When you have young children, what time of day is the most precious?
Yes, nap time is right on the money.
Parents enjoy sleep time because it gives them a chance to cross things off their to-do list. In addition, it means that we may finally get some much-needed rest!
Short Naps vs. Long Naps
How can we handle the situation if our lovely babies aren’t getting adequate shut-eye for their age? Scheduling our own lives becomes more difficult because of this, and it also deprives young children of the recuperative time they require to grow and learn.Here, we’ll provide our best advice on how to make your baby nap longer and answer your most often asked concerns about how to improve your baby’s day and nighttime sleep patterns in one place.
To begin, it’s important to understand that sleep cycles for newborns can be unpredictable. When they’re first starting out, they may have a day/night reversal, preferring to sleep during the day and stay awake at night. Between the ages of one and three months, these rhythms begin to function correctly, but regular sleep cycles don’t begin to emerge until around six months.
Between 12 and 16 hours of sleep per day are required for infants aged 4 to 12 months. There are normally three naps each day: a brief morning nap, an extended midday nap, and an afternoon catnap. Even as they become older, they’ll start to condense their daytime snoozes into one big snooze between the ages of 12 and 18 months.
Benefits of Naps for Babies & Toddlers
Better Sleep at Night
9 Nap Training Steps to Lengthen Your Baby’s Short Naps
Step 1: Fix baby’s night sleep
There’s a problem with this. “What’s the connection between my baby’s naps and nighttime sleep?” What I mean is this:
We always begin with nighttime sleep when attempting to improve the quality of sleep for infants.
It’s easier to remedy a bad night’s sleep than a bad day’s rest, so we do it that way.
Your kid is more likely to comply with adjustments to his sleep schedule at night since his desire to sleep is stronger at that time of day. It’s a different story at night. The desire to go to bed changes during the day.
Nap training will be nearly impossible if your infant is overtired and grumpy as a result of being awake all night.
This is due to the fact that a well-rested baby sleeps better at night.
Getting a good night’s sleep for your kid will make it simpler to get him to nap longer throughout the day.
Although that defies logic, it’s true!
It’s generally considered “sleeping well” when your infant spends most of the night sleeping!
This implies that if your baby is 6 months old or older, he either sleeps through the night or has 1-2 night feeds where he rapidly falls back asleep and sleeps for significant periods of time. Babies less than six months old may require more nighttime feedings, but they are more likely to fall asleep quickly afterward.
Stop nap training and focus on nighttime sleep instead if your baby is awake and hard to calm for long amounts of time at night.
When it comes to getting your baby to sleep, My Exhausted Mom’s Starter Kit is here to help!
Step 2: Keep an eye on baby’s awake times
That we talk about your baby’s “awake times,” we simply mean the times during the day when your infant is awake. (As an example, while you’re sleeping.)
Your infant may not be ready for a nap if his or her awake time is too brief.
Your infant may become overtired or overstimulated if he or she spends too much time awake.
Cortisol and adrenaline are released in your baby’s body to keep him or her awake and alert during the night. When these hormones are released, it becomes extremely difficult for the baby to go asleep and remain calm.
Following age-appropriate awake times is an important step in nap training. A few minor adjustments to baby’s wake hours can go a long way toward extending his sleep time.
Baby Awake Times:
- 30 to 90 minutes for a newborn
- 1-2 hours per week for the first seven to fifteen weeks
- 2 hours a week for 4 months:
- 2-3 hours every day for the first six to eight months
- 2.5-3.5 hours each week for a child aged nine to twelve months
- Toddler sleeps twice as much as usual: About 3 to 4 hours.
- One nap for the toddler 4.5 to 5.5 hrs.
Step 3: Fill the belly
When a baby’s stomach is full, he or she sleeps longer. There is nothing worse than a hungry baby waking up early from a nap. As a result, you should feed your child within 20-30 minutes of taking her to bed.
I’m not urging you to put your kid to sleep by feeding him or her, as that may result in a brief snooze (see Step 7.) Feeding and sleeping should be at least 10 minutes apart.
Step 4: Create a nap-friendly space
Non-motion sleep away from the day’s distractions is the most restorative sleep for older babies and toddlers.
Wherever you put your baby to sleep, they’ll likely be able to sleep.
Sleeping in a light living room or in the baby carrier for an hour doesn’t seem to impede their ability to do so.
However, around the age of four months, your baby undergoes a major developmental shift. As a result of this development, sleep patterns shift as well. (I go into more detail about this in my 4-month sleep regression guide.)
Your baby has suddenly become much more particular about where and when she goes to sleep. There are several possible explanations for this restlessness. So, if you’re wondering, “Why does my kid suddenly take short naps or fight naps?” read on for more information. You can accomplish this.
