Baby Sleep Solutions: Nap Time Tips!

  • 0
  • June 14, 2011

Nap Time Tips and Baby Sleep Solutions from The Sleep Lady:


• Remember that skipping naps will not help your child sleep better at night…’s the exact opposite!

Watch for your child’s sleep cues and get them in to bed for their nap. Some common cues are: quieting, fussing and whining, staring off, rubbing ears and eyes, losing interest in toys or playing, sucking thumb and, of course, yawning.

Stick to a consistent daily schedule with eating and nap times. Work with your child’s natural body clock. The typical window of wakefulness is between 1.5 hours – 3 hours depending on your child’s age. Missing your child’s window will make it more difficult for them to go to sleep and stay asleep! It may not be logical but it’s true!

Create a relaxing pre-nap routine that will help your child wind down and relax. Reading books in his or her room is my favorite!

• Remember that TV gives the body a false restoration making it easier for him to fight off the nap and for you to miss his sleepy cues!

• Make nap time cozy. If she is not sleeping in her bed then make sure she has comforting sleep gear wherever she naps. And of course, don’t forget the lovey!

• Half an hour before nap time, start to quiet the environment, calm your activity and dim the lights. This helps cue the brain to slow down, secrete the drowsy making hormone and get ready for sleep.

• Remember you can’t force your child to sleep. You can only create the best sleep inducing environment at the best sleep inducing time. For preschoolers you can also have clear expectations of their behavior. It’s called “quiet” time for a reason!


Here is a short excerpt  from the Nap Coaching chapter in “The Good Night Sleep Tight WORKBOOK”:


If your child is over 6 months and you need to get his daytime sleep on track, start on day two, or the morning after the first night, of the Sleep Lady® Shuffle. Some things to keep in mind:

Make sure you’re timing your child’s naps correctly, based on his age (as laid out in Chapter 3). Also, be aware of his sleep cues and windows of wakefulness.

• Do an abbreviated version of his bedtime routine, then put your baby in his crib drowsy but awake. Sit beside the crib and soothe him just as you would during the night. Try for one hour to get him to sleep.sleep coaching

Try the nap in the crib twice a day (and once a day if your child is on one nap) before going to a “backup nap plan”: You go to a backup plan if you check your sleep log around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. and realize that your child hasn’t had enough day sleep.You want to make sure that he sleeps one way or another for a decent interval before the afternoon is over, so that you’re not set up for a bad night. A backup nap can take place in the car, stroller, swing, or carrier, but try to make it different from a habit you’ve been trying to break. For instance, if you’ve been working on ending co-sleeping at night, don’t put him in your bed for his backup nap. Try a car ride or walk in the stroller instead. Ideally, the backup nap will last at least 45 minutes, and your child will be awake by 4:30 p.m. so that he’s ready to sleep at his regular bedtime.

No naps before 8:00 a.m.—even if your child has been up since 5:00! It will throw off the entire day and ingrain in him the habit of getting up too early. I realize this is a tricky dance and your child may get overtired, but it’s worth it in the long run.

• Your baby’s morning nap should be no longer then 1½ hours. Wake him if need be. I know this goes against the rule of “never wake a sleeping baby,” but I only want you to do it for the morning nap to help regulate your baby’s sleeping times.

• Follow the same chair positions for naps as you do at night.

• If you have an older child who can’t be left alone while you sit in your baby’s room, you can do timed checks—looking in on your baby at regular intervals. Base the timing on your little one’s temperament and be consistent. If you have no idea where to start, then try checking on him every seven minutes, slowly increasing the time. When you go to his crib, be reassuring but quick. You’ll defeat the purpose if you pat him until he’s asleep during your crib-side check.


Some Important Things to Keep in Mind


• The morning nap develops first and is easier for a child to achieve than the afternoon nap, so don’t miss this opportunity.

• The afternoon nap is more stubborn, so don’t get discouraged!

• Look at your sleep log around 2:00 or 3:00 p.m. and decide if you will need to go for a backup nap.

• You will be tied to the house during the nap-coaching process. If you feel like all you’re doing all day is trying to get your child to go to sleep, then you’re doing everything right!

Hang in there. You can do this!

Sweet dreams,

Kim, The Sleep Lady

For more details on nap coaching or to purchase “The Good Night, Sleep Tight WORKBOOK”  click here.

Was this article helpful to you? Please tell us by commenting below! For more baby, toddler, and family sleep tips and tricks, please subscribe to The Sleep Lady’s Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, and YouTube channel! If you are looking for more sleep content, please check out Get Sleep Now-an exclusive members-only area designed to provide in-depth help and support during your sleep coaching experience.

