Poll Discussion: Chronic Short Nappers

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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. Here are the questions:

  1. Have baby’s naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps?
  2. At what age did baby’s naps get longer?
  3. Why do you think baby was/is taking short naps?
  4. What did you do that helped baby’s naps get longer?
  5. What things did you try that did not help baby’s naps get longer?


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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at Babywise.life, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Myra Malan
    November 6, 2013 / 5:35 PM

    1. Not yet2. still taking short naps, shes 12 weeks3. she does not know how to get herself back to sleep after the 45 min cycle.4. Put her in the swing5. Keeping her up longer than her usual waketime, unswaddling her.

  2. Unknown
    November 6, 2013 / 5:38 PM

    1. Yes, baby's naps have extended but he usually has 1 short nap (30-40 min) each day. He usually takes 2 naps that are at least 1 hour and 15-30 minutes and 1 30-45 min. nap. He's 5 months old. He usually naps a TOTAL of around 3.5 hours. This is okay with me because he sleeps 12 hours at night, bringing his total sleep to 15-16 hours/day, which is about right for his age.2. His naps got longer at around 4 months. 3. 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. 4. We let him nap in his bouncy seat (with vibration turned on) until we unswaddled him. I think the vibration helped him through sleep cycle transitions. He would nap much longer in the bouncy than in the crib. After we unswaddled, we realized the bouncy was LIMITING his ability to move around/get comfy. We moved him to the crib and he's been napping much better since! Plus he found his thumb.5. Tried putting him down earlier/later. Let him cry. Rushed in to soothe. Etc. Etc. I genuinely think that he just wasn't able to manage those transitions on his own.

  3. Janice Schmidt
    November 6, 2013 / 6:04 PM

    1. Yes2. 5.5 months (they were short since about 13 weeks and were not even 45 min–they were 30 min3. Low sleep needs.4. At 5.5 months extended wake time to 2 hours for first waketime and 2.5 for second waketime (as recommended by the SleepEasy Solution) and dropped the third nap (didn't plan to drop it yet but she wouldn't take it anymore). Naps immediately lengthened to 2 hours.5. Shortening waketime didn't help. Tummy sleeping didn't help. 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.

  4. Janice Schmidt
    November 6, 2013 / 6:06 PM

    Forgot to add:4. Gave her a lovey5. Swing. She just wouldn't fall asleep or go back to sleep in the swing anymore, though she did at first

  5. Jessie
    November 6, 2013 / 7:07 PM

    1Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps?YesAt what age did baby's naps get longer?9 monthsWhy do you think baby was/is taking short naps?Too long wake times. I was going off my sister's advice (who loves the baby whisperer) to do minimum of 1.5 hr wake times.What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer?I decided not to worry about it, and she grew up and the wake times suited her more, she was just more able to settle.What things did you try that did not help baby's naps get longer? Clothing, darkness, temperatures, solids, wake time, but not more than 20 minutes

  6. Allison DeYoung
    November 6, 2013 / 7:38 PM

    My daughter took short naps from about 1 month to about 3.5-4 months.1. Yes! She has been a good napper for a very long time.2. At around 3.5-4 months old her naps extended to a full 90 minutes to two hours without interruption.3. She used a pacifier and did not know how to put herself back to sleep without it. Also, her room was not dark enough with store-bought room darkening curtains.4. Three things. 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.5. We tried the whole nap in a swing. That did not work but I hear it works for other kids! I also tried a vibrating bouncy seat. Re-inserting the paci at 45 minutes when she woke up was okay, but was not a long term solution. She was too young to cry it out (we tried). Using shush-pat to drop the paci, white noise, and super darkness were our most effective tricks!

  7. Megan
    November 6, 2013 / 11:22 PM

    Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps? yesAt what age did baby's naps get longer? 4 monthsWhy do you think baby was/is taking short naps? What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer? I watched several videos on http://www.isisparenting.com/. We started setting small goals for her to remain in her crib. She started reaching those goals, so we extended the goals. We also started waking our baby up in the morning, so that her nap schedule was the SAME everyday. Eventually, she became a textbook baby!What things did you try that did not help baby's naps get longer?

  8. Kelly Baker
    November 7, 2013 / 1:54 AM

    First born: now almost 3 yo.1. yes, thank God.2. For a while at 9 months (once crawling), and then again at 12 months (at walking). 3. Her personality: very sensitive to noise, light, temperature, and super curious and energetic.4. I did everything you posted on that "nap help" post. It all "helped", but didn't lengthen naps regularly. I think as she grew up and was able to work out her energy, she was more tired. And now, she has the mental capacity to understand what's going on and relax. I do live by black out blinds/curtains, noise machines, schedule of naps, routine, getting energy out.5. Like I said, everything "helped," but it didn't bring routinely longer naps. 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.