In order to assist her slumber better, this is a classic hint that her daytime sleep space should be similar to her overnight sleep space. Everything that helps her sleep at night will also help her fall asleep during the day.
My Exhausted Mom’s Starter Kit shows you exactly how to set up your baby’s room for sleep and provides you with practical advice that you can implement right away!
For every nap, provide your youngster with a nap-friendly environment.
This will help her sleep better and longer in the long run because it gives the highest level of restorative and rejuvenating sleep possible.
Baby can have a short snooze in the stroller (laying flat, not upright) on occasion if that is what the parents prefer. If your infant has a tendency to only take short naps, try rocking him or her to sleep.
Step 5: Start a calming pre-nap routine
The goal of a bedtime routine is to communicate to your infant that it’s time to go to sleep by using behavioral cues. An effective technique to assist your infant relax and fall asleep without fighting is by doing the same activities every day, in the same order, at the same time.
It’s important that your pre-nap relaxing ritual mirrors your bedtime routine.
To your infant, this is a cue to relax and sleep because it is familiar.
Incorporate some of your bedtime ritual into a pre-nap routine that is short and soothing. As soon as your child sees this pattern, he or she will know that sleep follows.
In my Exhausted Mom’s Starter Kit, I teach you how to establish a soothing bedtime routine.
Step 6: Keep your baby’s nap schedule consistent
Routine is essential for the development of children. This helps your kid sleep longer because his body clock is adjusted to sleep at the same time every day.
Newborns between the ages of six and seven months can follow a strict nap schedule, whereas younger babies prefer to snooze in accordance with their waking hours.
It’s not necessary to have a detailed nap schedule! Ideally, your daily plan should be simple to follow and flexible enough to accommodate your baby’s sleep and nutritional requirements.
Having a regular nap schedule means that you’ll be able to spend time with yourself every day.
If your child is in daycare, stick to the same nap pattern they do.
Because your baby’s body has been accustomed to resting at the same time each day, it will be easier for her to fall asleep.
Schedules for children from six months to four years old are included in my Daily Schedules and Developmental Activities Guide. In addition, the book includes imaginative play ideas and educational toys for children of all ages.
Step 7: Get your baby falling asleep independently
Are you baffled as to why your baby’s naps are so brief? What I mean is this: Around 50 minutes is the length of a baby’s slumber. It’s possible that your kid is in the middle of a sleep cycle and needs your aid initiating a new one if she wakes up 45 minutes after falling asleep.
In order to fall asleep, we require “sleep associations,” which are the props or settings that help us relax. Sleeping through the night can be made easier if your infant is used to being rocked or breastfed to sleep. She’s gotten used to you putting her to sleep now that you’ve been doing it for awhile.
This is perfectly fine! It’s only that when she wakes up early from a nap, she’ll need your support to get back to sleep. After a short nap, it can be difficult for a baby to go back to sleep. Because they’ve obtained some rest, they’re less motivated to go asleep. They may have a renewed sense of vigor and be raring to go!
You should begin teaching your child to fall asleep on her own if this is the case.
Replace sleep associations that rely on you with new ones that don’t, such as a lovey (for older children) or sleeping in the same place each night (rather than in your arms.)
It will be easier for you to fall back to sleep when your baby wakes up after a 40-minute nap. She understands exactly what to do and how to accomplish it. When it comes to lengthening your baby’s brief naps, this step is a godsend!
My nap training program teaches you how to get your baby used to napping on his or her own and to take long, rejuvenating naps as a result.
Step 8: Begin a “nap power hour”
Your baby’s short naps will soon be a thing of the past thanks to this. In order for this to function, however, you must also follow the previous stages.
Even if your baby wakes up early from a nap, she’ll be able to stay in her bed for an hour.
Nap time doesn’t end just because your baby wakes up; it encourages her to return to sleep. When your baby wakes up early from a nap, there are a number of things you may do to assist her get back to sleep.
My nap training program guides you through the “nap power hour” and helps you choose a nap training approach that is most suited to your child.
Step 9: Stay consistent
Do your best to maintain your baby’s nap schedule constant every day after he’s a rock star napper (yes, even on weekends.) As soon as a baby learns healthy napping patterns, he or she can swiftly forget them!
Prioritize your baby’s need for daytime sleep. Invite them around instead of going out and endangering your precious nap time. Baking may be an area in which you’ll need to brush up (and clean the bathrooms). As it turns out, you can actually cook and clean if your baby is napping well.
Bonus tip: Remember the big picture
If your baby’s short naps are causing you anxiety, step back and consider the big picture.
For a week, monitor your baby’s sleep patterns (day and night). For how many hours does he spend sleeping? In the event that your baby’s naps are short, but he or she sleeps 14-15 hours a day overall (and appears content and healthy), it is possible that your baby prefers to sleep longer at night.