How to help your baby to sleep for longer during their daytime naps.
Nap time is probably THE best time for parents. That small space of time in a busy day where you can actually put your feet up, catch up on social media without feeling guilty, do some exercise, or even take a nap yourself. Bliss, right?
But what if your little one didn't get the baby sleep memo? What if your baby only wants to sleep for twenty minutes and that's it? That’s not good!
Nobody can get much done in twenty minutes and with a nap that short, you just know the rest of the day isn't going to go well. Over-tired babies are no fun at all! So, what should you do about helping your baby to nap for longer? Here are our top tips for better baby sleep.
Why Is My Baby Waking Up Too Soon?
One of the first things to assess is why your baby is waking up so soon in the first place. A good sleep environment is essential for both naps and night time sleep, so take a quick look around the crib or cot where your baby sleeps to make sure there is nothing that can disturb your baby.
Tips For a Good Sleep Environment:
- Make sure the room is at a comfortable temperature
- The sleep space should be nice and dim
- There should be no distracting toys that light up or make sounds unexpectedly
- There should be no drafts
- Pets should not be able to disturb your sleeping child
- TVs and radios in other parts of the house should be kept at a low volume
- If there is external noise, such as building work or traffic, get a white noise machine to mask it
Other things that can derail nap times are teething, illness and sleep regressions. Any one of these can cause your baby to wake up from their nap too early!
Your Daytime Baby Nap Routine
If your baby is not having a good daytime nap routine, have a look at your daily pattern to get a better picture of your baby's sleeping behaviour. Lack of routine or a disrupted routine can have a negative effect on your baby’s sleep. It pays to prioritise sleep as a whole, for both day and night sleeps, otherwise you might find it difficult to solve any nap issues that have arisen. You can learn more about your baby’s sleep needs.
If the first nap of the day needs to be longer, you might need to stretch out the amount of time your baby is awake before that, so play with your baby, sing songs and do some fun activities to get them nice and tired. If you find that your baby is waking early from their second nap of the day, it might be that the time has come for them to transition to just one nap a day. Remember that as your baby grows and develops, your routine needs to be tweaked accordingly. So, stay flexible and go with the flow.
How to Help Your Baby Nap Longer
If you're sure you have a good overall sleep routine, you might need to step in and help your baby a little more. Babies who are napping for less than one sleep cycle (generally around 40 minutes) are not napping for long enough, so you need to lengthen out that nap. Here are three easy steps to follow:
- Stay in the nursery to observe your baby sleeping. Note down when he falls asleep and then sit tight until he starts to stir.
- As your baby starts to wake, use all your skills to comfort him back to sleep if you can. Rock, sing or pat - whatever it takes. Then leave the room, as your baby should now sleep for at least another sleep cycle, which would equate to a decent length nap.
- Once you have a better idea of when your baby is likely to wake from his nap, set a reminder to go to his room a few minutes before, so that you can go in and settle him back to sleep just as he starts to stir. After a few days, your baby should be able to settle himself back to sleep with no help from you.
There's no doubt that short naps can be hard to deal with, so don’t allow the situation to get on top of you. Enlist the help of friends and family if you can, even if it’s just so that you can drink a cup of tea while it’s still hot. Go for a walk, or a drive with your SnoozeShade over the pushchair or car seat if that means an extra half hour of sleep.
Remember that short, disrupted naps are likely to be a developmental phase, which your baby will soon grow out of. Good luck!