It’s mid-afternoon and you’ve been eagerly anticipating your baby’s nap so you can get a few moments of quiet time, catch up on chores, or even take a short nap yourself. Only your baby didn’t get the memo and naptime at your house is almost non-existent.
Not napping is a common problem that happens when your very portable newborn gets a bit older. The good news is it can be fixed with a few adjustments.
Keep it Consistent
At about four months of age it’s important to start working on more of a consistent sleep schedule for both naps and bedtimes.
Naps are necessary for babies and can’t be treated as an option. While it’s natural to have some days where your schedule is off, inconsistencies in timing on a regular basis means you are working against your baby’s natural sleep rhythm. This in turn makes it more difficult for your baby to fall asleep.
Say No to Napping on The Go
Your newborn may not have had a problem with sleeping on-the-go but as your baby gets older he/she becomes less portable. If your baby is napping in a car seat or stroller on a regular basis, they aren’t necessarily getting the restorative sleep they need and eventually will accumulate a sleep debt, and an overtired baby is a baby who will fight sleep.
Work on creating a consistent sleep environment and one that is conducive to sleep.
Dim the Lights
It is much easier for a baby to settle and fall asleep in a dark room. Keep your baby’s sleep environment dark as best you can using curtains, or blackout blinds
Keep it Cool and Reduce Noise
Just like with adults, it’s difficult for a baby to fall asleep if she is too hot. Make sure the temperature in their sleep environment remains on the cool side – anywhere between 68-72F.
Also drown out external sounds that may wake them up by using a white noise machine that runs continuously throughout the nap. The use of a constant sound like nature or static will also help lull your baby into their next sleep cycle and consolidate their nap.
Prep for Sleep
All people need a little preparation for sleep. As much as we wish it, our sleep switch doesn’t just turn off
Create a short routine for naps that includes activities like dimming the lights, a diaper change, talking in a soothing tone, and reading a book or singing a lullaby. Your baby will soon come to know that naptime is next and be better prepared to fall asleep easier.
Ending the Naptime Before its Even Started
You could be inadvertently ending your baby’s nap if you are going in when they wake after only 20 to 30 minutes sleep.
If you hear your baby wake up, wait five or even ten minutes to allow them to fall back to sleep. The longer you sit tight and allow your little one to practice falling back to sleep on their own the quicker you will be able to consolidate those naps.
Which brings us to our last point.
Creating a new and consistent nap schedule can take time, sometimes even a few weeks. Be patient. If you are steadfast and keep taking steps to move forward, it will happen.
Alanna McGinn is Founder and Certified Sleep Consultant of Good Night Sleep Site, a global sleep consulting practice. She is Representative and Director for the International Association of Child Sleep Consultants (IACSC) and serves on the faculty of The Family Sleep Institute. She and her husband, Mike, live in Toronto, Canada with their 3 children (1+twins!) You can follow her expert advice in national publications like Macleans, Prevention Magazine, Today’s Parent, and Huffington Post. Alanna strives in helping families (baby to adults) overcome their sleep challenges and have happy well-rested smiles in the morning. You can find out more about Alanna McGinn and how to work with a Good Night Sleep Consultant at goodnightsleepsite.com and follow Alanna and all her sleep tips on Instagram and Facebook.