My baby only sleeps 20-45 mins at a time. How can I make naps longer?

Sleep training advocates often scare parents with claims that cat naps are bad for babies’ development, that they must be sleeping for longer stretches or dire consequences will occur. The thing is, that’s just not true.

Babies don’t have 90 minute sleep cycles, like adults do. They start out with 20 minute sleep cycles, which slowly increase to 90 minutes over the first 3 years. If your baby’s sleep cycle is 20 mins, then a 20 min sleep isn’t a “cat nap” or “junk sleep” it is a full sleep cycle. Babies that catnap may nap more frequently, or sleep longer stretches at night. Some just need less total sleep and do perfectly fine with catnaps.

Is it frustrating? Sometimes, absolutely. Is it a sign that your baby is broken, or has a “sleep disorder”: that needs to be fixed? NO.

So, if your baby is waking from their short nap happy and refreshed, embrace the cat naps. If they’re waking tired and cranky, help them back to sleep with a feed for a second cycle.

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FAQCarly Grubbsleep, naps