How To Handle Your Baby's Daytime Naps
How To Handle Your Baby's Daytime Naps
Child Sleep Specialist, Andrea Grace, shares her sound advice with VideoJug on how to manage your baby's daily napping schedule. This film shows you how to fit your baby's nap in throughout the day, and how to determine what the best napping routine is for you child.
Step 1: Nap on the go
The fact is that sleep taken “on the go” when out in the pram for example is every bit as restorative and valuable for your baby as that taken at home – so if you are a parent of more than one child, and are unable to provide a consistent napping schedule, please do not feel bad. It is fine for baby to sleep on the school run!
Step 2: Assess your baby's napping needs
In order to establish a napping routine, it makes sense to watch for the signs that your baby is becoming tired and to follow her lead. This approach is more likely to be successful than imposing a prescribed sleeping schedule on to her.
You need, however to avoid allowing her to become over tired, as this will make it difficult for her to settle.
Signs that your child is becoming tired include:
• Rubbing her eyes
• Becoming fractious.
Step 3: How much sleep?
All babies are different of course – but here are some averages:
0-6 weeks – 4 - 8 naps a day totalling 7 ½ - 9 hours. Your baby will need to nap about every two hours.
6- 8 weeks – 4 naps a day totalling approx 6 hours. These normally consist of 2-3 short naps of between 30 -60 minutes plus one longer nap of up to 2 hours.
4 - 6 months – 3 naps a day totalling approx 3 – 4 hours. These naps are usually arranged as a short morning nap, a long nap during the middle of the day and another short nap late in the afternoon.
6- 12 months – 2 naps a day totalling 2 -3 ½ hours.
12 – 24 months – 1 nap, usually taken in the middle of the day and lasting for approx 1 ½ hours, although there may be a second shorter nap taken either in the morning or later in the afternoon.
Step 4: A good routine
Difficulties arise when your baby takes very frequent, short and reluctant naps. Often, babies who do this will sleep for hours if they are in the pram or in your arms. Clearly, this is not always practical or even desirable. At times even the most selfless of parents needs a little space during the day to attend to business or household matters. The best way to settle your baby for a nap is:
• Try not to stimulate or entertain her, as this may make her irritable.
• Put her down in her cot or pram with minimum fuss and then leave her to settle alone.
• If you do not like to leave her alone to cry, it is alright to stay beside her, with a hand resting on her.
• Rock the pram or cot if you can, but avoid rocking your baby in your arms.
• Remember that patting her may irritate her if she is very tired.
• Try to schedule her naps at reasonably consistent times during the day, but allow her some flexibility.
• If she wakes up half way through her nap and still looks tired, you should spend up to 20 minutes re settling her. If after this time she is showing no signs of going back to sleep, you should get her up and wait for another hour at least before looking for tired signs and putting her back down for another nap.
Step 5: Develop sleep skills
If your baby is taking erratic, inconsistent naps during the day, concentrate your efforts on establishing good sleep habits at NIGHT.
Once your baby has learned good night time sleep skills, she will be able to transfer them to her daytime naps too.
See VideoJug's 'Contented sleep for your new baby'
Step 6: Go with the flow
• Try not to get discouraged if her daytime pattern is erratic at times.
• Be aware that early on, babies nap requirements change from week to week. You need to be open to change.
• Don't be too hard on yourself. It is not necessary to be chained to the home in order to meet your baby's napping needs!
Remember. Provided that you offer your baby a safe and comfortable place to sleep and that you do not over handle her; she will take all of the daytime sleep that she needs.