HAS BABY FALLEN IN TO BAD SLEEP HABITS? HERE'S SOME HELP WITH NAPPING!
Napping is a vital component of the sleep routine for babies and toddlers, as it allows their growing bodies and minds to process the activities that have happened so far and to recharge for the big day ahead. However, as most parents know, consistent napping can be a challenge, often leading to agitation or moodiness in children and frustration for parents.
So now for the good news: napping doesn’t have to be a source of constant anxiety! If you’re finding the napping routine difficult to master, there are a few key things you can do to help your baby or toddler adjust to a more consistent routine.
Firstly, ensure that you are watching for your baby’s sleeping cues. These are subtle (sometimes very obvious!) cues that your baby is becoming sleepy that now is the perfect time to prepare them for a nap! More obvious cues include yawning, eye rubbing and eye bobbing or constant closing, while more subtle sleepy cues include a sense of being distracted or disinterested in their surroundings. You may notice that these sleeping cues occur after meal times, or around 6 hours after their initial wake up for toddlers. For babies, especially newborns, it’s important to allow for far more naps throughout the day, however; after 6 months of age, 2-3 naps should be sufficient. Be ready to act on your child’s sleep cues! This can be made considerably easier if you are at home, as you can put your baby in familiar environment that helps lull them to sleep easier.
Learn the Sleep Cues:
2. Eye rubbing
3. Eye bobbing or constant closing
4. Distracted or disinterested in their surroundings
5. Won't maintain eye contact
A handy tip is to use an abbreviated or shortened bedtime routine, in which you simply shorten the established routine to allow your child to nap faster. For example, if your routine is diaper change, snuggle, quick story, in the cot awake and then sleep. It’s very helpful to consider that your child’s nap time place is sleep inducing, preferably a dark, quiet room with moderate temperature.
Remember, a full sleep cycle is no shorter than an average of 45 minutes, so if your child’s nap is falling in the lower category we call it a disaster nap, you will need to help them adjust to longer nap times. Establishing a consistent nap routine, can effectively release melatonin which will trigger sleep signals, allowing to come more easily and with less anxiety of being away from their parents. So, by watching for their sleep cues, establishing an efficient nap time routine and creating a sleep-inducing environment, your child’s nap time is sure to be more fulfilling!
Good luck and stay calm!
Hope this helps!
Cheryl Fingleson is a paediatric sleep consultant. As a mother of two, she very well knows the feelings of agony and desperation when you have a child that struggles to settle and sleep. She doesn’t believe in leaving babies or children to cry it out, nor in the practices of controlled crying. Her approach is to empower parents with the right tools and techniques to teach their babies and children to go to sleep calmly, happily and independently.
For more sleep tips and advice, please visit www.thesleepcoach.com.au