Naps that are too short, or naps that are erratic and don’t follow any kind of predictable pattern, can sure get a parent down. It’s especially frustrating when your baby or toddler has been napping well but then naps suddenly go into a tailspin. (Hint – this often happens during a sleep regression, or during a nap transition.)
If you’re struggling with erratic or shortened naps, don’t worry – we can help! In today’s article, we offer 10 quick tips that you can put to use right now in order to help your baby or toddler nap better.
10 Naptime Tips You Can Put To Use Today
- Watch for sleep cues. Yawns, rubbing eyes, staring vacantly – these are all signs that it may be time for a nap. If your baby starts fussing, she’s already overtired – work to put her down a little more quickly next time. (Note that sleepy cues are great in the first 6 months or so, but after that, you can start to watch the clock a bit more to determine when it’s nap time.)
- Remember that skipping naps does not equal better sleep! Missed naps lead to more missed naps (even though it seems counterintuitive). What’s more, if your baby or toddler has skipped a nap during the day, you may need to offer an earlier bedtime to compensate.
- If your baby is simply refusing a nap, that’s okay – take a break and try again later. You don’t want to push a nap for too long; often, it’s best to take a break and do an activity, and then to try again “fresh” later.
- TV and sleep DO NOT MIX, so avoid using the TV as a pre-nap time tool to calm your child. What’s more, too much TV time can lead to less nap time sleep (or even missed naps), so keep your little one’s TV exposure to a minimum, and make sure that TV time happens well before, or well after, nap time.
- The right schedule is key – naps need to be spaced out around feeding times, and naps can’t happen too close to morning wake-up time or bedtime. Need a good, age-appropriate schedule in a pinch? Check out our sample sleep and feeding schedules by age!
- Bedtime routine are great – and so are nap time routines! We usually recommend that you do a shorter, mini-version of your bedtime routine before nap time. Keep it short, but make sure it’s cozy and relaxing, and that it prepares your baby or toddler for sleep.
- Dim light and silence usually make for great naps. If your child’s room is too bright, try room-darkening shades; if her nap environment is too noisy, we recommend trying white noise.
- Try for a consistent nap schedule. You don’t necessarily need a rigid, clock-based nap schedule (especially if your baby is young), but keep in mind that on-the-go naps aren’t usually as restful as naps that happen at home, in a crib or bed. If you have a busy schedule, try to make sure that at least one nap (preferably the first morning nap) happens at home.
- As mentioned earlier, if your baby was napping just fine and suddenly isn’t, it’s most likely one of two things: a sleep regression, or an impending nap transition. (Of course, you’ll want to rule out illness or teething as a cause.)
- If you’re trying to work on sleep training during nap times, and working on teaching your baby or toddler to fall asleep independently at nap time, keep in mind that nap training is tougher than nighttime sleep training, in many ways. We usually (although not always) recommend starting sleep training at bedtime, and then moving on to naps once you’ve conquered nighttime sleep.
Naptime Help That Works…Guaranteed!
Many parents think that our personalized consulting services are meant for parents who are struggling with night sleep – but guess what? We have so many consultation clients whose primary struggle is naps – and our consultants are more than willing to provide you with a Personalized Sleep Plan™ that focuses mainly on nap help. So why not connect with one of our caring, compassionate sleep consultants, and get expert answers to your nap questions today?
Browse our list of consultation package options here.
Once you make your choice and purchase, you will immediately receive an e-mail with your Helpdesk login information. You’ll be able to login and start your Family Sleep History form right away – it’s that simple!
Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers.
Or, if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, you may be more interested in all the nap resources we offer in our VIP Members Area:
Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® VIP members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right! For the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to read in the VIP Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and more! Become a VIP member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
Napping Audio Courses— Another great VIP members-only resource? Our audio courses. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30 – 45-minute mini-courses offer you insider information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. We have several awesome nap-focused courses, including one on managing nap transitions, and one on lengthening short naps! Listening to these seminars is like getting a coaching session from Nicole! She’ll walk you through the basics of dealing with common nap problems and give you tried-and-true strategies you can implement at home.
VIP Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve also offer a special members-only article on the hot topic of nap transitions: 5 Practical, Hands-On Tips For Managing Common Nap Transitions. Learn our 5 top secrets for how to gently and painlessly navigate nap transitions, and help them happen in a way that preserves your child’s sleep while also preserving your own sanity! 😉
For more details about all our VIP Member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and our “Ask the Author” feature), visit our VIP page, and consider becoming a VIP member today!
20 thoughts on “10 Naptime Tips You Can Use Today”
Thank you so much for sharing these helpful tips. These tips will help a lot to us.
Hi @Sunita – Thank you for writing! We hope that these tips are very helpful too!
