That’s the exact sound that passes through my mind when I remember short naps - any nap under 1 hour. The ‘terseness’ of what they are called doesn’t do justice to the frustration it can cause in a household. If you hear the same long, drawn-out exhale of frustration in your mind, then I feel you, mama or dad.
Maybe you’ve just spent the last 30 mins rocking your sweet little bug to sleep, to lay them quietly down in their bassinet finally. Instead, you moon-walk out of the room, leggings on, ready to do a quick little workout, only to hear their little cry only 15 mins into your workout because you needed to first go to the bathroom and grab a water.
Or you just started to unload the dishwasher and barely made it to the forks…
Or you just wanted to get a few winks in, and by the time you got a glass of water and closed your eyes, your baby woke.
Whatever the situation, short naps are HARD. Yes, we are strong, and we are here for these babies, no matter what, but we also need a break. And we need that break to refresh, recoup, or recharge so that we can be the best for that little nugget, or more if you have more kids!
In addition to short naps being a crazy annoyance, they can also be quite a problem. They are needed for restoration, to avoid overtiredness, and have a significant impact on developmental milestones.
But before we go into troubleshooting, make sure that your short napping is truly a problem and not developmental. It is good to know that while long naps are possible for children under five months of age, it is very developmentally normal to see naps range from 20 mins to 2.5 hours. I know, don’t feel defeated! The good news is after this age, you should see your baby better consolidate their sleep and have the ability to take longer naps independently. Until then, if your child falls in this bucket, you may need to help settle them back to sleep again for a long rest.
My name is Mica, and I am a certified sleep consultant and founder of Rested Mama, Happy Baby. If your child is over five months of age, here are some key ingredients that foster longer naps…
6 Ways to Help Your Baby Nap Longer
1. Optimal Sleep Space:
If you haven’t already, check out my blog article on creating an ideal sleep space. While we recommend this for nighttime sleep, it’s appropriate for nap time. So, no, this won’t condition your child to need very dark rooms and a perfect temperature for every nap time. This consistency in the beginning, however, is what sets you up for flexibility in the future.
2. Naptime Routine:
In the same way that I recommend a bedtime routine to help signal to your child that it is about to be sleep time, you should have a naptime routine in place. Again, it does not have to be lengthy, no more than 10-15 mins, but there should be some consistent activities that help them go from playtime to sleep time. Additionally, it provides an excellent cue for them to know what to expect next.
3. Follow Appropriate Waketimes:
Short naps can be a cause of overtiredness or under tiredness. Following age-appropriate waketimes can help you navigate this so you can find the right balance for naps.
Check out our FREE Waketime Chart here.
4. Ensure they are awake the whole waketime:
Think...did you let them snooze at a feeding? I caught my little guy snoozing while I was inadvertently rocking while on the phone for a few minutes. If that’s happened, it can somewhat “steal” sleep from that nap. Think of a time where you’ve had a 5-minute catnap. It might have been enough for your to get your second wind. The same goes for babies.
5. Teach independent sleep skills:
The most common reason why a child is not lengthening naps is that they are waking at their natural sleep cycles from deep to light sleep and cannot go back to sleep. If you recall, in some of our other blogs, we talk about how a child’s sleep cycle, especially after 6 months, can look like much of an adult’s sleep cycle. It starts off deep, then lights, and many times can cause a waking. As adults, we know how to go back to sleep, but as a baby, if they needed help falling asleep (whether by rocking, nursing, or singing), it’s what they will need to help them connect one cycle to the next for longer naps. My coaching programs help with this! If your baby is under the 5 month age mark, I also have an effective approach to lay healthy foundations for your newborn.
6. Improve night sleep:
Another great way to help children have better, longer, restorative naps is to help them with their night sleep. Learning independent sleep at night and then developing a plan to bring those skills to daytime sleep has improved naps significantly. My programs focus on this approach to tackle nights and restore great sleep as a whole. Check out my blog post on independent sleep to learn more.
Rested Mama, Happy Baby Founder
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