5 napping habits you might want to limit….
Nap's are super important for your babies growth and development, and your own sanity.
Whether they are decent 1-2 hour naps, or 30-45 minutes, they are still tiny little micro breaks for us parents right?
Naps are also really great for your babies mood and temperament too. Have you ever noticed how your baby starts to melt down when they skip naps? This is because napping helps your baby regulate their emotions, toddlers too!
When babies nap, they also grow and their immune system strengthens helping fight off those winter ills and chills.
Knowing how awesome naps are, there are a few habits you might want to reconsider in order to keep good quality naps in your house.
1. Napping infrequently
If your baby is napping far less than what is expected “average” and the naps are quite sporadic this is definitely a habit you want to get on top of.
Start by encouraging more frequent naps to increase your babies day time sleep, then try to establish a bit of a nap schedule to ensure those naps become more consistent.
This prevents the infrequent naps leading to over tiredness which we all know is the monster who ruins our babies lovely temperament and disrupts night sleep!
2. Napping too often
Most newborns come home from hospital with their days and nights mixed up.
They sleep for 2-3 hour stints frequently in the day, and hard to wake to feed. They then wake frequently at night and are perhaps quite wakeful from midnight until morning.
This is normal in those early weeks, the solution is time and slowly extending your newborns awake time during the day. But if your baby is over 6-12 weeks and still has this sleep pattern, you might want to work on less day sleep immediately.
Too much day sleep will eat into your night sleep, and frequent night wake ups are hard for any parent to maintain long term.
3. Napping in an electric swing or hammock
This can be the easiest way to get a newborn to sleep, I loved my electric swing for that late afternoon nap when my third was a baby.
He would nap for a good 45 minutes while I prepared dinner.
But I was weary of allowing this continual motion to become a habit my baby relied on to sleep, as I knew he would outgrow the swing!
I limited it to that late afternoon struggle time, and tried to ensure that by 4 months 1 or 2 naps a day happened in the cot.
If your older baby is what we call a "Motion junkie" - addicted to having that constant motion while they sleep, it is important to know that sleep expert Dr Marc Weissbluth's research shows that motion sleep is not as restorative as stationary sleep after 8 weeks of age, this is a good reason to limit these motion naps to once a day.
Need help with naps that are not 100% motion dependent?
Check out the online sleep program for self settling strategies for naps and nights!
4. Napping in the car seat and buggy all day
When you are a busy mother of 2 or more children, its totally understandably that you can find the first nap happens in the car on the way to school, the second nap in the car on the way to the super market and the third nap in the buggy after school.
This can quickly lead to an over tired baby who is probably not getting the most restorative sleep each day.
Think about planning your days to try to be home for one big nap each day, and the other two can be on the go.
Having a consistent nap routine can help you plan your day, knowing when your baby will need a quick on the go nap, and when you should be home for a longer more restorative nap.
5. Holding to sleep for all naps
We all know how delicious it is to hold a newborn while they nap!
They sleep brilliantly, they smell unbelievable, and their breathing as they sleep…..But if this is the only way you can your baby to sleep after the initial 12 weeks it can become more and more difficult to achieve naps.
Anyone who has had to work through a hold to sleep association with an older baby can confirm, this is not easy. Good news, the earlier you work on this, the easier it is! Newborns still respond to hands on settling, so we can settle them in the cot tears free.
When you are ready try to get your baby down for at least one nap a day in their bassinet or cot, start by only holding until your baby is 80% asleep, and gradually back it off over a few weeks.
Use your hands on strategies to help them get from 80% asleep to 100% asleep in the bassinet or cot.
If you are working on changing this with older babies, you will need to put your baby down 100% awake, and teach them to settle to sleep in their cot.
Looking for solutions for better naps?
Our online sleep program provides solutions and sleep plans for cat naps, short naps, self settling, nap routines and more! Plus all online sleep programs include private email support.
Emma is the owner and founder of Baby Sleep Consultant, she is a certified infant and child sleep consultant, Happiest Baby on the block educator, has a Bachelor of Science, and Diploma in Education. Emma is a mother to 3 children, and loves writing when she isn't working with tired clients and cheering on her team helping thousands of mums just like you.
Our Baby Sleep Program helps tired parents TO DEVELOP HEALTHY SLEEP HABITS BY FOCUSING ON NAPS, SETTLING AND NIGHT SLEEP.
- Empowered: Feel empowered as a Mum as you learn to understand your growing baby's needs and cues.
- Simple effective settling: Gentle, proven self settling, evidence based techniques.
- Content happy baby and parents: Better sleep creates content babies & happy parents.
- Freedom: Predictable routines and longer nights creates freedom. Solve your sleep problems for more freedom.
- Work with your babies circadian rhythm: Work with your babies biological clock for faster easier results.
- Awesome naps & nights: You'll create consistent naps and nights with our support.
Read our rave reviews
"So sorry it’s taken me this long to write a review... I’ve been way too busy getting my 8 1/2 - 9 hours sleep a night �� I signed up for the phone consultation package with Cherene and literally within a few minutes of (informed, non-judgemental and personal experience) chat, she came up with a plan for us. Night 1 was a little hard, but pretty much since Night 2 my almost 2 year old now sleeps through the night � We went from getting up 3-4 times a night to restful sleep!
An added bonus was noticing all the little changes in Willow -obviously uninterrupted sleep has benefited her too �" ~ Nichola Tingle
"For the past fortnight Cara has been guiding us towards better sleep for our 11 month old. He was something of an anomaly, in that once he was asleep, he slept great. It was getting him to sleep that was the issue - a combination of rocking until drowsy and then bum patting until he was fast asleep. Don't you dare try and sneak out of the room before he was fully asleep! He'd sense it and you'd have to start the whole process again.
Now I am proud to say that he self-settles. It still takes him a while to wind down, especially at night, but it is so nice not to be spending up to an hour bending over the cot patting him off to the land of nod.
What I liked about Cara was her ability to recognise that one size does not fit all. We had to change our approach part way through as we realised me been in the room was actually acting as a distraction." ~ Moana Taylor
"I can't recommend these guys enough!! I recently did the phone consultation service with Kelly in Dunedin and she was so so awesome to work with! My 11 month old has gone from multiple wakes and feeds overnight, to sleeping 12hrs+ overnight! (He had never slept through the night since he was born). We had tried lots of different things ourselves, but things improved so quickly when we followed Kelly's recommendations it was incredible!! We both now have so much more energy and can be much better parents when we're not tired zombies! Thank you!!" ~ Kirsten Taylor