• Makenzie Miller

4 Steps to Fix Short Naps

Updated: May 11




There is nothing worse than a short nap. Okay, maybe staying up all night with a baby that wakes every 1 - 2 hours takes the cake. If this is you, we need to talk.


Honestly though, is this your life?


You lay baby down for a nap and they fall asleep perfectly, you think to yourself "man I'm good at this." After a quick moment of staring at the little cherub you can't believe you created you head downstairs to clean up the kitchen and run the sweeper. (I'm sorry it will always be a sweeper to me, vacuum just doesn't roll off the tongue here in Pittsburgh) You think to yourself I have at least an hour and a half to take a nap myself. By take a nap I mean scroll the Instagram. Hey, we're all guilty. But, just as your butt hits the couch you hear a blood curdling scream and your little is ready to go.


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What. The. Hell.


It's only been 40 minutes. What gives?


Well, more than likely it's just that your baby's sleep cycles last exactly that and they have no idea how to connect them. That, and honestly it is just harder to sleep during the day. That doesn't mean we don't have to try. Daytime sleep is different than night sleep and kids absolutely need both.


Before you lose your mind, try these 4 things first.


1. Check on Your Sleep Environment


I know there are certain things you are probably sick of my saying, I can't stress this one enough. Sleep environment needs to be conducive to sleep. It needs to be cool, comfortable, and dark dark dark.


  • Keep it cool - around here I recommend 68 - 70 degrees but I have had some clients that live in warmer weather look at me like I'm nuts when I say that so now I just say use your best judgement if it's comfy for you it's comfy for them

  • Keep the room comfy - meaning free of clutter and an overall calm and serene environment

  • Use white noise - this is so helpful during the day to drown out any noise around the house

  • Keep it dark dark dark - my rule of thumb if you can see your hand when it's daylight out it is still too light

Here is a link to my favorite blackout solution.


2. Time and Space


I'm sure you heard this before. When your baby wakes up from napping make sure you give them time and space to try and connect those cycles. I know, I know. Everyone always wants a specific number on this. So, let's say 5 minutes. Or, whatever your mama heart allows.


To add to that, if you gave your baby a whole 5 minutes and you think they may be close to falling back asleep it is always appropriate to give a little more. You never know, they may surprise the heck out of you.


Why do we do this?


First, if you haven't noticed yet, babies are loud sleepers. They grunt, kick, suck, and yes may even let out a blood curdling scream here and there. So many times they actually are still sleeping. Giving this extra time will make sure that you aren't the one ending the nap early.


Second, this takes away what I like to call the Amazon effect. Or, instant gratification. If you aren't running to your baby with a nice warm meal or some really engaging and fun playtime your baby is more likely to take that longer nap. Eventually.


As always, consistency is key.


3. Routines aren't Just for Bedtime


Treat routines as a cue to go to sleep. So often we want to rush through to nap time and rightfully so - gots to get on that Instagram honey.


For real though, if we are using a bedtime routine that is soothing for sleep then we need to be using that same-ish routine for naps. This will help set the tone and let your baby know it's time for sleeping.


Does it have to be as long as bedtime? No. Definitely not.


As I mentioned above, make it same-ish. So if your bedtime goes like this ...

  • Bath

  • Jammies

  • Lotion

  • Massage

  • Bottle

  • 2 Books

  • Song

Make nap time this ...

  • Jammies - yes, jammies

  • Bottle

  • 1 Book

  • Song

And as always - in bed awake.


4. Make Sure Your'e on and Age Appropriate Schedule


Age appropriate schedules can be the exact reason your baby isn't taking long naps. They could be over-tired or under-tired depending on when you're napping them and how old they are.


For a quick rundown here's what naps should look like.


Infant - 4 months


Much like your life, infant naps are chaotic and unpredictable. Some of them may last 40 minutes and some may last 3 hours. This is a good time to practice everything I'm telling you. However, if it doesn't work for a day don't worry about it you can't ruin a newborn.


Keep theses things in mind.

  • Practice laying your baby down awake for most naps

  • Practice at least one nap in the crib (the morning nap is usually easiest)

  • Try to get on an eat, play, sleep schedule this will only last about 40 minutes to an hour

  • Give time and space at the beginning and end of your naps

4 months - 8 months


Once babies hit 4 to 8 months nap schedules become much more predictable. Babies in this age range still won't be able to stay up super long though.


A schedule for this age range looks like this.


Nap 1 - Somewhere between 8/9

Nap 2 - Somewhere between 12/1

Nap 3 - Somewhere between 3/4


8 months - 15 months


Somewhere around 8 months babies will naturally drop that third nap and naturally want a much earlier bedtime somewhere between 6/7.


A schedule for this age range looks like this.


Nap 1 - Somewhere between 8/9

Nap 2 - Somewhere between 12/1 (probably closer to 1)

Bedtime - Somewhere between 6/7


15 months - 5 years


Somewhere around 12 your baby is gonna challenge you and try to tell you they don't need a second nap. It's all lies. Babies need a second nap up until about 15 or even 18 months. Stay consistent through this regression and your life will be much better.


However once the get to this 15 - 18 month range, it's time to drop down to that glorious once a day 2 - 3 hour nap. And you guessed it it's still somewhere between 12 and 1 on the clock.


A schedule for this age range looks like this.


Awake - Somewhere between 6/7

Nap - Somewhere between 12/1

Bedtime - Somewhere between 6/7


Remember consistency is key. My golden rule try something at 100 percent consistency for three days to see the change.


Happy napping!


Mak


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