This has got to be my most asked sleep question: “How do I get my baby to nap for longer during the day!”
If you’re struggling with short naps, the good news is if you follow my preferred routine, by 5 months old, we only need to resettle for just one nap a day, the lunch nap when their most restorative sleep occurs!
Here are my top tips to nail this 2 hour lunch nap!
1. Awake time
Following age appropriate wake times is key to your baby sleeping well.
Young babies can become overtired very easily. An over tired baby will struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep as their cortisol and adrenalin levels rise.
Watching your baby’s tired signs and making sure they aren’t awake for too long before their lunch nap will help them to sleep for longer.
However, we don’t want to put them down too early. If they are under tired and haven’t been given enough awake time to build up their sleep pressure, they simply won’t be tired enough to have a long sleep.
12-16 weeks: 1 hour 45 mins – 2 hours awake
4 months old: 2 hours awake
5 months old: 2 hours 15 mins awake
6-8 months old: 2 hours 30 mins awake
2. Expectations around sleep needs
Babies only need a certain amount of sleep over a 24 hour period. If they have a long morning nap, from 4 months old, they won’t have enough drive to sleep for a long time during their lunch nap.
Your baby’s sleep needs change a lot during the first 8 months of their life. As they grow, they can handle more awake time during the day and the length of their naps gradually decrease. We therefore need to make changes to their routine every few weeks, this can be tricky when you’re a first time mum or dad and not sure what changes need to be made!
My Baby Sleep & Routines E-guide can take away all the guesswork with routines for up to 12 months old and settling techniques to nail the 2 hour lunch nap! Click here for more info.
3. Sleep Associations
In order to achieve the 2 hour lunch nap, your baby is going to need to be able to link their sleep cycles. A sleep cycle during the day is around 45 mins long. If your baby relies on you or any other sleep association, such as the dummy to fall asleep they will struggle to consolidate their sleep on their own.
If your baby is fed, rocked, held or patted to sleep, when they rouse between sleep cycles, they’ll wake up fully and cry out wanting those same conditions that were present when they went to sleep.
To help your baby learn to fall asleep independently, gradually lessen the amount of assistance we are giving them to fall asleep and introduce some positive sleep associations such as a comforter (for babies 6 months plus), a dark room, white noise and a sleeping bag.
4. Consistent Resettling
Consistency is key! When we have the timing and sleep environment spot on, it can still take a bit of time for them to learn to resettle. Resettling is actually a different skill to self-settling at the beginning of a nap. If your baby is only sleeping one sleep cycle, try resettling for at least 40 minutes (for babies 4 months plus).
If we stay consistent with our resettling method and timing, your little one will soon learn they need to go back to sleep and sleep for longer.
It can take a few weeks for your baby to nail their lunch nap but by following my tips above we should see small improvements every few days. Once your baby is nailing their lunch nap, 2 hours to yourself is golden!
For all the settling and resettling methods, I use, check out my Baby Sleep & Routines E-guide here.
Feel like you need some 1:1 support? I can help you stay consistent and keep you motivated to achieve your sleep goals!
Click here to learn more about how I can help you.