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Waketime Lengths: A Quick Fix For Short Naps

Today, my friends in The Babywise Friendly Blog Network are writing on one of the most frustrating topics there is to deal with as a Mama: short naps. Sometimes called the "45 Minute Intruder" or the "pull-my-hair-out" nap. If you've experienced it, you know the desperation to find a fix. Hopefully today, you can find some good insight and wisdom from Mamas who have been there and dealt with this issue first hand. (Look for links at the bottom of the page).

If you are dealing with Short Naps, I think the first thing you have to rule out is a hunger issue. "Is my baby hungry?" Always feed your baby if they are hungry. If you try to feed your baby and they only snack or don't eat, then you can probably rule out hunger being the problem. (If they do eat a full feeding, consider adjusting his or her schedule or consider that it could be a growth spurt.)

After you have ruled out the hunger issue, it's time to consider waketime lengths. This is often (not always, but often) a quick fix for short naps.

Shortening Waketime

The most likely and common reason for a baby waking early from naps is that they are awake too long before the nap and are overstimulated. With two of my babies, I had to work through the intruder. When Shepherd was two months old, he went through a two-week period where he would only nap for 45 minutes at a time. I felt like I was trying everything (the swing, rocking back to sleep, not hungry, etc...) until I read a blog post on Val's blog about sleep cues. I started watching for Shep's cues and discovered he gave them to me 20 minutes earlier than I was putting him down for a nap. I can still remember thinking "there's no way this is going to work, it will mess up our whole schedule for the day", but I put him down earlier and it worked right away; he slept for 2 and half hours.

It goes against common sense to say more sleep equals more sleep, but it's true and it often works. Sleep begets sleep. So, if you havn't tried it, try cutting back on waketime 15-20 minutes. It could be just the trick.

Lengthening Waketime 

After you have eliminated a hunger issue and tried shortening waketime (and I mean really tried... like for 3 -5 days of shorter wake times... some babies take a little bit longer to adjust), you might want to try the opposite.... lengthening waketime.

My fourth baby, Archer, had short naps for what felt like forever. Weeks and months is not an exaggeration. Some of you have been there. Maybe you're there now. One of the things I finally figured out was that I actually needed to lengthen his awake time. I didn't try this for a long time because I just knew and knew that more sleep equals more sleep. But it did not work for him. So I tried the opposite, almost as a "Hail Mary" just to eliminate it from my ideas list. I started with 15 minutes, but ended up lengthening his awake time by 30 minutes. It was not a quick fix that day, but after several days of trying it, he slowly started napping longer little bit by little bit, until he was napping 2 hours at a time. It probably took 2 weeks to get there though. It is worth trying! Just remember to give it a fair shot and be consistent with whatever you try for a few days before you try something new!

You can read a little bit more details about how we conquered the 45 minute intruder with Archer in this post: Conquering the 45 Minute Intruder.

Hang tough Mamas! IT WON'T LAST FOREVER. Somehow some day they will nap or worst case: they will grow to big to need it anyway. I know it doesn't feel like it, but it's true.

Be sure and check out these posts for even more ideas and wisdom about getting rid of these nasty short naps!

Chronicles of a Babywise Mom: What to Do when Your Baby is Taking Short Naps (The First 5 Things to Check)

Mamas Organized Chaos: How To Avoid Short Naps

Team Cartwright: Dealing With Short Naps With Twins

Twinning Babywise: Naps "By The Clock"

The Moses Home: Short Naps


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