Chronic Short Nappers {Poll Results}


This poll is for babies who were at some point a chronic short napper. This is a baby who pretty consistently takes short naps. This wouldn’t be for the baby who takes short naps during a growth spurt or some other common and obvious cause. This is for babies for whom the normal nap is short (about 45-60 minutes long) all day, every day. The original poll post can be found here:


As I read through the comments, here are a few overall impressions I got. 


Most people believed their baby didn’t sleep for longer naps because of an inability to self-soothe. This is going to be the base of the problem for all babies–the issue you want to try to discover is why. Why can’t the baby self-soothe? Some babies will have reasons (waketime length, temperatures, sickness) and some might just need to be older to be able to develop that skill.


There were many different things people did to get baby to sleep longer, but the answer with the most people on it is “nothing.” This supports the idea that some babies just need to grow into it. But sometimes babies grow into the situation you are presenting (like a baby can be old enough to really handle a certain waketime length). 


The list of things people did to try to help but didn’t help is much more varied. Some things listed on the “didn’t help” list were also listed on the “helped” list. I think this is the root of why short naps can be so long and frustrating for people. The things that help one baby will not help another. There are so many options and combinations of options for you to try to solve this short nap situation. Read through ideas and then trust your instincts. You know your baby best. 


Here are the results. There were 19 responders:

  1. Have baby’s naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps?
    Yes: 17
    No: 2
  2. At what age did baby’s naps get longer?
    4 Months: 4
    5 Months: 2
    6 Months: 2
    7 Months: 2
    9 Months: 2
    12 Months: 2
    14 Months: 1
    15 Months: 1
    N/A: 2
  3. Why do you think baby was/is taking short naps?
    Can’t self soothe at transition: 8
    Low sleep needs: 1
    Too long waketime: 2
    Light/Darkness: 2
    Temperature not right: 2
    Sensitive to noise: 2
    Just a phase: 1
    Allergy: 1
    Just the way she/he is: 3
    No answer/don’t know: 2
  4. What did you do that helped baby’s naps get longer?
    Put in swing: 3
    Bouncy Seat: 1
    Longer waketime: 3
    Shorter waketime: 1
    Unswaddling: 1
    Lovey: 1
    Dropped Pacifier: 1
    Appropriate waketime length: 2
    Wake consistent time each morning: 1
    Made room darker: 1
    Burn more energy for baby/toddler: 1
    Slowly extended time in crib: 1
    CIO: 2
    Consistency: 1
    Quiet room: 1
    Nothing really: 5
  5. What things did you try that did not help baby’s naps get longer?
    Longer waketime: 5Shorter waketime: 6
    CIO: 9
    Unswaddling: 1
    Tummy Sleeping: 2
    Swing: 3
    Clothes: 1
    Light/dark: 4
    Temperature: 4
    Solids: 1
    White noise: 3
    Pick up/put down: 3
    Doing nothing: 1
    We tried it all!: 4
    No answer: 1

Helpful Comments: 


“Advice for the weary – be consistent and one day your baby will hopefully nap better. Don’t be disheartened by the many sleep ‘success’ stories of other Babywise Moms – there are those of us out here who still follow BW, but just have to wait a bit longer for our little one to nap consistently.”


“We moved her to the swing to finish her nap (your suggestion). If she was just awake and happy we would leave her in the crib the finish the nap. The key for us was to have a minimum nap length where we stayed in nap mode even if she was awake. I believe this helped her body get used to the longer nap length.”


“I think he was unable to self-soothe through the sleep cycle transitions. His naps improved after we stopped swaddling and he had access to his thumb AND was able to roll onto his tummy. He is much more able to self-soothe now that he has his thumb/rolling as “tools” in his little toolbelt.”


“CIO midnap didn’t help because she didn’t cry–she just woke happy after 30 minutes and laid there awake for as long as you would leave her there.”