My almost 5 month old has always fought her last nap of the day. If she wakes before 6 then I may fit in 4 naps, if it starts around 7 then it will be 3 naps. She just lies there tossing and turning, dozing off for a few mins then waking again. She can do that for an hour. I usually put her down 3.30-4pm. We have a nap routine and put her down when she seems calm and yawns. Her other naps she drifts off after 10-15 mins. Sometimes with her last nap, I give in and put her to bed early (knackered) or other times I get her to nap on me but that’s usually a 20 min battle. I try putting her down as soon as she rubs her eyes (usually around 90 mins after her last nap) and I’ve tried stretching her out a bit but she still fights it. What’s the best thing to do when they fight a nap that they still need? When she has a 3 nap day, the 1st 2 naps last 1 hr 20 – 1 hr 40. Not sure on a 4 nap day now as if she wakes really early I sometimes put her in our bed and she will drift off again. Depending when her nap ends, she goes to bed 6-6.30 to allow 30 mins for her to fall asleep so she’s asleep 6.30-7. She was having 1 night feed but has gone back to 2.
@Tessa, thanks for writing to us! I am sorry you’ve been struggling with your daughter’s naps. If you haven’t yet, we actually have a free ebook available with nap help that you can sign up to receive here: https://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/
If things don’t improve soon and you are not sure what to do next, it sounds like you would benefit from working with one of our sleep consultants where they can help create a schedule that works well for your family and with your daughter’s temperament. Here is the link to see all we offer: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/ and if you have any questions please email us at [email protected]
Hang in there!
Hello! I’m hoping you can clarify something for me. On the website and ebook Essentials to Newborn Sleep it says that 45 minute naps are totally normal for new babies (which was SUCH a relief to hear, and why I got hooked on this site). However, the importance on loooong, restorative naps (ah, I feel refreshed just typing that!) is also stressed. At what point do 45 minute naps stop becoming the norm or okay? Will they naturally start to lengthen at a certain age? I have a three-month old, and I think he is trying to give us a taste of a sleep regression by waking 45 minutes after bedtime. Usually when he wakes I feed him to top him off and he will sleep through the night with one more feed later in the night. So, nights are great. For now. But he still only naps 45-60 minutes 4 times a day. So, I THINK he is still getting the recommended amount of sleep (12 hrs at night, 3 hours during the day). Just wondering when I can expect naps to lengthen so I can help it along and stop stressing. 🙂 P.S. I’m a little obsessed with your site. Thanks!
@ Chelsea – you should feel okay about short-ish naps with your 3 month old. It’s only a problem if/when your child gets older and all his naps are 45 minutes old, and if the short naps are resulting in overtiredness and crankiness. When he’s ready to transition to 3 naps, you’d ideally want those to be longer – and then when it’s 2 naps, those 2 naps should be even longer. But for now, it sounds like all is well! 🙂
Thanks for commenting, Chelsea 🙂
Hello! My just turned 6 month old is going through a rough patch with sleep. We went away for 3 nights about a month ago, which she didn’t like- woke every 30mins-1hr crying! Then she had a nasty cough and I rocked her and cuddled her and nursed her a lot during the night. Now she has gone from being a brilliant sleeper (waking once or twice) to a nightmare who wakes up every half hour (worst) to every couple of hours (best) and I have to cuddle or nurse her to sleep! I am exhausted :)!
She is able to put herself to sleep at nap times and bed time- we have a good bedtime routine and she goes into her cot awake and then sucks her thumb and drops off without even a grumble. She is a short napper- 40 mins usually, and has 3 or 4 naps a day. She is eating 3 solid meals a day and breast feeding in between. What can I do to help her sleep better at night? Is it normal to have such short naps in the day? What am I doing wrong?
Thank you so much for your website- as most parents, I’ve been trawling the internet for ideas, and your site is by far my favourite one.
@ Gina – thanks for reaching out! In answer to your question, I’d first point out that 6 months is usually when most babies begin consolidating naps into longer nap-time sleep, so while 40-minute naps are on the short side (1 hour is ideal) it may just be that your little gal is late to the game in nap consolidation 😉
I’d recommend these free guides to help with your situation:
5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night
7 Common Nap Mistakes
So glad to hear that you find the site helpful! Hope these resources shed some light on what you’re going through. Best of luck to you, Gina! 🙂
Hi, my 5 month old has started to extend her morning nap, but it can be as long as 2.5hours! She will then have a 30 minute nap at 1.30pm and another 30 minute nap at about 4. She tends to go to sleep between 7-7.30pm and wakes once at night at about 4.30am for a feed (although with the clocks going an hour back, she is now waking at 3.30am). She will then wake in the morning at 7am. Im just wondering whether her morning nap is too long, i dont ever wake her from sleep and wonder wether i should so she can have a bit of a longer bap in the afternoon?
