That’s great I hear you say, but what can I do about it?
Know that in the beginning, it is a normal part of your baby’s development. A cat nap is a way to describe when a baby only sleeps for one sleep cycle or less. If cat napping hasn’t become obvious before, it can become more pronounced when your baby reaches around 8-10 weeks old. This is because it coincides with your baby’s developing internal clock (circadian rhythm) which can make sleep cycles become more defined. Your baby experiences periods of deep sleep followed by active (lighter) stages of sleep, and it is during the latter, where they can either transition into their next sleep cycle or wake up, ready to party! ⠀⠀
If your little one cat naps around the clock, try experimenting with our top 10 tips for cat napping. Check them out below!
1⭐️ Darkening the room. Simple and effective. Not only does a dark room encourage the production of melatonin, (the sleepy hormone that allows your baby to feel sleepy) it also decreases the distraction in the room as well as becoming a cue for sleep. Lights off means sleepy time!
2⭐️ White noise. White noise can help your baby to really relax, switch off and prepare for a nice long sleep. It is also great in blocking out sudden loud noises. These noises may come from outside or within the home from other siblings, pets or other general household noises that can disturb your child in the lighter stages of sleep.
3⭐️ Temperature. Did you know that the optimum temperature for sleep is between 18-22 degrees Celsius? Feeling too cold can result in a premature wake, so ensure your baby is dressed for the temperature of their room so they do not become too hot or too cold (their chest, back and neck should feel nice and warm).
4⭐️ Understanding tired signs. Young babies can get over stimulated very easily so it is good to be aware of tired signs to look out for and get them to bed before they become overtired. Overtired babies will take longer to settle and usually sleep for shorter periods during the day.
5⭐️ Eliminate hunger as a cause for waking. A regular feeding pattern can help reduce any feeling or doubt that your baby is waking due to hunger. You can also offer a top up feed before a nap or ensure that they will not be due a feed during the nap itself. This is not a normal feed or a time to catch a few extra zzzz’s, just a little extra, around 15 mins before a nap to set them up for a nice sleep ahead.
6⭐️ The power pause. Have you ever watched how squirmy and noisy a new baby can be, only to resettle moments later? If you haven’t, I suggest you give it a try! A few minutes (I love a power pause of three minutes) before responding can make all the difference!
7⭐️ Self-Settling. From three months of age if you haven’t already, this is a great skill to start working on. This is because developmentally it is more likely to be achievable, but it doesn’t mean you to have to perfect it overnight! If a baby is given more opportunity to learn and practice, the easier it will be for them to achieve, makes sense, right?
8⭐️ Resettling. This is a big one! If we continue to get them up after only one sleep cycle, it can feel like you are on a never ending roller coaster ride with no end in sight! Short sleeps can compound overtime creating an overtired baby, making it even harder to achieve any sleep at all! We have plenty of resettling options to choose from at Sleep.Thrive.Grow Consulting to suit everyone, because experience has shown us that a more restful baby means a more rested family.
9⭐️ Awake time. Cat napping can be a result of an awake time that is either too short for your babies age, or an awake time that is way too long for them to tolerate. Have they been active during their awake time? Being active and stimulated is not only important from physical and mental development point of view but it will also ensure that they build up some sleep need/pressure to want a nice long sleep to begin with.
10⭐️ Go easy on yourself! If you have a classic cat napper on your hands and you know they will nap longer in a carrier or pram, take them out for some naps during the day. Maybe you could just focus on one nap to begin with at home and allow yourself a break?! If your new baby is a cat napper, but seems happy in their awake time, or it hasn’t impacted their night sleep, you may just choose not to worry and see if it settles down naturally.
Still cat napping?
Cat napping usually settles down from a developmental perspective before your baby reaches five months. However, this can depend on your baby’s routine during the day, timing and certain sleeping associations which could make it become more of a challenge. After five months, if your little one is still cat napping and it is not working for your family, this is a great time to source some help if it is becoming something you want to see the back of. Here we can look a little deeper into why it is continuing and help bring together the strategies you need all into one place. ⠀
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