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 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 your baby’s sleep environment or sleep schedule 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 nap longer.

To help you better, grab my free guide to solving short naps to get practical tips of how to get your baby to take longer naps every single day. Click here to grab it, it’ll be super helpful.

baby awake in crib

Is It Normal for Babies to Only Take 30 Minute Naps?

It is completely normal for babies under 7 months old to take short naps.

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

For some babies, it just takes time for them to be able to nap longer than 30 minutes.

Why Does My Baby Wake Up After 30 Minutes?

Short naps happen in young babies because their sleep cycles last about 20 to 50 minutes.

When your baby wakes up from one sleep cycle, they may have trouble transitioning into the next sleep cycle. Some baby sleep books, including Babywise refer to this as the 45-minute intruder.

Prior to 7 months, some babies are able to connect sleep cycles and go from one sleep cycle to the next seamlessly, while others wake up at that 30 to 45-minute mark and are unable to put themselves back to sleep.

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.

graphic of ways to get baby to take longer naps

How Can I Get My Baby to Nap Longer than 30 Minutes?

While it is normal and developmentally appropriate for your young baby to take short naps, there may be some things you can do to help increase the likelihood that your baby will fall back asleep.

1. Use the Right Baby Wake Windows

In my experience, not following the right wake windows for your baby is probably 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 won’t have enough sleep pressure to take a good, 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.

2. Create an Optimum Sleep Environment

Since it can be so hard for babies to connect those sleep cycles, we can make it easier for them by creating a sleep environment that is calm and soothing. We don’t want any stimulation helping them wake 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.

3. Separate Feeds from Sleep

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

If you feed your baby to sleep and then put her in her crib asleep, when she wakes up, she may feel disoriented.

Suddenly her sleep environment is completely different than the one she originally fell asleep in!

However, if you put her in her crib awake, and she falls asleep on her own, when she wakes up, she’ll have an easier time putting herself back to sleep. Her environment hasn’t changed at all from when she originally fell asleep, so it isn’t so jarring.

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!

You’ll learn how to help your baby fall asleep, wean night feeds, and encourage longer naps and night sleep! Learn more here.

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

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:

  • Go up the soothing ladder
  • Do the shush pat
  • Place a firm hand on baby’s chest
  • Replace the pacifier

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.

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.

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.

Sleep begets sleep with babies and you want to try and avoid an overtired baby.

If you feel like you’ve implemented all these suggestions and your baby still takes short naps, then it could just be developmental.

Continue to practice good sleep habits and be consistent and your baby will eventually be able to connect those sleep cycles!

For some babies it just takes time for them to nap longer than 30 minutes. By 7 months old, most babies should be better at connecting sleep cycles and taking longer naps.

Baby sleep schedule binder mockup image

Sleep and Feed Schedules for Every Age

Take away the stress of figuring out your baby’s sleep needs. With the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder, you’ll get sleeping and feeding schedules that you can implement for every age, even if you currently have no routine in place. Check out the Baby Sleep Schedule Binder here.

Amy Motroni

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