But now she will only sleep ON me or my husband, and it is really hard to get anything done! I’ve got laundry, and meals to prep, and they never last longer than 45 minutes! HELP!”
Let’s talk naps.
Here’s a secret… poor naps are only a symptom of a different issue. To fix the napping issue, you have to dig deeper into the root of the real issue. Naps will never improve without looking at your child’s total day and NIGHT.
More often than not that issue is that your baby has a sleep crutch, something external that she needs to fall asleep.
Examples of sleep crutches include being nursed to sleep, sucking on a bottle or a pacifier, or being held or rocked to sleep. Your baby uses these crutches to help her relax into sleep.
This applies even if she isn’t fully asleep after nursing or rocking, but she has used the nursing/rocking to relax her so she can then close her eyes and drift off into sleep.
What happens at nap time is that your baby uses her sleep crutch to fall asleep, but then after a 45 minute standard daytime sleep cycle, she surfaces from sleep and has no idea how to relax herself back down into the next sleep cycle, so she cries out for the same crutch that she used to help her fall asleep in the first place.
Naps improve more slowly than nighttim sleep because there’s more stimulation during the day. It is easier for a child to learn to sleep at bedtime. When you address naps, you must address the way your baby falls asleep at bedtime and for any night waking and then the nap.
You must deliver a 100% consistent message about how sleep happens. Your baby has to fall asleep the exact same way at every sleep period. If you aren’t consistent, it is harder for your child to learn and understand the new way of falling asleep.
There is much variety of what naps can look like, but here are some guidelines to help you.
At 4 and 5 months, 4 x 45 minute naps are sufficient to reach her daily nap need of 3-4 hours. However, many kids will have longer naps, but don’t worry if you’re still only getting 45 min naps if she wakes up happy.
If a baby wakes up crying from a nap, it is because she is still tired and you need to try and get her back to sleep and extend the nap.
By 6 months and later, if you are still only having 45 minute naps then something else is going on. There’s a sleep crutch issue at play, and you’ll need to play a sleep detective and figure that out.
At 6 months, your baby needs 2-3 hours of daily naps.
By 7 months to 2.5 years – your baby needs 1.5 – 3 hours of daily naps.
Most kids aren’t ready to drop a nap until between 3-4 years of age. There are nap resistance or nap regression around 18 months and 2.5 years where they are testing out boundaries and independence. Dropping naps at those points would be major
There are nap resistance or nap regression around 18 months and 2.5 years where they are testing out boundaries and independence. Dropping naps at those points would be major self sabotage! Don’t let that happen to you.
The other variable affecting naps is TIMING. So important – not too late and not too soon. There are age appropriate awake times that can guide you through your nap put downs.
I’ll send you my “Awake Time” Chart where you can find out the ideal time between naps and how much sleep your baby needs by month. Click here to download my free Awake Time/Sleep Quantity chart.
If you are struggling with naps, I encourage you to take a really good look at your bedtime routine and ask yourself if your child is truly falling asleep from totally calm (not drowsy) but awake? Do you have any rocking, nursing, sucking (including a bottle or pacifier) in your bedtime routine? If you do, then you have a sleep association problem, meaning a sleep crutch, which your child needs to fall asleep, and needs to continue sleeping.
Do you have any rocking, nursing, sucking (including a bottle or pacifier) in your bedtime routine? If you do, then you have a sleep association problem, meaning a sleep crutch, which your child needs to fall asleep, and needs to continue sleeping.
Remember that naps are a symptom of something else and then play a sleep detective to determine what that is. Once you’ve figured out your sleep crutch, you’ll have to do some work to break the crutch so she can develop independent self soothing skills. You can read my blog post on the different types of sleep training techniques to help get you started on the types of methods.
P. S. I have so much more I want to teach you about baby sleep and how you can help your baby!
If you are wanting to confidently and compassionately teach your baby to sleep, I can teach you everything you need to know in my online course Baby Sleep Training Step by Step
You’ll be welcomed into my private Facebook Community where I answer your follow up questions and you’ll get support from like minded-moms on the same journey as you.
You can learn more about my online course Baby Sleep Training Step By Step.