Ah the glorious little ones nap-time. The time the you get a gazillion things done (or catch up on netflix with a brew,) but wait! What if your little one just won’t nap?
Here are my top tips for getting daytime naps spot on!
Newborn nappers: In the early days, babies sleep so much and so irregularly that they don’t really need to nap. In the very early weeks your baby’s napping is a very much ‘sleep when I want to’ plan. The National sleep foundation found that (on average) newborns sleep from 10 to 18 hours per day, for periods lasting anywhere from 20 minutes to 3 hours. Many babies sleep most of the day and then are active at night – so don’t worry about setting a rigid nap time routine from day one, as it just won’t work. Sleep is needed for growth – which is why your little bundle of loveliness sleeps so much, only waking to feed before dozing off again for another sleep. Having said this, you can, of course, teach your little one the difference between night and day as they don’t come into this world knowing which is which!
Teach the difference between night and day: To teach your little one the difference between night and day keep daytimes bright, light and noisier than nights would be. Have background music on, talk in a normal volume, and do the things you’d normally do during the day.
At nighttime – do the opposite! Make things darker, calmer and quieter. Talk in a lower voice, although don’t whisper as baby will always need to sleep in the total peace and quiet! Use black out blinds in summer months, and keep things cosy and calm. These simple tricks help your baby to understand the difference between night and day and eventually will help you start a great routine.
Make sleep time, a nice time! Often babies and toddlers don’t want to nap because there are far more interesting things to do. By Ensuring the bedroom or place of naps is a nice, calm and comfortable place to sleep, they’ll be more likely to settle. Make the room darker using black out blinds or close the curtains. Make sure they are warm enough, and take off any trousers or tights that might make napping uncomfortable.
Give your little one their favourite comforter and settle them down in their bed to sleep.
Wind down time!
As nap time approaches – make everything calmer and quieter. Get your little one in the napping zone! Babies can benefit from a baby massage – perfect for relaxing before a nap!
Keep conversation to a minimum: As hard as it is – keep the chat to a minimum as any stimulation can cause the sleepy tot to go into full wake up mode. Stick with simple sentences like ‘It’s sleepy time now, settle down for naps’ then pop them into their place of sleep and stroke their head for a minute to settle.
Get busy! For toddlers or older babies in particular – make sure they have had an active morning as energetic little ones are less likely to want to nap! Fresh air is a great nap creator, so pop to the park or play in the garden for a while in the morning. Swimming, baby groups and any stimulating play sessions at home, are fantastic for creating super naps in the afternoon.
Routine is the magic key! Just like my happy sleepers tips say – the key to good nap times sleep is routine. Having the same routine each day can create a wonderful napper. For babies under 12 months a short morning nap of up to an hour (between 8-10) and a longer afternoon nap of up to 2 1/2 hours (between 12.30-330) is perfect napping! For toddlers over 12 months it’s best to stop the morning nap, in favour of one long afternoon nap after lunch.
It’s important to mention here that napping after 4pm can cause problems with the nighttime bedtime routine as it’s too close to nighttime hours. (Most babies/toddlers go to bed around 630/7pm)
Naps don’t need to always be at home! Naps on the go are fine and often essential if you don’t want to be controlled but the routine. Investing in a good black out buggy sleeping cover like the Snoozeshade is great for naps when out and about. Car naps are fine – but if your little one does fall asleep in their car-seat and you then arrive home, transfer them into their crib or cot for safe sleeping.
Also remember if you come in from outdoors and your little one is sleeping happily lying down in their pram, to remove any covers/hats and foot-muffs to avoid overheating. Ideally you should transfer them to their crib or cot.
Hungry tummy: Ensure your little one has had enough to eat before their naps or they’ll wake up due to hunger. For toddlers – don’t go overboard with food, as they can get tummy ache! You know yourself going to sleep on an overfull tummy is no fun.
Napping through illness: When your baby is teething or unwell – don’t worry about routine. You’ll likely find (especially with colds and sickness bugs) that they’ll sleep more in the day. Encourage regular sleeping in the day until they are better. Please don’t try sleep training when your little one is poorly.
I hope these tips help you to gain a happy napper in no time at all! If they do – don’t keep it a secret! Share the naptime love!