How can I get my baby to nap longer during the day?

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This is the one million dollar question for many parents. It can be very frustrating if you’ve been struggling for 30 min to get your baby to sleep and then he only sleeps for 30-45 min.

There are 2 parts to day naps:

  1. Falling asleep independently.
  2. Staying asleep independently by resettling back to sleep (learning to go back to sleep after waking up too early).

In order to improve both parts, the following will help:

  1.  Your baby’s room needs to be dark.

One of many reasons why babies struggle to fall asleep and stay asleep during the day is because there is no Melatonin on board to help. Melatonin is a “sleepy” hormone your brain produces when it gets dark at night to prepare you for sleep. The darker it is, the more Melatonin is on board, the better you sleep. Because it’s not dark during the day, there is no Melatonin but if you make your baby’s room as dark as possible (even during the day), it will help to get some Melatonin on board.

2.  Have a naptime routine.

Like bedtime at night when you have a bedtime routine, it’s also important to have a naptime routine. Your nap-time routine doesn’t have to be as long as your bedtime routine, but it’s just as important. Your baby needs to psychologically prepare himself for sleep; he needs that wind-down time. You can’t just dump him in his cot and expect him to sleep. What happens in one sleep situation needs to happen in all sleep situations. For example: If your baby is sleeping in a sleeping bag at night, he needs to be sleeping in a sleeping bag during the day as well.

3.  An example of a naptime routine.

  • Tell your baby it’s naptime  “Hannah, it’s naptime. Let’s go and have some sleep”
  • Pick her up and walk her to her cot in her room
  • Change her nappy
  • Close the curtains (Don’t do it before the time)
  • Put her in her sleeping bag
  • You can read her a short story or sing a song.
  • Put her in her cot
  • Kiss good-bye
  • Walk out

4.  Put your baby in her cot awake.

It’s very important not to feed your baby to sleep or rock her to sleep in your arms and then transfer her to her cot. Because she is in a sleep “state” and all of a sudden her body moves, her brain will wake her up immediately, because “why is the body moving?”. The brain thinks the body is in danger and brings the baby out of sleep instead deeper into sleep.

5.  Eliminate nap time sleep associations.

Your baby needs to learn how to fall asleep independently. He needs to fall asleep without any help. That means:

  • No dummy
  • No rocking to sleep
  • No feeding to sleep

6.  Put your baby down for a sleep before he is overtired.

Each age group has a max awake time. Put your baby down within this time frame and it will prevent over tiredness. When a baby is overtired, they work themselves up instead of down.

7.  When your baby wakes from a nap.

Don’t go in straight away, he might resettle himself and go back to sleep. For newborns (0-12 weeks) wait 5 min before entering the room. From 12 weeks up, wait 10 min before entering the room. If your baby is not crying, don’t go in.

To fall asleep independently, only takes about 2-3 days of consistency.

To stay asleep, be able to resettle and sleep for more that 45 min, can take 4-6 weeks.

Consistency is the key!

Be patient.

Hope your baby’s napping improves.