Baby sleeping  or napping on a moon shaped pillow

Why is my child not sleeping or napping for long and what can I do about it?

Helen from Essential Parenting shares some of her top advice for dealing with naptimes and sleep for babies which don't always go to plan!
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Now, I know that it would be amazing if your baby slept for a good couple of hours - you would have time to chill, catch up on EastEnders or maybe even drink a hot cup of tea but I'm afraid to say that short naps are normal and pretty common. You may find that these short naps may lengthen as your little one gets older and more mobile.

Loads of people will recommend specific sleep schedules. Certain nap gaps and wake windows. Some babies will fit into these well but for others it may feel very unrealistic.  My advice is to spend a few days observing your child for their specific sleepy cues - how long after they wake do they start, are they happy after a nap etc. This will enable you to check your baby's overall sleep needs to see if there is a definite sleep deficit.  If there isn't and your baby seems generally happy then it is likely that this is normal for them.

However there are some reasons that short naps can start out of the blue...
- development  - when babies are learning a new skill such as sitting up or crawling etc.
- discomfort and pain - during times of illness or teething babies will be fussier than usual during this period.
- over-tiredness - this is common when babies are dropping naps before they are actually ready.
- sleep pressure is too low - make sure your baby is actually tired when you put them down for a nap - do they just want a change of scenery?
- over stimulation - pay attention to the environment that your child is in prior to their nap it could be that they need time to wind down first.
- under stimulation - getting out in the fresh air, expending some energy can be useful especially for older babies.

 So... what can we do
- rule out an underlying issues - eg over tiredness by adjusting nap times or bringing back a nap - a sling may help or napping in a pushchair.
- ensure your baby has lots of time in the fresh air in bright natural light - this helps to regulate the circadian rhythm which is our body clock that regulates sleep.
- try extending the nap by noting how long they normally sleep for and then being present about 5-10 mins before they normally wake so that you can encourage a longer sleep using whichever technique works for you. This could be feeding, patting, sushing, singing etc.
- love bombing - to support emotional wellbing, relationships and sleep. This fills up your little ones love tank so they are happier and more content when they need to spend time away from you.
Let go of things you can't control - so often we assume responsibility for things that are outside of our control which can cause anxiety and frustration
- you are NOT in control of whether your baby sleeps or not
- you are NOT in control of how long your baby sleeps for
- you ARE in control of how you chose to feel about your baby's sleep
- you ARE in control of where your baby sleeps
- you ARE in control of the environment you provide for your baby
Finally - so called crap naps get a pretty bad rap but it doesn't matter is you are contact napping, sling napping, motion napping, napping for 30 mins (you get the point!) All naps are good naps.
About the author:
Helen from Essential Parenting is a qualified Health Visitor, Paediatric Nurse and Gentle Sleep Coach. What sets Helen apart is that she has 4 kids of her own and 22 years experience working with families. Helen has shared with us some of her top advice when it comes to naptimes, which is an essential aspect of parenting under 3 year olds! 
Find out more about Helen and her services here. 

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