Thursday, October 15, 2009

Baby Whisperer: 45 Minute Naps

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In The Baby Whisperer Solves All Your Problems, Hogg lists several factors that cause 45 minute naps. All of these factors have been discussed on this blog before, but short naps are such a common problem that I find it necessary to re-post about it from time to time :)

  • Transistions: The sleep cycle is 45 minutes. Some babies who wake at 45 minutes are doing so because it is a transition time. They either are unable to put themselves to sleep alone, or an external factor rouses them to full alertness. This can be temperature, noises, or even (and especially in the newborn months) hunger. See also: Baby Whisperer: Sleep Transitions , Naps: Troubleshooting , and Baby Whisperer: Sensible Sleep
  • Overtiredness: If your baby was awake too long before her nap, she likely will not sleep longer than 45 minutes. Hogg states that she might not even last the 45 minutes. See also: Optimal Waketime Lengths , Baby Whisperer: Sleep Cues , Nap Cues , Sleep Begets Sleep , Easy Nap Fix
  • Overstimulation: You baby can also wake at 45 minutes if she was overstimulated during waketime. With the newborn, you need to guard her waketime activities closely. As she gets older, she needs more stimulation. Hogg says that you need to have a bedtime/naptime routine. You can't just pick baby up and put her in bed. Hogg says that the routine will help baby wind down and sleep better. See also: Overstimulation , and Sleep Routine .
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36 comments:

Mrs. Haid said...

Why are 45 minute naps considered a problem? My son is just shy of 3 months, and he does the EASY routine, but most of his naps are 45 minutes. There is usually one nap that is two 45 minute blocks.

I've strived for longer naps, and I do bet he is overstimulated by wake time activities if we are doing errands or something, but I don't see why I should worry on getting longer naps.

Please enlighten me! I really want to know in case its some neuro-cognitive development thing I am missing!

ym said...

Thank you for your post on naps! I'm writing because I need some help!! My baby was sleeping well for her naps, until about 3.5 weeks ago. She is now 5 months old. She is on a combo 3.5/3 hrs schedule and used to sleep like clockwork for her morning nap (always 2.5 hrs) and other naps (usually 1-1.5 hrs). But starting 3.5 weeks ago, the napping has gone haywire! A few things happened during this time: her first tooth cut through, she caught a cold, and I think she went through a growth spurt. Now, I'm figuring that these things have passed - but I can't seem to get her back on track. She sleeps well at nights (12 hrs) but her daytime naps are stuck at 40 minutes. I feel like we're in a vicious cycle because she wakes up early from her naps, so I wait to feed her. But that ends up extending her wake time or she ends up going down too soon after the feeding. I've read all your posts on naps and troubleshooting. I've scoured her sleep/feed log to see if we are keeping her up too long or if she is overstimulated. I have tried to keep her wake times like before when she used to nap well - but no help. I have tried slightly longer wake times. We have a set naptime/bedtime routine. I can't figure out what has caused the short naps. Any suggestions? Thanks so much!

Peter, Jolene and Henry said...

oh my goodness. i am having the same issues as ym. please help.

sj_hansen said...

YM & Jolene,

How funny - I was having exactly the same problem. My little man is now 5 months old and was on combo 3 - 3.5hr schedule + 12 hours overnight. We have just had a very social 2 weeks over school holidays as well as the start of his first tooth and our nap cues and naps have gone haywire. At first I thought I needed to extend waketime and then I tried bringing waketime back. He started waking (even though only for a few minutes) an hour after going to bed at night (7.30pm) and again (even though he still went back to sleep) an hour before morning waketime (7.30am) Then he started losing his appetite as well. I have felt for a while that he is trying to go to the 4 hour schedule but with naps going shorter not longer I have been resisting. 3 days ago I finally decided to try it as a last resort. Hey presto - his hunger is back, his waketimes have returned to what they were two weeks ago and his sleeps are back to 2.5hours. It might not be your solution but is another thing to consider. Cheers, Sue

Val said...

ym...I'd push to a 4 hour schedule. I had the same problem at that age and was losing my mind! Then I went ahead and forced a 4 hour schedule (keeping them awake longer in the morning was the key) and within a week, 3 naps a day (2 long, 1 short [approx 9am, 1pm, 4:30pm) and all was well again.

heather said...

