Short naps are extremely common for babies but just as frustrating for parents. Learn why your baby only naps for 30 minutes and how to extend your baby’s nap beyond that 30-minute mark.

baby awake in crib after 30 minute nap

Short naps are super common for babies under 7 months old and even developmentally appropriate.

But they’re still extremely frustrating.

If your baby only naps for 30 or 45 minutes, it’s normal and something they will likely grow out of if you’re following independent sleep habits and other recommended sleep practices.

However, there may be some changes you can make to encourage a longer nap.

Keep reading to see why your baby is only napping for 30 minutes and what you can do to help them fall back asleep.

baby awake in crib

Why is My Baby Only Napping 30 Minutes?

A short nap is a nap that is less than 60 minutes. Here are the most common reasons why babies take short naps.

1. Baby is Under 7 Months Old

It’s normal for babies under 7 months old to take short naps. Thirty to 45-minute naps happen in young babies because their sleep cycles last about 20 to 50 minutes.

Babies under 7 months old aren’t able to fully sync their sleep cycles, so when they come out of one sleep cycle, it can be very difficult for them to fall back asleep.

Typically by 7 months old—or around the time you transition from 3 to 2 naps—your baby is better equipped to connect sleep cycles for naps, giving you those longer naps you’ve been dreaming of.

2. Their Wake Windows Are Off

In my experience, not following the right wake windows for your baby is the biggest culprit for short naps.

If you keep your baby awake for too long in between sleep, they get overtired, which can lead to a short nap.

If you don’t keep your baby awake long enough, then they don’t have enough sleep pressure to take a long nap.

I know—It can be so complicated and frustrating figuring out your baby’s optimal wake windows.

Most babies fall within an average range for their age. It can take some time to figure out their optimal wake window and get that nap timing just right.

In general, if your baby is taking a 30-minute nap or less, she is probably overtired and needs less awake time between naps.

If your baby is waking up 45 minutes or so into a nap, she is probably not tired enough and needs more wake time.

3. The Environment isn’t Optimized for Sleep

Since it can be so hard for babies to connect those sleep cycles, we need to make it easier for them to do so by creating a sleep environment that is calm and soothing.

We don’t want any stimulation helping to wake them up in the middle of nap time.

Here is how to optimize their room for sleep:

  • Nursery blackout curtains: Keep the room dark to help baby stay asleep or fall back asleep. Your baby doesn’t have any concept of time, so when they see the sun they think it’s time to wake up and play.
  • White noise sound machine: Continuous white noise during sleep can help prevent your baby from waking up from the sound of a doorbell or barking dog.
  • Cool temperature: Make sure the temperature in your baby’s room is optimal. You can dress your baby for sleep in a swaddle or sleep sack depending on her age to keep them warm during nap time.

4. They Didn’t Fall Asleep on their Own Initially

Remember how I said your baby’s sleep cycles only last about 20 to 50 minutes?

If you use a sleep association, such as feeding your baby to sleep, when they wake up after one sleep cycle they may feel disoriented if you’re not there.

Suddenly their sleep environment is different than the one they originally fell asleep in.

If you’ve gotten in the habit of feeding to sleep and you want to learn how to stop nursing to sleep and teach independent sleep habits, The Baby Dream System can help.

Video About 30-Minute Naps

Watch the video below where Amy will answer the most frequently asked questions surrounding short naps and how to troubleshoot. Sometimes it helps to hear someone explain it versus reading a blog post.

How Do I Resettle My Baby After A 30-Minute Nap?

While it’s normal and developmentally appropriate for your young baby to take short naps, there are a few things you can try to resettle your baby in hopes that they fall back asleep after a short nap.

Extend the Nap

If your baby wakes up early from a nap, you can save the nap by holding your baby to sleep for a contact nap, baby wearing, or going for a walk in the stroller.

Don’t worry about creating “bad habits” by saving a nap.

As long as your baby goes down initially on their own for sleep, saving a nap shouldn’t cause any sort of sleep regression.

Offer Crib Side Comfort

Some babies may go back to sleep with a little crib side comfort. Try these different approaches to help your baby fall back asleep if they take a short nap:

Practice Crib Hour

if your baby can fall asleep on their own, you can practice crib hour.

This can be particularly helpful if you find your baby suddenly taking short naps, or you think all the other elements of your baby’s sleep are spot on.

Crib hour is when you leave your baby in the crib for at least 60 minutes during nap time, in the hopes that she falls back asleep.

You can use a sleep training method, or leave your baby be if she is happily playing quietly during her nap time.

Make sure to only implement crib hour for sleep training naps if your baby is able to fall asleep independently.

Try the Wake to Sleep Approach

If you’ve tried everything else and you feel like your schedule is spot on, then you can try the wake to sleep approach.

It can be a bit intimidating for some parents to do, but if you know your baby will wake up at that 30 or 45-minute mark, it’s worth a shot.

Here’s how to do it:

  • Keep track of when your baby usually wakes up. For example, does she always wake up at the 38-minute mark?
  • Pay attention to the clock during nap time and be ready 5 minutes before baby’s normal wake up time.
  • Go into her nursery and slightly rouse her, by gently brushing her cheek. The goal is to reset her sleep cycle before she has the chance to wake up on her own.
  • You’re not waking her up all the way, just getting her out of her sleep cycle in hopes that she’ll connect to the next sleep cycle on her own.

I used this approach a few times with my daughter when she was young and sometimes it was helpful in getting her to nap longer than 45 minutes and sometimes it wasn’t.

graphic of ways to get baby to take longer naps

Frequently Asked Questions About Short Naps

Is A 30-Minute Nap Enough?

It depends on your baby’s age. Newborn sleep is very sporadic and naps often last only 20 minutes or can go up to 2 hours.

A 30-minute nap for your baby who is under 12 weeks old is still a good nap.

Additionally, depending on your baby’s wake windows, sometimes a 30-minute catnap is all she needs to help get her through the day to bedtime.

If your baby is over 12 weeks old and consistently only naps 30 minutes, it’s likely not enough sleep.

Why is My Baby Suddenly Taking Short Naps?

If your baby was taking longer naps and is suddenly taking short naps. the first thing I would look at is their wake windows. They may need a little more awake time to go back to longer naps.

When Will My Baby Nap Longer than 30 Minutes?

By 7 months old, most babies should be better at connecting sleep cycles and taking longer naps.

If you have any questions about short naps, leave them in the comments below and we’ll help you troubleshoot.

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