Is your baby or young toddler a crappy napper? Do they only take 20 - 30 minute naps, leaving just enough time for you to get absolutely nothing checked off your list? Here are my top 3 tips to help with short naps.
No one wants their baby or young toddler to take short naps. Short naps leave just enough time for you to get absolutely nothing done. Maybe you start folding laundry but don'y have enough time to finish it. Maybe you want to eat lunch alone. Maybe you want to start dinner so the inevitable witching hour isn't so hard tonight. Maybe you just want to sit down, without a child touching you or vying for your attention.
Short naps are hard, but they can be fixed. It is normal for babies 4 months and under to take short naps. Those early days can be a trying time. You can help them establish healthy sleep habits from birth. These tips are for newborns to young toddlers.
Here are my top 3 tips for turning those short naps into longer, more predictable naps.
Give your child time
Do you rush in when you hear your baby or young toddler? Do they cry out and you immediately roll your eyes and then to go get them?
Giving your child 5-10 minutes before you go in can be all they need to fall back asleep! Next time they wake, pause, take a deep breath and wait. Complete the task you were doing then check again.
Try to extend the nap
If after the 5-10 minutes, they are still unhappy - try rocking them back to sleep and continuing the nap as a contact nap. While it may not be possible for every nap, because #momlife, aiming for one longer nap per day to start is great!
Scrap the nap
If after giving them space and then trying to extend the nap, they don't fall back to sleep - turn lights on, take them out of their sleep sack, change their diaper and go play. Shorten their next wake window so they don't get too overtired from a short nap.
Here are 3 bonus tips:
Adjust their wake windows
Try shortening or extending their wake window. Sometimes they are so overtired that they can't sleep for long. Other times, there is not enough sleep pressure for them to sleep for a long amount of time.
Check for hunger
Are short naps and mealtimes to manage? Track their schedule for a week, by writing it on paper, to make sure they aren't waking hungry and needing a bottle or solids.
Teach independent sleep
If your baby or young toddler is not falling asleep independently at the start of their naps and bedtime, they might have trouble connecting sleep cycles and self-soothing.
If your baby or young toddler is struggling with short naps and you are ready to extend those naps, I've got you! Book your 20-minute free sleep assessment call and tell me all about your child's sleep, your sleep goals for your child and I will tell you how my 5-step proven process will end your child's short naps and you will get more predictability in your day!
Wishing you restful sleep,
About Danielle: Danielle is a Certified Pediatric Sleep Coach and founder of The Restful Haus, where she helps families 1:1 with their children ages 0 - 6 years old. She is a New Jersey native and currently resides in Colorado with her husband and 4 daughters (ranging from 23 months to 7 years old). She enjoys spending time with her family, the Jersey Shore, music, traveling with her husband + kiddos and on the rare occasion, sitting down to read a murder mystery book.