Baby Hints & Tips

Baby – no more short naps

Baby - no more short napsBaby sleep expert, Tara Mitchell, helps unravel why your baby is taking short naps and what to do to help overcome the issue.

Short naps … If you have a little one, chances are you know exactly what I’m talking about!

It’s the type of nap that takes longer to get your little one to sleep than the time they actually sleep for. The ones where we find ourselves setting a timer for around 30-45 minutes to get as much done as possible in this small window of opportunity!

In most cases, short naps are here to stay unless we do something about it. So here are some of my top tips to see the end of this pesky sleep issue.

The biggest blunder – not self-settling

First and foremost, the most common cause of short naps is quite simply this: an inability to self-settle. This translates as an inability to sleep without being patted, rocked, fed or given a dummy to get to sleep. When I start with clients, this is one of the first areas we work on, and within days we start to see naps turnaround from 30-50 minutes to 1-2 hours. Here’s why: When your little one has the ability to fall asleep independently, they then have the skills required to settle back to sleep after the end of their first sleep cycle (somewhere between 30-50 minutes). We all rouse after sleep cycles, but self-settling is particularly important for babies and toddlers as they often struggle to drift into the next cycle. This then leads to them waking with not much luck of re-settling.

The daily grind

Run your day by distinct periods of ‘feed’, ‘play’ and ‘sleep’. I cannot recommend this enough! It is a fantastic way to structure your day and set your little ones up for good naps and solid feeds. Differentiating each period is key.  It is also a good idea as your little one starts to take more solids to offer something to eat (snack) 20 minutes prior to their nap. I would begin implementing this type of structure around 10 – 12 weeks of age.

Timing is everything

Have you tried to get your little one to sleep well when they are over or under-tired? It’s like fighting a losing battle. So when you’re working on getting naps sorted, be sure to keep this in mind. Getting to know your little one and their tired signs is important in working out the optimal time for naps. This will not only make the initial settle much more pleasant, but will also give your baby a better chance at taking a longer nap. I recommend taking a look at my previous article on Baby Hints and Tips that talks about ideal wake times for your child’s age.

Plenty of practice

The more opportunities your baby has to sleep in their safe sleep space, the better. Routine and consistency play a big part in creating and maintaining healthy sleep habits. If you are rarely home, or your child is in and out of the car and pram all day, it’s hard to expect that they will be taking long naps on the rare occasion they are at home.

Set the scene

I really encourage families to provide their children with sleep spaces that are conducive to quality sleep.  Creating a dark room (without night light shows and mobiles), provides your child the chance to drift peacefully off to sleep and then again into another sleep cycle without becoming distracted.

Happy Sleeping! – The Gentle Sleep Specialist.

Tara Mitchell

About the Author:

Hi all, Tara Mitchell here from The Gentle Sleep Specialist. As a paediatric nurse, qualified infant and toddler sleep consultant and mother, I have created a successful business that allows me to guide, educate and support parents to create healthy sleep habits with their little ones. I pride myself on the support my clients receive and my compassionate, caring nature enables me to build lasting rapport with the families I work with. Working one-on-one with families allows me to personalise plans and truly craft the best plan based on each individual child. I am passionate about my work and see the life changing results much needed sleep brings to the physical, emotional and mental wellbeing of the child and parents. Contact me today and let’s get sleep sorted! Find and ‘like’ me on The Gentle Sleep Specialist to receive updates with great advice on children’s sleep. Otherwise, contact me on 0404 987 982 or [email protected]

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  1. Maria says:

    Question-when would you begin to train babies to self settle? I gave my baby a dummy as she began to suck her fingers for settling. She’s 4 months old now and it seems harder to try and get her to self settle!

  2. Tara MitchellTara Mitchell says:

    Hi, So the sucking on the finger is her trying to self settle and often introducing a dummy can play havoc on their sleep and ability to self settle. I really encourage parents to allow their children to self settle how they chose to rather than bringing in an external prop. In order to teach your girl to self settle its best done without a dummy. You can start to encourage this skill from this age. Tara

  3. Emily Foster says:

    Hi- my boy now 4 months old is struggling to sleep both daytime naps and night time. I used to be able to have him sleep in my arms, put him to bed and he’ll sleep for a good 4-5 hours straight. This suddenly stopped and I have tried everything I can think of to try and help him sleep.
    I feed him earlier so he doesn’t associate food with sleep, we have a bath and I turn off all mod cons and sit quietly and read a book with him. Sometimes he falls asleep before I’ve put him to bed but he’ll wake up screaming within 30 mins. At the moment I have resorted to the cry it out method, but I hate it. It takes him about 30 mins to settle and fall asleep but even then I don’t think he manages to sleep through the different stages. He wakes up so much in the night and it’s not always about food.
    Do you have any tips?

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