Daytimes Zzz’s go a long way to keeping kids healthy and happy. Naps boost memory, restore energy and gentle demeanor, build attention skills, reinvigorate the immune system and help reduce stress. And smart parents know to treat naps as sacred. (Maybe they’ve seen their baby’s skipped-nap meltdown—and barely lived to tell the tale!)
To get your kid be an all-star napper, try out these simple tips:
Baby Nap Tip #1: Find Your Rhythm
When your infant reaches 1 month, creating some order to your day promotes good sleep and let’s parents plan for downtime. Some doctors recommend scheduling a baby’s day in an “eat, play, sleep” sequence. Their idea is that uncoupling sleeping and feeding will train a baby to nod off again without milk in the middle of the night. This sounds logical … but it actually goes against a baby’s biology. Babies tend to snooze after feeds, no matter how much you prod and play with them. That’s why the following cycle makes more sense to me:
- After 1.5-2 hours of awake time, feed your love bug and then put him to sleep.
- If the nap goes over 2 hours, wake him up. (Long naps mean less eating during the day . . . and that leads to more hunger at night.)
Baby Nap Tip #2: Put Your Baby Down Before She’s Exhausted
Most people think a baby’s ready to zonk out when her eyes get lidded and her head slumps against your shoulder. Actually, at that point she is overtired.
As is often said, “Sleep begets sleep.” And that's right . . . that’s why the savviest parents put their babies to down to sleep at—or just before—the time she shows these early signs of fatigue:
- Reduced activity, smiling and talking (or even increased frowning)
- Staring, blinking and rubbing the eyes
- Increased fussing
Flexibility is key. So don’t aim to put your little bug down at 1.5 hours by the minute. And if he seems wiped out, it’s fine to bend the “rules.” And, if he dozed off in your arms, use the wake and sleep technique when you lay him in his bassinet or sleeper, to let him float back to sleep on his own.
Baby Nap Tip #3: Use Sleep Cues at Naptime
Happiest Baby’s SNOO smart sleeper was made to help parents succeed at naptime, with a little help from technology. SNOO provide the right sleep cues—white noise and gentle womb-like motion—at the right time and in the right amount. One feature parents love about SNOO is that it automatically and gradually weans your baby off sound and motion by 6 months. Together SNOO and the wake and sleep technique are a dynamic duo for establishing healthy sleep habits for years to come.
Baby Nap Tip #4: Get Ready for Change
One by one, these blissful naps will evaporate as your baby develops and grows. By 3 months your little one usually settles into 3 predictable naps (mid-morning, mid-afternoon and a short one in early evening.) Sometime within 6- 12 months, your little man will shift to 2 naps a day. And between 12-24 months, he’ll drop to just one.
Yet, exactly when each of these naps will disappear is one of the least predictable aspects of your child’s sleep!