What To Do When Your Baby Is Taking Short Naps. Get the tips you need to quickly get naps for baby longer. These things are very common causes of short naps, so you want to consider them first before getting bogged down in a long list of possible causes for short naps.
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.
You want to solve this short nap problem fast! 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 reasons 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.
For the purpose of this post, I am assuming you have worked on establishing independent sleep skills (in other words, have done some sleep training) and that your baby does not rely on any sleep props to sleep. I will also assume you try to follow sleepy cues and have a bedtime routine you follow. If these things are not true for your baby, make sure you also include those factors into your troubleshooting.
How To Fix Short Naps
Ask yourself these questions, in this order. If you address these 5 things first, you have a better chance of quickly getting to longer naps.
1-Is Baby Waking From 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.
It might be that it is age-appropriate for your baby to be hungry. This is true if your baby is having a growth spurt. Is your baby having a growth spurt? Growth spurts happen every 3-4 weeks. Babies grow a whole lot in that first year.
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 (aka Wake Windows)?
Waketime length is extremely important in your child having the correct length of nap. Your wake windows need to be age-appropriate for newborns and babies to sleep well. The tricky thing is that waketime length is basically ever-changing. That can leave you feeling like you are always trying to hit a moving target.
If your baby is dealing with overtiredness or undertiredness, it will be hard to fall asleep initially.
If your baby’s awake time is too long OR too short, your baby will not sleep well. When a baby sleeps, your baby will transition from one type of sleep into another right around 45 minutes into the nap. It that wake window was off, your baby might just wake up at that transition rather than move into the next sleep cycle.
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.
- Optimal Waketime Lengths
- The Cornerstone for Good Naps (includes an infographic for you for fast and easy reference)
This post may contain affiliate links which won’t change your price but will share some commission. This does not increase your cost at all.
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.
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 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. If your baby is too cold, your can put your baby in a sleep sack to help with that.
Your baby can also be uncomfortable if your baby’s pajamas are too small. Perhaps your baby does not like to sleep with socks on the feet. Think through all of the things that could be leading to potential discomfort.
4-Is Your Baby in a Wonder Week?
Oh Wonder Weeks. How much trouble you cause.
Wonder Weeks very frequently 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.
>>>Read: The Wonder Weeks and Sleep
The sleep issues that come up with a wonder week are essentially a sleep regression. Sleep regressions can disrupt the entire sleep schedule and mess with daytime sleep and night sleep.
When you have a sleep regression going on, you basically need to wait it out. However, there are always things you can do to help your baby move through that regression more easily. Be aware of the different regressions at different ages and what you can do to help.
5-Does Something Need to Change in the Sleep Environment?
Is there something you need to change in baby’s room? 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.
Whenever your bab is not sleeping well and not taking long naps, run through these 5 things first and rule them out before diving further into other possible causes for 30-minute naps.
If it isn’t one of these 5 things, there are many other possible causes. Maybe the pacifier is interfering with your baby’s sleep. Maybe your baby is a noisy transition and you just need to wait 10-15 minutes for them to go back to sleep. Maybe it is just a habit!
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.
- Baby Growth Spurts: Everything You Need To Know
- Baby Whisperer: Growth Spurts
- How to Tell if Baby is Overtired vs. Undertired
- How To Accurately Calculate Baby Wake Time Length
- The Complete Guide to Troubleshooting Short Baby Naps
- Can it be too hot for baby to sleep well?
- Dressing Baby for Best Sleeping
- When Sleep Props Are Okay (And When to Avoid Them)
- What To Do When Your Pre-Toddler is Taking a Short Morning Nap
- Baby’s 4 Month Sleep Regression: What To Do
- 11 Reasons Your 5-8 Month Old Stopped Sleeping Well
- How to Finally Stop the 45 Minute Intruder
The Babywise Mom Nap Guide eBook helps you establish successful naps from birth through the preschool years. It is a great resource!
Gary Ezzo, author of On Becoming Babywise, said: “Whether it is talking about establishing good nap behavior or offering solutions to sleep disruptions, this is a resource that Dr. Robert Bucknam and I trust. The book is well laid out and answers just about every question a new or seasoned mom might have about babies, toddlers and sleep. We view this as more than a nap guided; it is a resource of encouragement that comes with compassion.”
You can buy it here and get an instant download
This post first appeared on this blog in September of 2016