Nap FAILs: Get Daytime Sleep Back on Track
There are few things more frustrating to parents than when your baby won't nap…she fights it and doesn’t sleep…or she sleeps just 5-10 minutes. It’s so commonplace that there’s slang for it the modern lexicon: the Nap FAIL. Here, we run through the top nap problems and offer solutions:
Nap Problem: He’s Overexcited
Solution: Add quiet playtime in his bedroom to your nap routine. Make the room cooler, reduce distractions, and use white noise. If you’re breastfeeding, try avoiding stimulants, like chocolate or coffee, and see if that makes a difference in your baby’s sleep.
Nap Problem: He’s Under-Stimulated
Solution: Don’t tip-toe around or keep the house silent. Babies find normal household noises soothing. And motion-loving babies benefit from sleeping in a safe device like SNOO or a fully reclined swing. Remember the womb is a rumbly and loud and constantly in motion!
Nap Problem: Something’s Bugging Her
Solution: Figure out if she’s hungry and feed her. Look for other reasons she may be uncomfortable. Is she too hot? Could her clothing be uncomfortable?
Nap Problem: She’s Overtired
Signs are: she falls asleep in the car, she slumps over before naptime, she’s cranky and bleary eyed.
Solution: Create a flexible schedule. I’m not a fan of scheduling your infant’s life down to the minute. But having a flexible routine can be a real help if your baby’s not sleeping well: She’s a sensitive, persnickety child who falls apart if her nap is too late; gets cranky when she’s overtired; resists sleep; wakes too often; or wakes too early in the morning. I suggest the following steps for creating a workable schedule and getting naps back on track!
1. Baby Won't Nap? First, Find Out Exactly What’s Going On
If you’re like most parents, one day blurs into the next. So before you start shifting your infant’s schedule, keep a daily wake/ sleep diary for several days. As I’ve mentioned, this will help you quickly identify your infant’s typical pattern.
2. Next, Set Nap Goals
After the first months, a good goal is to put your little one down to nap about every 2-3 hours during the day. Keep naps to under 2 hours–actually, WAKE her at 2 hours (this helps maintain longer stretches of night sleep). By the first birthday, her naps will occur every 3-5 hours.
3. Now, Start to Organize Her Day
Some kids go from overtired to totally wired really fast. And once they cross the line, they get revved even more and struggle against sleep. So check your diary and try to put your infant down 30 minutes before you think the yawning will start. Use rumbly white noise the full nap to help her stay asleep.
4. Be Consistent, Most of the Time
Experts love to warn new parents, “Be consistent!” But that’s the kind of advice that can drive new moms and dads nuts, since life demands that you “Keep It Real!” Don’t feel like you need to run your schedule like a Marine drill sergeant–just try to be consistent. Use predictable (but simple!) cues at naptime: close the blinds, feed her milk, use the 5 S’s. In the first few months to build her trust and confidence, respond to her cries consistently and use the wake and sleep method (the best way to teach her to self-soothe).
If you and your baby’s other caregivers can stick reasonably close to a flexible timetable and regular routines, within weeks, you should establish a pattern of great sleep!