How can I help my baby nap?

Updated: Aug 2, 2020

Nap, doze, day time sleep, siesta, 40 winks, cat nap, snooze, shut eye, kip,

whatever you call it your baby and toddler need it (and so do you!)

Daytime sleep is really important and naps during the day at the right time helps your little one settle well at bed time and sleep well at night.

Sleep during the day helps to:

Prevent overtiredness, which can help your little one sleep better through the night and settle better at bedtime.

Your baby isn't like you like and won't just crash out and sleep all night. (A late bedtime for your baby or toddler doesn't mean a lay in either sadly) It seems logical for your little one to crash out and sleep for a long period of time if they have been awake for ages but the opposite is actually true.

If your baby or toddler is overtired at bedtime they can be difficult to settle to sleep and can cause frequent wake ups during the night as their body doesn’t fall into a deep sleep.

Improves mood and behaviour, if your baby is tired they will likely be in a bad mood or quite emotional and can make you feel like everything is hard work.

Give you some time to yourself, you love your child but let's be honest sometimes it nice to have a break.

But! getting your baby to nap can be hard.

Do you feel like you're spending your whole day trying to get our baby off to sleep?

If yes! This could be because your little one is awake for too long or not long enough. Getting the timing right of the naps can be key.

All babies are different, all families are different and all have different needs.

Is your baby overtired or under tired?

If your answer is no bloody clue, you are not alone. It can be a balancing act of getting the right awake time for your little one. Awake time refers to the total time your little one is awake for in between naps (this includes feeding, nappy changing and your baby settling to sleep) Awake time varies from baby to baby (all babies are different so one size fits all doesn't work)

If your little one is struggling to fall asleep for naps I would first rule out overtiredness and shorten their awake time by 10-15 minutes first and see if that helps.

Why will my baby only sleep for 20 minutes?

Is this age appropriate? Babies under 6 months often nap for short periods 30 minutes or less and this is completely normal. Maybe your baby is over 6/7 months and still only having short naps maybe 30-40 minutes. Again all sounds normal, not all babies have that 2 hour lunch time nap that the books promised you. 😘

You may be wondering do I need to work on how long my baby naps for? If your baby is having regular naps, going to bed ok and not waking up lots after bedtime chances are they are getting enough sleep.

If not, then yes maybe some assistance is needed to get your little one the day sleep they need.

Do you allow your baby the chance to resettle after waking early from a nap? Or as soon as their eyes open are you there next to them, chances are as soon as they see you going back to sleep will be long forgotten and they will want to play.

Is your little one waking up where they fell asleep? If they fell asleep in the car or pushchair for example and wake up in the house this could be enough to wake them up as they are startled by a different environment. If possible try and keep them in the same place for the duration of their nap.

Where should my baby nap?

More important your baby or toddler sleeps during the day rather than where or how. You may read motion sleep or on the go sleep i.e in the pram, sling, car etc isn’t as restorative or good for baby and they must sleep in their cot.

To some extent this is true especially if you're baby is easily distracted.

In an ideal world you would pop your baby into their cot and they would have a blissful 2 hour sleep. Hey some babies do this (but not many, without help)

If your baby or toddler won’t sleep in their cot don’t stress and find another place for them to sleep.

My baby won't nap in their cot

Naps are hard so napping in their cot is doubly hard for some babies and much easier to use assisted naps (pram, sling, on you, car etc)

If you want to work on helping your baby have naps in their cot then it's best to look at how they are falling asleep at bedtime, is it sustainable and transferable to day time if not then bedtime may need to be changed, doesn't have to be dramatic changes small and steady can win the race.

How many naps should my baby have?

This is a general guide, (when we work together I assess your baby's individual needs)

3-5 months, your baby will likely be having 3-4 naps. If they will sleep for long periods of time for example 45-60 minutes or longer, your baby will probably have 3 naps.

If your baby only sleeps 20-30 mins then it's likely they will need 4 naps.

7 -15 months 2 naps

15 months plus 1 nap ideally after lunch As your baby grows they can stay awake for longer periods in between naps. Awake time/windows refer to the actual time your baby is awake so this includes time it takes to feed, change nappy, fall asleep etc.

How can I help my baby nap in their cot:

*Have a pre-nap routine like a mini bedtime routine. For example change nappy, into sleeping bag, feed, song or quick story.

*Is the room clutter free with no distractions? Are there lots of toys, mess, cot mobile if yes then take them out.

*Is the room dark? You want it dark to help your baby fall asleep during the day, blackout blinds work well.

*Does your baby respond to noise? White noise can help soothe your baby aswell as drown out any outside or in home noises.

*Lots of exposure to daylight even if it's not sunny, get out in the fresh air for exercise

*For older babies and toddlers, feeding and meal times at set times each day

Is my toddler ready to drop their nap?

Could they have the nap every other day? Will they fall asleep easily in the car or pushchair, can they have quiet time, make a den and let them sit and chill out there if they fall asleep great if not at least they’ve had a rest.

Don't stop the nap too early, less daytime sleep doesn't mean they will sleep better at night

Got a question about naps? Come and join my free private Facebook group where I answer your questions on a Thursday evening

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