The disaster nap



I’m out walking and my little lady falls asleep… an hour before her nap is due! Arghhh the dreaded DISASTER NAP!!!!



So what do you do in this situation?

Your first thought should be to consider why bub is so tired?

Did the nap happen only because you provided a comfortable environment and the gentle motion of the pram lulled them to sleep?

Or have they had an awful night and need that sleep?

Are they ill and require additional sleep to their normal sleep requirements?


Disaster naps commonly occur in the car and pram and can potentially mess up your day as baby may not need the nap at the usual time (illness being the exception to this).




So what did I do?

This time I turned the walk around and went home. I was only about 5 mins on a shortcut to home. I knew I could wake her as she had only been asleep 5-10minutes. I then offered another hour of playing, a snack and then into bed for her nap close to the usual time.







Did it work? Yes! And we maintained a normal day of naps and bedtime.







If the nap had lasted more than 15 minutes I would advise you to

  1. Continue the nap - walk or drive until they are deep asleep then get a coffee, phone or a park bench to sit and enjoy some peace

  2. If the nap happened but was short push the next nap out a little later and offer a second short nap and maintain an early bedtime

  3. If the nap happened and was long consider the impact on bedtime - is the window before bed VERY long, a second short nap may be required. If bedtime starting at 530-630pm would maintain age appropriate wake windows do this. A late nap may mean disaster for a slightly older baby. Try to protect your night by avoiding bedtime later than 8pm



I know nap fails are frustrating and can lead to an exhausted mamma and baby by the end of the day. Try to keep on schedule as best you can. Sometimes waking baby is the best option to stay on track. Sometimes letting them sleep a long nap and stretching the next wake window slightly would be the solution. Just make sure you don’t stretch the last wake window of the day otherwise you will have an overtired baby and likely a disturbed night.

Good luck!



Sleep deprivation is torture. Tessa Gow is a midwife and certified sleep consultant working with families across the globe. She offers nurturing methods with lasting results. Let her be the support and guidance you need to get through this. On the other side of a consultation with Enhance Sleep is rested, functioning families. Take the first step towards healthy sleep by contacting me today.