The Dreaded 37-Minute-Nap Has Entered the (Mom) Chat

Introducing the Mom Chat by Willow — a new series diving into conversations that light up your group text at all hours of the day (and night). When you’re wondering if the latest sleep regression, food refusal, or maddeningly short nap is par for the course, look no further than right here. We’ve got answers straight from the experts (aka the lactation consultants, sleep consultants, pediatric nutritionists, and others that we keep on hand to answer your questions).

You’ve got a short napper, and they’re waking up at the same minute-mark (35 minutes, 37 minutes, 41 minutes...) no matter what.

You’ve obsessed over their wake windows. You’ve tried five different swaddles, 10 different sleep sacks (yep, even the weighted one and that crazy suit that makes them look like the Michelin Man), and every pacifier on the Internet. And they’re still waking up at the same time... every single time. On. The. Dot. To put it mildly... you’re losing your mind.

There’s a biological reason you could set a timer and they’d wake up.

As babies make their way through a sleep cycle, they travel through deep sleep and lighter sleep. Many babies make their way out of their deep sleep and enter their light sleep at the same minute-mark — like 30 minutes, or 37 minutes, or whatever number of minutes your baby has decided to open their eyes every time they take a nap.

When they wake up at that time, it just means that they’re not yet able to connect their sleep cycles, and are waking up instead of transitioning back into deeper sleep. The good news: this often begins to change around five months!

Source: https://www.cozybabysleep.com/blog/shortnaps

Repeat after us: this is normal.

We’re not sleep consultants here at Willow, and we know you’re probably doing all the things to try and improve the short nap situation. And if not, here’s your Spark notes:

  • You have good blackout curtains —  or garbage bags taped to the windows. (No shame in that game!) Babies have an easier time staying asleep, or falling back asleep, when the room is dark and they can’t look around.
  • You’re not rocking them (or feeding them, or bouncing them…) to sleep. The guidance to put them down “drowsy but awake” can be frustrating — what exactly does that mean? The TLDR is that they won’t be able to put themselves back to sleep if they didn’t fall asleep on their own in the first place.
  • You’re making sure they don’t go to sleep overtired. Trying to follow wake windows can become all-consuming, but it’s definitely worth it in those early days. Otherwise, the adrenaline builds up and they’re not able to stay asleep. (This is your permission to tell your mother-in-law to shut the front door if they suggest that your baby is taking short naps because they aren’t tired enough…)

Take a deep breath and remember that this too shall pass.

Someday soon, your baby will learn how to connect their sleep cycles — and while they may never be the sort of baby you need to wake up after two hours (one can dream!), the short nap curse will be broken.

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The content provided here is for informational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of medical professionals. It should not be used to diagnose or treat medical conditions or problems. Please contact your healthcare provider with questions or concerns.
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