Do short or erratic naps that do not follow any predictable pattern get you down as a parent? You are not alone.
Naps are vital for babies' brain development, while letting them sleep in your arms feels great, it makes it rather difficult for you to get things done or keep to a bed time routine.
Here's how to get your little to nap with as little fuss as possible. We will break it down by age. We also will help with tips on how to keep a solid constant bed time routine.
How Much Naptime Do Infants Need?
Your newborns often will have a nap length of at least 3-4 hours during the day. Though the toddler nap schedule decreases as they age, it's typical for infants to to nap for two to three hours or more daily. While toddlers will be getting 1-2 hours of shut eye during the day.
This baby nap schedule is not just normal but also beneficial. Research has found that frequent naps allow your Infant to consolidate specific memories. The naps also enable a more generalized memory which is important for your little one's learning and brain development.
Find the table below that will guide you on how much naptime your infants need. But remember that every Infant is different and while it's tempting to compare your babe with your friends, know that your infant's nap schedule is unique, just like her adorable nose.
Your baby's naptime will be determined by some important factors, including their age. Here is a quick look at ranges of sleep during the first year.
Naps Per Day
All naps all the time. This is about 14-17 hours of sleep over a 24-hour day. The snooze will be in short spurts of 1-3 hours, waking to be fed, burped, changed, and soothed.
Newborns live like they are in college. They party all night and nap all day! This is because your baby's brain is not making enough melatonin which governs her developing circadian rhythm. When your little one is at 2-3 months, it will start to regulate, and your Infant will sleep more easily.
2 to 3. Your little one will sleep 12 to 16 hours a day at this age. They can sleep with some overnight stretches reaching five to six hours in a row( also referred to as sleeping through the night)
Your baby's first nap will usually occur about 90 minutes after they have woken up. The second nap takes place three hours later. The third nap might start between 3;30 and 5;30 pm after your little one has been awake for about two hours. Your baby's sleep pattern will eventually join your family's routine as she starts sleeping less in the day and more at night.
1 to 2. Your little one's total sleep will remain about the same, with the overnight stretches reaching about 10-12 hours.
The first nap will generally occur 2 to 2 ½ hours after waking up. For most babies, that's around 9;00 to 9:30 am. The second tends to kick off two and a half hours to three hours after the first nap ends. This is usually no earlier than noon. Both naps together total 2- 4 hours.
1 - 2
By the time your little one is at 18 months, most tend to go down to one nap. These naps last between one to three hours and start just after lunch when their energy levels dip. Do not let this nap extend too late, as it can sabotage bedtime.
1 ½ to 3 years
Kids in this age gap tends to be all over the nap map. Some nap every afternoon for three hours, while others might skip some days and be perfectly fine with 1 ½ hour the rest of the time.
17 Simple Tips To Help Your Baby
These 17 nap tips will help you get your infant calm and rested and correct their nap time issues.
Get Into A Rhythm
Getting into a rhythm with your newborn will go a long way in helping them get the much-needed eye shut that they deserve.
That said, do not bow down to pressure because a fellow mama has confessed that their newborn is sleeping as recommended from the start. They are either lying or very fortunate. You can be fortunate by introducing your newborn into a routine immediately after you get home from the hospital, as this will help form the pattern for naptime well into the toddler years.
A tried and proven rhythm will include:
- Feeding the baby at consistent times
- Giving the baby a bath
- Read a book together, yes, even with your newborn!
- Sing a lullaby
These cues will help signal naptime to your infant, especially if they experience sleep regression.
Maintain A Consistent Routine Daily
This tip implies doing the same old thing over and over again. By working a routine into your baby's nap schedule, you will find that they will have more energy and time to be spontaneous.
To maintain a consistent daily routine, you should ensure that your baby's daytime sleep schedule is somewhat dependable by following similar naptime and bedtime routines.
It means you put your little one down at around the same time every day, including consistent feeding and playtimes. Building a routine you and your baby will love will make sticking to it easier. Ensure to keep the routines short, i.e., around 30- 45 minutes, as any longer and your bub might become overstimulated.
Burn Off Your Little One's Energy Prior To Naptime
Suppose your little one is overstimulated, overexcited, or over-energized. Engage them instead of forcing sleep. This will only lead to you becoming frustrated and your little one becoming fussy and very tired.
