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If my baby has an extra-long lunch nap, should I just let them sleep?

Ah this is a hard one, in fact I had this issue yesterday. I had a 1 hour consult and then a plan to write, so I let my little man have a 2.5 hour lunch nap. Is this an issue? It depends on a few things.

1. Are they catching up on missed sleep? Are they doing a long nap because they missed or no longer need their first nap? Did they wake super early so you’ve let them sleep longer to compensate? The rule is: If it is a one off-let them sleep. If this is a regular occurrence, you need to break the cycle to steer them back onto an age-appropriate routine, designed to evenly space out sleeps to create perfect sleep pressure for naps and overnight.

2. Are they unwell? If so, let them sleep- they need the extra time to rest and repair.

3. Are they young enough to need a third nap? A long second nap will make nap 3 harder to achieve but the wait until bedtime could easily push them into an overtired state.

4. Are you willing to do a later bedtime? For a super long nap you’ll need to push bed time later to ensure they are tired enough to sleep 11-12 hours overnight. Will bedtime be after 7pm? This means that their sleep will not fall into the biological window of sleep where cortisol dips and melatonin rises. Falling asleep by 7 allows your baby to reap benefits of the deep restorative sleep that occurs between 7 and midnight.

5. Are you tampering with nap times every day? Try and implement a routine and stick to it. Lots of nap-timing changes are confusing and reduces sleep quality.

6. Are you happy with day sleep stealing night sleep? If you are working from home and prefer baby sleeping longer in the day then you can keep an extra long day sleep. This will mean baby will sleep around 10 or11 hours instead of the potential 12.

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