Foolproof Fixes For Short Naps
Short naps can be confusing and frustrating, but they can be fixed. Even after parents black out the room and turn up the white noise, many babies continue to wake up about 40 minutes into their naptime. To lengthen your little one’s cat naps, you’ll need to put on your detective hat and do a bit of science. But don’t worry, we’re about to share two tricks that make that easier than it sounds.
Begin With the Basics
Before all else, ensure that hunger, temperature, or another discomfort is not the culprit. Once you’ve ruled out anything external you can fix, check your babies awake times. The time they are awake between naps should be in the developmentally appropriate range. Here are some guidelines:
Time Awake between Naps
Birth – 6 Weeks
45 min – 1 hour
6 Weeks – 3 Months
1 hour – 1 hour 45 minutes
3 Months – 6 Months
6 Months – 9 Months
9 Months – 12 Months
Remember that these are only guidelines, and individual babies vary. For a good, long nap, babies need to be awake their own personally perfect amount of time. This brings us to the first trick:
Find The Perfect Wake Time
This trick is deceptively simple. Pay attention to how your baby wakes. If he rouses happy and babbling, after 30-50 minutes of napping, his wake time was too short. Keep him awake longer. Alternatively, waking distraught and inconsolable after 30-50 minutes of sleep indicates that he was overtired at the nap’s start. Put him down sooner.
When playing with wake times, it is important to adjust by only 10-15 minutes at a time. Also, wake times should be shortest in the morning and longer as the day goes on. They can also all be the same length, but something is wrong if your baby’s first wake time is the longest.
Cat naps can be a developmental issue, and some babies under six months old may not be ready to connect day time sleep cycles. They should grow out of this once they transition to two naps, but if you don’t want to wait that long, try our second trick.
Wake To Sleep
Wake to sleep is the terribly counterintuitive concept of purposefully rousing your child as she sleeps. But trust us: it works. Understanding exactly how this technique works is key in getting it right.
Babies cycle through deep and light sleep about every 45 minutes. That’s why your catnapper always wakes after the same time period. She wakes fully during the period of lightest sleep instead of descending back into a deep sleep for another cycle.
Around twenty minutes into her sleep cycle, she’s at the deepest level of sleep. That is when you want to go in and rouse her. Jiggle her pacifier or gently wiggle her shoulders just enough to rouse her, but not wake her.
The slight disturbance you cause will reset her sleep cycle, allowing her to transition into a second one and sleep longer. Repeat the process during naptime for three to seven days and going forward your little one will stretch out her naps without your assistance.
The primary factor here is finding exactly the right time to go in and rouse your child. That will be 10-15 minutes before the time she normally wakes early. You may need to play around with this. If she wakes completely when your jiggle her, your timing is off. A child in deepest sleep with the correct wake time won’t wake fully.
Every baby will cat nap sometimes, and there are times when a 40-minute nap is appropriate. For example, the final nap of the day is often short. However, chronic cat napping can interfere with a baby’s ability to get restorative rest. This can cause fussiness, difficulty focusing, and lead to issues with nighttime sleep. Luckily, the detective work needed to solve this issue is usually as simple as adjusting how long your baby is awake during naps. And if that fails, hold your breath and trust the crazy but magical wake to sleep technique!