Cat naps are small naps where a baby does not sleep more than 45min consecutively during the day time. Newborns may sometimes be cat nappers, and this is ok up until around 12 weeks, as their sleep cycles haven’t developed, and they also spend a significant amount of their day asleep anyway.
However, once a baby’s sleep has matured, and their cycles are more evident, it’s important for a baby to get more than just catnaps throughout the day.
Catnaps aren’t restorative sleep- they do the job of curbing any further sleep debt, but they do not restore any sleep debt already accumulated from the day. For younger babies, the morning and afternoon naps are ok to be shorter naps, or cat naps if you like, as they put a temporary halt to sleep debt increasing. However by the time lunch arrives, there is a significant level of sleep debt accumulated, and we need to eliminate this debt, so that the baby can get through the afternoon without being significantly overtired. If only another cat nap is had here, then sure, sleep debt will again be temporarily halted, but not reduced. By the time that baby gets to bedtime, they are severely in debt of sleep, cortisol levels will be high, and will be going to bed overtired, which can cause a lot of disruption to night time sleep- most noticeably causing frequent waking’s and early morning rising.
If you would like some help in fixing your baby’s catnapping, Dream Sleepers can sort you out!