A Guide to Baby Naps
A Guide to Baby Naps
Your baby’s daytime naps are just as important as their nighttime slumber. As parents, we tend to focus on nighttime sleep because frankly, we no longer wish to be sleep deprived. However, regular naps that are appropriate to your baby’s age will help them to sleep better over night and be happier during the day.
What to Expect in the First 18 Months
First, let’s look at what your baby’s sleeping habits will be like during the first 18 months of their life.
When your baby is born, they are pretty much the boss. You should not expect any kind of sleeping pattern with a newborn. They will sleep and feed often both day and night. This is tough for parents but before you know it, this time in their life and yours will pass. So with dark circles under your eyes and all, embrace the moment as best you can.
At 6-8 weeks, babies often start sleeping less often but for longer stretches at night and by 3-4 months you will likely start seeing a pattern. Your baby will most likely be having around 4 naps a day. You may notice your baby taking morning naps at around the same time every day. This is the start of your baby’s naps following a more regular schedule.
By 6 months your baby will probably be down to 2-3 naps a day and by 9-12 months most babies will be down to 2 naps a day. Then at 12-18 months, most babies will give up that second nap and go down to 1 nap a day. Remember, all babies are not the same and can change quickly. Note too that while most will start to follow a regular pattern there will always be off days or even weeks.
Developing A Nap Routine
Developing a regular pre-nap routine will help cue to your baby that it’s sleep time. Your nap routine does not need to be very elaborate. It could be a shorter version of your night bedtime routine eg short story and song. Once you start figuring out your baby’s napping pattern, you will find what works best for your baby to wind him down for naptime.
When Baby Won’t Nap
Overtired/Stick to Schedule
There are many reasons why your baby may not want to nap, but the most common is that your baby is overtired. Your baby can only stay awake for so long before they need to sleep and waiting too long can cause them to become overtired. An overtired baby will find it very difficult to sleep.
Once you develop your baby’s nap routine and schedule, it is ideal to stick to it each day. With that being said, sometimes life is going to get in the way. If your baby does miss a nap, don’t stress over it. Put them down earlier for their next nap or bedtime and they should catch up. Remember you are doing your best as a parent, so try not to focus on what did not get done, but instead on what went well.
Not Tired Enough/Baby May Not Want to Nap
Just as it’s important that your baby isn’t over-tired at naptime, it’s also important that they are tired enough. Over time you will find your baby’s ideal window for sleep. If they start not to nap so well then maybe they need to stay up a bit longer before going down to nap.
As your baby gets older, you will notice how they want to interact more and a nap is only getting in the way of that. While you may notice they can continue to play past nap time they are then at risk of becoming overtired. So, even though your baby may look happy and content just playing, we as parents need to give them the opportunity to nap.
Is your Baby’s Room Ready for Naptime?
You want to be sure your baby’s room is conducive to naptime. Ideally they will mostly nap in the same place as they sleep overnight. It helps if the room is darkened and quiet with minimal distractions. White noise can help to drown out daytime noise especially if there are siblings at home. You know your baby better than anyone and you will figure out what will help them get the best rest.
Enjoy Nap time
Once you find a nap schedule that fits, it should make both yours and your baby’s days happier. Your baby will be well rested and you will have some time out to catch up on the inevitable list of chores but also hopefully enjoy that well earned hot cuppa!