We’ve all been there, you pop little one in the pram or car to drive/walk home from a class, all set to put them down for a nap when you get home so you can catch up on some jobs (or heaven forbid put your feet up for half an hour). All is going well. And then you look into the rear view mirror or down into the pram and…… they’re asleep – or very nearly!!! Nooooooo!
What is a micro nap? It’s a very short (could be as little as 30 seconds or a couple of minutes) nap. It gives your baby just enough energy to take the edge off their sleep pressure, meaning they then aren’t ready to go down to sleep when they should be due their nap. Think of when you’re watching a film late at night and you start to nod off. You decide to go to bed whilst you feel tired rather than falling asleep on the couch. But then by the time you’ve gone upstairs and got ready for bed…. Bam, you’re wide awake – argh! Same goes for babies. Often parents will find it very difficult to put their baby down after a micro nap has occurred because baby no longer has that natural ‘pull’ to fall asleep. Quite simply, they’re not tired enough anymore.
What does a micro nap look like? It’s not always that your baby is sound asleep when a micro nap is occurring, it’s the stages leading up to this to look out for:
Why are micro naps problematic? They’re not a problem if you’re happy to let your little one sleep in the car/pram – in fact it can be very handy if you’ve got a fairly long drive home or can walk the long way home. However, if this isn’t the case, you may now find yourself in a tricky situation…. Do you risk waking them up and try to get them home to put them down ‘properly’ or do you resign yourself to walking in the rain that little bit longer or sitting on your driveway in the car whilst your little one snoozes…? (Caveat to this – some babies are happy to be transferred half asleep into the cot – which is amazing and to those parents – lucky you!! Most babies really struggle with this).
How to can you avoid micro naps? If you need to get home for nap time because you have things to achieve (!!) then try to avoid taking your baby out in the car/pram just before their nap – the motion is likely to make them sleepy if it’s too close to the end of their awake window. Micro naps are quite common when feeding – especially for very little ones – so try to implement a wake-feed-sleep routine so that they are less likely to be drowsy when feeding. Even a 30 second micro nap when feeding can be enough to give a baby their second wind and result in a tricky nap time a little later. If your baby is looking very tired and you’re seeing lots of sleepy cues, it may be worth considering a slightly shorter awake window in order to get them down in the cot as opposed to risking a micro nap. If you’re trying to stretch your little ones awake windows because you’re transitioning a nap, try our top tips here:
What about toddlers and older children? The same applies but we often refer to these sort of naps as ‘danger naps’ as they occur late in the day (normally on the way home from school/nursery) and can mean bedtime is a battle as they have found their second wind after their little snooze! You can read more about danger naps here.
As always, if you’re experiencing any problems with your little ones sleep, please do get in touch – we would love to help!