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Entries in baby short naps (1)

Friday
Mar152013

Ask Malia: A simple fix for a baby's short naps

I have an almost-five-month old boy who takes short naps, sometimes 30 minutes, sometimes 45. He just recently has started being able to stay awake for almost two hours. He doesn't have a problem going to sleep on his own—when I notice his sleep cues I lay him down and most the time he is asleep within five minutes. He goes to bed around 6:15 p.m. and wakes ups to eat twice and then wakes up for the day around 6:30 to 7:30 a.m. He takes four to five of these short naps throughout the day. Any advice we be appreciated. I have read so much on this issue but just don't see any changes.

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Hi there. You are doing a great job with your son's sleep—way to go! I love to hear parents talk about recognizing their child's sleep cues, and the fact that he can drift off to sleep by himself in five minutes is icing on the cake! Your son’s short naps are a hallmark of the four-to-five month age range. Often, when babies take short naps, it's a sign that they are ready to stay awake for longer before the nap. When a child isn't awake for long enough before a nap, he won't build up the "drive for sleep" (sleep-doctor talk) required to take an appropriate nap, so he'll wake after 30 to 45 minutes.

I recommend stretching the time he's awake before naps by 15 minutes a day over the course of three to four days. When you find the right period of wakefulness before the nap, the nap length will almost always improve (though a small percentage of babies are simply destined to take mostly shorter naps). This period of wakefulness before the nap may be much longer than you think. At five months old, he may be ready to stay awake for 2.5 hours or longer between naps, especially because he is getting quite a bit of sleep at night. As you may know, an age-appropriate nap routine at his age consists of one morning nap, one afternoon nap, and a short early evening nap.

Hope this is helpful. Thanks for the question.

I’m a nationally published sleep expert, health journalist, and mom. My articles about sleep, health, and parenting appear regularly in over 80 national and regional magazines and on television. Can I help you? Subscribe to The Well Rested Family to have sleep news, tips, and tactics delivered to your inbox or feed reader by clicking here.

Need more sleep? My e-book Ready, Set, Sleep: 50 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep So You Can Sleep Too is chock-full of mom-tested solutions to help babies and toddlers start sleeping well, tonight!

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