When I first released my sleep training guide, one of the first email responses I got said,
“This book is everything I have needed. I have started to do as the book says this past week and I see such a big difference. I was sure my baby was colicky, but now he naps every 45 minutes and sleeps more soundly. And, he doesn’t cry for hours before bed. Little one is a much happier, as am I. We can’t thank you enough.”
I can not tell you how happy this made me! Here’s the thing. Your baby very well may be over tired. A lot of babies are!
One of the most common sleep-training problems I encounter is some version of:
“My baby only naps for 30-45 minutes. And they wake up screaming. I try to keep them awake for 2 hours or so because they don’t take long naps, but they just don’t sleep well no matter what.”
It seems like everyone wants their baby to nap longer.
The secret solution is actually to keep them awake for less time.
Yep, you read that right: PUT THEM DOWN FOR A NAP SOONER and they will nap longer.
Of course, there are other nap-time problems that my sleep training guide goes more in depth on. Such as:
- Starting a healthy sleep time routine
- Watching for tired cues to optimize for awake times
- Sleep cycle transitions
BUT KEEPING BABIES AWAKE FOR TOO LONG IS VERY COMMON
Keeping them awake seems like a good idea.
Because if they’re not napping well, you assume they need less sleep so that they’ll be more tired when they do nap.
But that’s actually spiraling in the wrong direction!! An overtired baby does not sleep as well. I have no idea why this is true, because when I’m overly tired, I feel like I could sleep for days.
Babies are different from adults though! If you want to get baby to nap longer, or it seems like baby won’t nap well, put them down for their nap sooner.
SO HOW LONG SHOULD BABY BE AWAKE?
Your newborn should not be awake any longer than 1-1.5 hours including the amount of time it takes them to nurse. All 4 of our kids have been awake for about 45-70 minutes as newborns. That shakes out to a 30-45 minute nursing session, followed by 10-15 minutes of “awake play time,” followed by a nap.
I know it sounds crazy, but people who try this are floored with the success! And with how much their baby sleeps!
Your 3-6 month old will likely not be awake longer than 1.5 hours at a time (give or take).
You can experiment a little with various “awake times,” and my sleep training guide explains this concept in more depth. But, the general principle is, if your baby won’t nap for long, or if your baby won’t nap at all, start putting them down for a nap way sooner.
Babies need deep, consistent sleep just like we do! Except they need it way more frequently. My sleep training guide gives more in depth sample schedules for babies at various ages, but most people who implement our sleep training method end up with babies who….
- take 3-4 naps for 1.5-2 hours ages 0-3 months (ish)
- take 2-3 naps for 1.5 hours ages 3-6 months (ish)
- take 2, 2 hour naps ages 6-12 months (ish)
- take 1, 2-3 hour nap ages 12+ months (ish)
A COUPLE OTHER NAPTIME TIPS
Now if your baby is awake all day long and happy, then great!!
But I usually hear from moms who feel like their baby is super cranky and won’t sleep and they just are kind of at their wits end.
And that’s where I would say – your baby is probably over tired. And rather rather than keeping them up longer because they don’t take good naps as is it, try putting them to bed sooner and see if that helps with naps.
The top 2 sleep training principles in my sleep training guide are actually available for free. You can snag them by clicking the button below!
Between those 2 principles and this tip on shorter “awake” times, you’ll be well on your way to a happily napping babe.
Good luck & feel free to reach out via email or in the comments with questions or sleep training tips of your own!