Updated: Nov 12, 2020
You finally get your baby down for a nap, and - boom! - 20-30 minutes later and they're up again. Naps can be an exhausting process for a tired parent. Naps can be an exhausting process for a tired baby!
One common question I get asked over and over again is "When will my baby start taking longer naps?!"
My answer depends on a few things...
-How old is your baby?
-Do they have independent sleep skills?
-How are you responding when they wake too early from a nap?
-What is the environment like where they are napping?
Firstly, naps are very developmental. Newborns nap A LOT. They do not have much stamina to carry them for much longer than 45-75 minutes, depending on their age. Try your luck and surpass this amount of time, and you will likely have an over-tired little baby on your hands. For a guide on how to figure out the best awake time (and how and when your baby might need a change) for your child, make sure you download my free Your Complete Guide to Awake Windows. Newborns also need more help to sleep than older babies, so get in those snuggles while they last!
As your newborn approaches infancy, you'll likely start to see morning naps consolidate first. If you're focusing on laying a healthy sleep foundation right from the start, you may even get a few nice, long consolidated naps in a day! Note, though, that you'll save yourself a lot of heartache the sooner you start practicing independent sleep skills (in a developmentally appropriate way, of course!). Reach out and book a free Discovery Call to learn more about how I can help you in this manner.
If your baby is older than 4 months, you can start to teach them independent sleep skills with more formal sleep training methods. Once your baby has these skills, they will have a better chance of connecting sleep cycles at night and during the day, helping with the issue of short naps. If you're not sure where to start with sleep training, or know you're going to want or need some help and support, I'm here for you!
You can also implement what some refer to as "crib hour" - this is where you leave baby in the crib for at least an hour, whether they sleep the whole time or not. Some parents choose to respond when baby awakes, others choose not to. I'd be happy to discuss options with you personally if you're wondering what's best for you and your baby specifically.
Let's also make sure the environment is optimal for sleep! It should be DARK. So dark, in fact, that you shouldn't be able to see your hand in front of your face. It should be COOL. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends a nursery temperature to be between 68-72 degrees. A fan can be set on low for some air flow. Make sure your little one is dressed appropriately to sleep comfortably. It should be CALMING. Overstimulation - music, lights, and sounds - can be very distracting as your baby is trying to drift off into dreamland. It should also be QUIET. Like, drown out all environmental noises with a white noise machine or app. Don't play it louder than 55 dB to protect your baby's hearing.
Naps can take time. Be consistent. Ask for help if you need it - no one should feel like they're a slave to nap time!
The good news is, nap length can improve with age and maturity. You can help this move along with the proper support and sleep foundation. You've got this!