Certified Infant and Child Sleep Consultant, Samantha Krukerink offers some great tips to encourage good napping for your baby.
Naps can be a tricky business – surely if your child is tired they will nap, right? Wrong! Turns out if can be a bit more complicated than that…but there are a few things below that you can do to encourage better naps for your baby.
1. Is it dark enough?
This is really important for encouraging the production of the sleep hormone melatonin, which makes us feel sleepy but is diminished by light. This can help with settling at the start of nap time, as well as encouraging a longer nap so make it super dark!
2. Do they need to be swaddled?
This can be really important for younger babies who still have a startle or moro reflex present (usually under 5 months of age) as it can interfere with the settling process and also contribute to short naps.
3. Is it quiet enough or could they benefit from some white noise?
White noise can be great for settling newborns to sleep but for older babies, it can also be great for helping to cover up noises that may disrupt their sleep.
4. Are they overtired or under tired?
We really want to avoid overtiredness as this can make settling harder and also create short naps, but under tiredness can also have the same effect. Try to use your child’s age appropriate awake times as a guide for when to offer naps.
5. Do they have a routine?
By using regular routine as a guide, or a similar nap pattern each day, this can help their body learn when to expect sleep so that they feel more prepared to settle to sleep.
6. Can they self settle?
We don’t expect newborns to be able to self settle but for older babies, if they can self settle at the start of a nap then this increases the chance of them being able to resettle themselves if they wake again later. If you are trying to extend the nap and they wake happy enough, then it’s ok to leave them in the cot to have a wee play and to try to resettle themselves. We don’t want to rush in just because they are awake, or they won’t have the chance to try resettling and this can create an expectation of ok, I’m awake – where’s Mum? If they get upset then you may need to use a settling technique that fits your parenting style and their temperament to help them learn to resettle – this could be a gentle in room option, where you are close by and very hands on with an aim of gradually weaning or backing off the level of assistance, or an out of room option that includes regular check ins for reassurance.
Sometimes it can feel like a lot of guess work but often there are a number of contributing factors, so go over things with a fine tooth comb and then make the changes that you feel your child needs to support and encourage their naps. If you feel a bit lost or it seems like a lot of guess work, then Baby Sleep Consultant is here to help.