Naps are super important for your baby’s development. As they grow and learn, their little brain needs downtime to process, restore, and renew.
Plus, them nodding off for a nap gives you a few hours a day to regroup and get organised (or zone out with some me-time).
Get a routine
Just like an adult’s, a baby’s body clock tells them when they’re hungry or tired, but they can’t feed themselves or climb into bed on their own just yet! For this reason, try and create and maintain a consistent schedule that’s similar to their bedtime routine.
Try not to plan your routine by the clock, instead base it on wake windows and sleep cues instead. Two key points to bear in mind are…
- Is it nearly the end of my baby’s appropriate wake window?
- Is my baby showing any of their usual sleep cues?
After a few weeks of practice, your baby will hopefully fall into a natural rhythm that’s roughly the same every day. You’ll soon get into the swing of their daily pattern by following their lead and learning together.
Tune in to their sleepy signals
Try and stay focused on your little one’s tiredness cues. These may include eye-rubbing, yawning, finger-sucking, pulling their ears, and general fussing. Aim to put your baby down for a nap when they’re awake but starting to show signs of feeling sleepy, and always place your baby on their back to sleep with their feet firmly against the end of the cot.
“I always tell parents to put baby down for their nap within 15 minutes from their first yawn”, says Miriam Sauter, Paediatric Sleep Consultant at Early Sleep.
If you miss your baby’s signs of fatigue, you’ll notice that they quickly move past the tired spell and become overtired, teary, and extra fussy. To learn their cues, watch them in the hour after they first wake up in the morning, and then compare this to their behaviour when they’re tired as their usual bed or naptime draws near.
Distinguish between playtime and sleep time
All sorts of sights and sounds are engaging for a little one, so it’s pretty easy to make the time when they’re awake as interesting as possible! Even a trip to the shops or getting some fresh air and daylight at the park can be enough to make sure they’re sleepy in time for their scheduled nap. Getting out and about also helps your baby to distinguish between when it’s time to play and time to catch some Zzz’s.