@ Aarti – hmmm…hard to say. Keep in mind that the first morning nap is supposed to be the longest, as it tends to be the most restorative. If you need some schedule guidance, I’d strongly suggest that you check out our schedule resource page. You can see a sample 5 month schedule, or you can generate a customized schedule based on your baby’s age and usual morning wake-time.
Hope this helps, Aarti! Thanks for commenting. 🙂
Thank you so much for your reply! This is the first time I have asked anyone so it feels good to get a positive response, I really like how you all are not completely against rocking etc….maybe in was just me but some people made me feel like I was spoiling my baby by cuddling him etc…. Thank you so much for replying! You made my day! May god bless you
@Saaliha – so happy to help! You are doing NOTHING wrong by rocking and cuddling your little one. Far from it! It’s just that the rocking may start to get burdensome, if you have to do it constantly in order to get your son to sleep – at that point, you may want to wean him off it. BUT, that said, what’s burdensome for some parents is perfect for others – so the decision about when to wean away from rocking is entirely yours! 🙂
Thanks for commenting, Saaliha!
Never mind ha ha! I just found your article on the 11 month nap regression and my little one is just on the cusp of walking as well. Will persevere for now and continue with the 2 naps – love this website and the new app!
@ Kelly – oh, good! Glad you found that. Thanks for your kinds words about the site and the app – always encouraging to hear feedback like yours! 🙂
Hi. I’m a ftm with a six and a half month old. He naps four times a day and each nap is half an hour long…. During the day he likes to be rocked to sleep though he’s asleep in a few minutes. At night he likes to nursed to sleep and wakes up about four times to feed… At night he’s down for 11 to 12 hours…. I would really appreciate it if you could give me some tips to get him to nap longer. Thanks
@ Saaliha – sounds like he may have a sleep association with rocking/nursing. That’s okay, provided you don’t mind doing those things to get him to sleep, but if you think it’s causing him to wake too soon from naps, or to wake too often at night, it may be time to work towards teaching him to sleep on his own. I think two of our free guides might be helpful to you: 7 Common Napping Mistakes and 5 Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through The Night. Both address your struggle. You can see all our free guides by clicking here.
Hope these are helpful, Saaliha! Thanks very much for commenting. 🙂
I also have an 11 month old little boy who is having some nap drama lately. While he usually naps great, he has really been fighting or skipping entirely his second nap. When that happens, he does go to bed an hour earlier at night and it doesn’t seem to have any effect at all on his night – he is just a bit crabby and tired by bedtime (understandable, of course). My question is this: is it possible that he is transitioning to 1 nap? Having been a regular reader of all free posts and articles on this site for years, it is drilled into my head that he should not transition until about 15 months. But I have had friend after friend suggest that he could be transitioning, so I guess I am wondering if that is a likely possibility. On a normal night, he sleeps 11-12 hrs and naps about an hour and a half in the morning, it’s just these afternoon naps that have been all over the place for the past few weeks. Thanks! ??
@ Kelly – I’d hold off on transitioning him to one nap. There’s actually a weird little mini-sleep regression that happens around 11 or 12 months, and you know what the #1 symptom of it is? Resistance to the second nap!! You can read more about it here: Why Not All 12 Month Olds Transition To One Nap.
Hope that article is helpful, Kelly! Thanks very much for commenting.
Hi! Thanks so much for all of the useful tips and info on the site. It’s been a big help!
I have an 11 week old exclusively breastfed baby boy who doesn’t teally nap. His naps are short, an hour or less and he is very toughy to get to sleep. We swaddle for all naps, he doesn’t like the swing. He will sleep in a car seat or stroller or sometimes a carrier. But I can’t sort it out! He gets so drowsy in my arms, I lay him down in his crib with white noise, etc, but no dice. And if he does nap, it’s painfully short.
At night he goes down after our bedtime routine around 7:30 8:00 pm and often sleeps until 2 or 3 am before waking for a feeding I just can’t figure out what’s going on with his nap sleep!
@ Emily (great name!!) – I’d say that this seems fairly normal for an 11 week old. 11 weeks is super young to expect regular or long naps – 11 week olds are definitely not consistent! But that’s okay – the regularity and consistency will come. Now, that said, there are definitely ways you can gently encourage longer and more regular sleep. You may be interested in our newborn e-book, Essential Keys to Your Newborn’s Sleep, which outlines ways to help a young infant sleep. You might also want to consider a Baby Sleep Site membership – this is by far the resource that best “grows” with your baby, as our Members Area is full of resources for the newborn stage up through the toddler stage. Given that you are right at the cusp of when things start to get interesting (aka the 4 month sleep regression), the Members Area would probably be a perfect solution for you.
Hope this helps, Emily! Thanks for commenting. 🙂
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