Worrying about catnapping

Are you spending your days worrying about your baby's naps and whether they are long enough?

Have you been comparing with your coffee group and stressing that everyone else's baby sleeps for longer?

Worrying that you must be doing something wrong because your baby only sleeps for 30 minutes per nap??

Sound familiar?

 

Catnapping is probably the sleep issue which causes the most stress for parents. It can feel like the whole day is taken up with battling to get a baby to sleep, only to have them awake and crying a short time later. And so the cycle goes on.

However before we give you some possible ways to help your baby sleep for longer, it's also worth taking some time to consider whether you actually need to worry about how long your baby sleeps for.

 

There's no normal!

As with so many baby topics, there is no 'normal' amount of time a baby sleeps for during the day. There's no specific time your baby needs to sleep for at each nap.  Babies really are all different and their need for naps during the day differs a lot.

Comparing strategies for settling babies with friends can be helpful but try to not compare how long the sleeps are and worry if your baby's sleeps are shorter.

 

Is your baby happy when she wakes?

Your baby might be telling you they are happy with shorter sleeps and managing fine on 30 or 45 minutes naps regularly through the day.

Your best way to judge if a short nap is sufficient is to look at your baby's temperment when she wakes from her nap.

A baby who wakes happy and chatty is managing just fine. It's really hard to get a happy, perky baby to resettle and you can miss spending that lovely freshly awake time with your baby.

So before worrying too much or taking too much of your day worrying about resettling, spend some time observing if your baby is happy with her catnapping.

 

Do you want a longer nap for you or your baby?

Yes there is a lot to do when you have a baby, and especially if you have a baby and other children or are trying to work as well. BUT your desire to have more free time when your baby is asleep is not going to be enough to convince your baby to sleep for longer!

So it can be a good idea to first work out why you want your baby to sleep for longer - is it because she is tired and grumpy, or is it because you feel you need her to sleep for longer as you need the time.

Trust me I spent a lot of time trying to get my toddlers to keep having a day sleep as I had work to do (like writing website articles!) but ultimately it was wasted time and stress that would have been better spent playing and enjoying my very strong willed, not sleeping 2 year old.

 

Not all naps are created equal.

Often babies have some shorter sleeps and some longer sleeps.  This is completely normal and you don't need to stress if some sleeps are always only 30 mins and others in the day are longer.

Often the last nap of the day is much shorter and this is fine!  It is better to have a later afternoon power nap and be rested for a calm evening when bedtime goes more smoothly. Also a later afternoon powernap can help avoid the witching hour!

Some sleep articles suggest babies should always have a short sleep in the morning, a long midday sleep and a short nap late afternoon. But we feel it is more helpful to see what works for your baby and try to fit in with their body clock and also what works for your family.

 

But my baby always wakes miserable!

OK so if you are reading your baby's temperment when she wakes and she wakes miserable, then yes more sleep is likely the answer. You might want to work on resettling when you can see she is still tired but get her up when she does wake happy.

It can take time for our catnapping tips to work, or some tips might work for you.  Have a read and see what you think.

Click these links to read our catnapping suggestions:

Catnapping solutions for newborns

Catnapping in babies over 4 months

Cat-naps - making short naps longer, by