Who needs nap help for their baby? I’m sure there’s a lot of hands going up right now! Naps are a very frustrating aspect of children’s sleep. Naptime is a critical time of day for both parents and children. That break from activity is restorative mentally and physically for your child and provides caregivers a much-needed break in the day. Whether your child has never napped well or is all of a sudden not napping well, these tips are worth a look:
- Hidden Naps: When parents will say their child is frequently skipping a nap, having trouble falling asleep for a nap, or taking a short nap, sometimes the underlying cause could be that their child is catching up on sleep during hidden times. For example, if your child sleeps in until 7:30 am or later, that might be just enough to throw off their naps for the day. If your child is struggling to nap, try waking them for the day by 7:00 am for at least four days.
- Timing of Naps: You want to make sure your child is attempting a nap at the right time of day for their age. If you put your child down too late, you may have missed their ideal sleep time and they can become more wound up. However, if you put them down for a nap too early, all other naps and bedtime will then need to be bumped earlier as well.
- Room Environment: A sleep-conducive room is a must for naps. Invest in thick blackout curtains and a good white noise machine that will play all naps and through the night. For older children, it helps to remove stimulating toys/artwork from the room. You want their room to be peaceful, boring, and dark.
- Winding Down: A nice soothing routine before each naps helps set the tone for sleep. Make sure you give your child an opportunity to wind down before naps- which means turning off electronic devices at least 30 minutes prior to sleep.
- New Skills: Often infants will have a disrupted nap schedule when they are learning new skills, such as rolling, sitting, standing, or walking. However, these phases often last only a couple of days and you should keep everything in your routine consistent during this time. If your baby is struggling to roll back over, provide extra tummy time during the day and show them how to roll. If they are stuck standing at the crib, help them sit down one time.
- Illness or Pain: Infants and children will have disrupted naps when they are sick or in pain. Sometimes parents are quick to jump to frustration when their child isn’t napping well, only to see their child develop an illness in the next couple of days. Many parents drop all sleep routines and good habits once they feel their child is teething. Unfortunately, once babies start teething, it will go on for the next 2 years! So we want to make sure you don’t create new bad habits during this time. Definitely use Tylenol or Motrin if your doctor ok’s it.
When you have made a change in your child’s schedule for naps, it can take days or weeks to see improvement. When parents first begin sleep training, their child’s night sleep will improve first and then the naps will often be slow to come together. However, if you are consistent, it will eventually come together but it does require patience!
If you need further nap help for your baby or child, check out my sleep coaching services.