Too short awake windows
Often, parents who are struggling with short naps are being extra mindful with awake windows so that they can avoid overtiredness. But what is ending up happening is that those short awake windows are not allowing enough “sleep pressure” to build in order to get a long nap happening. A short nap is followed by a short awake window, then a short nap, and the cycle continues! So sometimes increasing your baby’s awake time before their nap is worth trying in order to get you past the 30-40 minute barrier if you’re currently stuck.
Here are a few more things to look at if you are currently struggling with short naps:
Teaching your baby to fall asleep independently Often babies need to learn how to fall asleep independently at the start of their sleep before they can learn to fall back to sleep when they stir after one sleep cycle, a.k.a a short nap! If you’re wanting to get started with this, try starting at bedtime. Melatonin levels (the sleepy hormone) are at the highest in the evening and our little ones have built up sleep pressure from being awake during the day so we find it’s a good time to get started.
Re-settling consistently When your baby wakes from their nap after a short time and they aren't crying, give them some space and time to see if they will fall back asleep by themselves. This includes if they are awake but quiet, chatting, making noises, moving around, slamming legs, singing, etc.!
If they are crying then you can attempt some re-settling. This could involve being in the room stroking, giving hand support and "shhh-ing" (this tends to work better with younger babies). Or, giving brief reassurance then leaving the room for short intervals (better for older babies & toddlers).
Something really important is knowing which naps to work on extending. A shorter morning nap, for example, is no bad thing for most babies. We want to have an idea of when it’s beneficial for our little one to be napping and for how long if we’re trying to improve night time sleep too.
If you have no idea about this, grab one of our downloadable sleep programmes which all contain daytime routines with set timings for feeds, meals, naps, play and bedtime routine if you are wanting clear guidance.