SJ and Val,

Before you moved to a 4 hour schedule, did you have problems with night waking? My baby is almost 5 months old and has been on a combo 3/3.5 hour schedule. He is a big boy. His naps have been haywire for the past week or so and has been waking between 5-6 am every morning without going back to sleep. He used to go from 7-7. I work, so it isn't that big of a deal to feed him at 6, but I am wondering if its a feeding or sleep organization problem. I want what's best for him at this point and I know that continuous night sleep really helps. Can you help by explaining how you moved to a 4 hour schedule? Were your babies awake two hours and nap for two hours? Did it take a while to adjust, or did it happen naturally? Any advice would be great!

Thanks,
Heather

ym said...

thanks for the advice, sj and Val!
I echo Heather's questions: how long were your wake times and nap times on the 4 hr schedule? And, how did you transition to the 4hr? thanks again!

sj_hansen said...

Heather & YM,
My LO also has started waking at 6am but I go in and tuck him back in and pop the pacifier in and he goes back to sleep until 7.30am. Sometimes I think he is wide awake and no way will he go back to sleep but if I leave him he always does. This is how I know he isn't hungry or really ready to get up at that time. When I get him at 7.30am he is always happy. I think this might be because we have been mucked up for a few weeks and he is not getting the right amount of sleep during his naps. Hopefully this will right itself now we have our naps back again.

This is our schedule now we are on 4 hours. I have only been introducing solids for 5 weeks so the amounts are still quite small.

7.30am Nurse, rice cereal and bananas
8.45am nap - about 2 1/4 hours
11am nurse, pumpkin and apples
12.30pm nap - about 2 1/2 hours
3pm nurse, sweet potato and bananas
4.30pm nap - about 1 hour
5.30pm wakes until bedtime - about 2 hours
7pm nurse & bottle
7.30pm bedtime

He will sometimes make noises at transition time but I am confident he needs more sleep and if I leave him he will always go back to sleep. He sometimes wakes about 15 minutes early for his 3pm feed and I just leave him in his cot playing until its time to get up. It took a lot of trial and error and reading of this blog to work it all out but I am really happy I stuck with it. I go from being confident that I am doing the right thing to complete chaos and wondering why it no longer works but it always returns to 'normal' so hang in there. Cheers Sue

Dvorak Family said...

My son is 7 months old and he is having horrible nap problems. He's never been a great napper, but there was a stretch where he would do 1.5 - 2 hour naps, but for at least the past 2 months, I've been lucky to even get 45 minute naps out of him. Some days, he naps just 20 minutes. Today, he decided just to scream and not even go down for the morning nap. He sleeps great at night and goes from 7 pm to 7am. I have his wake time at approx 2 hours. I've tried less wake time and more wake time and neither of those have helped. He has little to no sleepy cues. When he's woken, I just let him cry until it has been an hour, but he just isn't getting it. I don't see any teeth coming in, but his sister was about this age when she got her teeth. I try so hard to have a positive attitude, but some days it is just so hard. I also have a short nap routine of cuddling him and singing him a song. I have a room darkening shade in his room so light isn't the problem. I've tried music, but that actually seems to make it worse. If I go in his room to try and comfort him when he wakes, he just gets more awake. Any tips out there? I've come to accept that he's a chronic 45 minute napper, but this 20 minute nap stuff just seems ridiculous. Please help!

Catherine said...

