If you are reading this article, you most likely want to help your child sleep longer during naps. We all know that the longer the nap, the more free time we have for ourselves!. Read my post on HOW TO CURE SHORT NAPS for some useful tips to help your child nap for more than 30 minutes.
If you have tried everything and your little one is still waking up after 30-45 minutes, keep reading. I have some more tricks you can try.
Before trying the following tips, check with your pediatrician to see if any underlying medical conditions could be present. If you have done all the things I suggested and you have not had good results, your baby might be waking up by habit. Babies are, like us, creatures of habit! They simply might just be used to waking up after a 30 minute nap.
Here are two techniques you can try to help elongate nap time.
Tip 1- Break the sleep cycle
Without going into too much detail on the science of sleep, I want you to understand WHY your child wakes up 30-45 minutes into a nap. A full sleep cycle for babies is between 30-45 minutes (in case you’re wondering, your average sleep cycle is about double that!). If they don’t know how to put themselves back to sleep when they wake up after a cycle, they will wake up and cry for help. If your child always wakes up after 34 minutes of napping, it is very likely he is waking up by habit! His body is simply programmed to wake up after the 34th minute!!
If this is the case, I suggest waking him up before he normally would to “break” his habitual waking. You can do so by gently jiggling the crib 5-10 minutes prior to his usual 34 minutes to slightly wake him up. This will break his sleep cycle and he should fall back asleep for a second cycle.
Small disclaimer if you decide to use this technique- Not all babies will go back to sleep after the gentle jiggling of the crib but give this a try for a few days in a row before giving up. Remember: if you are using this tool, it’s likely because your child is waking up by habit. Old habits can be replaced with new habits through consistent application only, so stick with it! If your child doesn’t respond well to it though, don’t force it.
Tip 2- Touch and comfort
If you are not comfortable trying the first method, I have a second option for you. I totally understand if you are not convinced that even slightly waking up your baby will work for you. And it’s ok! My second advice is this: Put your hand on her back when she begins to wake up. As soon as she starts to move, your hand will be able to hold her still enough and she won’t wake herself up. Most likely, she will then be able to finish her nap.
I strongly recommend picking one method to try at a time and when using either of these two methods, make sure to give it a try for few days or weeks before giving up. Remember, she has been used to waking up on the clock so shifting her schedule will take more than 2-3 days. Rome wasn’t built in a day!
It doesn’t work for every child
Keep in mind that not every baby will like being woken up. If you think that your child is one of that type, try method #2 first. But like I mentioned, be patient and give it time.
Naps are harder for babies to master and are often the last piece of the sleep puzzle to fall into place. Don’t be discouraged and keep working on it! A 30 minute nap is better than no nap at all!
As always, Sleeping Babies = Happy Families.
Much Love, Eve