When your child wakes up from their nap, how do you know whether you should resettle them or not? Have you been told your baby must sleep for a certain length of time for certain naps of the day?
“I’ve been told that I should resettle my baby to make sure they get a 2-hour nap in the middle of the day”.
Having some arbitrary number as a goal really doesn’t consider so many of the factors that influence and regulate your baby’s day sleep. This idea is also not based on any evidence.
“My baby seems fine and happy when they wake but they only slept one cycle”.
Okay, great. Looks like their cues are telling you that it was a great nap and perhaps it was just the right length they needed.
“Won’t my baby’s development will be impacted if they are not getting long restorative long naps”.
This is misinformation that creates fear that your baby isn’t getting ‘good’ sleep. There is an idea that exists that a short nap (one cycle) doesn’t include deep sleep. However, one full sleep cycle, which may be 40-50 minutes for babies, includes each phase of the sleep cycle including deep sleep! And interestingly, they don’t always need that deep phase sleep for every nap and even sleep less than one cycle might be okay for your baby too.
Here are three things to consider:
How are they when they wake?
If they are bright-eyed and bushy-tailed then brilliant, lovely nap, get up and on with the day. If they are clearly really wanting more sleep then help them back to sleep. If it’s uncertain, try for a little while but if it’s not heading in the right direction, just get up and on with the day and adapt the rest of the day.
How is the flow of their naps?
Sometimes your baby may be waking fine after a one cycle nap but the way their day is flowing means that things are a bit out of kilter in the bigger picture. The last nap of the day is late or awkward or just a challenge. It might be that they are waking up okay but as the day goes on you feel they are really struggling. Perhaps the flow of their day needs tweaking.
What’s the 24-hour picture?
How much sleep is your baby getting in a 24-hour period? That’s where the evidence lies to help you get a view of the bigger picture of your little one’s sleep. Each baby will also break that sleep into day and night differently. For example, at 4 -11 months the recommendation is 12 -15 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period (Galland et al., 2012; Hirshkowitz et al., 2015). One baby might have a 9-hour night block (recommendations do not assume continuous sleep) and 2 hours of naps. Another baby might do 11 hours overnight and 3 hours of naps.
You don’t need your decision about whether to resettle to be based on a number as a goal for a ‘right’ or ‘good’ nap. Look at the wider picture for understanding what is good for YOUR bub. And if you’re not sure and need some help, find someone who is really going to help you understand things from an evidence-based perspective so you can cut through the misinformation.
Article by Holistic Sleep Coach Annie Littlehales from Baby of Mine.
Join Annie on Wednesday 9th of March for a Facebook Live as she will provide some clear information that will support you in taking a gentle, holistic, responsive, and informed approach to your little one’s sleep. Find out more here.