Naps… a blessing, but also sometimes a curse. Our babies needtheir naps to get them through the day without getting overtired, and us mamas need those naps to get a break during those long days of caring for our little munchkins. But what if those naps are not going well? What if your baby is always taking catnaps and you always need to rock/feed/walk your baby to sleep? What if all you can think about in a day is when your baby is finally going to nap while being afraid it will be another catnap? I know all about it as my baby was a notorious catnapper and it drove me nuts!
Getting your baby into a good nap routine is a real game-changer, believe me! Not only will your baby be well-rested and therefore be an enjoyable little baby, you will also be able to get a breather on predictable times, maybe even enjoy your lunch in peace and quiet and most importantly get your days organized. Once the newborn-stay-on-the-couch-all-day phase is over, you want to get out of the house and enjoy your parental leave as much as possible with your little baby, right? Of course you may be blessed with a baby that naps everywhere and anywhere but those are really the exceptions as most babies need that predictability of a good routine with good, restorative naps in their crib. Actually babies thrive on it. So what to do if you're nowhere near a routine or good naps?
First, you need to make sure your baby is taking enough naps according to his age and that at least 1 nap is a nice long nap of 2 hours. It’s completely normal for babies older than 4 months to start taking catnaps. A catnap is shorter or has just the length of one sleep cycle -45 minutes- and sometimes that’s all a baby needs to catch up. However, if your baby only catnaps he will just not get enough restorative sleep in a day to prevent over-tiredness by the time he goes to bed for the night. And overtiredness ladies and gentlemen, is thé number one reason for bad nights which we want to avoid at all costs, right?
Next, we need to teach your baby how to consolidate his naps. Consoli-what? Yes, consolidate as in link his sleepcycles together to obtain a longer nap. We want to obtain this long nap at lunchtime as this is the nap that will always be there until your little baby will have become a big toddler and will no longer need a nap (I know, daunting thought!). Depending on the reasons WHY your baby catnaps, there are different approaches to teach him this. For instance, if your baby has always been rocked to sleep, he'll need to learn how to fall asleep without the rocking. That’s the thing with any sleep association really. If your baby depends on something to fall asleep, he’ll fully wake up after one sleep cycle because he just doesn’t know how to fall asleep on his own, making it impossible for him to link his sleep cycles. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Finally, we need to make sure your baby’s awake-times between naps are age-appropriate as overtiredness can also be a cause for those short naps. Don’t know what your baby’s natural awake-time is? C
By following these 3 pointers you'll fall into a nice routine where your baby will naturally take a short nap in the morning, a long nap after lunch and, depending on his age, another short nap in the afternoon. Your baby will take naps at the same times everyday, making your days more predictable and enjoyable!
But yes, there is a lot to consider about naps! But once you got it figured out they really do are a blessing. Would you like some help in teaching your baby how to consolidate his naps and get into a good-age appropriate routine? As a sleep consultant I can help you make that happen in just a matter of days using gentle methods you feel comfortable with. Book a FREE call or contact me today!