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Unpredictable Nap Lengths (4-8 mo.)

"Before my baby's nap I feed, wash, change, then finally put my baby down... but then she looks wide awake! Finally ... she drifts off to sleep...but often wakes up after just a few minutes."

This complaint is more common among parents of intense infants who adapt slowly to restrictions and intrusions. Feeding, washing, changing, even picking up to put down in the bassinet... these commonplace procedures involve small intrusions (such as moving body parts during diapering) and restrictions (such as holding while diapering) that generate more tension in children with this temperament. So when you are finally ready for them to nap... they aren't.

The key to managing this issue is to avoid as much as possible these routine-but-intrusive-and-restrictive procedures right before naptime. Do them well before or after naps.

Among intense infants, unpredictable nap-lengths is likely to be an issue until at least 16 months. And during this period, the same quick buildups of tension that now make naps haphazard may also break up your infant's night-time sleep and eating schedule. (The advice for this issue at 4-8 months is much the same as for the 8-12 and 13-16 month periods.)

"So should I try to get my baby to nap?" Definitely, YES! The more sleep your infant can get, the better he/she will sleep in the future. But build into the schedule a period with little handling just before nap times.

[rev: 6/2014]

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