It's been a stressful week to say the least. Many of us are home with our kiddos so I wanted to talk about naps and daily schedules. A daily routine/schedule is going to keep your baby (and you) a little more calm during this time. Babies and children thrive on structure and knowing what to expect. If you do not currently have a solid schedule and naps are all over the place, now is great time to implement one! In one of my previous blogs I talked about how important wake times are. We want to base our baby's nap schedule off their wake times for their age and eventually a schedule will emerge. I have a wake time guide if you would like one just send me a message!
Naps are going to be all over the place for a while because newborns cannot yet consolidate sleep and need to eat often. A 30 minute nap is common for a newborn. Some days they may nap for 2 hours. My tip for this is age is to follow a 1-1.5 hour wake time and limit day time sleep so they know their night vs. day. If they sleep all day they are going to be up all night so make sure you are waking them after 2 hours of napping and they are getting enough feedings in during the day. Try putting them down awake but drowsy for naps and bedtime as much as they allow. It is never too early to start a bedtime routine. A routine as simple as changing them into their pajamas, singing a song and turning their sound machine on can be a sleepy cue for them. Once they start sleeping longer stretches at night naps will start to improve.
At around 4 months you may start to see a 3 nap schedule emerge. The average wake time for this age is 2-2.5 hours. Short naps are still sometimes common until about 6 months.This is a great time to sleep train! Teaching your baby to go to sleep on their own at this age will prevent sleep troubles later on.
At this age babies are typically able to consolidate sleep and start taking longer naps. Wake times will start to increase and some babies will start taking 2 solid naps. Some will still need that 3rd cat nap to make it until bedtime.
It's best to keep a 2 nap schedule until around 15 months. There is regression at 12 months that may make it seem like a baby is ready to transition to 1 nap but most are actually not ready yet. Once the transition to 1 nap is made make sure it doesn't exceed 3 hours so it doesn't take away from night time sleep.
Signs it's time to drop a nap:
Your baby has a hard time falling asleep and staying asleep for that nap consistently for 2 weeks or more
The last nap of the day is getting too close to bedtime
Your baby is fighting bedtime (when they weren't previously)
Your baby is getting too much daytime sleep causing them to sleep less at night. They may not be tired at bedtime or waking up earlier.
Nap tips for all ages:
Don't let a nap exceed 2 hours (unless they are taking 1 nap 12+ months)
Try not to feed your baby to sleep. Offer them a feeding prior to nap time. Put them down drowsy but awake as often as possible.
Naps should be taken in the same place as nighttime sleep (in the crib if possible).
Use black out curtains and a sound machine.
Naps are so important for babies of all ages. If a baby doesn't get enough daytime sleep it will affect their nighttime sleep. An over tired baby that hasn't taken a good nap all day will be over tired at bedtime and most likely fight sleep. Not to mention they will probably be very grumpy! Be flexible with their naps and don't worry if they are off schedule sometimes. If you need help figuring out a schedule or would like a wake time guide please reach out!