Some children seem to be born sleepers. These babies sleep at all the right times for the right amount of hours and their parents never have needed to complain, or at least this is the story those lucky parents tell the bleary-eyed mothers around the playground. But other children seem to go through a spectrum of sleep problems, even when you are doing everything right. The most common complaint for parents are sleepless nights in which their babies wake up constantly at night, and most often the sleepless nights accompany a series of bad naps.
This tie between naps and nights is verified by science. Solid naps often mean better, more relaxing sleep at night as your child is better rested and healthier overall. Once your child gets out of the habit of sleeping well during the day or night, it can be a hard cycle to break, but for sleep’s sake in the household, you should do everything you can to make sure your child is napping well during the day to help improve sleep at night.
Be sure that your child is sleeping correctly. The naps your child should be taking vary depending on the age of your child. Very young babies nap constantly throughout the day for both short and long periods of time. By four to six months, your little one should be napping once in the morning and one in the early afternoon. She might also have a nap in the late afternoon. By fifteen months, your child will be down to a single afternoon nap – this nap is usually after lunch, but before a year, your little one truly needs two naps to be at her best.
Falling asleep for naps can be tricky if your little one is savvy enough to realize that she doesn’t have to. To make it easier for your baby to fall asleep, be sure:
- The lights are dim and curtains closed in the room where she’ll be sleeping.
- There is some form of white noise to block out other household sounds.
- You’re putting her to sleep when she starts to gets tired – not when she’s hyper from being up too long.
- She’s clean, dry and fed to be comfortable.
- You have her favorite blankets and stuffed animals.
- She’s had a lot of activity during the day – preferably outside in the sunshine.
A tired, well-fed baby will be much more inclined to go right on to sleep instead of playing and throwing fits. Play with her a great deal in the hours before naptime, and try to take her outside into the sunshine to give her plenty of stimulation. Then, as naptime draws closer, bring everything down into a quiet, cooler environment.
Right at naptime, change her diaper, remove any wet or soiled clothes and put on dry, comfortable clothing. Begin soothing your child as you help her relax in a quiet, dark room and until she learns to fall asleep unassisted, you can soothe her right up until she falls asleep. This might take far less time than you’d think.
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