How to Solve the “Short Naps” Phenomenon

Advice for Mom and Baby

How to survive and keep your sanity on “short naps” days.

The sweet respite of naptime is glorious…

The possibilities are endless with all you can do (or not do) with a little peace and quiet:

  • Do a little house cleaning
  • Tackle the endless laundry
  • Take on the dishes piled in the sink
  • Get a little shut-eye to combat your sleep deprivation
  • Read a good book with a cup of coffee
  • Catch up with a friend on the phone

…until you hear crying after 30 short minutes. All of your hopes for peace and productivity are dashed with one unwelcome sound.

So what changed and why is baby suddenly waking earlier than usual from naps?

How to Survive and Keep your Sanity on “Short Naps” Days

Advice for Mom on how to weather short naps

I don’t know you if are like me and have a tendency to react strongly to any disruption in your carefully scheduled day. From those early days of nap disturbances, to interrupted quiet times while I’m trying to get something done, I have been slow to take a deep breath and not let little things spark bitterness in my heart.

So my first piece of advice to you (and to myself) is not to be so quick to get upset about this or any other disruption to your expectations. Fatigue makes it difficult to see things clearly, but taking a deep breath and praying a quick prayer for strength, patience, and wisdom can help diffuse the frustration.

If you are battling over-tiredness, don’t be afraid to take naps when baby does so that you are rested enough to sort out this change and find a solution. Take advantage of the support of others and let them watch baby for you so you can get an extended nap if needed. It’s easy for moms to feel we should be able to handle all things on our own and do them well, when the truth is we need people.

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And there is no shame in that.

This is not an unusual phenomenon, so take solace in the knowledge that others struggle with this as well. You are not alone.

Give yourself plenty of time to figure out the solution to this issue. There are many reasons why baby’s naps may be disrupted, and it may take some trial error to narrow it down. Keep the routine normal and consider limiting extra activities until you get it sorted out.

Advice for Baby on how to solve short naps

If the catnap is taking place at the third nap of the day, but she is still getting two that are 1½ to 2 hours long, she could be getting ready to merge to the next feed-wake-sleep routine and drop a nap.

Our article, The 45-Minute Sleep Intruder, will get you started on thinking of possible sources of the nap disruption. By paying attention to your baby’s feed-wake-sleep patterns you may be able to more easily identify the issue.

The Waking Early Nap Challenge article will ask you some specific questions to help you know what to look for.

Isolating the Source of Your Baby’s Sleep Problems is another great resource to consult if the previous articles have not helped you to identify the issue.

And don't forget to look over our Afternoon Nap Guide for even more guidance.

There are so many changes in life, and during baby’s first year, those changes seem to come at you faster than you can adjust. Don’t be discouraged by shortened naps. Give yourself grace as you help baby get back into a predictable routine.

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman

Annie Wiesman is the co-author of “Education Begins at Birth: A Parent’s Guide to Preparing Infants, Toddlers, and Preschoolers for Kindergarten.” She is a former kindergarten teacher turned stay-at-home mom who enjoys traveling, hiking in the mountains, and creating memories together with her husband and little girl.

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