“Three things [helped her sleep longer]. First, even when she was a short napper, we tried to gt her back to sleep. It often worked. Our methods were to re-insert her paci; if that didn’t work, we would rock her in the dark room; we would also use the swing, which was in our living room. Second, we dropped the pacifier cold turkey at 3.5 months because we felt it had a negative impact on her sleep. We used the Baby Whisperer 4 S wind down and the shush-pat method to get her to go to sleep with no paci, and also at any sleep interruptions. Third, we made her room darker. I hung our largest, darkest quilts on her curtain rods. Ugly? You bet. Effective? YES! I later switched to tinfoil on the windows + blackout curtains and then to better curtain liners. Anyway, between 3.5 months and 4 months, we dropped the paci and made the room much darker; we were already using white noise so the three together did the trick.”


“Biggest advice I give to parents is to try everything, but let go of the expectation that you will get a perfect textbook sleeper. I had to realize that “naptime” wasn’t “me” time, or else I would be ANGRY at my child who wasn’t asleep for x amount of time.”


“What things did you try that did not help baby’s naps get longer? In addition to CIO, I did try to put him in the swing or stroller, if he woke early from a nap, to see if he would go back to sleep. This worked occasionally, but very inconsistently. I also tried longer/shorter waketimes, white noise, dim room, too hot/too cold, etc. I ultimately decided not to worry about it, and simply tried to work my schedule around his short naps as best I could. I figured his wake times would eventually increase and it would work itself out on its own. I agree with waiting it out. ”


” I learned to use her level of happiness vs. crankiness as my litmus test for how well-rested she was, instead of trying to make her fit into the normal Babywise mold.”


” I hyper-analyzed every detail of her schedule (especially waketimes) and tweaked things constantly. I believe in troubleshooting for a while when faced with situations like this, but trying so hard to “fix” my child sometimes drove me crazy so that I was spending my time being discontent and missing out on the joys of having a baby.”


See also: 

5 thoughts on “Chronic Short Nappers {Poll Results}”

  1. I was hoping I could get some napping advice that I haven't tried! I have read all of your posts I could find on the subject. I have a 6 month old son and he is an awesome night sleeper. I just dropped the dream feed last week and he goes from 7-7 every night without waking to eat. Sometimes I will hear him stirring at night and chattering to himself but he falls back asleep without any intervention from me. So I know he can self soothe and does it regularly at night-the trouble is naps!!! He has only gotten worse since birth and is now at about three 30 min catnaps during the day. He has to need more sleep than that surely? He usually wakes up pretty happy so I will leave him in his crib until he is fussy. Then I will let him CIO a while but he has never gone back to sleep after waking early. No matter how long I leave him there. I have tried wake to sleep , rocking him back to sleep, putting him in his swing-nothing has helped. I have been doing BW with him since birth and the short naps really mess with his wake times so I feel like we never have a good schedule. He has room darkening curtains and a white noise machine. He sleeps with a paci but is able to put in back in himself when it falls out. ANy suggestions at all?

  2. Oh, his wake time is 70-90 min. He can't seem to go longer without yawning and getting fussy. Especially since he is sleep deprived during the day! I have played around with the length of these and tried putting him after only an hour but it hasn't changed anything.

  3. I'm sort of in the same boat as Lindsey…I have a 9 week old son who has been sleeping wonderfully at night, but his nap times are a real struggle! I can't seem to get on a consistent day time routine because his naps are always different, usually shorter than they ought to be. He'll usually sleep about 1 1/2 hours if he's in the swing, but I know swing naps aren't ideal for proper sleep so I try to avoid doing that. Recently he's been needing to be rocked to sleep, but still cries even when I do that. Like Lindsey said, I know he's able to self soothe because he does it at night, but he doesn't show any signs of doing that during the day. I really want to go back to just laying him in the crib quietly before naps…I've tried both shorter and longer wake times, but either way, he fights naps. He stays quiet in his crib for a few minutes (sometimes) but then eventually starts crying and sometimes won't stop even when I try rocking him to sleep… Is CIO a reasonable solution at this age or is there a better solution?I really want to stick with BW, but the shorter than expected nap times are making it more and more challenging! Any advice?

    • Something to think through in a situation like this is what is different between night and day? Is it too bright in the room for naps? What is outside noise like? Is there too much stimulation during waketime (or too little)? Is the temp different? Having good night and bad naps leads to


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