Poor napping

CASE STUDY: Poor napping, an unsettled baby & an exhausted mother...

Theodore's sleep story...

New mum Tracy felt completely lost. It felt like she spent the entire day trying to get 9 week old Theodore to nap! She hardly had time to eat or go to the bathroom and Theodore spent most of the day in the baby swing as nothing else worked to get him to sleep.

When Theodore would finally doze off, he would either sleep for 15 minutes at a time, or do one long nap of 3 hours; there was no predictability. He was very hard to get to sleep at bedtime too and usually wouldn't fall asleep until 9-10pm. Luckily Theodore did sleep well once Tracy got him down for the night, only waking once or twice for a feed.

Tracy was tired of fighting to get Theodore to nap and desperately wanted some more consistency and predictability in their days, but nothing she tried seemed to help:

I read a ton of stuff online but nothing worked. I kept hearing that you should try to keep babies awake for an hour and I would do that, then he would sleep for 10 minutes and wake again. I tried letting him fall asleep on his own but he would get overstimulated and stay awake way too long. I was so worried that I was doing something wrong but I couldn't figure out how to make it better.

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Eventually, she came across Little Ones on Facebook and bought our Newborn Sleep Program. After seeing the sleep schedule for Theodore's age, the cause of his erratic napping became pretty clear...

Little Theodore was having such short naps because his awake windows were too short for his age. He simply wasn't tired enough to settle easily or nap well! This is one of the most common causes of poor napping in young babies.

When your baby is brand new, they will likely only be able to stay awake for 1 hour at a time before they need to be settled back to sleep. But by the time your baby reaches 12 weeks old, their awake times will have gradually stretched out to closer to 2 hours!

Babies are very sensitive to the balance of awake time and sleep throughout the day. If their awake times and nap lengths are not adjusting to keep up with their changing sleep needs as they grow, you will likely find that they begin to resist settling, start napping for short periods, wake more frequently in the night or stay awake for long periods in the night.

Many parents fall into the trap of thinking their 8-12 week old baby can still only stay awake for an hour at a time, when their sleep needs, especially those awake times, will have changed dramatically over the last 2-3 months.

Once Tracy was following the Program and hitting the right awake times for Theodore's age, he was able to have longer naps, which improved his night time sleep and settling, not to mention his mood! It also gave Tracy more time for herself:

It was amazing! He did all the naps as per the Program on the first day and then I got him to sleep at 7pm that night. It was the best feeling to have a schedule that actually worked. I was even able to start attending to the housework that I had been neglecting before I started the Program. I now feel so relieved because I know that my son is getting the sleep he needs for his developing brain. I am also thankful for the extra time I have to myself!

It didn't take long for Theodore to settle into his new sleep routine, and for Tracey to start feeling more confident in herself as a mother:

Theodore seems to really like routine; he knows that when the lights go out and the white noise goes on, it's time to sleep and he knows that when the lights go on, its time to be awake. IT IS AMAZING! I am so thankful that I found Little Ones! Before starting I was at my breaking point. I felt completely lost and every day was an uphill battle. I love the predictability that the Program has given us!

Theodore's story shows that there are many ways to achieve better sleep for babies without resorting to traditional "sleep training". By starting small and looking at the easy things, like extending awake times, dramatic change is possible!

Take the guesswork out of your baby's sleep with our comprehensive Sleep Programs. Get instant access to customisable sleep and feed schedules, detailed troubleshooting notes for when things don't go to plan, gentle settling methods and more. We also have certified sleep consultants available day and night in our Little Ones Village to provide you with personalised guidance and support.


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