Lucas, 3 months: Short naps and unsettled all evening
Lucas' sleep story...
Baby Lucas was in his own little routine with 4 short catnaps at relatively regular times throughout the day. His mum Stefanie was breastfeeding him on demand and he had the perfect sleep-inducing room conditions: a swaddle, white noise and a dark room.
However, come the evening, little Lucas was beside himself: upset, unsettled and fussing at the breast - sometimes for over an hour! Stefanie's friends and healthcare provider tried to reassure her that this was "normal" for a baby his age and there was nothing she could do about it.
Much to Stefanie's relief, when Lucas would eventually go to sleep, he was then sleeping most of the night, only waking once for a feed around 3 AM.
Stefanie had been putting up with the shorter day naps and exhausting evenings because she was still getting that decent night's sleep. However, she was worried that wouldn't last for long, having read that continued catnapping can eventually lead to very unsettled nights closer to 6 months.
So around 3 months, Stefanie decided she wanted to try to get some longer naps out of Lucas during the day. She purchased our Baby Sleep Program and started implementing the sleep schedule accordingly. She was still breastfeeding on demand, which she found worked well with the sleep times in the Program.
After reading through the information in the Program, Stephanie was able to work out that Lucas' unsettled evenings were largely due to his catnapping habit. Because Lucas' naps were very short, he wasn't getting enough deep, restorative sleep during the day (this happens once babies have been asleep for over an hour). This meant he was very overtired come the evening, resulting in his unsettled behaviour and difficulties settling at bedtime.
Stefanie's friends and healthcare provider were partly correct when they said this was "normal" behaviour. Catnapping (sleeping for only one sleep cycle at a time in the day) IS a very normal developmental stage all babies go through somewhere between 8-16 weeks.
They were wrong though when they told Stefanie that there was nothing she could do about it! Having your baby's naps at the optimal times for their age and actively teaching them to resettle can really help with catnapping.
At first, Stefanie was sceptical that Lucas would sleep longer than one sleep cycle during the long lunch nap, however, with a bit of help resettling, he was managing the full 2 hours within a week! Straight away, Stefanie saw improvements with Lucas' behaviour in the evening. Since he was more rested in the afternoon, this lead to a calmer (and earlier) bedtime and it was no longer a struggle to get him down for the night.
By tweaking Lucas' nap structure, Stefanie was able to encourage a good long sleep across the middle of the day, with shorter naps either side, which meant Lucas wasn't as overtired at bedtime and settled a lot easier.
BUT, Lucas had started waking MORE at night! His one night wake suddenly became 3 or 4, so Stefanie turned to the sleep consultants in our Little Ones Village for help.
We explained that what was happening with Lucas's nights is actually very normal! Now that he was having longer, better quality sleep during the day, his body had to get used to this new equilibrium and find the right balance again between day time sleep and night time sleep.
After learning about the sleep consolidation process, Stefanie felt reassured and stuck with the nap timings in the Program. She pushed through a few unsettled nights as Lucas' sleep was re-calibrating, knowing that the more consistent she was with his nap times, the quicker his night sleep would improve. Sure enough, a week later and Lucas was napping well in the day and back to sleeping well overnight too!
After adjusting Lucas's naps and pushing through the more unsettled nights while he found the right sleep balance, Stefanie was amazed that he was now having longer naps as well as great night time sleep. This equalled more sleep overall and a much happier baby and mother!
If your baby is catnapping all day but still sleeping well at night, or if both days and nights are tough, our Sleep Programs have all the info you need to get your baby's sleep back on track, just like Stefanie did.