Short naps seem fitting for my first blog post because my daughter was the queen of short naps. I mean, truly, the queen. If you are reading this because your child is struggling with short naps, you are not alone. I will preface this by saying that naps are hard. They are often much harder to fix than night sleep, but that does not mean that it’s impossible or that all hope is lost. Below are some things to consider or try if your child is struggling with short naps.
1. Is your schedule age appropriate? If your child started taking short naps all of a sudden, it may be their way of showing signs they are ready for a nap transition. For example, if your 8-month-old starts taking short naps, that may mean they are ready for two naps instead of three. I usually see the 3-2 nap transition around 8 months and the 2-1 nap transition around 15 months. If your child is taking short naps and around the age of a nap transition, consider a schedule change.
2. Nap at the right times. Make sure that you are watching your child’s sleepy cues and not letting them get overtired during the day. If you are putting them down too early or late for a nap, it could affect how long they sleep as well as the quality of sleep. For babies on three naps, I recommend nap #1 around 8:30/9 am, nap #2 around 12-1 pm, and a shorter cat nap in the afternoon. For babies on a two nap schedule, I recommend 9 am and 1 pm (naps could be as late as 10 am and 2 pm). And for toddlers on a one nap schedule, I recommend 12:30/1 pm.
3. Don’t go in the second they wake up. This is a big one. If your child is waking up after 30 minutes and you are going in their room immediately, I encourage you to give them a few minutes to see if they can settle back to sleep. Often, if we offer a child some time to transition into the next sleep cycle, they will surprise us by going back to sleep. Give them a chance to practice their self-soothing skills and lengthen those naps.
4. Sleep environment. Is it conducive to sleep? Is it dark? Is it quiet? Consider blackout curtains and a white noise machine.
5. Patience and consistency. Be patient, and know that eventually, naps will get better. Be consistent with your baby’s schedule. Create a conducive sleep environment. And have a little faith!
If you are struggling with short naps and need help getting your baby on an age-appropriate schedule, please contact me. I would be happy to help you.