  9. Cole
    November 7, 2013 / 2:55 PM

    1. Yes, but they still pop up every now again, mostly when it's time for a schedule change.2. About 20wks3. To some extent, I still don't know! A waketime change was ultimately the fix, but I had tried that multiple times throughout with no success. I think it was just a phase.4. Extended waketimes significantly, then shortly after, dropped to two naps.5. Shortening waketimes, white noise, blackout curtains, wake to sleep, heater, air conditioner, overstimulation waketimes, under stimulating waketimes, feeding before naps, sleeping on tummy, sleeping on side, swaddling, and YOU NAME IT!

  10. sarahoutloud
    November 7, 2013 / 7:40 PM

    1. Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps? — Yup! No more short naps.2. At what age did baby's naps get longer? — It took a long time. I would say she was about 8 or 9 months before long naps were the new "normal."3. Why do you think baby was/is taking short naps? — My daughter dealt with a dairy allergy from the beginning and it took us a while to figure it out. She would go down for a nap and then wake up in pain. I believe this pattern of waking up contributed to her habit of short naps, even after we figured out the stomach issue. She just didn't know any different.What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer? — Really nothing. We just kept consistent, made wise changes as we thought we necessary, and waited it out.What things did you try that did not help baby's naps get longer? — Everything. Swing, crying it out, rocking, changing up the schedule. I think she just had to get over it on her own.

  11. Lauren Tamm
    November 7, 2013 / 8:49 PM

    Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps? Sometimes. I have just started trying CIO (more like fuss it out) during nap transition times, he will cry/fuss for about 15 minutes and then go back to sleep. My LO is 4 months. Previously, I was not successful with CIO at nap transitions. At what age did baby's naps get longer? 4 months. He seems to have better control of his emotions, and in result, is better able to handle nap transitions.Why do you think baby was/is taking short naps? Great question. Wish I knew. What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer? After not succeeding with CIO at nap transitions, I decided to do one nap per day in the swing. Usually the second nap. But whatever nap, I wanted to be the longest, I just put him in the swing. Based on my own judgement for his sleep needs, I made the nap longer to make up for his other short naps. It was a 2.5 hour nap, we are now at a 2 hour nap in the swing. It is important to note that he was able to go to sleep on his own for several weeks (meaning minimal crying when being laid in crib for naps or bedtime) before I used the swing for a nap. 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.

  12. Lorren Lemmons
    November 8, 2013 / 3:00 AM

    Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps?Yes, most of the time.At what age did baby's naps get longer?Around 7 monthsWhy do you think baby was/is taking short naps?He really struggled with the transition. He is an extremely active, intense kid, and I think it was just really hard for him to stay down. What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer?When he was very young (6-10 weeks or so) I used to hold him for the first 40-50 minutes of his nap and read. After he transitioned in my arms I put him down. Obviously this wasn't ideal, but it worked out at the time. When he was six months old, they had started to occasionally lengthen (maybe one out of five naps was longer than an hour) and we let him cry it out. Now I would guess that 3/4 naps are longer than an hour. What things did you try that did not help baby's naps get longer?We did the pick-up/put-down method for several weeks before trying cry-it-out, and it didn't work very well for us. We had some success, but any interruption the regular schedule meant we had to start from scratch again. We also were not successful with rushing in at transition time to soothe the baby to sleep — once he saw us he was ready to play.

  13. Lorren Lemmons
    November 8, 2013 / 3:01 AM

    Oh, I should add as well that we increased the baby's wake time and this was very helpful in increasing the length of his naps.

  14. Brittney
    November 11, 2013 / 2:52 AM

    My son was too a 45 min napper until the day he learned to put himself to sleep on his own ( for us via CIO) at 4 months. I had tried everything before that point and nothing worked. Since then he has been a pro sleeper.

