As I first time mom I remember looking down at my infant son, and thinking ‘I was told there would be more naps!’ He was a little guy just doing his own thing. Wide awake. Ready to go. Not a good napper in the slightest. In fact, I read all the newborn baby sleep tips in the world trying to figure his naps out.
Naps can involve a lot of troubleshooting to find out what works well for your child. Babies who struggle with short naps (50 minutes or less) typically struggle with transitioning from one sleep cycle to the next. That is because babies sleep in 45-50 minute sleep cycles, not 90 minute sleep cycles like adults.
If you are looking for baby sleep tips for naps to help your baby snooze longer, try these first! (Note find Part 2 – Baby Sleep Tips for Better Naps here)
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If possible, lay baby down very drowsy but awake.
This is my number one tip for improving sleep in any area. If you can teach your baby to fall asleep independently, then he will eventually be able to put himself back to sleep if he wakes mid-nap. If you’re your child struggles with sleep-cycle transitions, frequent waking will likely be a long-term issue unless the baby learns to fall asleep alone.
There are a variety of gentle methods to help your baby learn this important skill. I share my method in detail in For the Love of Sleep.
Routines and approximate schedules matter.
Create an approximate schedule for your baby’s naps and stick to it the majority of the time. The more consistent you are the more consistently your baby will sleep.
Did you know it’s easy to guess how long a baby will be awake before needing a rest simply by knowing their age? And did you know it’s easy to know how many naps a baby should take in one day simply based on age?
Organized and easy-to-follow, it’s all in a simple chart in For the Love of Sleep.
Choose a good pre-nap routine.
Using a pre-nap routine before every nap helps prepare the baby for sleep. It’s our way as parents to communicate to our baby that it is time to sleep. An example of a pre-nap routine could be
1.) Minimize stimulation 15 minutes pre-nap by playing quietly or reading a book
2.) Take baby to his room and prepare the room for sleep (i.e. close curtains, turn on white noise)
3.) Swaddle and prepare baby for sleep 4.) Snuggle, hugs, kisses and say your sleepy words (e.g. I love you. Have a good sleep).
Whatever you choose for your routine, do the same exact routine before each nap to cue the baby for sleep. Grab your baby routine cards here to start following a consistent routine today…
Ensure full feedings and clean diaper.
This may seem obvious, but eliminating hunger and a wet diaper before naps is often overlooked. Ensure your baby is staying awake enough to take a full meal during feeding times.
Encourage your baby to stay awake long enough to take a full feeding, especially if you are breastfeeding since the fatty, satiating hindmilk comes at the end. This will prevent waking mid-nap due to hunger. And of course, double check for a clean diaper just before starting a pre-nap routine.
Make sure baby isn’t staying awake too long.
If your baby is waking early from a nap, it’s possible he was kept awake too long. A baby becomes overtired very quickly, and an overtired baby is more likely to sleep less not more. For young babies, you will know he is tired when he shows his first sleep cue.
This means when you notice the first yawn or eye rub or fuss, it’s probably time to start preparing your baby for sleep. Young babies have a very short window, in which they will optimally fall asleep. Keep a close look out for the sleepy cues.
Keep the room dim for naps.
Making the room completely dark isn’t necessary. Using mini-blinds or curtains to sufficiently dim the room is enough to encourage the baby to sleep through light sleep and prolong naps.
Print your free baby sleep checklist!
This post comes with a free printable baby sleep checklist to help you support longer stretches of sleep for your baby! Plus, when you grab this printable, you’ll get instant access to my free 3-day baby sleep eCourse.
Download Your Free Printable
- Download the checklist. You’ll get the printable straight to your inbox, plus get my Free 3-Day Baby Sleep eCourse!
- Print. Any paper will do the trick, but card stock would be ideal.
- Place it on your refrigerator. Use it as a quick reference and don’t forget a thing!
Want more on baby sleep?
- My Top 10 Newborn Baby Sleep Tips To Help You Get More Sleep
- The Newborn Routine That Will Help Your Baby Fall Asleep Faster
- Top 7 Challenges + Solutions for Parenting a Newborn and Toddler
- 8 Infant Sleep Facts Every Parent Should Know
Resources for baby sleep:
I've created a free email series just for you! If you are struggling with finding a routine, rhythm or schedule, this email series will help you find one that will work for YOUR family. Yes, really. I've seen my sample routines work time and time again for parents. I know it can work for you too.
This free email series will help you:
- Free sample routines for your child
- Best morning routine tips and tricks your kids will actually follow
- All-time favorite parenting hacks for getting more cooperation at bedtime
- Step-by-step guide for using a printable daily schedule with kids