• Andrea

Lengthening Short Naps

In the beginning when I’m working with a family, so often they’re focused on the lack of sleep they get at night. Yes, naps need improving too, but if they could get a 4 hour stretch of sleep at night they’d be thrilled. Pretty quickly nighttime sleep comes together and then all of a sudden parents realize how those short naps need some work!


For me, short naps (and early morning wake ups) are the worst! Is there anything more frustrating than a 30-45 min nap?!? You’ve probably worked really hard to get your baby to sleep and when she wakes up you can tell she’s still tired. On top of that, it’s almost impossible to get anything done. You get your baby to sleep, maybe you tidy up the kitchen, and just as you’re about to do something for yourself… the monitor lights up with movement and noise. Game over.



Help your baby nap longer


As I’m sure you’ve noticed, there are so many developmental changes going on in your little one during their first few months of life. Some babies will nap long stretches right from day 1 and others only 20-minute stints. And that’s okay! Some babies will nap well with a soother or being fed to sleep. Others won’t start connecting sleep cycles (napping only for 30-45 minutes) until they are falling asleep independently. Naps can take a bit of time and effort to really lengthen out, so be patient and keep consistent.


If your baby is over the 3-4 month mark and is consistently napping for under 1 hour, make sure you complete this checklist first:


Dark sleep environment (I mean like pitch black)

White noise to drown out environmental noise

Appropriate awake windows for your baby’s age

Independent sleep (falling asleep completely on her own)


Make sure you can check off all of those boxes first. If you’re little one is still struggling to nap for over 1 hour, wait 5-10 minutes before rushing into her room to scoop her up. This wait will allow her the chance to fall back to sleep on her own. Remember, be consistent and know that it can take time for babies to start linking their daytime sleep cycles together.


If your baby is under 3 months, I still recommend trying to lengthen out naps. To start, make sure you take a look at this list first:


Dark sleep environment (I mean like pitch black)

White noise to drown out environmental noise

Appropriate awake windows for age

Appropriate # of feeds/calories

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More than likely you are helping your baby to sleep at this point, and that’s OKAY! If your baby is consistently waking from naps under 1 hour, I recommend that you go to your baby right away and coax her back to sleep. By coax, I mean use a sleep prop that you know will put her back to sleep. Soother, rocking, shushing, whatever… Don’t spend all day trying, but give it 10-15 minutes. If she’s not going back to sleep, move on with your day, and try again at her next nap.

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I know naps can be so frustrating. It can feel like you are trying to get your baby down all day long. There can be a bit more fussing and it may seem like more of a struggle than bedtime. But it will get better! It may not happen in 1 day, but with consistency, she will start seamlessly linking her sleep cycles together. She will wake feeling rested, and you will have had 1.5-2 hrs to recharge as well. It’s a win win!


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