Got a cat napper?
Updated: Jun 20
Short naps are incredibly common especially in younger babies. Lots of parents can feel really worried about this, especially if they've read a schedule somewhere that says their baby should be sleeping for x number of naps per day of y minutes each. It would also be so much more convenient to have a baby that took nice long reliable naps, wouldn't it? But unfortunately, cat naps are common, normal, and generally nothing to worry about. If baby wakes from their nap seeming content, then they probably had as much sleep as their body needs. As the number of naps they take in the day decreases, their length will generally increase. However if they often wake seeming unhappy, sleepy or emotional, or their overall sleep during the day is on the low side and nights are tricky, then here are a couple of things you could consider: Where does baby nap best? If you have a baby with a strong preference for contact naps, but you put them down for every nap, it's unlikely they will clock up all the sleep in the day their body wants. Could you consider offering contact for one or more naps a day? Or if they are easily stimulated and sleep better in a quiet space, you might find they struggle out and about. Could you offer one nap a day in the quiet? What happens if you wait slightly longer before offering sleep? Sometimes babies need just a little more sleep pressure to build before they sleep, to nudge them into a second sleep cycle. As the parent of a cat napper, I remember how relentless it sometimes felt and how ragingly jealous I was of other parents who had babies who bust out mega naps. From 4 to about 8 months, my little one never napped for longer than 35 minutes at a time. I remember at around 8 months, when he had his first hour long nap in over 4 months, how absolutely giddy I felt with that amount of breathing space. So if you've got a cat napper who seems happy in themselves but you're desperate about it because of the impact on you, then maybe this isn't a baby sleep problem at all. Can you be kind to yourself; acknowledge how much harder it is to have a fleetingly sleeping baby; and put in some serious self care strategies to see you through?