TROUBLE SHOOTING SHORT NAPS
The first thing to mention is that it’s really normal for the skill of self-soothing and bedtimes, to fall into line before naps, and in general it’s just a case of time. This process can take 4 – 6 weeks before you see any improvement. That said, there are some things that we can consider to help improve the length of those naps.
• Is the room pitch black? Dark will activate the sleepy hormone and help extend nap length.
• Try extending the nap routine slightly to help baby wind down a bit more before going in to the cot.
• Is baby in a sleep sack and warm enough / and wearing comfy clothes?
• Try a milk feed 30 – 40 mins before the nap. (For babies between 4 – 7 months)
• Make sure baby does not get drowsy on any milk feed at any time of day.
• Is baby going down into the cot 100% awake and not even drowsy? (Perhaps there has been some rocking or extended cuddles?)
• Please make sure that you are out of the room before baby falls asleep, and that he / she is completely self-soothing without you being present.
• Try using white noise for naps, it should be played loudly and continuously.
• Are you trying to resettle baby when he / she wakes from a short nap, and if so what method are you using? (ie Going straight in to try and coax them back to sleep or waiting 10 mins to see if they can resettle themselves). If one of these strategies isn’t working then try the other one!
• Tinker with awake times. Try a shorter time for 3 – 4 days, and if it’s not working or making it worse jump to a longer time.
• Try the wake to sleep method. Going in to baby after they have been asleep for 18 minutes, stirring them by touching them or saying their name, and then quickly coming out of the room again to see if they will fall back in to a new sleep cycle. You will need to try this for 5 – 7 days.
• It may be that you end up having to force a nap schedule, by doing naps at set times every day regardless of their awake time. Occasionally some babies will respond better to this kind of structure.
It is also very likely that naps will be hindered by developmental stages, hitting milestones, and other things such as teething, illness, recent vaccinations, and a change in environment, so again it will be a case of time before you see improvement or things return to normal.
Every now and again you there will just be a child that does short naps no matter what you try, but once they are on one nap a day the nap should lengthen and fall into line with what would be expected.