Babies need naps, but unfortunately, they don’t always seem to agree that it’s time to lie down and fall asleep peacefully. It is not generally up to your baby to decide when and where to nap. As her parent, you have the job of helping her fall asleep at the right time and in the right places. Doing this isn’t always easy, however.
Being outside in the sunshine helps baby sleep more soundly once naptime rolls around. Make it a point to take your little one on a walk each morning once you’re both functioning well after a possibly-not-so-restful night. If she’s mobile, you might consider letting
her out of the stroller near the park or to “walk” along the sidewalk by herself or with your help. Being outside in the sun tells her mind that she’s now awake and helps her realize just how soothing that cool dark room is when it’s time to nap.
If you’ve slept ten hours a night, you’re probably a bit anxious to be on the move, seeing and doing things. Packing up baby and driving her around all morning isn’t going to help her take a great morning nap. Plan your errands to be done as quickly as possible and then find activities to help wear your baby down. She will tire more quickly than an older child, of course, but she should have a chance to kick, roll, walk, run, crawl and discover to her hearts content for at least some of the day – preferably before naptime.
Make your child’s nursery a comfortable place to rest. When it’s naptime, draw the drapes, turn on the fan, put on a bit of lullaby music or white noise and offer a soothing sensation such as nursing or sucking on a pacifier to help her unwind. The lights should be dim or off completely, and there shouldn’t be any distractions such as toys or light shows. Help her continue soothing herself by rocking or patting her back. Lay her down in her crib and help her get to the point of just falling asleep before you stop soothing her. Ideally she’ll drift off to sleep herself and learn just how easy it is to fall asleep when she’s comfortable.
It’s hard to go to sleep on an empty stomach, and your baby might feel the same way. As her naps lengthen and separate throughout the day, begin to coordinate them with meal or snack times. The morning nap comes after the second nursing session of the day and the afternoon nap follows a late lunch. Putting a full baby to sleep will often get you sounder, longer naps as well. Do be sure to burp your baby well before laying her down in her bed – otherwise gas will certainly cut the nap short.
If you create natural ups and downs in the day, your child will have a much better idea of what is coming and what time of the day it is. The morning should be bright and cheerful with plenty of stimulation. As it gets closer to naptime, the music becomes more soothing and softer. Energy levels drop and even voices become more hushed. All of this conspires to tell your little one that she should start winding down as well. If you time it right, before she gets overtired and hyper or high-strung, you might find that putting your little one down for a nap takes only a few minutes following a quiet, soothing time around the house.
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