As babies grow and develop, so do their naps…just when you think you have sleep routines in place, your baby goes and grows and develops and naps are all out of whack.
Tips to Help Your Child Sleep Happy at Nap Time
Read Sleep Cues
Is your little one no longer showing sleepy cues after his normal awake time? Is your child sick or teething? Have you been off schedule for a few days? If your child is sick or teething or off schedule, give it 1-3 days to see if he or she goes back to their regular schedule.
If your child shows his sleepy cues 15-30 minutes after he usually shows cues, then put him down at that time for nap.
How long is it taking your baby to calm to sleep?
Less than 15 minutes, you are in good shape, don’t change anything.
More than 15 minutes with lots of playing and/or protesting, but takes at least a 45-60 minute nap and wakes up happy? Push nap back 15 minutes.
Falls asleep quickly, but then takes a short nap, less than 45 minutes? Move nap up 15 minutes.
Watch Awake Times
The awake times for 6 month olds are not the same as 12 month month olds. Newborns have a small window of awake time and as they get older that small window stretches into up to four hours around 12 months of age. Are some babies are not affected by awake times? Yes. If your infant can be awake 6+ hours and then sleep long stretches at night then you are in good shape. If you see that your child is grumpy and fussy, maybe not eating well during the day and wakes frequently during the night, then watching awake times is a tool you can use to get better sleep.
Maybe last month they were taking a good nap after being awake for 2 hours, but now they are happy for 2.5-3 hours. This is normal. If your baby is not napping well, watch awake times, and stretch them 15-30 minutes to see if this helps your child sleep a full sleep cycle or more at nap time.
Dropping a Nap: 3-to-2 Transition and 2-1 Transition
Around 8-12 months babies can drop their third nap. This transition happens when awake times stretch between naps and children no longer need that third nap to get them until bedtime without being over tired. When little ones can tolerate a 3-4 hour awake time, they are ready to eliminate the third nap. When little ones fight the third nap, they may be ready to drop it. When the 30-45 minute catnap begins to be a fight to get 20 minutes of sleep, your child is ready to drop the late day nap. If your child is experiencing early wakings…4:30-5:30 am, you may need to adjust their day time sleep to help stretch their night time sleep.
When you begin the transition of three naps to two, you may need to have a temporary early bedtime until your child settles into the new routine.
Around 14-18 months toddlers can drop to one nap. Is your toddler fighting morning nap? Is it suddenly easy to get your child down for one nap but not two? Is your child being starting daycare where they only put them down for one nap a day? Is your child for 5-6 hours straight without a nap? Then you maybe be ready to drop to one nap a day. Moms everywhere do a little dance at this stage!
Assuming your child wakes at 7 am and goes down for their first nap at 10 am, try moving morning nap to 11 the first day. Slowly moving the nap down to noon or after, depending on your family’s schedule. Ideally your child will start to take a 1.5-2 hour nap in the afternoon. In rare instances, 3 hour naps do happen and you will feel like you are in paradise. It is okay to wake your child from nap to protect bedtime. And if during the transition, your child has short naps that end early in the afternoon it is helpful to move bedtime up to keep them from being overtired and disrupting night sleep.
When in doubt, remember you know your child BEST. Give yourself 5-7 days to try any techniques. And remember, consistency is key. If you need support, contact a sleep consultant.
What sorts of tips have worked for your child? I would love to have moms share other tips that might be helpful to another mom experiencing the same thing.
Is your child not putting themselves to sleep for naps or waking frequently at night? Does your child seem overtired during the day? Sleep Happy can help. Contact Jessica today at 214-856-0341 for a Free 15 Minute Consultation to see how Sleep Happy services can meet your needs.