Play with them and burn off their energy before nap times. Try for a nap again within 30 -60 minutes. It will help if you keep an eye out for the signs of fatigue and drowsiness. Some signs include your young one rubbing their eyes or yawning.
Monitor Sugar And Screen Time
Screen time will intrude on your toddler's sleep because it is stimulating. It has been found that screens consistently intrude on sleep duration and cause delays in sleep timing. Another reason that you need to monitor your young ones' screen time is that:
- It has been linked to obesity
- Delays in language and social skills development
- Attention problems
- Less time learning
- Inadequate sleep schedules and insufficient sleep.
You should also monitor your toddler's sugar intake as it is true that it provides immediate energy to the body, although there is no evidence that it will make your child more active, keeping her awake. But too much sugar should be avoided, especially just before nap times.
When toddlers consume too much sugar, their blood sugar levels will increase. It will then drop rapidly. Making their tiny bodies be hard at work trying to re-stabilize their blood sugar and, in so doing, will release adrenalin, which can cause children to experience restlessness, thus affecting their sleep.
Use The Same Sleep Area For Day And Night
Ideally, for the first six months, your newborn will sleep in their Moses basket or cot in the same room you sleep in, even during their daytime naps. Your baby's nap should be taken in the same place as bedtime sleep every day.
This will create consistency, making it easier for your little one to fall and stay asleep during their naptime. Remember that your baby should sleep in a crib or a bassinet, generally the safest and most comfortable places for children to sleep.
Make Sure It Is After Being Cleaned And Fed
It's natural for babies to take a nap after feeding. And nursing and bottle-feeding newborns create a perfect bond. Over time though, it can be the only way they use to fall asleep.
After bathing your newborn, their body temperature drops a few degrees. This drop-in core temperature will signal to your baby that it is time to sleep. Baths are very helpful as the water provides a sensation similar to the womb, and the warmth is soothing.
Though a bath will make your newborn sleepy, it can have the opposite effect on your four-month-old and above toddler. Kids enjoy bathing so much that it will stimulate rather than calm them.
Comfortable clothes for your Infant will offer the ideal nap time. Age will play a part in your baby's naptime outfit. Swaddling might be the best way to nap if your young one is under two months. Swaddling will help keep your little one asleep for longer as it helps prevent the startle reflex.
The clothes you choose for your young one should also not be too loose as they may present a suffocation hazard. Choosing close-fitting pajamas, onesies, or even Infant sleep slacks is wise, as this type of attire will not likely cover your young ones' faces during naps. Soft and comfy is the way to go with your baby's attire.
Manage Room Temperature
70-72 degrees F is a good sleeping temperature for babies. If the room is too warm, your baby will struggle to regulate their core body temperature and sometimes even their breathing during sleep. The result is often poor sleep and elevated risks for SIDS.
The cooler end of the baby's room temperature range is both optimum for the immune system and safest for infants and children.
Pacifiers can help calm babies when they are feeling fussy and anxious. In fact, the AAP recommends using the pacifier when placing your baby down for sleep at all naps and night sleep during the first year after breastfeeding has been established.
Pacifiers are great for naps as they help keep the airways open during sleep/naps by pushing the tongue forward. It also helps babies stabilize their breathing and heart rate during naps.
Trying a pacifier that has a holder with your baby will help them as it provides great comfort, enabling them to satisfy their suckling reflex and self-soothe. If breastfeeding your newborn, you should introduce the pacifier once they are 3-4 weeks. But if your newborn is being bottle-fed, then you can use a pacifier from birth.
Pretend It's Bedtime
The nap time routine needs to be similar to the nighttime routine, but it should take less time to complete. This routine should take between 10-15 minutes maximum, especially for your younger baby with more than one nap daily.
Pretending its bedtime will answer your question: "where should my baby nap during the day?" As babies should always nap in their cribs. The best environment for napping your young one is cool, dark, and quiet, which you can try to achieve whenever possible.
This environment should mimic the bedtime environment but does not always have to be in your little one's room. You can use a portable crib in another room or another house. The idea is to keep the bedtime environment similar.
