A short nap can put a real damper on the whole day when you are a parent. Not only do naps provide the alone time parents so desperately need in order to get things done, they are very important to a child's growth and development. "My baby never naps!" and similar statements are something I read daily in mom groups, and in emails from families seeking help. Naps can be the trickiest part of sleep to correct, and see success in. Nap training takes time, patience and a lot more consistency than you may think!
Are you dealing with short naps? Check out my troubleshooting list!
1. Does your baby fall asleep on their own?
This is the most important part of fixing your little ones short naps. Babies are not motivated sleepers, so a baby who doesn't know how to transition sleep cycles without the help of something/someone is going to wake up at the end of a sleep cycle (typically 30-45 minutes) and not be able to fall back asleep without intervention. If your baby is over the age of 4 months (16 weeks) and not able to fall asleep independently, it may be time for some nap training (if you choose to do so!)
2. Are you following a "Wake-Eat-Play" Schedule?
Some babies are more sensitive to things like this than others. Some babies can handle having a feed right before a nap/bedtime, still go down awake, and sleep fine. However - other's are more sensitive. If you have tried everything, except switching up your feeding schedule it may be time! By following a EWP schedule, you are disassociating feeding from sleep. To do this schedule, you simply feed your baby upon waking from a nap, rather than before.
3. Are you following an age appropriate schedule?
Following a schedule that is appropriate for your baby's age is SO IMPORTANT. I cannot stress this enough! By allowing too much awake time between naps, you could be setting your little one up for a short nap without knowing it. The same goes for too little awake time between naps! Not only does awake time play a big role, but the amount of naps your baby should be having in a day is important, as is the correct amount of day sleep for your baby's age. Check out my helpful chart below!
4. Does your baby have an environment that encourages sleep?
Sleep environment is as important as everything else on this troubleshooting list - if not more important! Setting up a sleep environment that is encouraging for sleep can have a major impact on your little one's naps (and bedtime!) A sleep environment should be pitch black, a comfortable temperature, along with true white noise played for the duration of the nap & night time (no timers please!)- Darkness helps our bodies produce melatonin, which is the hormones responsible for encouraging a restful sleep. - White noise tricks the brain into concentrating on the one consistent noise, rather than the noises around us. Not only does it cause a better sleep, it is extra useful for babies because it mimics the sound of the womb.
5. "Crib hour" (4+ months)
This one can be the toughest for parents to follow through with, but can be hugely beneficial for conquering short naps. Crib hour is simply leaving your little one in the crib for one hour at minimum, no matter how long your little one naps. The toughest part of following crib hour is not intervening. The reason I advise parents not to intervene is because, if your little one has slept ANY amount and sees Mommy/Daddy, it will be incredibly hard for him/her to fall back asleep.
Short naps aren't fixed overnight. Nap training and sleep coaching takes time.
The key to successful naps is consistency. Follow these troubleshooting tips for at least 2 weeks before deciding they aren't working for you. If you are still struggling after 2 weeks, reach out! I am here to help! www.sleepe-zzzconsulting.com