Updated: Mar 26
Nap's are necessary for both the young and elderly (and us parents!).
Studies have shown that although they don't make up for inadequate or poor nighttime sleep, they do improve mood & alertness.
Naps are are also an important part of some cultures (siesta anyone?. Sadly this does not include North America, WHICH is one of the MOST sleep deprived continents, due to busy life styles. Infact, its more common to boast about how you can thrive on little sleep and still get the job done.
Naps (or lack of), is one of the most common topics brought up in email inquiries, presentations and consultations, alongside early rising.
Here are some of the most commonly asked questions and statements and some common answers (from me!)
How do I get my baby to nap?
Before you worry about how your baby naps, ask yourself how does my baby sleep overnight. The first priority is ensuring your baby can first fall to sleep at bedtime. If they can do that, they you can start to implement a similar procedure in the day. However, if you work on the naps prior to working on the nights, they will regress and you will have to do it all again, once you start sleep training at night.
How to organize naps?
The number of naps and duration are based on a babies age and awake window. There are averages, but of course infants can fall out of this range. Some babies will fight sleep more than others, and infants who suck their thumbs will hold onto naps for longer and appear to be more sleepy than the average baby. If you want to have organized day you must first commit to this process and not over-schedule your days.
How long should a nap be?
As above, this is going to be based on your babies age. On average though a NAP of good quality wants to be ver an hour, that way you know your baby has gotten through the arousal point, that happens around 45 minutes and transitioned into another sleep cycle. On average a 4 month old, should take 2 naps of 1.5 hrs and 1 nap of 45-60 minutes.
How do I get my baby to sleep past 30 minutes?
When a baby is not getting past the 30 minute mark, it can be VERY frustrating, as you feel as though you just cant get anything done, and in most cases, its taken longer than 30 minutes to get them to sleep in the first place. AND, that is the issue, they first MUST learn how to fall to sleep, if you want them to go back to sleep. If they can go to sleep, then you have to spend time giving them the 'opportunity to go back to sleep' this will not happen if you get them up. The message you are sending is that the nap is over. It can be a self fulfilling issue.
My baby fights naps - what should I do?
Lots of babies fight daytime sleep or struggle more to fall to sleep, the drive to sleep in the day is weaker than it is at night. Make sure you are not always stimulating your baby. the more you do to keep them entertained the harder it will be for them to unwind and relax. Make sure that you have a mini wind down as a transition from an awake environment to a nighttime / sleep environment. Make sure you are using the right awake window, as much as parents are frighted about their baby becoming overtired, they can also be under-tired.
My baby won't go down for a nap?
It's all about practice and repetition. If you are really struggling stay home and work on ensuring that you are putting your baby down and having them nap and feed around the same time everyday. Routine and sleep go hand in hand!
If you are doing it for them, then they are not getting the opportunity to learn to do it for themselves. If you are out and abut all the time, then they will only learn to nap on the go and not learn to nap in their crib or their place of sleep.
NAP TIPS! and a few questions for you:
Nighttime sleep. Take a look at your babies overnight sleep. Is it of good quality?
Sleep associations. Soothers', rocking, bouncing, walking, car rides, are all props which might work in the moment, but ironically, they are a hindrance when it comes to your babies OWN ability to go back to sleep when they wake up after 1 sleep cycle.
Drive to sleep. Make sure you are using the right 'awake window' between naps so that your baby is ready to sleep, but not ASLEEP when they go down.
Unwinding. Understand that babies often cry before falling to sleep as they have no other outlet to relax. Crying is not always a bad thing, as its the only way an overtired baby can blow off steam.
Nap training. Naps takes around 6 weeks to level out, AND its a two-fold process. Babies have to not only learn how to fall to sleep, they also have to learn how to go back to sleep.
Consistency and commitment. If you want your baby to learn this skill, you must have the time to dedicate to it.
Learning curve. Nap 1 is usually the easiest nap for a baby to go down to sleep for and sleep through a sleep cycle transition. Nap 2 is more challenging, and Nap 3 can be hit and miss! Luckily its only round for 6 months, and then its cut out! So don't worry about spending too much time perfecting it.
Feel like you need more help with naps? or have questions?