Seriously ym... you are me right now except our little one is only 4 months. Today I am trying to get him to go back to sleep and nap longer but even now I hear him in the background fussing. He woke up 45 min into his nap and he still hasn't fallen back to sleep. I don't know what to do because I feel like I have tried everything there is to try and he doesn't want to sleep longer than 45 min. I even set aside the week to be super scheduled and specific and if anything I feel like it has gotten worse! Do some of us just have 45 min nappers? I just want to make sure he is growing okay. The thing about 45 min naps are that it usually means he is eating every 2 1/2 hours because when you combine it with his wake times that is how it has to work. An hour and 15 min awake and an hour to nap... Should I be on a 4 hour schedule and keep him awake longer... HELP!!!

Catherine said...

Oh yeah... at first I would let him CIO and he would fall back asleep after 10 min or so of more fussing than anything, but now he won't at all. I have tried so hard since he was a newborn to impliment babywise but I feel like while the ideas are great and it all seems wonderful the hardest part is figuring your individual little guy out. Waketime lengths, appropriate nap lengths... I still don't know and he is 4 months! What is wrong with me!? Should I stick with this 3 hours schedule or cut back or extend... any advice would be so great!! Thanks!

Redheads said...

Yes, some of us have chronic 45 min nappers. But, I would say most babies are not. I would also say that many babies just go through a stage for a few weeks or a couple months of 45 min naps. It is just a phase. During this time period, it is important to troubleshoot and remain consistent with leaving them in the cribs for the duration of "naptime". They will either learn to fall back asleep or play happily in their crib until naptime is over. My DD has been a 45 min napper for 7 months now. Over the past few months, she has improved with occasional 1.5-2 hour naps thrown in randomly a few times a week. I'll take what I can get! She always stays happy no matter the nap length. When she was 3-4 months old, I had to do CIO at the 45 min mark until she learned to either go back to sleep or play until naptime was over. Now, she never falls back asleep, but I always leave her. Obviously, you want to make sure they are not hungry or sick or in pain. But once your rule these out, it's time for sleep training!!!
Amy

Hammocks and High Tea said...

My baby is now 6 months old. I tried several times when she was younger to move to a 4 hour schedule, but it really messed her up! She seemed ready because she wasn't that hungry after 3 hours, but it just made her fussy and messed up her naps big time. So we have been on a 3 hour schedule pretty much since she was born and it has worked well for her up until just recently. Her naps have gotten chaotic again and she seems hungrier than normal. She LOVES solid food and I'm afraid she's holding out on the milk to get to that! But that's another issue. The bottom line is, I'm going to try to move her into a different schedule now...hopefully 4 hour...and see how it goes.

Hammocks and High Tea said...

Nothing new...just wanted to hit the "e-mail follow up button" which I didn't do last time!

Plowmanators said...

Mrs. Haid, there would be two reasons. One is that to do an EASY routine at that age, you can't stick to EASY and a three hour routine with a 45 minute nap. If you are, then baby is up for over two hours at a time, which is too much for a child that age.

The second reason is that they say brain synapses form while sleeping, and that second 45 minute stretch is important for it.

Plowmanators said...

ym, that happened right around the 19 week wonder week (see wonder weeks blog label). It creates difficulties sleeping in babies. Then you had several other things on top of that.

You might just need to help her fall back asleep at 40 minutes so her body can get used to sleeping through again.

Plowmanators said...

The ideas of sj_hansen and Val are in line with what Hogg would recommend.

Plowmanators said...

Dvorak Family, is there something waking him up? If so, a humidifier or some other white noise might help. Are you sure he is actually asleep and waking at 20 minutes, or is he just quiet for 20 minutes then starts crying?

Plowmanators said...

Catharine, my initial answer is to stick to the three hour schedule until he sleeps longer...however, the Baby Whisperer says to switch to a four hour schedule to fix problems. So you will have to go with your gut. For some babies, the four hour schedule is the answer.

Four months is a normal sleep problem time, so I suggest waiting until that difficult time is over, but then moving on to find solutions if there is still a problem.

Plowmanators said...

Hammocks, good luck. It might have been a 6 month growth spurt.

