.


In This Article

  1. What is Sleep Recovery?
  2. How to manage a missed or late nap and a late bedtime.
  3. How to manage your baby’s schedule when she is unwell.
  4. How to maintain your baby’s independent sleep skill.

1. What is Sleep Recovery?


The price to pay for independent sleep is appropriate scheduling. That being said, of course you can go out! If your baby has been on a good schedule and well-rested, a day out with on-the-go naps is not going to unravel all the good work done. You just have to try to put baby down as soon as her bedtime so that your night is not messed up and get back on track
the next day.

Sleep recovery essentially means giving your baby a chance to catch up on sleep due to poor naps on the go or at Infant Care or late bedtimes. During sleep recovery, you should aim to reduce her wake time to bedtime and also her over Total Wake Time for the day.


2. How to manage a missed or late nap or a late bedtime.


If your baby has missed a nap, or took an overtired nap due to a late put down or had a poor night’s sleep due to an overly late bedtime, you will need to do some Sleep Recovery.

a. Missed a Nap.

You can try to put her down when you see the next set of sleepy cues. Usually when a baby misses a nap completely, she will still look alert and “happy”. That means that her “system” had a shot of adrenaline to keep her up past her nap time. You will need to wait for a while before the adrenaline fizzles out, which may take 30m (younger babies) to 1 hour. If baby is in the hyped up state, try to minimise stimulation and do a longer wind down.

b. An overtired nap due to late put down.

An overtired nap is usually a less than 40 minute nap. Depends on which nap, you may need to manage your expectations for the naps for the rest of the day and prepare for an earlier bedtime.

If baby took a short, overtired nap, let her try to self soothe for 15 to 20m. Ideally she can stay in the cot for 1 hour from the time she has fallen asleep but if she is unable to calm herself after 15m, please assist her to extend the nap. You may need to reduce the next wake time by observing her.

c. Poor night sleep due to a late bedtime.

If your baby experienced multiple or prolonged night wakes after a later-than-usual bedtime, look into reducing the wake time for Nap 1 the next day, by 5 to 15 minutes, especially if your baby seems extra cranky. Plan for an earlier bedtime and reduce the level of activities or social engagements that day.


3. How to manage your baby’s schedule when she is unwell.


When your baby is unwell and on medication, manage your expectations about her sleep. The key during this difficult period is to ensure your baby is comfortable. If your baby or toddler is struggling to sleep at night, please proceed to stay with your child and comfort if necessary. Avoid bringing child to your bed to sleep. If co-sleeping is necessary, try to bunk next to the child’s cot. It will be easier to remove your presence subsequently.

During times of sickness, likely overall wake times and the total wake time of the day will decrease. Go by your baby’s sleepy cues and be prepared to put down earlier by as much as 30 minutes.

Get back to track after the child is well again by removing sleep associations gradually or re-introducing boundaries.


4. How to maintain your baby’s independent sleep skill.


Sleeping and staying asleep independently Is a life skill that your baby has learnt, just like walking or self-feeding. There will be occasions that your child will realise that you can provide help and comfort to sleep (e.g. travelling, sickness, change of family dynamics, toddlerhood etc.).

You may need a few days to “retrain” your child to remind her that she can do it herself, after she is well or after travels. Use the same method you sleep trained her previously, and get her schedule back in place.


If your child goes to Infant Care, we have got you covered with these tips.


We Can Help You Today

At SleepKraft, we apply sleep methods and scheduling advice that is unique to your baby and your family. If you are struggling to improve your baby and your family's sleep, chat with us today so that we can offer the best possible sleep solutions.