The 30 minute nap phenomenon
One of the frequent battles I hear about when talking to clients is the 30 min napper.
Short naps can be very frustrating for both the baby and parents.
Babies have two sleep cycles: REM and NONREM.
The first cycle of a baby’s sleep is the REM sleep. This is when your baby is starting to fall asleep and stays asleep for the first 30-45 mins. In this time your baby will be grunting a lot, sucking and eye movement is present.
This sleep is usually not a very restorative sleep and their little brains haven’t really had enough time to shut down stimulus and thoughts. Yes, babies do have thoughts and their little memory bank is always working.
As your baby is transitioning from the 30 min nap (REM sleep) most babies will wake before going onto their NONREM sleep. NONREM sleep is their restorative sleep in which they rest and their little brain takes time out to recoup all the stimuli they have been exposed to. They also do most of their growing and gaining weight in this second sleep cycle.
Babies (around 99.9%) wake up after 30 min and generally what we tend to do when they are awake, is pick them up.
However this doesn’t allow them to resettle.
So next time you hear your baby wake after their 30min nap, wait a little and see if they will go back to sleep. Yes, even when they are crying.
If not it’s best not to get them out of bed too soon especially if they are cranky.
Tuck them back in, ssshh them and place a firm hand on their chest or side and pat back to sleep. Repeat as necessary up to 4-5 times because it sometimes takes that long to help them resettle. Remember if you do this at every nap you will soon have a longer napper who feels comfortable falling back to sleep once woken from their first cycle.
You can do this from 3-4 weeks of age once feeding has been established.