It’s an incredibly common problem and many parents don’t know where to find practical solutions that really work. Baby sleep tips are a dime a dozen these days, but I’m a regular mom just like you. I’ve been there struggling with a challenging sleeper and found solutions that really work.
If you are looking to help your baby nap at least 1.5-2 hours, these are some realistic baby sleep tips to help your baby nap better and longer.
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Basic Baby Sleep Tips for Naps
Here are a few important things to know before you even begin troubleshooting naps…
1. Babies sleep in 45 minutes sleep cycles, not 90 minute sleep cycles like adults.
2. If a baby wakes after 45-50 minutes, it is likely he or she woke prematurely and wasn’t done sleeping.
3. The ideal nap length for a baby is of 1.5 – 2.5 hours.
It’s important to know these things so that you as a parent can feel confident making decisions about your baby’s sleep. When you know the basic baby sleep tips regarding sleep cycles and ideal nap length, it becomes easier for you to troubleshoot.
If you are looking for far more detail about helping your baby nap better, For the Love of Sleep is an amazing resource for so many parents.
More baby sleep tips for naps.
Use white noise.
I’ve used this tip many times before, so it is no secret that I’m a huge advocate of white noise. A little bit goes a long way. A gentle humming of a fan is my preferred white noise. If it’s difficult to keep the noise level within reason during nap time, then white noise is an easy option.
Try a sleep prop for one nap per day.
If you are struggling with a chronic short napper, and nothing is working, try a sleep prop such as a swing, bouncer or stroller. I’m not a huge advocate for sleep props, but I’ve used them as a last resort. My son was a chronic 45 minute napper for months. For whatever reason, he could not make it through the baby sleep cycle transition.
We found great success using a swing to encourage on longer 2.5 hour nap per day.
Try a sleep prop mid-nap.
After your baby wakes mid-nap, try moving the baby to a swing, bouncer or stroller and see if the baby will go back to sleep. Several moms shared this tip with me, and while it won’t work in every circumstance, it is worth a try.
Offer baby the chance to fall back asleep.
Try to offer your baby the chance to fall back asleep independently. It’s a mother’s first instinct to rush in and comfort her baby; however, allowing the baby to fall asleep on his own can result in longer naps. The baby will start to make it through the transition (mid-nap) on his own.
There were many times I would hear my baby after 45-50 minutes into his nap. I would usually give him about 10-15 minutes to fall back asleep. If he didn’t after 15 minutes, I knew it was very unlikely he would go back to sleep. I would just get him up at that point and move on with our day.
I share my gentle, yet effective method in detail in For the Love of Sleep
Consistency is everything when dealing with babies. The world is an overwhelming chaotic place for infants. Making a nap plan and sticking to it will make a world of difference to your little baby. Make an effort to have approximate (plus or minus 15 minutes) nap time for your baby.
You can also use these baby routine cards to help keep a consistent pre-nap and bedtime routine…
If you are consistent, you may start seeing better naps in a short amount of time. We tried our very best to limit disruptions to a few times per week. For us, it wasn’t worth him missing sleep because we paid for it later in the form of a fussy baby.
Think long term.
We all want to carry on with everyday life, get out of the house, and feel human. It’s easy to forego the nap schedule in lieu of our own desires. But sometimes it isn’t really worth it. Sometimes disruptions for a day or two can result in chronic short naps. When making sacrifices to keep a good nap routine and schedule, it will pay off substantially in the long run.
Give it time.
Baby sleep starts to settle in during the 3-6 month mark when they start reaching deep sleep faster and stay in deep sleep longer. Sometimes short naps will work themselves out on their own.
Print your free baby sleep checklist!
This post comes with a free printable baby sleep checklist to help you support longer stretches of sleep for your baby! Plus, when you grab this printable, you’ll get instant access to my free 3-day baby sleep eCourse.
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable straight to your inbox, plus get my Free 3-Day Baby Sleep eCourse!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Use it as a quick reference and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on baby sleep?
- My Top 10 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips To Help You Get More Sleep
- The Newborn Routine That Will Help Your Baby Fall Asleep Faster
- Top 7 Challenges + Solutions for Parenting a Newborn and Toddler
- 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know
Resources for baby sleep:
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, rhythm or schedule, this email series will help you find one that will work for YOUR family. Yes, really. I've seen my sample routines work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
This free email series will help you:
- Free sample routines for your child
- Best morning routine tips and tricks your kids will actually follow
- All-time favorite parenting hacks for getting more cooperation at bedtime
- Step-by-step guide for using a printable daily schedule with kids