Hi, my five month old sleeps through the night with a dream feed but only cat naps in the day. How can I extend these 30 minute (one sleep cycle) naps? Especially the midday one. Any help would be much appreciated!
Thank you so much for your message and I am really sorry to hear that you are currently struggling with your little one’s naps.
Unfortunately, cat naps are very normal for babies under six to seven months as over 50% of their sleep is made up of REM sleep from which they can be very easily disturbed. You might however like to try the following tips which may help to lengthen your little one’s naps.
Approx 20 minutes before you settle your baby for sleep you could try popping socks on him - this is a useful trick for supporting longer consolidated periods of sleep with younger babies due to their inability to regulate their body temperature. Cold feet can often result in a shortened nap.
A great way to lengthen naps is either to have contact naps. If you are looking to lengthen your lunch time nap you might find a contact nap not only helps with the length but it will also allow you to rest too.
If as you say your little one wakes like clockwork after 30 minutes then you can try pre-empting the wake and see if you can disturb him while he is still in deep sleep, which may then wake him just enough that he then goes back
into another sleep cycle. The idea is that five minutes before he normally wakes you will go to him - you can then reestablish whatever it is that supported him to fall asleep in the first place, e.g. this might be gently rocking his cot or placing your hand with firm pressure on to his chest. You want to disturb him enough so that his eyes open and you see slight movement but not enough to wake him fully.
If you are breastfeeding him to sleep you can also feed him - hold him in your arms and then after 20 minutes of him being asleep offer him a dream feed. The idea of the dream feed during the nap is that it will also disturb his sleep cycle and support him to go through into another one hence potentially lengthening his nap.
I hope that this helps a little bit and if you have questions please do come back to me and good luck.