Naptime is probably THE best time for parents. That small space of time in a busy day where you can actually put your feet up, catch up on social media without feeling guilty, or even take a nap yourself- bliss, right?
But what if baby didn't get the memo about it all? What if baby only wants to sleep for twenty minutes and that's it? Not good. Nobody can get much done in twenty minutes, and with a nap that short you just know the rest of the day isn't going to go well. Over tired babies are no fun at all! So what to do? Here are our top tips to help baby nap longer.
Why is baby waking up too soon?
One of the first things you need to look at is why your baby is waking up in the first place. A good sleep environment is a must for both naps and nighttime sleep so take a quick look around where your baby sleeps to make sure there are no obvious disturbances. Make sure the room is a comfortable temperature, it's nice and dim and there are no distracting toys that light up or make sounds unexpectedly. Other things to consider- teething, illness, sleep regressions. Any one of these can cause your baby to wake up from their nap early!
Take a look at your daytime routine as a whole
Sometimes it's worth taking a good look at everything you do throughout the day in order to get a better picture of your baby's sleeping patterns. Lack of routine or a disrupted routine can have a negative affect on sleep so if you aren't prioritising sleep as a whole, you might find it difficult to rectify any nap issues that have arisen. If your baby is waking early from the second nap of the day, it might be that the time has come to transition down to just one. Or, if the first nap of the day could do with being a little longer, it might be that the awake time before that nap needs to be lengthened out. Remember that as baby grows and develops, your routine needs to be tweaked accordingly. Stay flexible and go with the flow if you need to.
How to lengthen naps
If you've been through everything and you have a good routine overall, you might need to step in and help your baby a little more. Babies who are napping for less than on sleep cycle (generally around 40 minutes) are not napping for long enough, so you need to be lengthen out that nap. Here are three easy steps to follow:
- Actively observe your baby sleeping. In other words, when your baby takes a nap stay in the room to observe. Note down when he falls asleep and then sit tight until he starts to stir.
- As baby stirs, use all your skills to comfort him back to sleep if you can. Rock, sing, pat- whatever it takes. Then leave the room, as baby should now sleep for at least another sleep cycle, which would equate to a decent length nap.
- Once you have a better idea of when your baby is likely to wake from his nap, set a reminder to go to his room a few minutes before, so that you can go in and settle him back to sleep just as he starts to stir. After a few days, baby should be able to settle himself back with no help from you.
There's no doubt that short naps can be hard to deal with, but there's no point in allowing the situation to get on top of you. Enlist the help of friends and family if you can, even if its just so that you can drink a cup of tea while its still hot. Go for a walk, or a drive if that means an extra half an hour of sleep. Remember that short naps are likely to be a phase, which will soon pass. Good luck!