Over here on The Sleep Teacher, we are a little nap obsessed! Can you blame us? How can we not love naps when they come with so many benefits for both our little ones and us! For parents, naps are these tiny little pockets of sanity where we actually have time to ourselves to get things done! And for our little ones well, not only do they make them a lot more tolerable, but they also come with a myriad of health benefits too.
We’ve spoken a lot over here on The Sleep Teacher about how long your little one should be napping for, when they should be napping and when to drop the nap. But did you know that naps come in a number of different forms? Some good, some bad. In this blog, we outline the three most common types of naps that all parents need to know.
Bridging naps come in handy for those times when your little one wakes up early in the morning or from a daytime nap. They are small (10–15 minute naps) that will help your little one get to their next normal nap time. Bridging naps are great for babies under 6 months old and they’re so simple to do! They are best achieved in your arms, in the pram, or in the carrier. However, if you can get them to go down in their cot, that’s great too! Just remember to wake them up after the 10-15 minute mark if you are using it as a bridging nap.
Assisted naps are for mums who have an overtired bub on their hands. We’ve all been there, and it’s not fun! So, if this is you, I suggest that you try assisted naps to get you back on track.
Assisted naps are naps where you actively help your little one for a day or two to get them back to feeling well-rested. They include naps in the carrier, in the pram, while feeding or rocking them to sleep.
And don’t worry, using assisted naps for a short period of time will not undo any good work you have done with settling in the cot or bassinet. It is much better to assist them in catching up on those much needed ZZZ’s than miss a nap entirely. This will not only hugely improve your bedtime putdown, but also give you some time to catch your breath and maybe even sneak in a hot drink!
This word has a very different meaning when you’re a mother. Catnapping in babies can be a nightmare, far from being a powerful relaxing tool to combat afternoon tiredness.
Catnapping happens around the 10–12 week mark, and it’s usually because our little one’s sleep cycle has hit a transitional change. They may have a short nap and appear to have slept well, but then within 20 minutes they become fussy and unsettled.
The newborn sleep cycle lasts around 40-45 minutes before they stir and if they don’t know how to fall back asleep without your assistance or that of a sleep association, then you will likely hear them call out. But this is where many parents make the mistake of assuming that their baby is ready to wake up. Rather than going in, picking them up and signalling to bub that their nap is over, there are a few things that you need to consider first.
Troubleshooting short naps
- Awake window is off. We go on about it, but it is so important to nail your little ones awake window! While these will slightly vary from baby too baby, they will generally be around the average awake window that we have outlined in all our routines. Pair this with observing your little one and their tired signs to find the sweet spot. These are rapidly changing in the first year so remember to keep tweaking as your baby grows.
- The room isn’t dark enough. This is often overlooked but can be a game changer with everything else lined up. Darkness creates a production of melatonin which results in your bub transitioning more easily into the next sleep cycle.
Your baby needs ‘something’ to fall asleep. Whether that be a feed, rocking, a dummy, pats on the bottom. These things are all considered a sleep association, used to induce sleep. When they are continuously offered to your baby to help them go to sleep, they will look for them to be offered again at the end of each sleep cycle.
Feeding too close to the nap. While your little one is awake; they are building sleep pressure. This sleep pressure is what helps them fall asleep come nap time. If your little one is frequently snacking at the breast or bottle throughout their awake time, they can use this as an opportunity to reboot! Try to keep your feeds interactive and at least 30 mins away from your nap time.
It’s important to remember that all babies are different, no two nap schedules will look the same. If you’re after some further assistance with navigating naps, our sleep programs are designed to help you and bub establish the best sleep routine that works for you!