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What to do When Your Baby Takes Short Naps!

Updated: Nov 1, 2022

Are you finding that your baby is waking up after a nap 30 minutes on the dot?

Do they still seem tired or even frustrated that they aren't still sleeping?

Maybe you've even tried to 'rescue' the nap, by feeding or rocking or patting, with no success?

First consideration:

Baby's age!

It's common for babies between 4-6 months of age to take short naps!

Part of it is biological- their body hasn't matured enough yet post 4-month regression to start connecting sleep cycles, this is super normal!

The other part is skill/practice!

If your baby is taking short naps and you're struggling to get them to sleep longer, even if they are under 6 months of age, it's worth trying the following things as they often do help!

1) Enough awake time!

As your baby gets older, they need more and more awake time between naps to be able to sleep longer at nap time.

In the sleep world, we call this 'sleep pressure'.

{What this means is essentially for your baby to be tired enough, to sleep well.}

If your baby isn't awake long enough or is being put down for a nap early, a couple of things can happen:

  • They will fall asleep easily but wake up in 20-40 minutes

  • They will protest falling asleep, and only sleep 20-40 minutes

Neither of those is great to deal with and can be frustrating for everyone!

2) Wake windows 101!

In case you didn't know already, wake windows increase throughout the day!

They are typically a 'range' for each age group and we expect the shortest time awake to be in the morning between when your baby wakes up for the day and their first nap.

Mid-day is when we see mid-range for awake time, and at the end of the day is typically the longest stretch.

3) Eat-Play-Sleep!

Don't underestimate how sleep associations can impact your baby's ability to fall asleep easily, and connect sleep cycles!

Eat-play-sleep is a routine that helps put space between your baby's feeds, and sleep.

{Remember the 20-minute No Feed Zone!}

How to implement this routine:

  • Wake up!

  • {10-minute buffer}

  • The first feed of the day!

  • Playtime!

  • *Baby's wake window is ending and is showing sleepy cues*

  • Nap #1

Rinse and repeat!

4) Waiting after a short nap

Have you ever responded quickly when your baby has woken up, only to find that they weren't really awake?

Waiting for a few minutes before getting your baby up from a short nap allows for:

A) The opportunity to fall back asleep

B) To delay the instant gratification of a parent showing up right away

If you're only comfortable with a couple of minutes, start there!

I teach my clients to wait at least 5-10 minutes before getting their baby up as we often see that they will fall back asleep!

*Note: no need to do this with the last nap of the day as we want it to be short*


If you've been working on Eat-play-sleep, giving your baby enough awake time, and waiting for a few minutes after they wake up from a short nap, and they still only take short naps, then you'll have to give it time:)

Some babies just aren't ready!

But by continuing with these strategies, you may find yourself magically seeing your baby taking longer naps!

Most babies do start to take longer naps around 6 months of age!

Last note:

Make sure your baby's room is dark! Like a deep dark cave dark!


Is your baby not sleeping well no matter what you do? Let's talk!

We can get your baby sleeping well in a couple of weeks!

Here for you,

Melody Patton

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