Do you spend a long time trying to get your baby down for a nap…and then it only lasts 20 minutes?!
Is your baby cranky when he wakes up from his naps and you know he needs more sleep?
Do you have a very specific routine you follow to get him down for naps? Maybe feed to sleep, wait 4.5 minutes until breathing becomes regular, slowly get up from the glider and take baby steps over to the crib, lay him in the crib keeping one hand on him until you finally drop to the floor and army crawl out?
Have you even started writing down these very elaborate steps so a babysitter (or your spouse!) could get him to sleep, only to realize that the whole thing is c-r-a-z-y and it’s just easier to do it yourself?
Or maybe when your daughter wakes from a short nap, you quickly shuttle her into the car and drive around, in hopes of getting a little more sleep out of her.
I hear stories every day from parents like you that have problems with naps, and particularly with short naps. All of these situations can be changed so your baby sleeps at least 1-2 hours for each nap.
Here are the 3 key ingredients for lengthening naps:
The environment should be consistent – sleeping in the same place for naps whenever possible – and it shouldn’t be too light in the sleeping space. And while you’re there, check to see if there are any sounds that would wake your baby up (is the neighbor’s dog right under the nursery window…and he barks every time he sees a squirrel?)
2. Put baby in the crib awake
If you’re feeding or rocking your baby to sleep (or using some other prop to get him to sleep), when he wakes up, he’ll be wondering where you went…and want you to recreate how he originally fell asleep.
Instead, put him in the crib awake before a nap, so he’ll know exactly where he is when he wakes up…because that’s where he fell asleep. Without you doing the work for him (lulling him to drowsy or asleep), he’ll get more comfortable being in his crib and be more likely to self-soothe back to sleep.
3. Avoid overtiredness
Overtiredness is the enemy. If you keep baby up too long, she’ll get wired and not be able to fall asleep. Then you’re in the vicious cycle of her being so tired, and needing to nap, but can’t actually fall asleep.
Once you see her tired signs, get her in the crib. You’ll know you waited too long if she falls asleep in 1 minute and wakes up 20 minutes later OR doesn’t fall asleep at all!
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