5. Is your “short nap” the third nap of the day (for 5-6 month olds)?#
For 5-6 month olds, it is very common to have 3 naps a day. It is also very normal for this third nap to be a short one. The purpose of this “cat nap” is simply to help your baby make it to bedtime. It can be 20-45 minutes long, and that length is actually PERFECT!
Is this nap a struggle in the crib? Check out this blog post in the 5-7 month section and read about the 3rd nap of the day.
6. Is my baby taking a little snooze a few minutes before that short nap? (If your baby is eating prior to a nap, please read this very carefully.)#
In order for a baby to fall asleep and stay asleep, the sleep pressure has to build inside the baby’s body.
Has this ever happened to you? You’re absolutely exhausted at 10:00 pm. You fall asleep on the couch for 10 minutes while watching TV. You awaken, change into jammies, wash your face and head to bed….only to lay there WIDE AWAKE. That short little snooze on the couch wiped out your drive to sleep. This can also happen to your baby and can cause him to struggle with short naps. So what do you do? Simply make sure your baby is wide awake for that time before bedtime by staying out in a light room with normal daytime activities rather than going into the dark nursery.
7. Is my baby hungry?#
Many sleep books and sleep consultants will encourage parents to implement a four-hour feeding schedule starting at 4-6 months. Some babies may do well on a four-hour schedule, but rigid feeding schedules are rarely the answer to consolidated naps. Our goal is to get adequate caloric intake during the day. Offer a feeding every 2.5 – 3.5 hours, throughout the day, according to your little one’s hunger cues. Some babies will truly wake from hunger if it has been longer than 3 hours since their last feeding.
Feel free to offer a feeding prior to nap time in order to prevent a short nap for your baby.
8. Is a “sleep prop” causing the nap to be short?#
Whatever your baby requires to fall asleep at nap time will be necessary 30-45 minutes later to help her transition between sleep cycles and lengthen her naps.
Does your little one need a pacifier to fall asleep at nap time? If it falls out shortly after he drifts off, he will need that pacifier again 30-45 minutes later in order to transition between sleep cycles. What can be done? Try to help your baby learn to replace the pacifier himself by playing “The Binky Game.” Be sure to place 3-5 pacifiers in your baby’s bed so he can easily find one when needed.
Does your baby need motion from the swing or in your arms in order to fall asleep? Guess what he’ll need to transition from one sleep cycle to the next 30-45 minutes later? Yes, rocking! What can be done? My blog will give you the steps you need.
9. Is my baby putting himself to sleep for naps?#
This is a similar concern to “Question 8.” If YOU are doing the work of “putting your baby to sleep,” he likely does not have the skills to put himself BACK to sleep between sleep cycles. Try to give your baby the space to learn how to fall asleep on his own, so that when he wakes, he can use those skills to continue his nap.
If you’re thinking: “My baby can’t do that!” You are not alone! There is help for you, but it’s not just a quick tip.
In my class Conquering Naps – Your Plan for Great Days, I’ll teach you everything you need to help your baby to fall asleep independently for naps and transition between those sleep cycles. You’ll have the tools to create a flexible routine that works for your family’s lifestyle and values. If your baby is younger than 5 months, I have classes for you too.
10. Has night sleep been conquered?#
Babies typically crawl before they walk, babble before they talk, and sleep through the night prior to consolidating naps. There are exceptions to these rules, of course, but most babies do best by learning night sleep FIRST.
If your baby isn’t sleeping well at night, I can help you with that! Many parents find that as night sleep solidifies, nap sleep naturally improves. The 5-24 Month Collection will be the perfect fit for you. I’ll teach you everything you need to know to get great sleep for nights, naps, and every bump along your sleep journey from now until your baby turns 2.
Wishing you long, restful naps. You’ve got this!