Picture this: You’ve changed your baby’s nappy, popped them in a sleep suit, fed them, burped them and at long last they are finally asleep – only for them to be awake 20 minutes later.

Aaaargh. So frustrating but having a little cat napper is also all too common.

A catnapping baby is usually one that sleeps for approximately 20-45 minutes or less and then can’t be resettled after their nap.

In other words, they can’t link their sleep cycles together.

Catnapping often begins when babies are eight to ten weeks old. Between four and six months is typically the age when naps can start to more consistently extend past the 30 to 40 minute mark.

Babies who are put to sleep by being rocked or fall asleep while feeding may also be more likely to take short naps, because when they wake from the first sleep cycle, they look for their sleep association to help them go back to sleep.

A catnapping baby is usually one that sleeps for approximately 20-45 minutes or less

How can you lengthen your baby’s naps?

Following are some tips to encourage your baby to sleep longer.

  1. Start the bedtime routine before your little one is overtired and put her to bed when she’s drowsy but awake to help encourage her to fall asleep on her own.
  2. A baby’s sleep environment has a big effect on their ability to fall asleep and stay asleep so ensure their room is dark, consider a black-out curtain to help block the light.
  3. White noise can also assist babies to sleep longer and resettle without help during the day.
  4. When you’re baby wakes after a short nap, don’t immediately go to them. If she’s just fussing but not screaming, wait and see if she might go back to sleep herself.
  5. If you do go to your baby, try patting, shushing or singing them back to sleep instead of picking them up.
  6. Finally, you can try picking them up to resettle them back to sleep.
  7. Don’t try resettling for too long. If after 20 minutes you’re unsuccessful, you’ve probably missed your baby’s sleep window so try again next time.

Start the bedtime routine before your little one is overtired and put her to bed when she’s drowsy but awake.

When is catnapping a concern?

If your baby is happy, growing, meeting his developmental milestones and generally healthy, catnapping isn’t usually a cause for worry.

However, if your baby wakes from a nap and is inconsolable, you may want to seek medical advice as your little one may have colic.