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Why is My Baby Taking Short Naps?!

Updated: Feb 6


Hey mama, are daytime naps a struggle? Do you feel as if you just put your baby down and they wake up within 30 minutes?


Maybe you’ve ruled out teething and developmental milestones like rolling, sitting or crawling and still can’t figure out the answer. Let me tell you, we have all been there!

Short naps can be so tough on you and your baby, both physically and mentally.


Keep reading to find out the causes and let me give you the tools to help get your baby to take longer daytime naps.





First let’s define a short nap.


A typical sleep cycle is on average 45 minutes. If your baby is napping longer than 45 minutes then that means your baby is connecting sleep cycles. Woohoo! If your baby is sleeping less than 45 minutes and is waking up moody or struggling to make it to their next nap then they are likely suffering from a short nap.


Causes of Short Naps:


Age


Babies 5 months and under have an underdeveloped pineal gland and have very irregular/erratic naps. Around 4 months of age, your baby will likely go through the 4 month regression or as I like to say the PROGRESSION. Check out my blog here that goes into greater detail on how to survive it.


Environment


Cool, dark and white noise. It’s that simple really. Make sure naps are in a cave-like, dark room with the white noise machine turned on. This will help induce the production of their sleepy hormones and maintain restorative sleep and muffle any daytime household noise.


Milestones


Yay for developmental milestones, I am so excited for you that your baby is now rolling, sitting and crawling! Although these milestones are amazing and show the progression your little one is making, they can also be a small hindrance to sleep.


It may be hard to let them cry but remember your baby is temporarily practicing their new skill during nap time and longer nap lengths should go back to normal soon.


Wake Times


Babies 5 months and older are now able to stay awake longer than the newborn phase, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get overtired and easily overstimulated by being awake too long in between naps.


On the flip side, it can be easy to cut their wake time too short and accidentally put them down for a nap too early, causing a short nap to happen.


Ready to drop a nap


Maybe your baby is consistently fighting the same nap of the day and it is getting shorter and shorter. This could be a sign they are ready to drop a nap, especially if they are 4-5, 8-9 or 15-18 months old. These are the average ages that children drop to down to 3, 2, and 1 naps respectively.



How to help lengthen naps


Let’s make sure the fundamentals of nap time (listed above) are in place to help your child get the sleep they need. Here are a few nap tips to help get those longer naps back!



1) Use appropriate wake times and allow enough time before the nap for a thorough nap routine. While it doesn’t have to be as long as a bedtime routine, we want to ensure that your baby has been cued that it is time to go to sleep soon. Check out this blog that gives sample schedules for different age groups.


2) Dropping a nap can feel scary but it doesn’t have to be. Remember your baby will adjust to their new schedule in a few short weeks. This is a great blog for nap refusals and may help you determine if it’s time to drop a nap.


3) Try “crib hour”! If your baby is waking at the 45 minute mark, practice crib hour during Naps 1 and 2 to help them extend these naps. As always, with the exception of Nap 3, you should be putting your baby in their crib completely awake in order to help them learn and continue to practice independent sleep.


4) If all else fails, assist in naps if needed. It is much easier to assist in a nap and break the overtired cycle than it is to continue the cycle and have a cranky baby. Holding your baby or wearing your baby in a carrier are great ways to help lengthen that nap. This is not something we want to do all the time, but is a great way to help in a pinch.


If you and your baby are stuck in a short nap cycle, apply these steps. If you need more help schedule a 15 minute basic chat with me and let’s work together to get your baby more rest!


Book a free discovery call today


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