How do I figure out what is causing waking at the beginning of the night?

After looking through other posts and replies, I simply know I am doing something wrong because his first third keeps getting shorter. My question is how do I know if it is:

a. because he is overtired (He naps for 20-40 minutes every 2 hours when in the crib, more if he is in the carseat. Even after a last longer 40 minute nap in my arms at 4:30-ish, he seems tired when I wake him, revives and is very happy/smiley during bath, but intermittently rubs eyes after.), 

b. because he thought it was a nap since I put him in bed after the usual 2 hour waketime.

or c. his little body really wants to go to bed earlier (even though I’m the one who can set bedtime).

Also, do any of these reasons explain why he can’t sleep in his crib during the last third of the night (waking and crying every time he is put down)?

It can be so tricky to figure out. If he’s popping up frequently in the first third of the night it might mean his biological bedtime is actually quite a bit later than you think it is! It could also be related to overtiredness, as you mentioned. With short catnaps all day at 5 months, I’m more inclined to learn towards overtiredness as the culprit, though having several days of info is always helpful in analyzing these situations. Sometimes parents think their baby gets very little daytime sleep but when you add it up it might be more than you think. I HIGHLY recommend you start tracking your baby’s sleep! The last third of the night is notoriously tricky especially if your baby has parent lead sleep associations to fall asleep like nursing, holding, rocking, pacifier, etc. You might also look at other culprits like undiagnosed reflux or allergies (mucus or blood streaks in the stool?) for example. It may be a matter of starting a sleep training intervention that feel like a comfortable fit for you and your baby so that he can learn to fall asleep more independently if he’s not already!


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