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Why Do Babies Catnap and How to Manage It?

There are very few feelings that can compare to the happiness of becoming a parent. However, with immense happiness comes equally immense responsibility. Taking care of the young infant is a 24-hour job, with very little time for the mother to rest. The baby has its schedule of waking up and sleeping with the mother catching up on sleep and other works when the baby sleeps.

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Video : Catnapping in Babies – What It Is & How To Deal with It

However, this routine may go for a toss when the baby starts to have frequent catnaps instead of sleeping for a long duration in the daytime. It may also lead to disturbed sleep patterns of the baby, apart from being taxing for the mother. Thus, even if a catnapping newborn may look refreshed in the short term, it can lead to a messed-up schedule for the baby and the parents. Read on to know in detail about catnapping in babies, the reasons behind it, and ways to manage it effectively. 

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What Is Catnapping?

Sleep is an essential thing for all infants for their healthy growth and general health. Daytime naps are included in the sleep. Most babies take naps during the day. While most babies take naps during the daytime for a long duration, sometimes the babies may sleep for very short periods. The duration of the short nap can vary from a few minutes to 45 minutes. This habit of taking short naps during the day is called catnapping. Newborn or slightly older babies are known to catnap frequently. It helps the baby to get some quick sleep. However, if the catnaps become more frequent, the parents may get worried about their long-term effects on the baby’s health. 

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Why Do Babies Catnap?

It is completely normal for babies to catnap. There are many reasons for babies to take short naps during the daytime. They are:

  1. Preference for catnaps: Most newborns catnap because that is what they want to do. Because it is dependent on the baby’s particular choice, there is typically no underlying cause and hence no need to be concerned.
  2. REM sleep: Babies spend more time in the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, which is light sleep. This makes them wake up easily with any sound or disturbance, shortening their sleep cycle.
  3. Lack of sleep schedule: Certain newborns may often catnap due to a lack of sleep routine. Maintaining a regular regimen for naps and nocturnal sleep is usually a good idea. Even if the baby’s naptime varies throughout the day, put him to bed at the same time every night. If your baby naps whenever they want, make sure they receive at least a few hours of daily sleep by minimizing distractions during their nap.
  4. Inappropriate feeding pattern: Maintain an appropriate feeding routine so that the baby’s sleep is not disrupted. After three to four weeks of breastfeeding, you should be able to develop a feeding regimen.
  5. Uncomfortable sleep environment: Intense sensory stimulation, such as bright lights, loud noises, or an unsuitable room temperature, can disrupt a baby’s sleep, prompting them to catnap at inconvenient times.
  6. Illness: A baby’s sickness may lead them to become sleepy, prompting them to nap frequently. Other disease symptoms, such as fever, lack of appetite, and general lethargy, may appear in such circumstances.

Are Catnaps Bad for Babies?

Catnaps are not bad; they do not negatively affect the infant’s health when they get adequate sleep every day. The total hours of sleep requirement by the baby includes the daytime nap hours. Catnaps are not bad when the baby is getting adequate sleep and doesn’t wake up cranky or is generally sluggish. However, if the baby wakes up cranky after its catnap or has an unusual sleep pattern for the day, catnaps can cause concern.  

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How Does Catnapping Affect Babies?

Catnapping along with regular and adequate night-time sleep doesn’t affect the health of the baby. However, if the baby frequently catnaps, then it may affect its night-time sleep duration or pattern. This can affect its growth and health. The baby not sleeping properly at night will be sleep deprived as catnaps will not fulfill its sleep requirement. Then the baby will be lethargic throughout the day and cranky after waking up. Then to resettle a catnapping baby becomes a difficult task for the parent. Cranky babies don’t take their feed properly. So they may become weak, and it can harm their health. Therefore, catnapping with adequate sleep that fulfills the sleep requirement of the baby is not bad. 

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When to Worry About Catnaps?

