Baby Struggling with Short Naps?
Here are some answers you’re looking for…
So what’s considered a short nap? If you’re reading this, I’m assuming you have a short napper, so you well know about that dreaded 30–45 minute catnap. As that time approaches on the clock, you start saying a little prayer for your little one to sleep longer… just this once. PUH-LEASE!
Well, there is a reason for this short nap. Babies typically go through their first sleep cycle within the first 30–50 minutes of a nap. Anything longer actually indicates that your little one CAN transition through this first cycle to the next. Yay! Anything less than that you are likely to have a tired cranky baby for the rest of the day. Boo.
Here are some reasons your naps might be short…
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Baby is Younger Than 5 Months
If you have a newborn or baby younger that 5 months, naps can range anywhere from 30min to 2hours. It is completely normal to have short naps during this time.
If you are starting to work on naps around the 4 month mark, you will actually begin to seem them consolidate closer to 5 months of age. And guess what? The morning nap will come together first followed by the second nap around noon, and then the catnap — which is exactly what it sounds like. A 30–45 minutes nap that gets your baby to bedtime.
But, if your little one has a short nap you can still work on lengthening during this time. Just because she woke up does not mean that then nap is over. Offer or replace the pacifier to help her resettle or pick her up to try and resettle her.
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Missing Optimal Sleep Conditions in the Nursery
Without the proper sleep environment, your little one is likely to wake up from the drop of a pin during nap time. Ok, not really. But naps are in a lighter stage of sleep making it much easier to wake up from.
If you have the nursery set up so your little one can be successful with sleep, then she is more likely to improve those naps overtime.
So what does this look like?
Dark. Dark. Dark.
Guess what… you want the room to be dark… yes vegas dark.
The thing is, light acts as a stimulant and can activate your little one’s brain.
So when that brief awakening happens from a sleep cycle and her little eyes open and catch any little bit of light, it makes it much more difficult to roll over and stay asleep.
Not to mention, light (especially that blue light from white bulbs and screens) actually suppress the production of melatonin (that powerful sleep hormone).
So, cover all those little lights from the monitor, humidifier, sound machine, fan, surge protector… anything that’s glowing!
We don’t want your little one to catch that little bit of light and wake up.
But what about a nightlight? What if she’s scared? Did you know that true fears of darkness don’t develop until after the age of 2 when your little one starts to develop an imagination? So, for now turn off those lights.
Now remember, if naps are a struggle… let’s first work on getting them together and then we can talk about a little more flexibility with nap darkness conditions not being so vegas dark. But until then, let’s find ways to help your little one’s sleep.
Cool as a Cucumber
Did you know that when our body temperature is cool, we actually sleep better?
When it’s time for a nap, change your little one into some comfy lightweight clothes (if not already comfy) and turn down that AC or turn on a room fan.
A cool baby is a happy sleepy baby.
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Still Waking Through the Night
If your little one is still waking up throughout the night, then naps are still most likely gonna be wonky.
Most parents find that when nighttime sleep becomes consolidated they see naps come together too.
So, if your little one is still having a hard time with nighttime, focus your efforts there first or work on night and naps together. But trying to lengthen naps first before night sleep is together is almost a sure-fire way for things to fall by the wayside.
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Your Little One Catches a Quick Snooze and Takes the Edge Off
I know this one all too well… I remember patting my son’s head in the car just to keep him awake on the way home from a gym class. Our drive was only 10 minutes. He literally passed out when we 3 minutes away. All was lost when I tried to transfer him to his crib for his nap.
What happens here is that your little one’s sleep drive is not as strong because he took the edge off — even with those few minutes.
Same thing happens with us. We fall asleep on the couch, get up to get ready for bed, and then BAM you’re wide awake when you get into bed. This is because we have taken the edge off of being sleepy.
So, whether your little one tends to fall asleep on the way home from an activity, playdate or errand, or while being fed, try and either get home earlier or move that feeding up a little earlier so that sleep drive remains strong and you have a better chance at getting a longer nap.
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If you’re pulling your hair out with those short naps and are looking for a little help to sort them out, go here to schedule a FREE 15-minute call with me, and we can chat about it!
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Oh, one more thing!
Every other week I share 5 things on how you and your little can get the most out of their first 5 years of life in my newsletter — The Healthy Little Note.
If you have little ones, I’m sure you’ll love it!
You can check out the most recent issue here.
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