Nap Time Tips and Baby Sleep Solutions from The Sleep Lady:
• Remember that skipping naps will not help your child sleep better at night…..it’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.
• 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!
Kim, The Sleep Lady
For more details on nap coaching or to purchase “The Good Night, Sleep Tight WORKBOOK” click here.