Having Trouble Lengthening Your Child’s Naps?- Here Are Your Question Session Answers!

Sleep Questions?!? It's Free Question Friday!
Sleep Questions?!? It’s Free Question Friday!

The Question 

Hi, I am seeking advice on how to lengthen my 18 month olds nap. She takes one nap a day after many weeks of refusing either morning or afternoon nap. Even on days where I try to give her two naps (at the right times) she will not sleep. She is currently going down at 11am, but will only sleep 30 minutes. She can self-sooth at night and she sleeps average 11.5/12 hours every night, 6/630-6ish. Thank you

The Answer

This transition can be difficult even for the best sleepers.  Take a look at this blog article about the transition and how to make it as painless as possible.  http://anytimesleepconsulting.com/free-tip-tuesday-get-2-1-nap-transition/

The bottom line points are:

-Move that start time up by 10-15 minutes every few days, hanging out around 11 to start the nap will sabotage the schedule, the goal start time is 12pm at the earliest

-Move bedtime up extra early until the nap comes together

-Offer some 2 nap days when she appears extra tired or has had night wakings, cap that first nap to 1 hour to protect the second nap

-I’d recommend leaving her for a minimum of 90 minutes on 1 nap days and 90 minutes for nap 2 on 2 nap days

-Once she is the crib I would not go in at all until nap time is over.  If you don’t feel that you can handle that then I would decide on a sleep training method and implement the method every time she wakes up from her nap until 90 minutes have elapsed

The Question

I’ve read on your site that sleep training shouldn’t start until 4 mos.. but I just wanted to know if there is anything more I could be doing now.

We have done Babywise so he follows an eat, play, sleep routine and does really well with it. He is sleeping 6-7 hrs at night without a feeding. But he still needs to be rocked to sleep most of the time. I have started putting him down awake but drowsy after a little rocking and it sometimes works. He is much harder to put down in the evening and usually wakes up a few times before finally conks out (we have to pat him or rock him back to sleep usually).

Just not sure if I should let him cry for longer, or if I’m doing everything I should be doing now.. any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! – Jaki

The Answer 

While you are correct that you can’t begin formal training until 4 months, which essentially means regulating his schedule and choosing a sleep training method to respond to all nap and night wakings, you can set a good sleep foundation and it sounds like you have taken steps to do so already! Here is a link that will explain all of the sleep shaping steps you can take: Sleep Shaping Tips- 2-4 months.

Use naps to experiment with drowsy but awake but help him to sleep as much as you can for night sleep if that part takes him a little bit longer.  If his hurdle right now seems to be going down initially at night, you can definitely rock him into an extremely drowsy or even asleep state, if he still wakes up initially a few times before he conks out, give him up to 5 minutes to try and put himself back to sleep.  If he continues to fuss, go in and pat and shush him to calm him down. Once he calms but is still awake, leave the room again and give him a few minutes to work it out, if he fusses, go back in and you can pat and shush and even pick up.  We don’t want him to have to work too hard just yet.  Cognitively, he isn’t quite there so it’ll end up being more work than it’s worth for both of you.

Try that for night sleep and when he wakes for naps if they are under an hour.  Work on that for the next two weeks and within two weeks, if you want to move forward with creating a sleep training plan, we can do that so that right when he hits 4 months you will be ready to begin training!