Nap Times! Tips to Help Your Baby Nap Like a Champ!

Nap time simple, right...Not Really.  Here is a guide to help you with your precious baby!

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Tips to Help Your Baby Nap Like a Champ!

Naps are delightful, aren’t they? As adults, how wonderful would it be to be able to take a nap every day, even multiple naps a day? Pretty amazing! Wouldn’t it be just as wonderful if our babies felt the same way we do?

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If your little one fights nap time, sleeps fitfully, or only wants to nap while being held, this can be a major source of stress for parents and babies! In order to get the rest he or she needs, and give you the break you need, try these tips to help your baby get the best nap possible!

 

How Much Sleep Does Your Baby Need?

The biggest issue many parents have is not knowing how much sleep a baby needs. Keep in mind that every baby is different, but here are some guidelines that may help:

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  • Newborn to three months: newborns sleep pretty much around the clock, waking between every one and three hours to eat. After the first month or so, they’ll start being awake longer, with longer stretches at night and more set naps during the day. However, up through three months, the longest a baby is awake is typically only two to three hours.

  • Four to six months: Around this time, you can start getting a schedule in place for a morning and afternoon nap, though some babies still may need three short naps a day while others are transitioning to two. However, at this point, you can start to get a better feel for how your baby sleeps and adjust accordingly.

  • Six months to 12 months: Most infants in this age range take two naps a day - a morning and an afternoon nap, though closer to one year, you may see a need to transition to one nap in the afternoon.

  • 12 months to up to three years: Once your baby reaches his or her first birthday, he or she will probably just need one nap in the early afternoon, that lasts roughly an hour and a half to three hours. If your child is taking longer to go to sleep at night, try moving the nap up or reducing its duration.

 

Remember, these are just some general guidelines! Every baby is different. I’ve known many parents whose children took an afternoon nap until they were five, I’ve known some who were on one nap a day at four months old! It’s all about finding what works best for your baby (and for you, too!)

 

Seeing the Signs of Sleepiness

Your baby is crying, rubbing her eyes, and is yawning - time for a nap, right? Well...technically, if your baby has reached this point, he or she is probably overtired, which makes it harder to fall asleep and less likely to get good, restful sleep. The best time to get your baby to sleep is right when he or she starts getting sleepy, without being an overtired disaster. But, if you’re not a mind reader, how will you know the signs of sleepiness in your baby?

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Fortunately, you don’t have to be a mind reader to pick up on some cues. Here are a few tips to know when your baby is ready for a nap:

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  • Consider the timing - Newborns: For the first few months, babies are only awake for one to two hours at a stretch. If your baby has been up for two hours and is still going strong, start shifting to nap mode: quiet, dim space, less sensory engagement, dress him or her in comfy baby pajamas or soft clothes, and offer to nurse or give a bottle if needed

  • Consider the timing - Infants & Toddlers: Once you get him or her on a schedule (tips on that below!), follow it as closely as you can but if your child is having a growth spurt, isn’t feeling well, or woke up early, be flexible to his or her needs.

  • Mouthing (sucking hands, relying on a pacifier)

  • Clinginess

  • Pulling at ears or hair

  • Picky or fussy eating

  • Growling or grumbling sounds

Creating a Schedule for Napping

During the first few months, you’re going to be playing it by ear a bit. Babies just sleep all the time, and are only awake for short bursts. Around that four month mark, you can start introducing a nap schedule. Before you go all in on creating a schedule, keep a journal or notes about your baby’s sleep habits:

  • What time does your baby wake up most days?

  • How many naps does he or she take each day?

  • Is there any daily routine you need to schedule around (if you have a twice weekly appointment at 1:00 PM, try and settle your nap schedule before and after that time)

  • What are his or her signs of sleepiness?

 

When you create your schedule, add in time for your nap routine to ensure consistent sleeping!

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Start a Pre-Nap Routine

Just like you have a bedtime routine for your baby of bath, book, songs, etc, you should have a naptime routine, too! It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but you want to make sure you’re providing the best opportunities to create a quiet, restful routine. About fifteen minutes before naptime:

  • Take your baby into his or her room or quiet space

  • Change the baby and make sure he or she is wearing clothes comfortable for sleeping (be sure to remove headbands, too!)

  • Read a story, sing a soft song, or engage in a quiet activity or offer to nurse or a bottle

  • Darken the room

  • Lay baby down in his or her crib drowsy but awake

  • If needed, rub his or her back, hum softly, or sit nearby to provide comfort

As a parent, naps are one of the biggest causes of stress, but by knowing your baby, creating a schedule, and following routines, you can make it a bit easier! But remember, you know your baby best, and if sometimes you just need to take your baby on a car ride to get him or her to sleep, or your baby falls asleep in the jumperoo - no judgement here!

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