Does your baby wake early from a nap and then can’t get back to sleep? Extending naps can be tricky to crack but if you stay consistent with your plan and methods you should notice a difference.
Here are some quick tips to make sure you are giving them the best chance of getting a nice long nap in: - Look at how you’re getting them to sleep. If you are rocking or feeding them to sleep, it’s likely they will wake after 30 minutes. About 30 minutes into a sleep, babies start to come out of their deep sleep for that cycle and may then realise that whatever put them to sleep, isn’t happening anymore. Teaching them to self-settle will help them join up sleep cycles and be able to put themselves back to sleep when they wakeup.
- Fill up their tummies before they nap. By making sure that have a good lunch/ bottle/ breastfeed about 20-30 minutes before they go down for their nap, it helps to eliminate the chance of them waking early due to hunger.
- Keep an eye on their wakeful windows. If their windows are too short, they won’t nap as long as they just aren’t tired enough for a long nap. If their windows are too long, they may become overtired and overstimulated which may also cause more drama to settle them and make them likely to wake early from their nap. I have a free sleep needs chart available on my homepage to check out their total sleep needs. But remember, these are just a guide so get to know what wakeful window is best for your child.
- Check their sleep environment. Is it dark enough in their room? Cool enough? Do you need white noise to block out any extra noises that might wake them up? Do your best to make their sleep environment as sleep conducive as possible. Invest in blackout blinds, a fan, and maybe a white noise machine to try and help them out.
- Add a small, calming nap routine. I always advise parents to add in a shortened version of their bedtime routine to each naptime. Going from playing to being put in their cot may be confusing and your baby won’t have a chance to recognise that it’s time for sleep. So adding in a small naptime routine (e.g feed, song and story) will help them recognise these cues and know that it’s now time for a sleep.
If you are doing all of these but find that your little one is still waking early:
- Once they have woken, stay in their room and try to resettle them for the rest of their nap time. You need to teach your baby that just because they have woken up, it doesn’t mean that it’s their wakeup time! This can be difficult and take a lot of time, but it’s the only way to teach them that they need to sleep longer.
As always, consistency and persistence is the key!