Dave and Elaine said...

My baby girl is 6 months old. I started letting her CIO around 3months when I noticed she was waking at the 45 min. mark of a nap.

Now, at 6 months, she still goes through times when she will wake at the 45 min mark. I don't rush in to get her. I let her settle herself back to sleep which normally takes anywhere from 5-10 minutes. Then she sleeps till waketime.

She only wakes after 45 mins every so often though. Other times, I lay her down for naps with not a peep from her until wake-time!

So my question is: Why does she SOMETIMES have this 45 min wake up during naps and other days she sleeps right through that 45 min mark?

Just seems strange to me and I was wondering if you know why!!

THANKS!

Plowmanators said...

Dave and Elaine,

The possibilities are endless. It could be she sometimes has gas pain. Perhaps she is having teething pain sometimes. Maybe sometimes she fell asleep in a position that isn't very comfortable so when she transitioned at 45 minutes it woke her up. Maybe there is a certain noise that rouses her. Maybe sometimes she is cold....

Lots of possibilities :) You could try keeping a log to see if you can figure it out. That always helps me.

SM said...

What a wonderful resource this has been for me since my sons birth....he is now 14 weeks old. He is a 45 minute napper it seems no matter what I have tried to do so I am doing my best to accept it. My problem however is his schedule. For example he last ate at 4:00pm. and it is 5:45pm now and he is awake and ready to play. However if he plays now he will reverse the cycle and it will be play eat sleep instead of eat play sleep. However it is WAY to early to feed him. By the time I do feed him he is exhausted and ready to sleep. I don't know how to handle this situation. ANY help or thoughts would be very appreciated. Thank you, thank you!

SM said...

Also wanted to ask one more question....my son is also refusing to go down for his last nap of the day. He has been like this for a couple of weeks now. He will cry until it is time for the next meal if I let him... however if I get him up and entertain him he will be somewhat content. I'm not sure what to do with him. He CIO at the other naps and is able to fall asleep but not this one. Any thoughts?

Plowmanators said...

SM,

A couple of things. I suggest you see the post "Eat/wake/sleep cycle" for comfort in the playing before eating.

How many naps is he taking a day? He can be down to 3 if that is what he needs. He might be on 4 since he is taking shorter naps, but definitely not more than that.

My older two dropped the fourth nap by just staying up between the last two feedings with no nap. So they ate around 4:30, played, and ate again around 7 then went to bed. This starts to happen as they get older and drop naps.

Jillian Spencer said...

My son, Shane is 9 weeks. He almost always wakes at 45min to 1 hr nap time. I'll let him CIO 15 min and if that doesn't work I plug him with a paci. Sometime he'll fall asleep with it in, but more likely than not it'll fall out and he will go to sleep or cry for a minute and go to sleep. Lately he's been awake after it falls out, but content in the crib. I leave him in there to rest until the 3 hr cycle is up. Is it OK to take him out if he won't settle down after the 45-1 hr nap to play and wait til 3 hr is up to feed him if he's happy or does that mess up the cycle? I am flexible and will feed at 2.5 hr if signs are there. He is always SO happy but right at the hour wake mark of wake time (on the dot) he fusses and I put him down for a nap. Sometimes he cries sometimes not. Should I cut back wake time? Thank you!

Plowmanators said...

Jillian, if he was sleeping for full naps then started waking early, my first guess would be growth spurt. I would get him and feed him.

If he has ALWAYS woken at the 45 minute mark, I would try shortening waketime length.

There are several options for when he wakes early. You can get him up and try to distract him until feeding time. You can get him up and feed him (do this for sure if he is hungry no matter how long it has been). You can try to get him to go back to sleep.

Be sure to check out the "waking early" blog label for more posts on the topic.

Stephen and Tiffany Seston said...