Kim West
Kim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been a practicing child and family therapist for more than 24 years, and the creator of the original gentle, proven method to get a good night’s sleep for you and your child. She is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night Sleep Tight, its companion Workbook and 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies. Click here to read more about her.

Did you find this article helpful? Please share it with your friends by clicking below, or ask a question on The Sleep Lady Facebook page.

Share this article: Share on Facebook
Email this to someone
Tweet about this on Twitter
Pin on Pinterest

Some of the posts featured on this website may contain affiliate links. This means I have the potential to receive a small commission (at no extra cost to you) if you purchase something using one of my links. This allows me to help cover the expense of running the site while keeping the content 100% free. Note that I only recommend products I believe in. Your support is appreciated!


  • annester says:

    i am able to get him to nap fairly easily but the issue is the naps are never longer than 30 minutes or so… do they need to be longer or how do i get him to sleep longer? he’s 4 months old. and if all the naps are only 30 min – we end up with 4 or 5 naps during the day. is that ok?

  • Coerulea says:

    What is the latest time you think a 2-year-old should go down for a nap without ruining his already established bedtime? He usually goes down for his daily nap around noon or 1:00p but I’ve had some times where he’s still wound up at 3:00p. I finally got him settled down and let him sleep (because I know naps are important) and wake him up if he’s not up by 5:00p, but then he’s awake until 10:00p and not wanting to go to sleep. At what point do I “write off” the nap and just try to keep him up until bedtime?

  • jg59501 says:

    We just bought a new house and my two boys, ages 3 and 5, are now sharing a room, by choice. Bedtime is a disaster. The younger one gets loud and tries to make the older one laugh, which he does, and then it escalates from there. We do the routine…bath, books, one song each, but it somehow got pushed back from 8:30 to 10:30pm, and I’m constantly shuffling between beds to quiet them down. They are still waking at 7am, which by the end of the week, the sleep deprivation is apparent. Any tips on how to get back on track?

  • l+l says:

    We have a baby boy turning 9 months next week and he is in our bedroom out of necessity but in his own bed.

    Here is his current sleep schedule:

    Wakes at 6 (is early riser but we shush until 6 am)

    Nap at 830/900 am

    Sleeps 45 minutes to 1 hour

    Second nap at 12/1230

    Sleeps 45 minutes to 1 hour

    Sometimes Third nap 3/330

    Sleeps 45 minutes

    Bedtime ritual starts at 515

    He is asleep by 6/630 pm

    He wakes up again sometimes at 8/830 to be held and then is back down quickly

    Dream feed at 1030/11 pm

    A couple of problems here. 1. He doesn’t go back to sleep after the 45/1hour nap even if I do the longest hour with him. 2. He often is an early riser waking between 515 to 530 am with poopy diaper, we shush until 6 am though

    3. He has started to boycott some naps…sometimes it is the morning nap even! Which of course throws off the entire day.

    I am admittedly sleep obsessed with my son, I am very concentrated on his getting enough and am always worried about it because he rarely gets more than an hour nap. I am happier about nighttime sleep as that has greatly improved. Also, I’m stuck at the door for putting him down to bed. I do helicopter checking on him

    since we have such close quarters (1 bedroom apt in NYC) I often have to be VERY quiet in the next room while trying to clean up/prepare dinner/do phone calls for bills etc.

    Please let me know what I can do to improve this situation. I am willing to do the longest hour more but how long do you think it will take for this to take hold and how do I get away from the door and just close the door behind me when it’s time for nap. He sometimes cries and other times seems happy to lay down and take a nap.


    Thank you, Linda

    • AmandaLawrence says:

       @l+l Linda, I am just reading your comment about your 9 month old. I don’t know how old your comment is but my child is very similar to yours except he is 8 months old.  He gets up early and we don’t go to him until 6 AM as well. Lately I’ve been able to rock him back to sleep at that hour…but you never know.  I am also sleep obsessed about him and it’s making me crazy!  Did you ever work through this with your son?  Would love any advice if you did….Thanks!

  • […] 6 months of age, you can do a lot of nap coaching. But I want to just clarify how I would encourage you to do nap […]

  • […] nap coaching is definitely the hardest part of sleep coaching. And you and your daughter have done a great job! Look at how much she has learned in just nine […]

  • […] when you are ready to cope with a little unpleasantness and put him to bed without his binkie. Make sure he has good naps that day and an especially nice and calming bedtime routine. Get him to bed drowsy but awake. […]