Last Updated on January 10, 2021 by Sarah
At times, it can seem like a nap is the only thing that can save you from exhaustion!
Babies are demanding, and it’s no secret that many new parents experience sleep loss.
However it’s important to strike the right balance regarding napping. If you allow your baby to nap for too long, you may find they won’t settle well at bedtime. On the flip side, if you don’t let them sleep long enough during the day, you could be in for a grumpy baby and tired parents.
At the end of the day it’s about choosing the tactics that work best for you and your baby, but here are 5 baby napping tips that should help.
1 – Do Your Best To Spot Sleepiness
Spotting when your child is tired is vital for one reason – you can act decisively.
It’s not uncommon for parents to get into a routine of putting their baby to bed in the afternoon at a set time, even when they don’t appear particularly sleepy.
And whilst babies generally require up to 18 hours of sleep per day, most will naturally decide when it’s time for a nap. So whilst consistency is important, try not to be ‘too’ rigid either.
If you keep your eye on their behaviour, you baby will let you know when a nap’s in order.
Are they full of life, or are they yawning and rubbing their eyes? If it’s the latter, it’s smart to give them an hour, or so, in their cot.
A dark, quiet environment can also help baby to sleep.
2 – Don’t Be Too Rigid
A routine is the best thing for babies, or so most people tell you.
And whilst it’s true that routine is often very beneficial, one thing you’ll learn, particularly with sleep patterns, is that your baby may change their behaviour without warning.
For example, it’s not uncommon for babies to go through a 3-6 week period where they change their sleeping pattern for no obvious reason. This is referred to as sleep regression in babies.
Sleep regression is completely normal, but does require you to take a more fluid approach to napping and sleep, in order to give your child the best chance of drifting off. Unfortunately, rigidly sticking to a sleep routine that worked previously, may make matters worse if your baby has decided to change their sleep pattern.
So if your baby’s sleep patterns noticeably change suddenly, it could be sleep regression. If you’re unsure, though, it’s always best to speak to your doctor or midwife for advice.
3 – Help Baby To Soothe
Yes, this is a reference to the dreaded dummy or pacifier!
Whilst babies or toddlers have to learn how to give them up at some point, this doesn’t need to stand in the way of you offering your baby a dummy to help them sleep.
Ideally, opt for rubber pacifiers that are 100% natural, as these are more healthy than plastic versions.
At the end of the day, it’s important not to be too hard on yourself. Caring for a new baby is tough and some accessories, such as dummies, can really help comfort babies and limit them waking during nap times.
4 – Don’t Send Baby To Sleep Hungry
Imagine if your stomach was rumbling before bed. What would you do?
Babies don’t have the means to feed themselves or tell you they’re hungry, so they rely on their parents to keep their tummies full.
It can be challenging to juggle everything with a newborn or young baby, so if you bottle feed, you may find it simpler to pre-make bottles beforehand and store them in the fridge. Whether it’s breast milk or formula, your child will thank you for giving them a snack!
Baby bottle warmers will pre-prepare bottles to the perfect temperature, too, if you want to eliminate the hassle at nap or bedtime.
5 – Consider Swaddling
Not all babies take to swaddling, but if you’re baby has trouble napping or falling asleep independently, you might find swaddling helps.
Swaddling is an age old practice of wrapping up a baby in a light, breathable blanket, ensuring that their neck and head are kept free. The idea behind swaddling is that it will help a baby to feel calm and secure by mimicking the safe, secure, environment, or feeling, of the womb. This snug feeling of security can help many babies to sleep better.
You can swaddle using a light, breathable material such as cotton or muslim or buy a swaddle blanket ready made. Always swaddle a baby safely, which includes not swaddling baby too tightly or above the shoulders.
Hopefully your baby isn’t too hard to put down for a nap, but if he or she struggles to nap, or goes through a phase of waking up a lot, try not to despair. It won’t last forever.
Sleep deprivation can be a huge challenge for new parents and most of us will likely worry about our child’s sleep patterns at some point.
Keep the tips above in mind, though, and you’ll be armed with some practical ways to help your baby nap or drift off at bedtime.