My baby girl is 11 weeks old. She started sleeping through the night at 9.5/10 weeks. She takes 4 naps averaging 1.5-2.5 hours long. One thing I was wondering about is she "wakes up" exactly after an hour...her eyes aren't open, but she's crying. She does this off and on for about 20 minutes then sleeps til the next feeding time. Do you have any clue what's going on with this? She never is fully awake and puts herself to sleep, but it doesn't seem like she's getting good sleep for that duration. Thoughts?

Plowmanators said...

Tiffany,

That is not uncommon in newborns. I don't know why, but they are very noisy sleepers.

nannyhelper said...

I have a 7 month who we are trying to start sleeping in her crib from swing. We start with the swing cause she was spitting up a lot. Now she is getting to big for it. Right now we got her sleeping 30-40 mins for 1st nap and about 40 for her second. How do I get her use to the crib and get her to sleep longer. For bed we do the crib and get about a hour then we put her back in the swing and she sleeps all night. Help please!

Plowmanators said...

nannyhelper, I think the way to get her used to it is to just do it. You might start with just one nap a day, but you might also find she adjusts faster if you do all naps and night all at once. Good luck!

Casie Cohagan said...

Does it tell you when your baby should start taking fewer naps or do they always take the same number of naps as feedings?

Plowmanators said...

Typically yes, same number of naps as feedings, but not always.

For younger babies, you feed, sleep, feed sleep.

Around four months old, your baby might still be eating about every 3 hours, but most likely only needs three naps. In that case, in the evening you would feed, no nap, feed again then bedtime.

6-10 months, babies go to 2 naps. So even if on a four hour feeding schedule, you would feed, sleep, feed, sleep, feed, feed.

So younger babies do have the same feedings as naps, but as they get older, that changes.

Unknown said...

I love your blog- thank you so much for posting it. I have a 3 1/2 month old who will sleep in her crib for 1hr and i know she needs more sleep b/c she wakes up tired and if I were to hold her in an infant carrier, put her in the swing, or have her in the car, she would sleep longer (like 1 1/2- 2 1/2 hrs depending). What should I do? continue to have her CIO when she wakes in the crib and it hasn't been a "full" nap time? Put her in the swing just for the afternoon nap so she can catch up on sleep and slowly wean her from the swing (go from swinging to stationary to moving the removable seat on the swing into her crib to fully sleeping in the crib?). Any suggestions? Thanks

Unknown said...

i want to clarify the above post- she will sleep for 12hrs with one night awakening in her crib and has no problems w/ it. I put her in the crib for naps awake and after a bedtime routine. We are working on a regular schedule which is difficult to establish b/c she just won't sleep for her naps and it throws off the whole EASY routine. She eats every 4hrs

Ashley T said...

My son is 7 weeks old. He's been on a 3 hour schedule. He's been staying awake for 1.5 hours (including nursing time), and then I put him down for his nap. It can take up to 30 mins for him to fall asleep, but usually not more than 10. Sometimes he's too tired, so I'll put him down 15 minutes early. Regardless, he started waking significantly early (usually 45 mins in) about 3 weeks ago - sometimes he will only sleep for 25-30 minutes! He's fed, has a clean diaper, isn't having gas pains, doesn't need to burp... If I leave him, he just screams. He's cried for 45 mins off and on when this happens. I'm concerned because I know he needs more sleep. I have started turning his swing on to put him back to sleep (which I'm sure isn't the solution, and might make it worse), and usually he'll go right back to sleep. Sometimes though, he still won't fall back asleep if he only has 30 mins left of nap time. He'll just sit there content, but wide awake. He also had been waking only once at night. I would feed him at 10 pm, then he would wake at 4 am to eat, and then he would wake at 7 am to start the day. He has now started waking between 2 and 3 am screaming with gas pains (not interested in nursing - doctor said he thinks it could be colic), I give him gripe water, and comfort him, pump his legs, etc. and I still feed him at 4 am, and then he wakes at 6:15. Why is he constantly waking early now? He used to be consistently right on schedule. At first I thought it was a growth spurt, but it's been going on for too long now.

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