Most parents are familiar with the frustration of short naps. You successfully put your baby down for a nap, close their nursery door, put a load of laundry in the wash, prepare lunch for yourself and just as you are about to sit down, your baby is awake again! Let’s discuss more about why this happens and what we can do to improve naptime.

What is Considered a Short Nap? 

This depends entirely on your baby’s age and how many naps per day they are taking. It is developmentally appropriate for newborns to take frequent, short naps. Anywhere between 25 minutes to 2+ hours is normal during the newborn stage. The amount of awake time that newborns can tolerate before they get tired again is short. Therefore, this means that it’s normal for a newborn to take many naps throughout the day, so naturally the naps may be shorter.  

As your baby exits the newborn stage around 4 months old he is typically ready for longer awake windows, and longer naps. If your baby is over 4 months of age and his naps are shorter than 1 hour, we would consider this to be a short nap. A Boston Baby Nurse Sleep Coach can provide research-based facts on wake windows, sleep cycles, and more! 

How Can I Extend My Baby’s Nap? 

If your baby wakes from a nap and you know he may not be fully rested, there are a few things you can do to try to extend his nap.  

  • First, wait! Take a pause and see what your baby does. Your baby may just need a few moments to re-settle and fall back to sleep. Try not to rush to his side immediately before observing to see if he indeed needs your intervention. Once you determine that your baby is awake and may need help falling back to sleep, there are a few things you can try.  
  • Try replacing your baby’s pacifier (if he uses one). 
  • Next, try putting your hand gently on his chest and making the “shhhh” sound.  
  • After first trying these three suggestions above, pick up your baby and soothe him until he is calm and starting to fall back to sleep. Then, place him back in the crib and continue to soothe him to sleep from his crib-side. 
  • Lastly, if your baby isn’t settling back to sleep you can try holding him to extend his nap if you are able to do so. Note: this is not a long-term solution to short naps, but it may be a temporary fix on days that you know your baby could really benefit from a longer nap. If your baby is over 4 months of age, he may benefit from sleep coaching. Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny has certified sleep coaches ready to support you.  

Short Naps Could Mean a Transition is Necessary 

Short naps sometimes indicate that an adjustment may be necessary in your baby’s schedule. 

  • Perhaps your baby is overtired from waking up too early in the morning. Overtired babies do not typically take long naps.   
  • Keep an eye on your baby’s awake windows. They could be too short or too long for his age. Your baby needs an appropriate amount of stimulation and awake time to be tired enough for a nap.  
  • Frequent short naps or trouble falling to sleep during naptime may also be signs that your baby is ready to drop one of his naps.  

Nap Tips & Finding Success 

  • Create a naptime routine. Just like at bedtime, your baby needs a familiar routine that indicates it’s time to sleep. A nap routine can be brief, but make sure to follow the same steps each nap. 
  • Create a healthy sleep environment. Make sure the room is dark, use white noise, and put your baby down for his nap in the crib or bassinet. (Occasional naps on the go are okay! It is good to be flexible and realistic.) 
  • Follow proper awake windows for your baby’s age. Make sure he gets adequate awake time with plenty of light and stimulation.  
  • If you can guide your baby to learn to fall asleep independently for naptime, he will know how to fall back to sleep when he wakes up between sleep cycles.  

Hang in there, parents! Short naps are common and with a few adjustments your baby will be taking longer, more predictable naps. If your baby is over 4 months of age and you would like sleep coaching support, we are here for you! Boston Baby Nurse Sleep Coach Services will provide customized plans to help your baby fall asleep and stay asleep independently! Reach out today at or call 781-444-4063. 

If you are interested in a free 15 minute call to see if Sleep Coaching is right for you, connect with us here. 


About The Author

Annie | Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny | New Englands Best Nanny AgencyAnnie Getz attended nanny school in 2012 where she became a Newborn Care Specialist and Certified Professional Nanny. She is also a DONA certified postpartum doula as well as a DONA certified birth doula. Annie is calm and nurturing years of newborn care experience and education. Her goal is to leave parents feeling well rested and confident during their new chapter. At Boston Baby Nurse & Nanny Annie is our Newborn Care Manager and runs the Sleep Coaching Program as our lead Certified Sleep Coach.