Now my son is a toddler and he only takes one nap a day. Long gone are the days when I can swaddle him up and let him chill out. I must use other tactics cajoling my son to nap during the day.
Getting your baby to sleep at night is one thing, but trying to get your baby to nap during the day is completely different. How to get my baby to nap longer? You might be asking. First of all let me tell you that naps are really tricky. They aren’t easy to master either! Once you managed to get acclimated to 4 naps *BOOM* now its time for 3 naps! Then when you finally have the 3 naps down *BOOM* now its time to move to just 2 naps a day.
You also have to consider that you are up against other factors out of your control such as the sunlight, or noises from outside such as dogs barking, sirens wailing, someone might ring the doorbell, who knows.
I have to admit, when naptime rolls around I am able to let my guard down and perhaps do a relaxing activity just by myself. My son is now 19 months old and whenever he naps I know that I have anywhere from 1 to 3 hours to do only one of the following; a netflix movie, check social media & thumb through my email, either a bath, shower or a nap myself; Or sometimes I spend naptime quietly and hurriedly pre-washing and putting dishes in the washer because if my son was awake otherwise, he would try to explore the dishwasher by climbing inside and tinkering with all its parts.
Whatever I choose to do or accomplish during naptime, I do it more peacefully than if my son was awake which means my attention and vigilance is totally up! up! up! All moms of babies and toddlers need quiet time also. So TRUST ME, I know how valuable nap time is.
Most importantly keeping in mind that adequate sleep is important to everyone, but absolutely vital for babies because it directly impacts their mental and physical development. We all know that if we don’t get enough rest or if our sleep is disturbed it affects our health and well being.
Since we love our babies we want them to rest so that their little bodies can rejuvenate themselves. It can be frustrating when they don’t nap very long either. Consider the following methods to assist in your naps;
A pre-nap routine doesn’t have to be the same routine you do during your bedtime, it should be a *much shortened* version of your nightly bedtime routine.
OR instead doing everything you do in your bedtime routine in itty bitty increments, just pick 2 or 3 of the following for your ‘pre-nap routine’; feed baby, give them a bath ( this should be more of a bedtime routine activity ), a soothing massage, cuddle, rocking chair while reading a story, sing a song, sock puppet play (with sock-puppet singing, or saying “time for rest” to baby) pretty much the routine should consist of predictable series of steps that give your baby enough time to wind down and prepare for a nap.
Pre-nap routines should be done preferably between 15 to 30-minutes before naps. It should be the same thing everyday. A pre-nap routine cannot be forced and should be a relaxing activity for your baby and you.
It is important to have a consistent bed or nap time routine for a baby because this not only allows them to prepare for what’s coming next but as sleep time nears, their body clocks also begin to wind down a notch and prepare for sleep.
According to the National Sleep Foundation’s establishing consistent bedtime routines during early childhood are related to better cognitive performance and reduced behavior problems.
This also means taking a nap in the same spot every day. It can be the same bed that they sleep in at night, or a special nook area in the house, but a place that they know when you place them in that bed spot, it means it is time to go to sleep.
If your baby goes to daycare, chances are during naptime your child knows where their cot is, and when it’s time to rest and go to sleep by the cues and routines the daycare does prior to naptime. During the weekend you should put your child down for a nap the same time they go down for a nap at daycare.
Sleep training is dependent upon a few factors such as your baby’s development, feeding patterns as well as their current state of sleep. Newborn babies sleep 16 hours a day, all throughout the day, but as they get older they don’t need to sleep all the time.
Since your baby will have longer wake time in between naps as they get older, you will always be modifying their nap schedules. Whatever time you decide is nap time, you should put your baby down in their bed 10 minutes before their nap. The idea here is that they are already settled in their bed as sleep overtakes them.
Your baby’s sleep environment plays an important role in determining how much rest he or she will actually get, therefore certain conditions must apply.
A cool, dark, and quiet environment will make it easier for a baby to fall asleep and get the best rest.
In my home, since my son sleeps in the same room as me, I must darken my bedroom by closing all the curtains as tightly as possible, while not allowing a bit of light to pass through.
