Naps are so important when you are looking after a newborn baby. It gives you both a chance to get some well-needed rest but sometimes, it can be difficult to get your baby to sleep during the day. Every baby is different and some will nap with no trouble. But if you can’t get your baby to go down for a nap, it is difficult for you to manage because you don’t have the chance to catch up on your sleep. If you just can’t get your baby to go down for a nap, here are some simple tips to help you.
Understanding when your baby needs to nap and when they don’t will help you get into a better routine. Babies aged 4 months to a year will usually nap twice a day, on average. Once in the morning and once in the early afternoon. Once they reach 10 months to a year, they tend to stop having a nap in the morning and just have one in the afternoon. However, this isn’t a hard and fast rule and all kids are different. So, it’s equally important that you can tell when they are overtired and need to go down. Unfortunately, many parents struggle to tell the difference between undertired versus overtired because they often display in a very similar way. If you keep trying to put them down and they are not sleeping, it’s likely that they are undertired. In that case, you should consider waiting until a bit later before putting them down. Once you get to know their sleep needs and their schedule better, you will find it much easier to get them to sleep during the day.
Your baby needs a calming environment to sleep in, otherwise they will keep waking up from their naps and you will struggle to get them to go down. Make sure that the room is dark enough and the temperature isn’t too hot or too cold. Try not to position the crib too close to a window if there is a busy road outside because the noise can disturb them. If you are traveling with your baby, a good portable baby bed is a must. Once you get the environment right, you should find that they sleep much better.
Although letting them wear themselves out can be helpful, don’t let them fall asleep before you take them up for a nap. They should be drowsy and tired, but not completely asleep before you put them into the crib for a nap. If you wait too long, they will be cranky and overtired, which is never a good thing. Before putting them down for a nap, you should sing lullabies to them and swaddle them. They will eventually come to associate these activities with nap time, so it’s much easier to get it into a regular routine.
When your baby is very young, you should avoid letting them cry in their crib. If they start crying after you put them down, go in and pick them up to comfort them. However, once they reach around 4 months, you should avoid disturbing them too much when you are trying to get them to nap. Just check on them and try to soothe them without picking them up, then leave the room and they should hopefully settle again.
It’s important to remember that babies can be quite active while they are sleeping too. Many new parents think that they need to be fed if they start moving around and making some small noises. This isn’t always the case and if you pick them up right away, you might disturb their nap unnecessarily. So, if you think that they might be waking up, just leave them for a few minutes and see if they settle again on their own.
All parents struggle with their baby’s sleep routine and daytime naps can be particularly tricky. It's important that you try to get into a good routine for your sake as well as your baby, but don’t be too hard on yourself. It’s perfectly normal to experience challenges and things will settle down in time. The key thing is to be patient with yourself and your baby. Once you get to learn their routine and you start using some of these simple tips, you will find that they start napping more often without making a fuss, and you can get some much-needed sleep.