  15. melkaywin
    November 12, 2013 / 3:11 AM

    Sorry in advance for the wordy comment. I have a lot of thoughts on this subject.1. Yes.2. It was a gradual process over the course of the first year. Between 2 and 6 months she would take short naps about half of the time. Between 6 and 12 months, they very slowly became less and less common. At exactly one year, she has just dropped down to one nap and I no longer have to worry about her taking a short nap because if she wakes up at 45 minutes, she is tired enough she just goes right back to sleep.3. I think it's primarily a personality issue. She's a playful and curious baby, so when she would become semi-conscious at her 45-minute transition, her brain would just turn on and not turn back off. I also think she may have had lower sleep needs than some babies, since she normally work happy and her batteries usually seemed just as recharged after a short nap as after a long nap. 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.4. The one thing that I think helped (which I learned about way late in the game) is Weissbluth's suggestion to treat the first nap as an extension of nighttime sleep and have a crazy-short first waketime. That seemed to sometimes lengthen the first nap, but the afternoon nap was still a crapshoot. I tried everything suggested on your blog (as well as some other things I'd read in books), and nothing worked consistently. Like I mentioned above, when I finally just accepted it and focused on having a happy baby instead of a textbook Babywise baby, I was much more content. I truly believe that she just needed to outgrow it.5. First and foremost, CIO. It's how we sleep-trained her, but it never–not even once–worked at a nap transition. She would just cry the entire duration of her nap. I also tried soothing and rocking her back to sleep. I spent way too many hours leaning over the edge of her crib trying Hoggs' shush-pat and wake-to-sleep techniques, both of which were exhausting and frustrating. I made sure to control every aspect of the house–from sounds, to light, to smells–and none of it made a difference. 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.

  16. emmydocburke
    November 17, 2013 / 1:34 AM

    1. Mine started doing longer naps around 6.5 months of age, but it only recently (7.5 mos) became more consistently longer. 2. 7-7.5 mos.3. I think she was just never very good at soothing herself back to sleep after waking during that 45-60 min transition period of her sleep cycle. She never had issues at night (she started STTN consistently around 3-4 mos of age like my first two kids), but in the daytime she was just not able to do it. 4. I can't say that I really did anything in particular. I tried CIO at time that I knew she wasn't hungry or having other issues that would keep her awake, and sometimes it worked and sometimes not. I think that it was just developmental maturity on her part; I also think that once she started eating a lot more solid food consistently, she started sleeping better during the day, so maybe some small part of it was caloric. 5. I do think doing CIO helped because it taught her self soothing, but overall I think it was just her maturing that helped most. The caloric thing might have played a role, too.

  17. Nicole
    November 19, 2013 / 2:52 AM

    1. Have baby's naps extended so he/she is no longer taking chronically short naps? Yes – He lengthened his naps at age 15mo when he dropped to one nap a day.2. At what age did baby's naps get longer? age 15 mo3. Why do you think baby was/is taking short naps? I think it is just his norm. I don't think he needed more sleep than that. After fighting it for months and then resigning myself to short naps, I was able to see that he functioned just fine and was happy even with short naps.4. What did you do that helped baby's naps get longer? Nothing helped 🙁 It just fixed itself when he went to one nap per day.5. What things did you try that did not help baby's naps get longer? We tried EVERYTHING! Sleeping on us, sleeping in the swing, swaddle or not, white noise, etc. Read every book, blog and website out there! You name it, we tried it! He just WOULD NOT sleep past 45m.

  18. Linda Kilgus
    November 26, 2013 / 8:51 PM

    1. Yes (after a long while!)2. 13-14 months (yes months, not weeks!)3. I think some babies just take longer to develop in the area of sleep – despite trying lots of different things!4. Consistency from a baby, never gave up – believed that one day he would nap for longer!5. Seems like everything! … CIO, earlier nap times, later nap times, darker room, noise maker, left in crib if he woke early from nap, swing (when he was younger) etc etcAt 16 months, he still has 2 naps in the day (shorter than other children his age) – but consistently sleeps 12 hours through the night.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.

  19. Katie
    December 16, 2013 / 11:54 PM

    1. yes2. Around 6 mo for consistency3. She became fully awake transitioning in the sleep cycle and couldn't put herself back to sleep (despite putting herself to sleep for the nap with little to no crying)4. Nothing I did…she just developed the ability to transition between sleep cycles. 5. Tried CIO, shorter wake times, longer wake time….none of that helped.

  20. Jennifer
    December 17, 2013 / 1:24 AM

    1. Yes2. 5-6 months3. Just learning how to get through transitions of sleep cycles.4. 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.5. While CIO worked for us at the beginning of naps and at night it did not work in the middle of the nap.

  21. Valerie Plowman
    December 17, 2013 / 10:36 PM

    Thank you for the comments everyone! The results post will be up tomorrow.

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