I make sure the windows are open and that the room is flowing with fresh air, but if there is a lot of noise going on outside – say, the gardener has come by to mow our lawn or use a *very loud* leaf blower, then I have no choice by to keep the windows closed and hope and pray it doesn’t wake up my son.
I try to anticipate if my son could wake up early from his nap or not by being aware and lingering nearby while he sleeps. I pick a quiet activity to do nearby, sometimes with one ear bud in my ear and one ear free to listen for my son.
If I notice that my son is becoming disturbed in his sleep or begins to whimper in his sleep while tossing & turning, either by a nightmare or being startled awake from an outside noise, he usually wakes up upset & crying.
I make sure to drop whatever it is I am doing and rush to his side, saying “shhhh mommy is here” and rub big circles on his back. If I am there quick enough, he will usually settle back down to sleep.
He still has separation anxiety and being afraid of no mommy around is enough to wake my son up looking for me frantically. Usually at that point once he is awake & crying, it doesn’t matter if I come too late and console him, he will already be wide awake by then.
Once in a while if he is woken up too early he is able to soothe himself back to sleep for another hour. I have to be nearby and vigilant of my son while he sleeps in case a situation might happen where he will suddenly wake up crying & calling for me.
Timing is everything when it comes to sleep training and no matter the method you chose, you should always put into account your baby’s temperament. Some babies just need a good feed, a bath, a cuddle and they are off to la la land, others require a bit more coercion.
One ultimate goal should be to train a child early on how to self-soothe and putting them down when sleepy, but still awake will in one way or another help you get your baby to nap longer.
Why? Any baby will comfortably and completely fall into deep sleep in their parent’s arms, but the problem is, when you put your baby to bed when completely asleep, waking up in a different environment will not only be confusing to them, but they will also have a negative association with their crib.
Putting a baby down awake yet sleepy enough to fall asleep on their own will teach self soothing techniques needed for those times when your baby wakes up in the middle of the night and is able to put themselves back to sleep without needing to be nursed, rocked or cuddled.
Sometimes babies wake up for no apparent reason other than to get your attention, which is why it’s important to break the association between sucking and falling asleep gradually. This may take a few attempts, but because babies love routine, they will catch on and eventually you will have a baby who will sleep on their own and remain asleep until wake up time.
Rocking a baby in your arms is soothing and will get him or her to sleep pretty fast. However, unless you are putting your baby down to sleep in their rocking chair, you should teach them to learn how to fall asleep being still in your arms because after all, their crib is motionless.
So lets assume by now that your baby needs to be rocked in order to fall asleep. You can slowly reverse this by; begin by rocking your baby gently and slowly stop just before he or she begins to fall asleep and just sit still.
Continue this process, while you try different positions such as standing until the baby can comfortably fall asleep without being rocked and then put them down – always when the baby is almost asleep.
Once your baby no longer needs to be rocked to sleep, you can finally move on to the touching instead of holding phase, which generally involves putting your baby to bed and then gently holding her hand or placing your hand on his or her forehead as a soothing gesture.
You can also practice baby massage and use some calming lavender lotion. There are some great YouTube videos tutorials on how to give your baby a nice massage like this one:
Your baby will reallly enjoy a massage like this.
If your baby is still not taking a full nap, or waking up crying and disgruntled every day for weeks, I would advise you consult with your pediatrician because there might be some underlying cause a doctor can only diagnose.
Taking a nap for too long is also not good! It will mean that your baby won’t sleep well at night. Most babies need 14 to 16 hours of sleep per day ( this is distributed across naps and sleeping during the night ) keeping in mind that your baby needs less sleep as they grow older.
If you let your infant nap for more than 2 1/2 hours it will equate to refusing to go to bed until waaay later, waking up in the middle of the night, waking up super early, not taking other naps, etc. If you baby is taking more than 2 naps a day, better to keep them around an hour each. However, if you have an 18 month old who only takes one nap a day, then its okay to sleep one good solid 2 1/2 hour nap.
Do you live for naptime? Do you have a little one who takes cat naps? What are some of the things you do when your baby takes a nap? What are some of the ways you try to keep your baby asleep longer for naps? Let me know in the comments below!