Baby naps can be a restful time for the baby as well as for you. But the process of getting your baby to sleep during the day is a challenge. ‘One pill for all’ is not an applicable concept here since every baby is different when it comes to how much sleep they need.
While some babies need more than two hours of uninterrupted sleep after every four hours, others sleep for just an hour. So before you force your baby to sleep for a few hours to get some shut-eye, understand how their sleep patterns work.
How many naps a day does your baby need?
It will take a while for your baby to develop a routine sleep schedule. During their first month, they sleep and wake up round-the-clock with intervals for feeding. As they grow older, this pattern changes and their nap-time increases acquires a pattern and becomes more periodical.
- Ages 4 months to 1 year: Babies who fall under this age bracket are likely to nap at least twice a day- once in the morning and then during the afternoon. Usually, such babies also sleep for three or more hours during the day.
- Ages 1 year and above: Babies who fall under this age bracket often sleep once during the day for two to three hours. They develop a routine sleeping schedule and continue taking afternoon naps way until their fourth or fifth year.
Even though this pattern is commonly seen among babies, there are certain dos and don’t that you must keep in mind when it comes to baby naps.
Baby napping: Dos and don’ts
#1 Spotting sleepiness
Don’t you love those cute videos of yawning babies who fall down for a quick nap! We do too. But making a video of a falling baby is probably not the most responsible thing to do, especially if you are trying to develop a sleeping schedule. If you spot your newborn yawning, rubbing his eyes or crying, know that it’s time for his shut-eye. Some babies may also act hyper or clumsy.
#2 Do not wake a sleeping baby
If you just strapped your baby in a car seat and he slept off, do not wake him up. Simply pick up the car seat, let him be buckled in for a bit before you take him to his crib. The idea is to let the baby finish his nap for as long as possible. Waking up a crying baby would make him extremely irritable.
#3 Know that your baby would sleep a lot
It may come as a surprise to a new mother that her newborn sleeps for 16 hours a day, waking up only to be fed and changed. But it is true. As babies get older, they may sleep less and finally develop a habit of sleeping through the night.
#4 Stretch out nap-time
If your baby has been taking short naps throughout the day, encourage him to sleep for a longer duration by keeping him up. Try to stretch the nap-time to two to three hours. Do this each day and your baby will develop a stretched sleeping time. This will also benefit you in the long run.
#5 Do not rush in
If you notice your baby sneezing, having hiccups, whimpering or sighing, do not worry. You don’t have to rush him to the doctor every time he makes a noise. This may just mean that your baby is trying to settle down into his new sleeping schedule.
#6 Think safety, first
Always remember to put your baby down for sleep on his back to prevent SIDS. It is important for him to sleep in a safe environment, therefore, remove extra blankets, stuffed animals and other soft things from the baby’s bassinet or crib.
#7 Avoid holding or rocking your baby to sleep
While eventually, this may be the only way your baby would fall asleep. But void it during his initial days. If the baby falls asleep in your arms right after the feeding, follow it up with a gentle action.
Remember, what works for your baby might not work for somebody else’s. It is all about being patient and observant when it comes to helping your child develop a healthy sleep pattern.
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