Why won’t your baby nap?

Managing your little one all day long is not for the faint at heart. It is a full-time gig that requires a mama to muster all of her energy. The saving grace for most mamas are naps. Babies physiologically need to sleep in the daytime until around age 2.5- 3 years of age. Those quiet moments during naps are rejuvenating and important for your baby’s development and for a mama’s sanity. Problem is, naps can be a huge struggle for many moms- you spend more time trying to get them to nap than they actually do sleeping! Sound familiar? If so, read on for some tips for easier, longer naps.

Baby Sleeping Chart

Timing is really important when it comes to infant sleep. Your baby needs enough sleep pressure (degree of tiredness) to fall asleep and stay asleep. But, if you give them too much awake time it is their body’s response to become overtired, which can cause lots of extra crying and short naps. Finding the correct timing for your baby is usually a combination of looking at the average awake time for your baby’s age, as well as looking for signs of tiredness (rubbing eyes, yawning, glazed over, fussy). Here is a chart of average awake times for a baby:

  • Birth to ten weeks —> 45 min to 1 hour
  • 11 weeks to 3.5 months —> 1.5-2 hours
  • 3.5 – 5 months —> 2-2.5 hours
  • 5 months —> 7 months 2.5-3 hours
  • 8 months —> 13 months 3-4 hours
  • 14 months —> 3 years 5-6 hours

Baby Sleeping Routine

Babies need routine. When they know what to expect, it makes it easier for them to understand it is time for sleep. This can bring less fuss at naptime. Choose a simple naptime routine. For example, a feed, diaper change, sleep sack on, and a book. Putting this routine on repeat will help your little understand that naptime is for sleep.

Environment

You can set your baby up for success by ensuring his sleep space is conducive for great naps. As humans, we need dark to sleep. This is commonly overlooked by new parents. They think their baby should learn to sleep in the daylight, but then are frustrated when their baby only sleeps 40 minutes (the average length of a sleep cycle for a baby). Think 2 am dark for 2 in the afternoon and you may see that is the only change you need to make for longer naps.

Feeding

Your baby needs a full belly in order to stay asleep! Lots of mamas feed their babies when they wake from sleep which is great, but that can be potentially a long time until the next feed. If you feed her when she wakes at 10 am, put her for her next nap at noon and she wakes at 1 it may be because she is hungry. Instead, try the MAMA method.

M-Milk when she wakes
A-Activity (play with your baby)
M- More milk!
A- Activity (your naptime routine)

This benefits your baby by encouraging lots of daytime calories, and a fully belly for a nice long nap! If you are breastfeeding you will also have the added bonus of lots of daytime breast stimulation imperative for a great milk supply!

Put her in the crib awake

If you have a baby that can close her eyes in her crib, she will be way more likely to connect more than one sleep cycle because she isn’t scared when she surfaces from a sleep cycle. She remembers falling asleep in her crib and is willing to close her eyes and continue back to dreamland. This sounds easy enough- but how do you do that? Instead of rocking her or nursing her to sleep, stand over her crib and shhushhh, and pat her till she’s calm and drowsy. Then stand there while she falls asleep. The more you practice the easier it will get.

Try these tips and see if your naps lengthen. Before you know it, you will be sipping tea watching an entire episode of Ellen. Happy napping Mamas!