Feeling troubled by your baby’s short naps? Does your baby refuse to sleep for more than half an hour or 45 minutes at a time? You’re not alone.
Short naps are the most common sleep struggle that exasperates and worries parents. Surely you are feeling completely worn out and exhausted from not getting enough time to rest yourself!
Any nap that lasts less than an hour is a short nap but there are different types which are important to identify.
If your baby’s naps last less than 30 minutes, it’s likely that they were overtired and will probably wake up cranky. Naps that are about 45 minutes long are the same length as a baby’s sleep cycle. These naps indicate that your baby is unable to transfer from one sleep cycle to another.
What could be the cause?
So, what’s a frazzled, frustrated mom to do? Well, before discussing the approach that will fix the issue, let us take a look at the possible underlying problems:
- Schedule Snags. Does your baby’s daily nap routine fulfil their sleep needs and jive well with their wake-up time and bedtime?
- If your baby’s daily routine is unpredictable and spontaneous, it will mess with the frequency and duration of the naps, especially if the naps are taken in different places or at different times each day.
- Too much wake time. You may think stretching the awake time between naps will make your baby take longer naps later, but instead an overtired baby naps for even less time. If your baby is yawning, fussing, wailing, looking glassy-eyed, or rubbing his/her eyes, overtiredness is the problem.
- Sleep associations. Babies over 6 months old who take short naps are most likely to be having trouble with sleep associations, as they still rely on being rocked or fed to sleep. It means your baby does not know how to fall asleep on their own and that is why they wake up between sleep cycles.
Try the Wake to Sleep Method
The highly effective wake-to-sleep approach will resolve the issue of short naps once and for all. This magic method was introduced by child sleep author Tracy Hoagg. It works in all kinds of scenarios and can be applied to infants as well as toddlers.
The best way to try this method is by going to your baby’s room a few minutes before they wake up from the short nap. Gently rub or stroke your baby’s head and/or cheek until you see your baby slightly stirring, and then stop. The purpose is to ever so gently stir them while they are asleep and cause them to transfer to the next sleep cycle.
If you feel like your baby didn’t really move, try the approach again after a minute or two. You can also try other methods of slightly stirring the baby, such as patting their back, or giving them back their pacifier (dummy) if it has fallen out of their mouth.
You will have to experiment with the timings and techniques as each baby and child is different.
Try the wake to sleep method every day and within a week you will start to see the results. Ensure that your baby usually naps in a dark, comfortable room and create a daily nap routine. Your baby will take longer naps and wake up refreshed, energetic and happy.
Soon, you will have plenty of time to rest while your baby’s sleep schedule and short naps become a thing of the past!
What methods help your baby or toddler take longer naps? Help each other by sharing the tips that worked for your little one in the comments!