Let me know if this sounds familiar…
You put your baby into the crib for his mid-afternoon nap. After about 10 or 15 minutes, he falls asleep. Now’s your chance to grab a quick bite… pay some bills… or maybe grab a little nap yourself!
And then — just when you settle in — you hear your child wake up. Sigh.
If this happens to you, check out the video below for some tips on how to encourage longer naps in babies and toddler.
(If you’d rather read than watch, there’s a link to a full transcript below.)View the Video Transcript
Welcome to this week’s video blog. Today I wanted to talk to you a bit about the dreaded short nap. I guess this is my number one, most popular question about anything, is “How do I encourage my child to sleep long enough at nap time”? It really is a frustrating point for a lot of parents. Here’s the good news. If your child’s been working, if you’ve been on the Sleep Sense program, and you’re teaching your child independent sleeping skills, the good news is, nap length will improve on it’s own, you just have to give it enough time.
By time I mean it could be two weeks, it could be three, it could be four, sometimes even six weeks, before people notice that, “OK, consistently, she’s taking a nice long morning nap, good afternoon nap, we’ve got it, yay”! If you’re on the program, my best advice is, give it more time.
Two other little things you can try in the meantime are, if your child wakes up prematurely from a nap, and I’d say anything under an hour is premature. Give it time. Just wait. Sit back in your chair, set your kitchen timer for 10 minutes. Give her a chance, at least, to see if she can put the pieces together again to get back into another sleep cycle. It might not happen every time, but certainly, at least, here and there, she’ll get herself back to sleep within the 10 minutes. That’s the first step, give it time.
If that hasn’t worked and you’ve been trying for weeks, and nap length is not improving, you’ve given her 10 minutes, then you can try the reverse of that and go in quickly. Maybe if you catch her just before she really revs herself up, just tuck her back in and remind her it’s nappy time. Give her back her lovey, and then exit. That might help just get her back into another cycle, so that’s worth a try too.
One other little tip, and people don’t think about it but it’s a pretty easy one to fix, is make the room darker. OK? Make the room as dark as night, and that will often encourage a longer nap.
Some people say, “Well, I don’t want her to get confused. It’s not nighttime. I don’t want her to think it’s night.” That is not going to happen. I promise. Unless we’re talking about a two week old, this is not going to happen. There is no way her body rhythm could possibly confuse night from day. Don’t worry about it. Just make it dark, dark, dark in there, and that should help.
If you haven’t been, and you have a baby who is prop dependent, the bad news in this is that nap length most likely will not improve. OK? If you are nursing your baby to sleep and putting her in the crib, when she wakes at that 30 or 45 minute mark at the end of one sleep cycle, and you’re no longer nursing her or holding her, she’s going to fully wake up and wonder what’s happened. OK?
That’s the bad news, but there’s a way to fix it, and that is to teach your baby the skills she needs to sleep well. OK? Thanks for watching and sleep well.
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