As a certified infant sleep consultant, I have worked with hundreds of families who have struggled with their baby's short naps. Babies are curious little beings, and it can be challenging to get them to sleep during the day when they’d much rather stay up and play! In this blog, I will provide tips to help you improve your baby's cat naps.
Have A Consistent Daily Routine
Babies thrive on routines and predictability. Aiming for naps around the same times every day will allow your baby's sleep-wake circadian rhythm to sync with their routine, and their internal body clock will start to recognize when it's time to sleep and when it’s time to be awake. Following an age-appropriate baby nap routine with the appropriate wake windows and nap length can help make sure you have the timing right, and they’re absolutely primed for sleep to happen.
Set Up A Sleep-Inducing Environment
Babies are sensitive to their environment and surroundings. To create a sleep-inducing environment, ensure that the room where your baby will nap is dark, cool, and quiet. Use curtains or block-out blinds to block out the sunlight, regulate the temperature to be between 68-72 degrees Fahrenheit, dress them appropriately for the room temperature, and use white noise to help block any environmental noise that might wake them. Also, ensure that your baby's crib or cot is free of any distractions such as toys or mobiles and you have set up a safe sleep space.
Encourage Full Feeds
Be sure that your baby is getting full feedings during the day to help them stay asleep longer. If your baby snack feeds, all day, this can contribute to cat napping. If your baby is having trouble staying awake during their daytime feeds, try gentle stimulation like removing a layer of clothing or tickling their feet to keep them alert so they take a decent feed. This can help ensure that your baby isn't waking up from their nap prematurely due to hunger. For some naps, you can offer a top-up feed just before the nap to help them stay asleep even longer.
Start Their Nap Where You Intend It To End
Encouraging your baby to fall asleep in their cot rather than transferring them there once asleep. If your baby is used to sleeping only in your arms then they may struggle to nap in their cot longer than one sleep cycle. Try a gradual approach by putting your baby down when they are drowsy and using comforting Shhh, pats or rocking them in their cot to help soothe them when they fuss. Consistency is key here, and with patience and practice, your baby will learn to fall asleep here with less and less fussing.
Creating a consistent routine, setting up a sleep-inducing environment, encouraging full feeds, and helping your baby feel more comfortable falling asleep in their cot will all help improve your baby's daytime naps.
If you're feeling overwhelmed or struggling with your baby's sleep, don't hesitate to reach out to a baby sleep consultant. They can provide personalized advice and support to help you and your baby get the rest you both need. A baby nap schedule can be an essential tool in helping you manage naps and work towards longer, restful periods of sleep. With some patience, perseverance, and a few tips, you'll find that your baby's nap routine can be improved dramatically.
Written by Melissa, an internationallycertified infant sleep consultant and founder of Baby Sleep Code. Baby Sleep Code offers virtual one-on-one sleep consulting packages and takes a holistic approach to sleep. Providing recommendations on everything that can impact infant sleep, from feeding, nutrition, nap timings, sleep cues, environment, temperament, settling, and more.