Updated: Dec 17, 2020
Thinking of setting up a routine for your little one?
Find out what my favourite routine is and why!
Short – Long – Short Sleep Routine
As the name suggests, this routine implements a short morning nap, a long midday nap and another short afternoon nap. Depending on the age of your baby the actual length of these naps varies.
Below are some reasons why I prefer a short – long – short routine;
Helps to prevent early morning wakes
When your baby wakes to start the day early it can be very tempting to put them down for their morning nap early to compensate. By doing this you may be unintentionally encouraging that early wake to continue. Your little one’s body can learn to expect this early morning nap as a continuation of their night sleep.
From about 4 months old early wakes can be prevented by ensuring the morning nap is not too early or too long.
Helps to encourage a long restorative midday nap which creates balance to the day
A short morning nap will encourage a longer midday nap. A long midday nap allows your baby to regenerate to be able to make it through the afternoon without becoming overtired before bed. For babies under 8 months, a short afternoon nap will help further prevent overtiredness.
The balance of this routine ensures there is enough homeostatic sleep drive built up over the course of the day, so your baby is well rested but also with just enough sleep debt to encourage more consolidated naps and consolidated sleep overnight.
Works with biological sleep rhythms
Throughout the day there are natural sleep windows which occur. During these windows your baby’s sleep and stress hormones are at a level which causes them to become drowsy, therefore making it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep. This routine works with your baby’s circadian sleep rhythm to encourage easier settling and consolidated naps.
Easier transitions when dropping naps
Over time your baby’s sleep needs change and they will require less sleep during the day therefore reducing the number of naps they have over the course of the day. The first nap to go is the afternoon nap as your baby will be able to tolerate a longer wake time before bed.
The second nap to be dropped is the morning nap, leaving the long midday nap which they will keep up to about 3 years old.
With a short – long – short routine you will have set your baby up with that long lunch nap right from the beginning. When it comes time to drop naps you won’t need to adjust their entire day, just reduce the length of the nap they are about to stop taking, simple!
I am not saying this is the only routine that works. If you find that your little one has fallen into a routine, then by all means continue with what you are doing. There is no one size fits all solution. If you do find that you are struggling with some early morning wakes, nap or bedtime refusal, extended wakeful periods at night, frequent night wakes or are having trouble dropping naps, then you may want to consider trying a short – long -short routine to see if you notice any improvements.
Routines are just one aspect of your child’s sleep. If you have any concerns about your baby or toddler’s quality or quantity of sleep, then also consider the following;
o Sleep environment – where do they sleep? Is it conducive to sleep?
o Nutrition – do they feed well and have a balanced diet?
o Sleep associations – do they require your help to fall asleep and to resettle when they wake?
o Underlying health issues – do they have any health concerns (poor weight gain, reflux, allergies/intolerances, snoring, recurring ear infections etc)?
Why not give it a go?! Download my full Feed and Sleep Guide here which contains short – long – short routines from 3 weeks all the way through to 3 years old.
"Just wanted to say how helpful I've found your Feed and Sleep Routine Guide. I downloaded it when my son was about 5 months old and his sleep had gone downhill. We've been following it pretty much to the letter ever since (he's now nearly 11 months) and while things aren't always perfect, it's going pretty damn well. So, thank you!" - Claire
If you feel you require more help navigating your little one’s sleep, contact me today.