Why do babies and toddlers have short naps (catnaps)?

There are five main reasons that a child may take a short nap-

1. The ‘cannot be put down because they wake after 15-20minute’ short nap babe

2. The ‘even when in my happiest place, I still only need 20-40 minute’ short nap babe

3. The ‘wakes screaming / crying in distress’ short nap babe

4. The ‘appointment or school pick drop off/ pick up’ short nap babe

5. The ‘cannot be transferred from one location to another’ short nap babe

The first candidate is easily solved - this is a little love who needs cuddles and will gladly take a longer snooze provided they are in contact with another beloved human ... contact napping and chilling (expert tip- duck to the loo before, check your phone is charged, snacks, drinks and remote are at hand) or babywearing if you need to be mobile are the best way to help this small person get the rest they need πŸ™ŒπŸ½

Little person two is in an ‘ain’t broke, don’t need fixing’ stage where short naps are simply all they need/ can manage with what their body and brain is currently tasked to learn. The best strategy to tackle this one is to find acceptance, relax and roll with it. Sure, some days that may mean an extra kip or two is required but you can’t *make* someone sleep and if this short time is all they need to take the edge off their sleep pressure then why not embrace that and get on with it. πŸ™ŒπŸ½

A babe who fits number three regularly is a babe who sounds like something is up ... their short sleep is a symptom of an underlying issue that is causing discomfort and the Brief Infant and Toddler Sleep screener by Evolutionary Parenting would be a great start in investigating what is causing their discomfort. Or read this one 

When sleep isn't normal

All those living category 4 ... solidarity fist bumps all the way πŸ€œπŸΌπŸ€›πŸΎ it is SO hard sometimes when life’s obligations mean you cannot keep your little one asleep when they needed longer, but, just remind yourself that this time will be brief as your babe’s daytime sleep needs will change, shift and eventually be no longer as the weeks, months and years pass. Some people find, a carpool helps ease the load if you can wrangle it ... πŸ™ŒπŸ½

Aaaaaahhhhh the transfer .... number 5 and the question, ‘to attempt transfer, or not to attempt transfer’ ... so, so incredibly variable and individual. Some babes are more hit than miss, others have 99.9% failure rate. My general rule of thumb as to whether I attempt to transfer or not is to gauge just how much I think I’ll be devastated if the transfer is unsuccessful... 100% devastation = leave in situ, do not disturb, sit wherever you are and Wait. That. Nap. Out. Not too upset either way = give it a red hot go and don’t jinx self by announcing success to anyone (even self) until nap is well and truly done.

So in short, short naps are normal and common and faced by pretty much all of us from time to time and by and large, they aren’t a big enough fish to fry that you need to consider them a problem.

Carly Grubb, 2019

Founder of Little Sparklers, home of The Beyond Sleep Training Project

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