What to do When Baby’s Nap Was Only 20 Minutes

What to do When Baby Wakes from Nap After Only 20 Minutes. Ideally, baby will take a much longer nap than 20-30 minutes. Read how to solve short naps.

Baby in bed looking at camera

If your baby wakes from a nap after only 20-30 minutes, you can be sure that it isn’t because he had a full nap. Baby woke early for some reason other than being fully rested. If baby is waking after only 20-30 minutes of sleep, it it is time to do some troubleshooting.

There is an exception to this. It is if you are at the point of almost being ready to drop a nap but aren’t quite there. For example, when Kaitlyn was in the process of dropping her 3rd nap, she would take only a 20-30 nap some days in place of that third nap. But other than that situation, you know that if your child wakes after only 20-30 minutes, the nap was not long enough.

You probably already knew that a 20-30 minute nap was not ideal. What you want to know is what to do about it. There are a lot of options, and your course of action will depend on your, your child, and the age of your child.

Baby waking up from a nap

You naturally want to access the situation and try to figure out the reason your child woke up early. If your child is just learning to self-soothe, waking early from the nap is quite normal in my experience. As they get better at putting themselves to sleep, they get better at keeping themselves asleep. Here are a some posts that can help you troubleshoot reasons for waking early from naps:

Something I didn’t know with my first two children is sometimes babies will lay in bed quietly for 20 minutes and then start crying. I saw this on my video monitor with my last two children. If this is the case, your baby most likely needs waketime adjusted. If the length you are doing was working great in the past, you likely need it a bit longer. Try adding five minutes and then work up from there. Typically a waketime that was too long will result in crying at the beginning of the nap–as soon as you put baby down.

Baby waking after 20 minute nap pinnable image

Once you are working on that, you need to decide what to do in the meantime.

  • If you can quickly see the reason for the early waking (too hot, poopy diaper, etc.), your first step would be to alleviate the reason. Change the diaper. Change the clothes. Fix the problem.
  • Decide your next course of action. You might want to put your child back in the crib to go to sleep again. You might want to move your child to a swing. Here is a post on options for what to do when your child wakes early: Waking Early From Naps/Won’t Fall Asleep For Naps
  • When Kaitlyn would wake early from naps as a newborn, it was usually after an hour long nap. At this point, it was better for her to move to the swing to finish out the nap. There were two times she woke after 20 minutes of sleeping. Those two times, I had her CIO (Cry it Out).
  • If your child has a good enough nap, often CIO in the middle doesn’t work. If the nap was really short, then it often does work.
  • If CIO doesn’t work at first, try again at an older age if your child still has napping problems. Several moms have found that once the baby got older, it suddenly worked.

Good luck in your troubleshooting!