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Why is my Baby Taking 20 Minute Naps?

My brother-in-law got me a pair of Bluetooth headphones for Christmas this year, and I absolutely love them.

That is to say, I would love them… if they actually worked.

It’s not that they’re outright defective or anything. They work fine for a little while at a time, but they’re secretly plotting… waiting for that moment when I’m right about to run up a hill, for the most inspirational part of my favorite running song to come along, and then… nothing. No explanation, no indication of what just happened, just dead air.

And the funny thing is, I wouldn’t even care if they just didn’t work. It’s the fact that they work for a while, and then quit when I’ve gotten into a groove. It’s the very definition of frustrating.

If you look back to the title of this blog, I’m sure you know where I’m going with this analogy.

The only thing worse than your baby outright refusing to nap is when she pulls the old, “I’m going to sleep now Mommy! You go ahead and catch up on the million or so things you need to do today. I’ll just be here in my crib, quietly getting my rest.”

But as soon as you get into whatever essential task you’re planning on tackling, she’s suddenly got other ideas. Which is downright infuriating! I mean, either sleep or don’t sleep, but don’t act like you’re going to, make me go through the motions, and then decide against it 20 minutes later!

Whew! Perhaps a little residual hostility kicking around back there somewhere. Who knew?

But truth be told, it does make it incredibly frustrating. You get the feeling they’re telling you, “Yes indeed. I was very tired, but then I noticed you were getting some important stuff done and, y’know, thought I’d just jump in there.”

Of course, the truth is, your baby’s not out to sabotage your productivity. (Or, at least, scientists haven’t been able to prove it yet.) There are a whole pile of reasons that your baby might wake up after a 20 minute nap, but here are the three most common ones.

She’s not waking up in the same place she feel asleep.

This is the magic brushstroke for the 20 minute nap. In fact, it’s a game-changer for a bunch of infant sleep issues.

Your baby has learned how to fall asleep on her own, but it’s either in your arms, in the car seat, or her stroller… somewhere other than her crib.

When she wakes up, she’s in a familiar place, but it’s a spot that she associates with waking up, not falling asleep. So she does what she assumes is standard protocol; start crying and keep it up until Mommy comes in.

Trust me on this one. Put your baby down for her naps in her crib. Once she starts associating those surroundings with the full journey from awake to sleeping, she’ll have a much easier time doing it on her own after a brief little wake-up 20 minutes into her nap.

She fell asleep with a prop in her mouth.

Something in a baby’s mouth, like a bottle, a breast, or a pacifier usually speeds up the process of getting baby to sleep, and we love it when baby falls asleep fast!

But when a baby falls asleep while sucking on something, they begin to associate that something with sleep. So when they have a brief awakening in their sleep cycle, (which often occurs somewhere in between minute 20 and 40) they are not sure how to get back to sleep, because that “something” is no longer in their mouth.

They usually start to cry pretty hard at this point because they are still tired, and the prop is gone. So even though it makes sleep come faster on the onset, it’s absolute trouble at the 20 min mark. And once baby is awake, and has been down for a little while, getting her to go back to sleep may not happen.

She was overtired when she fell asleep

Sleep isn’t always rational. We tend to think that, the more we need it, the more we’ll get, right? That’s somewhat true in adults. If you need to repay a sleep debt, your body and brain will shut off for longer, allowing you to “catch up” on your missed sleep.

Kids, however, haven’t yet developed that ability. When they get overtired, their bodies try to compensate with a slapstick routine, pulling random levers and switches, and releasing hormones all willy-nilly. (That’s the medical term for it anyways.)

As a result, baby’s sleep is easily interrupted, and when she wakes, she’s irritable and edgy, which makes it virtually impossible for her to get back to sleep.

Sleep schedules, people. I can’t recommend them enough. Once baby gets into a rhythm, this problem will simply go away.

These are just the most common reasons I come across, but honorable mention goes out to itchy pajamas, overheated bedrooms, elaborate mobiles, and distraction-heavy nurseries.

Also, if anyone wants a new pair of Bluetooth headphones, they’re sitting in the garbage can outside of my garage door. Please help yourself.

If your baby, infant or toddler is having trouble sleeping through the night, help is just a click away! The Sleep Sense Program has helped over 57,00 parents to get their kids sleeping 11-12 hours through the night AND taking long, restful naps during the day. If you’re ready to get started today – I’m looking forward to helping you!

Baby Not Sleeping Through The Night?

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The Sleep Sense Philosophy

Cry-it-out? Coddle? Co-sleep? Attachment parenting? Ferberizing?
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Dana’s Sleep Blog

Straight talk about sleep, parenting,
babies, toddlers, relationships… and
just about anything else!
My blog is a great place to find opinions, advice, the occasional rant, and some great videos about sleep.

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