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How to Avoid the Micro Nap

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A micro nap is often an unintended nap. How to avoid the micro nap when they most often occur when you are travelling in the car, or they are in the pram and fall to sleep for a few seconds or minutes?

When I work with families, I ask them to concentrate on sleep for the time we work together and have all night time sleep at home with no trips away.  Depending on how many naps the child is having and whether we are nap transitioning, I ask that the majority of naps be in the cot at home.

Paternal mental wellbeing is very important and one of the main reasons I do this job and so being housebound for all of your child’s sleep, especially if they are on more than one nap a day can be challenging. So long as your little one is having a good morning nap, there is some leeway for a planned nap on the go so that you can get out of the house. I always ask that the first nap of the day be in their cot space at home as this is the easiest nap of the day to have and we do not cap this nap.

What is a micro nap and why are they not ideal? 

Micro naps are super short naps (30 seconds is enough) to be classed as a micro nap. Having just the smallest micro nap can mean that it takes the edge off your little one’s sleep pressure and so putting them down for their next nap at the planned time may not be possible as they will not be ready because of that micro nap and simply not tired enough.

I am terrible for doing this and I am 30 (and then some more), years old. I make dinner, eat, do some work, watch some t.v and then just lay my head on my husband’s lap just for a few minutes and nod off. I then go to bed and lay there for an hour struggling to go to sleep even though I know I am exhausted and need to sleep.  

My baby sleeps well after a micro nap so what is the fuss?

You are very lucky, some babies can be transferred into their cot drowsy or half asleep and have a good nap however most babies, once they have passed the 4-month sleep regression stage, will find it very difficult to be transferred sleeping into their cot and if they do they will be awake 10-20 minutes later. 

How does a micro nap or drowsiness look?

Eyes closed is the most obvious sign of a micro nap but it is not always this easy. Other signs that a micro nap is about to occur could be that you baby is staring off into the distance, they jerk their head up and down like they are startling themselves or they simply start to get heavy eyed.

If you would like to learn how to avoid the micro nap and learn  more about awake windows and how to be guided by your baby’s tired and sleepy signs, have a read of my detailed blog here

How to avoid a micro nap?

If you need to pop out, I always suggest that you take your baby out in the pram or car soon after they wake from their nap as they are likely to be most awake at this time and not have the desire to nap. It is still quite risky though if you are planning on returning home for a planned nap instead of planning a nap at your destination or plan on having the nap in the pram/car on the way home.

  • Avoid taking them out in the pram or car close to when their nap usually occurs.
  • Try to avoid offering a feed too close to when the nap occurs (within 30 minutes at least) as this is a classic time that a baby will get drowsy and have a few seconds of nap on the boob or bottle. 
  • If you find your baby always gets drowsy on feeds you can check out my tips here for some ideas. 

I have worked with families that say their baby shows lots of signs of becoming sleepy before their nap is due. It would be better to shorten the awake window rather than keep them awake and they have a micro nap or become overtired. If you are in the process of  stretching your little ones awake windows, see my top tips here.

Older children and micro danger naps

When a child is over 12 months old, we no longer refer to them though as micro naps but as ‘Danger naps’. The car ride home after school is the time when an unplanned danger nap is likely to occur for older children especially when they no longer nap in the daytime. 

These naps tend to occur after 3pm which results in difficult bedtimes and tantrums as they are simply not tired enough as they have taken off the sleep pressure with their danger nap.

How to avoid a danger nap for older children.

  •  Give them a naturally sweet snack.
  • If you need to drive home after school, play music and sing along.
  • If you have other children in the car encourage a game of pass the teddy. If you notice it is quiet and you can safely glance and notice them start to look sleepy, pull over the car, open the door, give them a small snack and it should wake them up enough for you to get home in time for them to get sleepy again.
  • Get outside for some fresh air and a run around

If you are having trouble with your child having lots of micro naps or are unsure how to schedule their naps then please get in touch, I would love to help you all.  Book a free, no obligation call and we can talk about working together to get you a better night’s sleep.

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