Babies need lots of sleep, both at night and during the day. Unfortunately, you may find it difficult to help them get the good-quality sleep they need, especially during the day when there’s so much going on. There are ways you can help your baby sleep better during the day, though, and we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you help them. Keep reading to learn how to increase the quality of your baby’s naps.
Start With Their Night Sleep
While it may seem contradictory to work on your baby’s night sleep when you want to improve their day sleep, all sleep is related. Nighttime is a good place to start. Your baby’s daytime sleep could be negatively impacted by their nighttime habits. If they’re not sleeping long enough at night, then they’re waking up tired, which means they’re overtired and cranky at naptime. Overtired, cranky babies tend to fight naps and sleep fitfully.
You can prevent your baby from becoming overtired by developing a consistent, calming nighttime routine. It’s OK to let them sleep in your room, but it’s best if they sleep in their own crib, since adult beds aren’t safe for little ones. Lay them down when they’re drowsy but still awake so that they can learn to fall asleep independently. If your baby is still struggling, offer a comfort item like a pacifier. However, if the pacifier falls out of their mouth during the night, it may wake them up, which you don’t want.
Expect babies that are six months and older to sleep through the night, allowing for one or two feedings, after which they’ll settle down easily. Younger babies need more frequent feedings but should also settle easily.
Learn Awake Times
Even if your baby is sleeping well at night, you may still notice that they’re overtired at naptime. Another potential cause of overtiredness is inadequate awake times. Awake times are exactly what they sound like—the amount of time your baby is awake. This amount of time will change as your baby gets older, but if you’re accidentally holding them to the awake times of a younger or older child, then you can experience problems.
Newborn babies, which are any baby younger than six weeks old, have awake times of 30 minutes to an hour and a half. Yes, that’s a big window of time. But as you learn the signs that they’re drowsy and the signs that they’re overtired, you’ll know where your baby falls within that window. Babies 7-15 weeks old can typically stay awake for one to two hours. Continue to pay attention to their sleep signals so that you know when your baby is ready for a nap during that window. At four months, or 16 weeks, to five months, or 20 weeks, your baby can stay awake for one and a half to two and a half hours. At six to eight months, they should be able to handle two to three hours of awake time. By the time they’re a year old, they should be able to stay awake for two and a half to three and a half hours.
Keep a Consistent Schedule
Keeping a consistent schedule, for both awake times and sleep is one of the best ways to ensure your baby is getting high-quality sleep whenever they rest, day or night. You should have a consistent schedule for awake times that includes a feeding 10 minutes before naptime or earlier so that hunger doesn’t wake them up. Include mental and physical stimulation during awake times as well. This will make your baby tired when naptime comes around again.
Create a consistent pre-nap routine as well. You want an easy transition from stimulation and feedings into a time for rest. You can borrow some transition elements from your bedtime routine, such as reading a book or cuddling, or you can create a different flow before this routine. If the routine calms your baby and gets them ready for a nap, it’s good, even if the routine is different than what you expected.
You may find it difficult to create a nap routine for babies younger than six months, since they tend to follow awake times instead of a specific schedule. Instead of struggling to get your baby to conform to your schedule, conform the schedule to the baby. Notice how long they tend to stay awake and when they’re ready to sleep again. Build your schedule around that. Around the six-month mark, you can transition into naptimes at a specific time, not around awake times, since the two-hour awake time minimum is about the same, and their bodies can start tracking time better.
Create a Consistent Environment
Along with a consistent schedule and consistent naptime routines, your baby also needs a consistent napping environment. While many people take their babies to run errands with them and let the baby sleep in a stroller or the car, this type of sleep isn’t the high-quality rest they need. They need a consistent sleep environment during the day for naps just like they need it at night to go to sleep.
You may find it difficult to build a consistent naptime environment in a busy house, especially if you’re trying to clean, have a pet, or there are lots of people in the house. But a sleeping baby is important, so there are things you can do to make that sleep happen even in a chaotic environment.
Firstly, try to separate the baby from the noise. If all the chaos is happening in communal living spaces down a hallway or downstairs, then create a consistent nap environment on the other end of the hall or upstairs, even if the baby normally sleeps somewhere else at night. Add blackout curtains to any windows in this nap space. You don’t want sunlight to prevent them from sleeping. Cover any additional noise in the area with music or a white noise machine. Dress them in comfortable clothes, but don’t put them in pajamas. This way they’re comfortable, but they know it’s not bedtime.
If the nap-preventing chaos is consistently coming from another area, such as an office next to the nursery or neighbors who are always loud outside, then arrange the nap area away from those spots. Again, even if this isn’t where your baby normally sleeps, you can create a consistent naptime routine and environment that will encourage them to sleep there during the day.
There are many ways to increase the quality of your baby’s naps. If you examine their night sleep, learn their awake times, keep a consistent schedule, and create a consistent environment, your baby should be able to sleep well during their naps. If you’re looking for some comfortable nap clothes to help your baby sleep well, Woolino has merino wool baby clothes that are designed to keep your baby comfortable during naptime and beyond. Peruse our comfy collections today.