Short Naps

4 month old has been waking up from naps after 30 min since she was 2.5 months old. I use to rock her back to sleep and hold her to extend the nap. However, the bigger she gets the more difficult this has become and I will end up holding her for naps for half the day. Should I continue to rock her to extend the nap or let her get up when she wakes? She only wakes up once to eat at night and usually does great.


  • Natalie_Barnett_PhD
    Natalie_Barnett_PhD Member, Nanit Team, Expert

    @Ellen This is really tricky and can be frustrating for you! I want to assure you though, at this age, its really normal to be taking 30 minute naps. The naps will lengthen with time for most babies. The important thing at this age is actually having her fall asleep by herself at the beginning of the night. Once she can do that independently, it will be easier for her to become an independent napper too. When she can fall asleep for naps unassisted, she will be more easily able to get herself back to sleep when she wakes from the first sleep cycle.

    To answer your question about rocking for naps; Since it sounds like it is becoming untenable for you to continue to rock her back to sleep after she wakes, I'd love you to give her a few minutes after she wakes to see if she resettles, and if she doesnt, go get her and move on with the day.

    I like to suggest the last cat nap of the day in the stroller outside so that you can get out and about and get some fresh air and exercise (great for YOUR wellbeing!) and give everyone a break from the naps.

    Good luck!

    Dr Natalie Barnett

  • @Natalie_Barnett_PhD thanks for this answer - so useful and reassuring! My 11wo is settling himself for naps and nighttime but only ever seems to do one cycle so good to know that’s normal! Any reason for suggesting the LAST nap of the day is outside? I usually do the first but am totally flexible so if it is better for sleep to do the last one then I will switch

  • My 3 year old was the same way. Natalie gave really good advice, but I wanted to say I feel for you! She still plays in her room for an hour++ before finally passing out.

  • Our now 16 month old is only napping 30 to 45 mins a day (1 nap/day). Her room is our 2nd bedroom in the condo, and it has 2 big glass sliding doors as part of the room (den). We pasted a frosted adhesive for privacy but now realize 4 months in, that it really wasn't dark enough for her. We've now "blacked" out the room. She's always slept fine for night sleeps being ~11 hours. But the naps continue to be short.

    Our concerns are:

    1) Does short naps impact mind development?

    2) Was the daylight seeping through the glass doors an impact for the short naps?