Has your baby catnapping stopped you from having a shower?
Here at Babybliss, baby catnapping is the source of a lot of emails we get from parents who are struggling. Baby catnapping is the worst! You have just gone from having a baby who was sleeping two, maybe three hours, sometimes, per nap, and now they are waking after 45 minutes. What just happened? I mean, how can you possibly get through that increasingly long list of jobs, when you have a baby who will only sleep for the length of time it takes you to have two sips of warm tea, throw down a piece of cold vegemite toast and be juuuuust about to step into the shower!
The first thing I can tell you is that catnapping is really common. Most babies, and I reckon it is about 90%, will catnap, and it usually starts around eight to ten weeks. When you consider the research on why this might be, it emerges that babies tend to increase their sleep cycles around this stage and they start to sleep differently during the day to the night. There can also be a developmental jump happening around this age, which increases brain activity, and so babies can become more resistant to sleep. I also think that some babies can start to snack if they are being fed on a strict schedule or if they are following the feed/play/sleep routine as this can lead to them going to bed with empty tummies.
Well that’s all well and good, I hear you say, but how do I help my baby sleep longer?
Good question! Here are my four top tips:
- Feed your baby when they are hungry.
Make sure you are feeding your baby only when they are hungry, not just because they have woken from a sleep. I know, I know! You have been drilled in the feed/play/sleep school of routines. But I am here to tell you that that routine just isn’t going to work for you as your baby grows. They just don’t need to be fed every time they wake. And in fact, waiting till they are hungry can help with your baby being distracted while feeding, and reduce the effect of the four month sleep regression (we can talk about that later!).
- Don’t accept that 45 minutes is all you will get.
This is definitely one of the pitfalls we all fall into because often your baby will wake up after one sleep cycle and look like they have had the sleep of the century. Don’t fall for it! If you do get them up, it will only be about 30 to 45 minutes before they start to get tired again and you will be on that hideous roundabout of up, down, up, down all day. No one gets any sleep and no one is happy.
- Resettle the baby back to sleep.
So instead of getting them up, you need to resettle them back to sleep. Or at least try to resettle them. I know this can be the worse thing EVER, particularly if you have to lean over a cot and pat endlessly for hours, so let’s make it easier:
- Don’t lean into the cot, get yourself a chair and position it so you are comfortable.
- Don’t do it for hours. I recommend keeping the baby in the cot for the amount of time they are supposed to be asleep for, about 90 minutes. So if they sleep for 45 minutes, only resettle for about 40 to 45 and then only if it looks like it is going to work.
- Pick your battles. If your baby is very upset, pick them up and if you have to rock them to calm them, then do it. But try and do the last bit of settling in their cot.
- Don’t send yourself spare!
Resettling a catnapping baby can be tough. It can be demoralising, and it can be futile, at times. So if you feel you are getting nowhere, then give yourself, and your baby a break. You are okay and your baby is okay. You can choose one sleep a day to work on rather than all the sleeps, or you can just stop resettling altogether for a week and then try again.
Most catnapping babies eventually do grow out of catnapping. So even if you do nothing, your baby’s day sleep will get longer as they grow, eat more food, and move more.
If you have tried all the above and are still struggling, then we can help you.
We have a range of services that can give you that hands-on help you need to kick catnapping to the curb! And we have a Catnapping Special running on most of them until the end of June so please take a look at our Day Visits, the Baby Sleep Saver and the Premium Phone Consult that have great results with catnapping babies.
We would love to hear from you! Please leave a comment below and tell us how long your baby is sleeping during the day and how long it has been since you have had a hot cup of tea!
Jo was amazing. She realised straight away that our daughter had a negative association with our bedroom and with the bassinet. She moved her into the nursery in the cot and used her gentle settling technique. Within a single sleep, our baby was sleeping for two and a half hours at a time and was smiling and cooing when she was awake. Over the next 24 hours, she became a changed baby and we were changed parents.
If you are considering engaging Jo’s services, don’t hesitate; just do it. Every moment you delay is one more moment between a more rested you and your happier baby.