How to deal with catnaps

What's a catnap again?

Catnapping is an extremely common sleep concern reported by parents of young babies. A “catnap” is when a baby only sleeps for around 30 minutes and then wakes up thinking they are ready to get up and play!

A sleep cycle is how long?

An infants natural sleep cycle during the day is 30-45 minutes. At around the 30-45 minute mark babies come into their lighter phase of sleep, REM sleep. This is where they are likely to wake a little and if they don’t have the skills to put themselves back to sleep they will call out and want to get up.

If you are able to teach and support our baby to resettle after a catnap they will eventually learn how to get themselves back to sleep when they come into that lighter phase of sleep.

Why is it important to link sleep cycles?

For an infant:

  • a catnap is not long enough to get the deep restorative sleep that they need for optimal growth and brain development
  • continuous catnap will result in overtiredness and struggle to get through their day,
  • catnapping overtiredness may lead to crying more, uninterested in play, eating and feeding differently
  • teaching them to link sleep cycles is skill building

The 5 steps to return baby to sleep

  1. Resettling after baby wakes from a catnap is key!
  2. When baby wakes after a catnap, go to them (after already deciding on which settling method you will use)
  3. Begin settling
  4. Timeframe– a baby over 6mths: resettle for up to an hour or more if needed, often resettling until the end of the sleep period is helpful if baby is coping well

The way in which a parent chooses to do the resettling is completely up to you.

There are many different ways to settle and resettle a baby and it depends on the age and stage of the baby and the parenting style.

For more sleep information, chat to Canberra’s infant sleep specialist, Ellie at The Goodnight Theory.Β 

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