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Cat-naps: How to make your baby’s short naps longer

Keep in mind that children grow and change and their nap schedule should change with them.

Cat-naps: How to make your baby’s short naps longer

Is your child a cat-napper? Does your baby fall asleep being fed, while in a car seat, sling, rocker or someone’s arms? When transferred to bed, does your baby then sleep 30 to 50 minutes? That’s the exact length of one sleep cycle. These factors combined define the main cause of mini-naps: an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep without aid—your baby wakes fully at the end of the first sleep cycle, resulting in a too-short nap.


I refer to this problem as One-Cycle Sleep Syndrome (OCSS). This leads us to understand the reason that many babies are cat-nappers and also directs us to potential solutions.

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Cycle-Blender Naps

One way to help your baby sleep longer is to put him for a nap in a setting that will lull him back to sleep when he wakes between sleep cycles. Cycle-Blender naps occur in slings, cradle-swings, rocking cradles, or baby hammocks. Any of these can help cat-nappers extend their sleep time because when Baby begins to awaken the rhythmic motion can lull him back to sleep.

You can also create a Cycle-Blender nap in a stroller. Take a daily walk outside (it’s good for both of you!) or bring your stroller in the house. Walk your baby until she falls asleep, and then park the stroller near you. If she starts to move about, resume walking or give her a bit of a bounce and jiggle.

Once your baby gets used to taking a longer nap in the stroller, you can make a transition to bed naps. Start by reducing the movement, rolling slower and for less time. After your baby is asleep, park the stroller, using the jiggle if she wakes mid-nap. Over time, let your baby fall asleep in the stationary stroller parked next to his crib, and when the nap habit is in place, change to naps in the crib.

Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom

To encourage longer naps, keep the sleeping room dark so bright light doesn’t keep him alert between sleep cycles. To soothe your child through sleep cycle changes, use white noise (a recording of nature sounds), or relaxing music. Keep this on all through naptime. This creates a sleep cue and will mask noises that can wake a child who is shifting through sleep cycles.

Build a Better Bed

To entice your baby to have a longer nap, recreate the crib into a cozier nest. Use softer sheets, such as flannel, plus a thicker, softer crib mattress pad. You can also warm the bed surface before naptime with a towel fresh from the dryer (remove this and test the surface before laying your baby down.)

Make the Bed a Familiar Place

Let your baby have several play sessions in his crib during waking hours. Stay with him, engage his interest and introduce a few new toys. Let him see you as a part of the crib experience so that he gets a happy feeling being there. This way, when he is put in his crib for naptime and wakes up mid-nap it won’t be a lonely, foreign place, but one that carries familiar memories of fun times with you. This can help him accept it as a safe place for sleep and allow him to fall back into slumber after that first sleep cycle.

Interpret Signs of Tiredness

If you put your child for a nap before he is tired, or when he is overtired he won’t sleep as well as when you hit that ideal just-tired moment. Observe your child for signs of tiredness, such as losing interest in toys, looking glazed, becoming cranky, or slumping in his seat. Put your child for a nap the moment you see any sign of fatigue. If you take note of the time that this occurs over a week you should see a pattern emerge. This can help you set up a daily nap schedule that suits your child’s tired times perfectly.

Gauge time spans between naps

In addition to signs of tiredness also watch to see how long your child has been awake. Children can only stay happily awake for a certain period of time until they receive a biological pull towards a nap. Once that “pull” begins your child becomes fatigued and his cheerful mood begins to deteriorate.

Keep in mind that children grow and change and their nap schedule should change with them. What’s perfect today may be different than what is perfect next month. Keep your eye on your baby and on the clock.

From The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley (McGraw-Hill, January 2009). Here is the link for information and more excerpts.

These are only the vitamins I give my children and here's why

It's hard to say who loves these more—my kids or me.

When I became a mama five years ago, I didn't put too much thought into whether my son was getting the right vitamins and minerals. From breastfeeding to steaming and pureeing his first bites of solid food, I was confident I was giving him everything to support his growth and development.

But then the toddler years—and the suddenly picky palate that accompanied them—came along. Between that challenge and two additional children in the mix… well, I knew my oldest son's eating plan was falling short in some vitamin and mineral categories.

I also knew how quickly he was growing, so I wanted to make sure he was getting the nutrients he needed (even on those days when he said "no, thank you" to any veggie I offered).

So when I discovered the new line of children's supplements from Nature's Way®, it felt like a serious weight off my chest. Thanks to supplements that support my children's musculoskeletal growth, their brain function, their immune systems, their eyes and more, I'm taken back to that simpler time when I was so confident my kids' vitamin needs were met.*

It wasn't just the variety of supplements offered by Nature's Way that won me over: As a vegetarian mama, I'm the picky one in the family when it comes to scanning labels and making sure they meet our standards. The trick is that most gummy vitamins are made with gelatin, which is not vegetarian friendly.

But just like the other offerings from Nature's Way that I've already come to know and love, the children's supplement line is held to a high standard. That means there's no high-fructose corn syrup, gelatin or common allergens to be found in the supplements. The best part? My two oldest kids ensure we never miss their daily vitamins—they are so in love with the gummy flavors, which include tropical fruit punch, lemonade and wild berry.


Nature's Way Kids Mulitvitamin


Meanwhile, my pharmacist husband has different criteria when evaluating supplements, especially when it comes to those for our kids. He appreciates the variety of options from Nature's Way, which gives us the ability to rotate the vitamins based on our kids' daily needs. By keeping various children's supplements from Nature's Way on hand, I can customize a regimen to suit my kids' individual requirements.

Of course, high-quality products often come at a higher price point. But (to my immense gratitude!) that isn't the case with Nature's Way, which retails for a competitive value when compared to the other items on the shelf.

Like all mamas, my chief concern is supporting my children's health in any way I can. While I see evidence of their growth every time I pack away clothes they've outgrown, I know there is much more growth that doesn't meet the eye. That's why, for my oldest son, I like stacking the Brain Builder gummy with the Growing Bones & Muscles gummy and the Happy & Healthy Multi. My 3-year-old also enjoys getting her own mix to include the Healthy Eyes gummy. And both of my older kids are quick to request the Tummy Soothe tablet when something isn't sitting right in their stomachs.* And I'll admit it: I've tried it myself and the berry blast flavor really is tasty!

Although my current phase of motherhood may not be as "simple" as it once was, there is so much to appreciate about it—like watching my kids play and sing and create with their incredible imaginations. Along the way, I've eased up on some of my need for control, but it does help to have this range of supplements in my motherhood tool kit. So while I may not be able to convince my son to try kale, having the Nature's Way supplements on hand means I do know he's right on track.*These statements have not been evaluated by the Food & Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.


This article was sponsored by Nature's Way. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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