Baby Sleep: Putting Fussy Baby Down for a Nap
Naps are most easily obtained when your soothing efforts are in synch with the natural emerging nap wave. Naps are most restorative or better quality when they occur in synch with the natural nap rhythm. It's more important to look at your child then looking at a clock. Watch for drowsy signs but also, watch clock time a little.
Your child may have long naps or brief naps. Naps are under genetic control so don't compare your child's nap patterns with your friends. Because there is variability in the duration of naps, there should be some variability regarding bedtimes. Here also, don't compare your baby's sleep time to your friend's child.
Common situations that interfere with quality naps are:
1. The bedtime is too late or night sleep is messed up with too many awakenings. In these cases, the child wakes up either too late or too tired to take naps in synch with the natural nap rhythm.
2. The room is too light. Get black plastic leaf bags to temporarily make it pitch black to see if this helps.
3. The room is too noisy. Get a white noise machine.
4. Your child has not learned how to self-soothe and your presence now interferes with long naps.
Nap Tip: Sometimes it helps to temporarily move the bedtime to a super-early time to get more night sleep at the front end which causes your child to wake up better rested which causes naps to improve. After naps improve, the bedtime can be shifted to a later hour. But if the bedtime is moved too late, a sleep debt will eventually accumulate and again the naps will deteriorate.
More from Dr. Weissbluth:
- Twin sleep issues
- Sleep for colicky babies
- Getting babies to fall asleep earlier
- Sleeping through the night
- When toddlers climb out of their cribs
- Getting kids to stay in bed
- Crying at bedtime
- Keeping kids in their own rooms
- Teaching kids to fall asleep on their own
- Crying it out
- Putting kids back to bed