Introduce A Prep-nap Calming Routine, Use Cues
Introducing a pre-nap calming routine can help your baby get the right amount of daily naps. Depending on your baby's age month by month
The pre-nap routine you introduce for your baby should ideally take five to ten minutes. Some of the cues that you might incorporate so your young one knows it's time to sleep might include:
- Change your young ones' diapers or have them sit on their potties
- Reading a short story book for them
- Cuddling them briefly and singing a song
- Giving them kisses and bear hugs
- Rock for a few minutes until drowsy
- Sign a lullaby
- Close curtains and tell them it's nap time
- Rub chest for a few minutes
- Clothe them in comfortable sleepwear
Paying attention to your baby's sleeping cues will help you know when they are ready to sleep, and you can make your move with a calming routine. Your baby's sleep cues will change over time. So the definite sleep cues from a month ago can lead you astray today.
Here are some common cues that your little one will show when they are sleepy:
- Decreased activity: Baby will tend to stare off
- Slow/weak suckling
- Slower motions
- Rubbing eyes
- Red around the eyes
- Eyes less focused
- Appears disinterested
- Eyelids drooping
- Time awake
- Less vocal
Keep Your Infant In The Know And Set Expectations
Remember to keep your set expectations realistic—plan for unpredictable, sporadic sleep for the first few months of your newborn's life. If you can, try to sleep when your newborn sleeps.
Keep your child's nap expectation reasonable. You will ensure you learn how much sleep your child needs.
To ease your little one into "how to get a toddler to sleep," you should:
- Set the environment for sleep by making the environment dark and quiet.
- Place your baby to bed drowsy but awake, and if they get cranky, you can sing them a lullaby, massage, or swaddle
- Clear your toddler's crib by removing any blankets and other soft items
- Be consistent with your baby's naptime routine.
Teach Your Child That Naps Help Their Bodies Grow
Naps work wonders for your kid's physical health and mood. As your young one grows and develops, naps give their bodies and minds time to rest and recharge during those big changes.
While teaching your little one how naps are important, do not leave out these important points:
- Naps will help them in their learning. Your child's napping will help their brains become more capable of holding memories.
- Naps will help your tot to stay fit. Children who do not get enough sleep or who get irregular sleep are at a higher risk of becoming obese. This has been linked to kids who do not sleep enough tend to eat more. They also tend to choose food that isn't very healthy.
- When your little one's nap, they tend to be in a better mood than when they skip their naps.
Your little one will only benefit from napping in her early years, i.e., from newborn to age five. Nap times do not need to be long for them to be effective. And because every child is different, you should see which nap routine works best for your child while providing a timely nighttime sleep routine.
Use Positive Reinforcement In Relation To Naps
Positive reinforcement is a great tip as it encourages the behavior you want to see. While what you want to see will probably not happen overnight, your child will learn to remain quiet during rest periods over time.
Some positive reinforcement strategies that might work with your child are:
- Telling the story of the "sleep fairy" and leaving a reward for them when they wake.
- Excuse me, drill. You place your kid in their crib and excuse yourself. You can tell them you are going for a glass of water or getting your phone.
When your toddler agrees to lay down even for five minutes-praise them for it and then reward them, you should avoid extrinsic rewards when rewarding good behavior as they do not work for long.
Dim Lights And Make Sure It Is Silent
Dim lights and consistent noise levels might help babies take their naps for longer. This is because light breaks down melatonin. Babies will produce lower levels when rooms tend to be brighter during the day. Therefore, your baby napping in a dark room will support this hormone which in turn helps them fall and stay asleep.
Ensuring it is silent when your baby sleeps might be a bit tricky. Alternatively, you can try routine naptime songs or soothing sounds like white noise, which can be helpful when nap times roll around.
Detach From Your Baby At Nap Times Sooner Rather Than Later
Contact napping might as well dismiss your worry of "how much sleep does a toddler need," for it is super sweet, special, and bonding for a little while.
Detaching from your baby while they nap will help you get the time you need to do some adult things. Ways that you can detach yourself peacefully are:
- Creating and keeping an age-appropriate daily routine
- Choosing a settling method
- Being consistent
- Being decisive on whether you are stopping it or not. Not a back and forth decision as you will confuse your baby.
Be Patient With Your Routine And Give It Time
If your baby refuses to nap, you should take a break and try again.
If your Infant was napping fine and suddenly isn't. It's one of two things- sleep regression or nap transition. Ensure to rule out illnesses or teething as the cause. And if your Infant chooses to cry during the nap routine, let them.
Baby naps can be a relaxing time for you and your newborn. But how do you get a toddler to sleep?
Consider the above tips for helping your baby get the daytime rest they need.