Generally, catnaps are not a cause of worry if your baby cat naps but sleeps at night adequately. However, you can consult a pediatrician if your infant shows the following symptoms or patterns of napping:

  • Preference for a catnap after 3 months of age: Babies do not have a well-developed circadian rhythm or body clock up to three months of age. As a result, their sleep is evenly distributed between daytime naps and nocturnal sleep. However, newborns’ sleep shifts to nocturnal patterns at four months, with daytime naps accounting for just three to four hours per day. If your child continues to nap often throughout the day and sleeps less at night, you should consult a physician.
  • Catnaps not meeting minimum daytime sleep hours: There is no set time limit for a catnap. However, for newborns under four months, daytime sleep must be almost equivalent to overnight sleep. Babies older than four months must nap for at least 30 minutes, ideally an hour, during the day. Take your infant to the doctor if their catnaps do not meet the minimal standards, leading the baby to be exhausted all of the time.
  • The baby catnaps in the evening: Evening naps may interfere with getting a good night’s sleep. If your infant seems to enjoy evening naps more than usual, consult your doctor.
  • Catnaps interfere with feeding: Most newborns can establish a healthy pattern that includes napping and feeding. Napping may interfere with feeding in rare situations, necessitating a doctor’s advice.
  • Baby appears lethargic: Due to overall lethargy and tiredness, some newborns may frequently catnap. There might be various explanations for a baby’s constant drowsiness. In such circumstances, please seek medical advice since it might result from an infection or another pathological reason.

How to Help a Baby to Have Effective Catnaps?

Here are some practices and methods to help your baby have effective catnaps:

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  • Implement a sleep routine: A regular sleep schedule can help the infant know when to sleep. A good night’s sleep may prevent the infant from napping at inconvenient times. Have a night-time ritual that may include bathing the baby, reading to them, singing to them, lowering the lights, and placing them in the crib.
  • Optimize their environment: Dimming the room lights, altering the room temperature, and reducing noise levels can help the infant relax and sleep better. It can facilitate healthy daytime naps and adequate night-time sleep.
  • Put the baby in a crib when they are drowsy: Look for indicators of tiredness, such as yawning, wiping the eyes, or often fussing in the baby. Don’t wait for your baby to fall asleep in your arms. Instead, as soon as you observe tiredness, put them in the crib. It will make the baby drift off to sleep independently, ensuring that the infant gets enough naps each day.
  • Swaddle the baby: Wrap the baby snugly in a baby blanket before putting the baby in the cot to sleep. Swaddling will make the baby feel comfortable and sleep better. This will also prevent them from abruptly waking up due to startling reflexes. Don’t’ swaddle the baby catnapping 4 months after birth as they learn to roll over by then.
  • Feed the baby adequately: Stick to an age-appropriate feeding plan to avoid the baby waking up between naps due to hunger pangs. Each baby’s feeding schedule will be different, and you may create one depending on the baby’s needs. Consult a trained lactation consultant if you’re having problems establishing a feeding pattern.
  • Place a pacifier in the baby’s mouth: During catnaps and nighttime, offer a pacifier to your baby. It could be simpler for the infant to self-soothe and sleep better as a result.

When Do Babies Stop Catnapping?

The definite age by which a baby will quit catnapping and take fewer but longer naps per day is unknown. When a newborn grows into a toddler, catnaps, and napping, in general, may become less common. By the age of two, total daytime naps may be reduced to a couple of hours. Many toddlers cease napping by the age of three, while others show signs of this behavior as early as their first birthday. The overall number of hours of nocturnal sleep, on the other hand, remains stable. Children above three should get ten to thirteen hours of sleep every 24 hours, including naps. If your kid goes through night-time sleep on their own, there’s no need to be concerned if they no longer catnap.

Catnaps, also known as short naps, are an important element of a baby’s sleep cycle and necessary for development. As they become older, most newborns stop napping by themselves. Good sleep habits and a consistent schedule might help the infant get the most out of their daily naps.

Also Read:

Sleep Training for Infants
Tips to Deal with Baby Sleep Problems
Newborn Infants Sleeping Needs

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This post was last modified on December 24, 2021 8:29 pm

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