Short naps, now what?

Dear Full Feedings Family,

My last blog was explaining reasons why your baby is taking short naps, if you haven’t seen it, check it out HERE. I was so shocked the first time my daughter took a short nap, truly shocked, a 30 minute nap does that even count? I checked to make sure her OWT had been good, it was, and then I thought back to her feeds, which seemed normal. I said okay, what should I do with the next nap and the rest of my day, if my whole day is ahead by almost an hour or more? If your baby took a short nap or has been taking them all day, don’t panic. I did, but you shouldn’t. Ha! We can help you manage your day to make consistent night time sleep possible, even with short naps. My daughter was a great sleeper but even she went through a short nap phase, I stayed consistent with her routine and moved bedtime earlier and we still slept through the night!

Here is how we would suggest to handle a short nap day:

    • Grab your guide and follow the age appropriate OWT for all subsequent naps. Don’t try varying wake windows, stay the course!
    • If possible, make one nap a contact nap to see if you can increase the next nap to be the age appropriate length.
    • You can add 15 minutes on to your next nap, if possible. This isn’t always possible, don’t stress it if you can’t. We do not want any nap to go longer than 1 hour and 45 minutes, so keep that in mind!
    • Utilize an ultra short cat nap! This is usually the best move! You will likely have enough time for an extra cycle if all of your naps are short. Do whatever you can to get your baby to sleep for just 15-30 minutes to avoid overtiredness before bed.
    • Move bedtime earlier! Bedtime can be as early as 630pm, if need be.

Feed times, nap times and bed times are ALWAYS flexible with The Full Feedings Method. Rigidity with your babies routine won’t help when we are working on infant sleep. This means if one nap ends early we still want to offer a full feed and base the next nap on the time your infant woke up from the previous nap. Bedtime will always be based on your start of day and how your naps are going throughout the day. There were times when I would put my daughter to sleep by 645pm one night and 7pm the next night, she always slept through the night. Sometimes parents get so stuck on 7pm-7am sleep schedule that it backfires on them.

If you are within two weeks of transitioning to the next guide, you can add 5 minutes onto your OWT to see if that helps lengthen your naps. Be consistent! Try that for every wake window for a few days. We want everything we tell you to try to work immediately, but some of the changes we make take a few days to see the full affects of, so stay the course! If you have just transitioned to a new guide, try to take 5 minutes off of your OWT to see if that helps. It seems silly, but sometimes 5 minutes can make all the difference!

If you have had a few short naps in a row and have the ability to make one nap a contact nap, try to see if we can take a nice long nap that way! As we always say, the nap is more important that how your baby gets it. Do not be afraid to help your baby sleep! If your baby sleeps longer on you, make sure not to let the nap go longer than recommended in the monthly guide + 15 minutes for previous short naps. We do not want to have one nap be a super long nap to try to make up for lost time.

We can add 15 minutes onto your next nap, if your previous nap was short. This does not always work, so don’t stress if it doesn’t happen for your baby! If you are able to make the next nap longer we do not recommend any nap going over 1 hour and 45 minutes regardless of age. We do this so we don’t sleep too much during the day and it allows us to feed at least every 3 hours.

What usually works best for families dealing with short naps, is utilizing and ultra short cat nap. It is our best kept secret! If your whole day has been short naps or you are ahead of your routine by a full hour, we want you to try to get your baby to sleep for just 15- 30 minutes in between your last nap and bedtime. It is perfectly okay to have one more nap than is recommended in the age appropriate monthly guide as long as you do not go over your day time nap length total. The wake window before the ultra short cat nap can be slightly shorter than what is recommended in the age appropriate monthly guide and we usually suggest you make this nap a contact nap. We use this to help us get to bedtime smoothly without becoming overtired.

Many parents fear the 630pm bedtime, I was nervous about it as well, having done it many times and then having to actually wake my daughter so she wouldn’t sleep too late after it, please hear me when I say: A 6:30pm bedtime will not cause early morning wakes. An early bedtime should really help when your day has been full of short naps! We want your baby to be asleep by 630pm not just getting into their crib, so keep that in mind!

As I have written before, it is totally okay if your baby sleeps less than what is recommended in the age appropriate monthly guide. The times listed on the monthly guides are the MAXIMUM amount of time we want your baby to sleep. It is possible to sleep less that what is recommended and still have 12 hours of overnight sleep you just need to keep following the age appropriate OWT and help your baby sleep if you can!

To sleeping well,

P.S. If you’re not yet a member, you can learn more about The Full Feedings Method Infant Online Program HERE. Let’s make today the beginning of the end of your sleepless nights, mama!