The most important time of the day for your baby is nap time. Napping is the restorative period that helps your baby grow and develop. It’s also an important opportunity for parents to catch up on other things in life and have some well-deserved rest. The problem is, creating a nap time isn’t simple. It takes time and effort to make an effective napping time for your baby. Planning and making the space for your baby will lead to them napping for longer and having better quality sleep.
Here’s how to help your baby get the most out of their naps and sleep for longer.
Create the Right Balance Between Time Awake and Time Asleep
It’s important that you keep an eye on the amount of time your little one is awake. Because babies are more sensitive, you need to be careful with the period they spend awake and asleep. Having your baby awake for too long can cause them to become distressed. It can also lead to a release of hormones like adrenaline and cortisol that make their little bodies more alert. They’ll fight off nap time even when it’s in their best interest.
On the opposite side, scheduling naps too often can cause its own set of problems. The timing depends on your baby’s age and sleep patterns. It’s difficult to find a happy medium, but it can be achieved with some patience.
There’s no magic number to tell you exactly how long your baby should be awake versus asleep on a daily basis. In general, babies younger than three months old nap six to eight times a day, and those naps can range from 10 minutes to four hours long.
As your baby gets older, naps should become less frequent but can last for longer periods of time. A six-month-old, for example, might take four naps a day with each nap lasting about one hour. It will be different for every child, however. Let your baby take the lead, and pay attention to when they start to feel tired or cranky.
Keep Them Full
There’s isn’t a lot of time between when a baby simply feels hungry and when they feel hangry. An empty stomach is enough to make anyone cranky, and that includes babies.
It’s generally recommended to feed babies a good half hour before their scheduled nap time. This way they won’t wake up feeling hungry and grumpy. Don’t overfeed them, though. A small snack should be good, and always allow time for them to digest.
Design a Napping Space
Creating a space for your baby to nap is important. Age can potentially limit where your baby can lay down to rest. Younger babies can nap almost anywhere, but it’s good to have a friendly nap zone regardless of age.
Preventing noises, blocking light, and reading them a story can help with the sleepy-time ambiance. You should also limit distractions as much as possible to ensure a restful sleep. Some mothers have also found that introducing soothing white background noise can improve sleep quality and assist with sleep training.
Stick to a Routine
Paying attention to your baby’s mood when they wake up can provide good insight on their preferred napping patterns. Try to create a routine based on when you notice your baby is tired, and develop napping rituals to prepare them for sleep. These rituals help prepare both your baby’s mind and their body for nap time.
Your pre-nap routine should be similar to your bedtime routine to help drive home the point that it’s time to wind down for rest. Things like feeding them and giving them a cuddle will ensure that they nap calmly. The familiarity of a routine will help them understand that this is sleep time.
Being consistent with your routine will help your baby know when it’s time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. That kind of predictability will help your baby’s body adapt to a natural schedule. There are no surprises, and your baby is less likely to fight sleep when they know nap time happens at the same time every day. This will help them nap for longer and wake up feeling well rested and less cranky.
As a bonus, consistency will also mean more time for you. While your baby is sleeping, you can focus on yourself. Take your own nap if you need to, or plan certain tasks during those baby-free minutes. With a consistent schedule, you’ll be more productive and have time to recharge before baby wakes.
Getting a stubborn baby on a schedule isn’t always easy, however. Remember, your routine will depend heavily on your baby’s age. You might need to try different schedules to find something that works for you both. It might also take a few weeks before you feel the easy flow that comes with a well-practiced routine. Keep at it, and trust that your consistency will pay off.
Babies are hard work; we all can sympathize with this. Creating a napping schedule takes time, but it can be achieved with some patience. Don’t be frustrated if they miss out on a nap once or twice. It’s all part of the process.
About the Author
Molly Crockett is a successful writer at Big Assignments. She regularly shares her unique lifestyle and personal development advice in her writing. Molly is also a featured writer at Essayroo and Revieweal.