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Resolving Catnapping


Catnapping, a term familiar to many parents, refers to short daytime naps that seem to end almost as soon as they begin. For parents seeking longer stretches of daytime sleep for their little one, understanding the facts around true catnapping is crucial. through this blog, I cover all you need to know about the science behind catnaps, why they occur, and most importantly, how to extend them.


A baby catnapping and having short day sleeps

Understanding Catnapping


Daytime sleep cycles for babies typically range from 40 to 50 minutes in length, but these cycles do lengthen over time as a child grows and develops. If a child sleep for at least 40 minutes for their nap, this can indicate that the child cannot resettle themselves, needing assistance in returning to sleep and therefore, consolidating the nap. T


When a child consistently naps for 30 minutes or less, a main indicator here is that there is an underlying issue disrupting their biological ability to complete a sleep cycle. Underlying issues are un-obvious and difficult to find. They are not usually related to poor sleep structures, an unestablished sleep environment or an overtired baby. They are usually nutritional, physiological or medical in nature.


To address catnapping, it's crucial to pinpoint the root cause so you can actively work on adequately resolving the catnapping.



Extending Naps


The key to extending catnaps lies in identifying and addressing the root trigger to the short sleep duration. If the problem stems from a resettling issue, a very effective strategy is to keep your child in their sleep environment for at least 30 minutes from when they wake, before allowing them to get up for the day. This 30 minute period encourages the circadian rhythm (the internal body clock) to understand that this period of time is for sleep, and just because the child is awake, it does not mean it's time to get up. This slowly internalises a pattern that the block of sleep should extend. During this resettling period, you should implement your chosen approach to settling your child to encourage them to establish the nap consolidation.


Toddler having a short sleep during the day

Extending catnaps requires commitment and consistency. It's not an overnight fix but rather a process that can take at least two weeks to achieve noticeable results. During this time, patience and persistence are paramount. Stick to the established routine, even on challenging days, and trust that gradual improvements will occur.


If your child's short naps are a result of an underlying issue, it is quite possible that this 30-minute resettle guide isn't enough to extend the nap. And the key to actively and successfully extending the naps lays with addressing the root trigger to the short naps. This involves delving into the depths of sleep interferences. Start by downloading my Underlying Issues Check List (it's available for free download) to determine if there are any other indicators that your child's short naps are a result of an underlying issue:





Catnapping can be a frustrating challenge for parents and caregivers, but it's not impossible to overcome. By understanding the factors contributing to short daytime naps and implementing strategies to address them, it's possible to extend your child's nap durations for more restful sleep and happier days. Remember, consistency, patience, and persistence are key as you navigate this journey towards longer, more rejuvenating naps for your little one.


If you would like to chat to debrief and brainstorm, or even discuss your 1:1 consultation options, book in for a free discovery call. I'd love to chat!



Shereen xx


PS. Download yourself a free copy of my Day Sleep Guide to balance the day sleeps to achieve the most success in your nap consolidation plan.



I'm Shereen Nielsen, a certified Sleep Consultant specialising in infants and children from birth to 15 years old. With over seven years of experience, I've assisted over 4000 families in achieving better sleep. Additionally, I serve as a lecturer and mentor, guiding aspiring sleep consultants on their path to certification through my internationally recognised online Sleep Consultant Course.


Phone: +61419820474


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