The First 5 Things to Check When Your Baby Is Taking Short Naps


What To Do When Your Baby Is Taking Short Naps {The first five things to check}

When your baby is taking short naps, solving that can become all-consuming. You care about your baby’s sleep health and want naps to be long enough to be of the most benefit. You also, quite frankly, need some predictability to your day and could use some time to do little things like brush your teeth.

How to fix short naps

So when your baby is taking short naps, what should you check first? There seems to be an extremely long list of things to check. There seems to be one because there is. I have a whole long post on Troubleshooting Short Naps. There is both an art and a science to figuring naps out for your baby. Today I want to talk about the first five things you should check when your baby is taking short naps. These five things are the five most common reason a baby will be waking up early. I do have these in order of importance. Address the first one first and move down through the line.

How To Fix Short Naps

1-Is It Hunger?

Is your baby hungry? Then the first thing you do when your baby wakes up is get her and feed her. Then you try to figure out why she was hungry sooner than you expected her to be.

Is your baby having a growth spurt? Growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks. Babies grow a whole lot in that first year. I have some guidance for you to know how to tell when it is a growth spurt and what to expect from the growth spurt. See:

Hunger does not always come because of a growth spurt, however. You might have a supply issue. See my post on milk supply limit to help decide if that is what is going on.

2-Is Waketime Length Correct?

Waketime length is extremely important in your child having the correct length of nap. The tricky thing is that waketime length is basically ever-changing. This is such an important step that I have written about it in depth more than once on this blog, and one if not both of the posts are commonly in my current top five most visited posts at any given time.

3- Is Your Baby in Pain or Discomfort?

Have you ever tried to sleep when you had a tummy ache? Bad gas? Heartburn? It isn’t easy, right? It isn’t easy for your baby, either. This post contains affiliate links. This does not increase your cost at all. 

A very common cause for pain with babies is gas pain. If your child’s cry seems like he is in pain, there is a good chance it is gas. A baby who wriggles a lot is likely having gas pain. For gas pain, my go-to is gas drops AND gripe water. I give gas drops after every feeding and grip water before every nap. I do this until the baby gets to a point where there is no longer gas pain going on, then I slowly back off of dosages. Note that I give 1/4 the amount of gripe water as is recommended in the dosage chart, and that works well.

There are other possible causes for pain. There is teething pain. There is also reflux pain. And of course there can be sickness that comes along, like an ear infection or a simple cold.

There can also be discomfort from room temperature or how your baby is dressed for sleep. Your child’s internal temperature absolutely impacts how well your child sleeps. See

Dressing Baby for SleepingCan it be too hot to sleep?, and Some Like it Hot (Sleep, that is) for help in this area.

How to fix short naps

4-Is Your Baby in a Wonder Week?
Oh Wonder Weeks (affiliate link). How much trouble you cause. Wonder Weeks very frequently Wonder Weeks post to get some information on this.

cause sleep disruptions. Sometimes the disruption can be as little as a day’s worth, sometimes week’s worth. For as common as it is, I could justifiably put it up further on this list. However, the first three things are so important that I don’t want you immediately jumping to blaming a wonder week if the baby is hungry, needs waketime length fixed, or is in pain or discomfort. Be sure to read my

5-Does Something Need to Change in the Sleep Environment?
Does your child need a white noise machine to help block out the noise of the family or neighborhood? Does your child need some blackout curtains to help block out light? Maybe your child would sleep better swaddled, or maybe your child is done being swaddled and you need to drop it.

For more in-depth help, be sure to click through all of the linked posts in this blog post. They will take you to more information. Also, read through these:

Posts From Other Babywise Mamas (BFBN):

If you don’t already, be sure to follow me on Facebook. I share what is posted here each day along with other articles I find helpful and interesting. I also answer questions and do live Q&As each week. It is a great way to connect!

You can also find me on Instagram, posting pictures from our days as well as quick tips.

 The Babywise Mom Book of Naps

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5 thoughts on “The First 5 Things to Check When Your Baby Is Taking Short Naps”

  1. Hi I have a question about my 6 month old. He will not sleep through his naps. he will only sleep for about 30-45 minutes. I have tried everything that babywise suggests it might be and I am not finding relief. I used to try and let him stay in bed and cry it out until nap was supposed to be over but it hasn't worked. I have resorted to rocking him back to sleep which he will take to but if I try to lay him back in his bed at all he will wake right up. I wondered if I at least work to get him used to sleeping at that time even though it's in my arms and then work to transition him back to staying asleep in his bed if that would work. He has never been good at sleeping through his naps and it definitely has been taking it's toll on his night time sleep as well. My question is do you think I am digging a bigger hole for myself by rocking him back to sleep vs making him stay in bed until nap is over even though he won't go back to sleep that way and just crys most the time (which makes him even more grumpy during his wake time)?

  2. I have a question I'm hoping you can help me with. I'm a longtime reader but this is the first time I've been compelled to write.My baby is 5 months next week and for the past three weeks has been having sleep problems. She went from STTN most nights (probably 3 out of 4 nights from 7pm to 5-6am) to waking once or twice in the night. The times aren't consistent – sometimes it's 1am, sometimes 4am. I thought it was a growth spurt at first because she was hungry. Lately, however, she hasn't been hungry for breakfast at her usual 6.30am wake time, which makes me think she might not really need the night feed.At the same time she has gone from taking fantastic daytime naps to taking 45-60 min naps consistently. She was having 1-2 naps of 1.5-2.5 hours and a 3rd shorter nap. Now I'm lucky to get three 45 minute naps. She doesn't wake up crying or seem hungry – she'll just wake up and happily chat to herself in the bassinet but she won't go back to sleep and if I leave her for too long (more than half an hour say) she'll start to whine and ultimately get upset. She has been self-settling for months so I know she can make it through the transition by herself.I've read your posts on 4 month sleep problems but I just can't figure out what to do. She's still swaddled (I use a Love to Dream swaddle) so I've tried leaving her arms out of the swaddle and it doesn't seem to make a difference, although she's happy to sleep that way. She's also still in a bassinet so I've been wondering if trying her in her crib might help for some reason. We dropped the dream feed at about 12 weeks as it didn't seem to be extending her sleep but I've even started wondering if I should reintroduce that to get her through. The lack of sleep doesn't seem to make her cranky – she's a textbook/angel baby and very easy to please – so I'm also wondering if she's just getting older and needing less sleep.Any help much appreciated and thanks so much for your blog and everything you do. I'm not a strict BW devotee but I agree with lots of its principles and your blog has been a wonderful resource for this first time mother.Thanks,Kate

  3. Hi, I have a 2.5 month old who sucks her thumb to put herself to sleep. She’s normally asleep within 10 min of going down if she’s been awake for 50-60 min. Which is awesome, except she only sleeps for 45 minutes and then will squirm around for 30 min before falling back asleep, sometimes never going back to sleep. Any suggestions? I thought her wake time was correct because she falls asleep quickly but not sure what to do about helping her stay asleep for a longer period of time…



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