Wondering how to get your baby to take longer naps?
Want to know what’s causing those 20 minute power naps? (Although she isn’t seeming completely rested after that short nap, so it isn’t really a “power nap”!)
One of the moms I worked with recently said it felt like Groundhog Day everyday because her baby’s naps were predictably short and he was crabby when he woke up. (Sound familiar?)
So she would try to extend the nap – feeding, rocking, laying down in her bed with him – to get a little more sleep for him. The problem was, she did this routine ALL DAY. She had very little time to play with him – or get anything done around the house – because when he woke up, he always seemed tired, so she’d start the whole thing over again.
If you’re in the same situation and know your baby needs to sleep for longer periods during the day, keep reading!
Here are 5 tips to make those short naps longer:
1. Stop rocking or feeding to sleep!
If you’ve got a baby who still needs you to rock or nurse to sleep, that priority #1 to fix. Why? Because if your baby wakes herself up mid-nap, she’s going to want you to recreate how she originally fell asleep. Every. Single. Time. It’ll be a vicious cycle of short naps and you needing to get her back to sleep.
And just for the record, you want to cut out anything your baby needs to fall asleep – the swing, driving in the car, bouncing, etc. I see feeding and rocking as the two primary culprits, which is why I mentioned those first!
The solution is to teach her strategies to fall asleep on her own, so she can self-soothe back to sleep. Need help getting your baby to fall asleep on her own? It’ll only take a few days to get your baby falling asleep on her own!
2. Eliminate the 5 minute snoozes
Does your baby fall asleep for a few minutes in the car coming home from errands – right before naptime? Or getting super drowsy while feeding – right before naptime?
These little snoozes will make it harder for you baby to fall asleep AND stay asleep.
Need help with this? I wrote a blog post: How to Keep Your Baby Awake in the Car.
3. Make sure your baby isn’t overtired
When babies are overtired, they will typically fall asleep quickly – because they’re so exhausted! – but wake up shortly after. That’s why a late bedtime and getting overtired is typically associated with night wakings and early wakeups. But it holds true for naps as well.
Make sure you’re watching for tired signs and getting her into the crib for the nap before that overtiredness starts!
4. Be consistent
Babies will learn pretty quickly when you’re teaching them something new – like falling asleep independently – but you have to be consistent so they know what’s expected of them. So the schedule and timing, routine, and how your baby is falling asleep are all important to do the same way for each nap. Having a predictable nap routine will help your baby learn that sleep is expected soon!
5. Set up the nursery to promote sleep
Is the room dark enough? Many “blackout shades” don’t address the perimeter light around the shades. Make sure it’s pitch black, even for naps.
Is the room too hot? The best temperature for sleeping is 68-70°. And take a look at what your baby is wearing to sleep and the season.
Is the neighbor’s dog quite vocal in the mid afternoon when the UPS guy is delivering packages on your street? Consider using a white noise machine to block out the outside noise.
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Photo credit: Deposit Photos | tankist276