7 Tips to End Short Naps

7 Tips to End Short Naps

I frequently hear many parents characterize their children as “poor” or “short” nappers. This is typical of children who tend to take naps that only last 30-40 minutes, which is the length of 1 sleep cycle. These short naps aren’t indicative of poor sleepers (we believe there is no such thing!) but rather, these short naps indicate that your child needs a little extra help learning to self-soothe in order to move from one sleep cycle to the next.

Many people erroneously assume that sleep is a natural skill, it is in part but it also has components that can and need to be learned in order to be optimally well rested. The “poor” or “short” nappers are a prime example of a subset of sleepers who need the extra help.

With nap training, the earlier you start, the better. The key to nap training out of those 30 minute naps is consistency and the length of the nap.

For babies 4-12 months:

  • 75 minutes- this should be the minimum length of time they stay in the crib for their first 2 naps
  • If they are still sleeping once 75 minutes have elapsed, you can leave them to sleep (unless you have a cap on a certain nap for other sleep related issues)
  • If they are awake when 75 minutes have elapsed since the time you placed them in the crib (i.e. 10:30 would be the earliest end time for a 9 a.m. nap) get them up from the nap
  • If they wake up at any point during the 75 minutes you can either leave them to work on self-soothing or you can intervene with your chosen sleep training method. Whatever you decide, think about your choice because you do not want to switch methods/plans in the middle of training.
  • Make sure to use the method or leave them for a minimum of 75 minutes, within 2 weeks they should be taking consistently longer naps

For babies 12 months and over:

  • Follow the exact same steps as outlined above with either 1 nap or 2 depending on your child’s age except the time rule changes and you will now leave them for 2 hours
  • The goal of leaving them for either 90 or 120 minutes is to give them as many opportunities as possible to practice self-soothing

Be consistent, stay the course and follow those directions to the letter and your baby will become a rockstar napper in no time!