Baby naps are very important. They provide rest time for the little one and for you, the parent. However, getting the baby to sleep during daytime can be quite difficult. Oftentimes, parents end up really stressed and have no idea what to do as the baby simply does not want to sleep.
Fortunately, there are several things that you can do. And everything starts with knowledge. So here are the most important things you have to be aware of when it comes to baby naps.
Do You Know How Many Baby Naps Are Needed?
Most parents do not.
Newborns do not naturally have a sleep schedule. It takes time for it to develop because it takes time to develop a circadian rhythm. In the first month of their lives, babies spend 16 hours sleeping every day. Usually, this happens in cycles of 3 to 4 hours of sleep that are spaced evenly between the feedings. When the newborn is awake for around 2 hours, there is a natural need to sleep again. However, after getting older, baby nap times start to be more predictable.
- Age 4 months to 12 months – When the newborn period is over, the baby tends to nap for around 2 times per day. The first nap comes in the morning and the second one happens during early afternoon. There are also babies that need a nap during late-afternoon. Try to aim the baby nap at around 9 AM and then another one at 1 PM. The trick is to let the baby nap for the desired time. The only situation when you should not do this is when there are problems sleeping seen during the night. When you see the third nap appearing during late afternoon, slowly try to eliminate it when the baby is around 9 months old. When you do this, the baby becomes ready for earlier bedtime.
- Over 12 months old – Between 10 and 12 months old, babies often drop morning naps. This is a transition period in which you could try to gradually move up the nap time and the bedtime by 30 minutes. This helps the child adjust. Children keep taking the afternoon nap until around the age of 3 years old. These naps are usually 1 to 2 hours long. After 3 years old, nap length time tends to become shorter and shorter.
What is very important to understand as a parent is that every single baby is different. This means baby nap schedule can drastically vary from one child to another.
Putting Your Baby Down For Naps
Parents can easy baby nap time and make it easier for the child to fall asleep. Some great tips to help you do that are:
- Set the right mood – Create a quiet, dark environment. This can easily encourage the baby to sleep, just like it happens with adults.
- Put the baby to sleep when awake, but drowsy – You want to avoid seeing the baby cranky or overtired. Before that happens, you can try swaddling, massaging, or the classic soft lullabies. As time passes, the baby understands that such activities mean that it is time to go to bed.
- Stay safe – Always place the baby in a correct sleeping position, on the back. The crib should also be cleared of absolutely all soft items, including blankets.
- Stay consistent – It is highly beneficial for the baby to take a nap at exactly the same time every single day, preferably for around the exact same time. Some exceptions will happen. They are inevitable. However, they will not harm the baby. Do not worry about them but do try to stay as consistent as possible.
Parents often worry when the baby cries when put down to sleep but this is actually very common and normal. During the first month of the baby’s life, try to avoid this crying behavior. You want to sooth the baby, which can easily be done by playing some soft music, using gentle rocking, or singing in a quiet voice.
When the baby is four months old, if you notice this crying appear after the baby is put inside the crib, simply offer some comforting words and stay around for a little while. Leave the baby’s room and offer time to settle. Another thing you should consider is putting the baby down for the baby nap just a little earlier. When you do this, the baby can end up getting past the fussy phase as it is time to actually sleep.
Remember the fact that most babies stay active as they sleep. They twitch feet, hands, get startled, smile, and basically appear to be restless. This is why it is a mistake when you think this is a sign the baby will wake up or maybe the baby needs food. Do not pick up the baby as soon as you notice such things. Simply wait for some minutes and see if the baby is actually going back to regular sleeping.
It is very important to understand the fact that it is not always something easy to help the baby to get as much daytime sleep as they need. Some days will always be so much more challenging and stressful. The secret is to always stay patient and watch out for the signs that say the baby is tired. Then, you need to do all you can to maintain a consistent nap routine.
Whenever you have some concerns or some questions about the napping schedule of your baby, the best thing is to discuss this with the doctor. If something is wrong, tests can be done. Also, the doctor can offer some extra advice to create a great baby nap schedule for your loved little one.