When you’re dealing with reasons for your baby’s night waking, you’re usually focused on, you know, NIGHT sleep. You’re normally looking to things like nighttime hunger, or nighttime dirty diapers, or nighttime sleep associations.
But what if I told you that NAPS might have everything to do with why your child is waking at night? Keep reading for details!
How Your Baby’s Nap Habits Can Cause Night Waking
There are 3 ways that your baby’s current napping patterns can lead to increased nighttime waking:
1. If your baby is napping too much, she may wake more at night because she isn’t tired enough.
This doesn’t apply as much to newborns and young infants; in the first few months of life, your baby SHOULD nap often during the day in order to be well-rested and to avoid over-tiredness. But by about 4 months or 5 months, you can start working towards a more predictable daytime schedule; you can also start watching your baby’s total amount of nap sleep to ensure that your baby isn’t sleeping too much.
For more help in determining how much nap sleep your baby needs, print out a copy of our Baby and Toddler Nap Chart.
If you find that your child is napping too much, this could very well be interfering with night sleep. See, children do shift sleep from nights to naps (and vice versa). So if your baby is napping too much, she needs less sleep at night, which can result in night waking or early-morning waking.
If your baby is napping too much, this is one of those times it’s okay to wake your baby from sleep.
2. If your baby isn’t napping enough, he may wake more at night because he is overtired.
This is the more “classic” cause of nighttime waking. So often, we see babies and toddlers of all ages who are fighting bedtime, waking often at night, and waking too early simply because they are chronically overtired. You’d think being really tired would help a child sleep….but no! The opposite is true. An overtired baby has a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than a baby who is well-rested.
In this case, it’s important you prioritize your baby’s nap sleep to ensure he’s getting enough. If you haven’t already, work to create a consistent pre-nap routine (similar to your bedtime routine). In addition, try to ensure that you are at home for your child’s first morning nap and first afternoon nap, as those are the most restorative naps of the day. If your baby wakes too early from a nap, or misses a nap, be sure to offer an ealier bedtime to compensate for the lost sleep.
3. If your baby is in the midst of a nap transition, she may wake more at night because she needs a new daytime nap schedule.
Even the best and most consistent nap schedule can be destroyed by an impending nap transition. You can be doing everything right – strong nap routine in place, healthy nap schedule, nap training completed – and then a nap transition comes along and results in missed naps and too-short naps. You can expect nap transitions at the following times:
*1-3 MONTHS — 4-5 naps per day, depending on how long his naps are and how long he can stay up between naps
*3-4 MONTHS — 4 naps
*5-8 MONTHS — probably 3 naps (though some will need 4 until after 7 months). A few babies will only have 2 naps at a very young age, but those naps are usually long
*9-15 MONTHS — 2 naps; some babies will transition to 1 nap at 12 months, but that’s not common
*15-18 MONTHS — 1-2 naps; the transition from 2 naps to 1 usually happens in this window of time
*18 MONTHS-4 YEARS — 1 nap; the age to transition away from all napping varies a lot, from 2 to 5+ years old, but the average age is between 3 and 4 years old
For even more nap and schedule help, check out these members-only resource, found in our VIP Members Area:
- Mastering Naps and Schedules e-Book (unlimited member access at no extra cost!)
- Custom Schedule-Maker (unlimited access – make as many schedules as you’d like! Includes meal times)
- Nap Transitions audio course with Nicole Johnson
- Short Naps audio course with Nicole Johnson
- How To Put Your Child on a Schedule audio course with Nicole Johnson
- 5 Tips To Manage Nap Transitions [EXPANDED MEMBER-ONLY VERSION]
- 5 Tips For Handling Tough Daycare Nap Schedules [EXPANDED MEMBER-ONLY VERSION]
- Day-by-Day Nap Training Plan
- Downloadable Sleep/Nap Coaching Plan Workbook (learn how to create your own nap coaching plan!)
- Printable Schedule Shifts Forward (great for daylight saving time change)
Not a VIP member yet? Not a problem! Join today, and you’ll receive instant access to our vast online library of sleep coaching resources.
How To Nap Train Your Baby or Toddler, and Improve Nap Sleep
Short or non-existent baby naps can be so frustrating – but you don’t have to suffer through them! We have a ton of nap resources – and one of those nap resources is our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes. Are you making any of these common nap mistakes? If so, they may be the cause of your baby’s non-napping. So download your free guide today and start putting the tips to use as early as your baby’s next nap!