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Short Naps: Is There Anything You Can Do To Make Them Longer?

Oh, naptime. Such a glorious concept. A little time during the day when you don’t have to be a fully present mom and you can do something else. Like watch adult tv. Or catch up on email. Or take a nap yourself.

Unless of course you baby only naps for 45 minutes at a time and the first 20 minutes are spent in your lap.

The wise old pediatrician who first examined my son as a newborn told me that little babies catnap. I didn’t really listen to him, apparently, because I was stunned and distressed when I realized that my son would only sleep for 45 minutes no matter what I did. I read all the sleep books and tried all the suggestions. He napped where he slept at night, I swaddled him, I had blackout curtains to make the room darker, I ran white noise. None of it made a difference. I would creep into his room at the 40 minute mark and start deploying all sorts of soothing measures to try and lull him into a second sleep cycle. Shushing, rocking, nursing. Nothing worked.

Despite my best efforts, he took catnaps until he was probably 6 months old, at which point he settled into a long nap in the morning and a shorter nap in the afternoon. I’m not sure what the change was. It may have been his daycare routine – though they followed babies’ lead on sleep there – or maybe he just needed to hit a different developmental stage to get to longer naps. It certainly wasn’t anything I did. Hindsight being 20/20, I realize now that he was happy and alert during his awake time, despite the shortness of his naps so he must have been getting the rest he needed, even if it was in small bites. According to WebMD, babies at 4 months usually take about three naps totaling 4-5 hours of daytime rest with most of their sleep happening at night. My son was probably getting that only in 4 naps instead of 3. So, he was fine. It was only me who was stressed and tired.

Now, my daughter is another catnapper like her brother before her. I shouldn’t complain about this because her night time sleep is really good and she also shows a sunny, energetic disposition during the day so she must be well rested. Plus, I have evidence that its possible for a daytime catnapper to evolve into a long-nap-taker so change is possible. But, still. A mom can dream, right? I’d really love to have more than half an hour to devote to adult concerns during my older child’s preschool hours. Not that it’s so terrible paying the bills with a small, cute, drooling audience in a bouncy seat but maybe she shouldn’t hear the words I use to describe my cable company’s website.

I have seen a glimmer of hope that the longer naps are possible, and maybe on the near horizon, is that my baby took a couple of two hour naps recently. The downside? It was while she was with a babysitter. I’m glad to know that she can take a long nap. Now, if she’d only take one for me…

Read more from Rebekah at Mom-in-a-Million, The DC MomsThe Broad Side Follow Rebekah on Facebook and Twitter too!

Photo credit: photo stock

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