Any parent will tell you that when it comes to nap time, the struggle is real. In order to help you out, we’ve collected the best sleeping tips from moms who have spent time on the front lines. From creating a zen vibe to being totally prepped, here’s how to nail nap time, all the time.
For Under 6 Months
1. Be Hands Off
At this age, lots of parents can only get baby to nap with/on Mom or Dad. Try rocking baby close to his crib and as soon as he’s asleep, lay him down with one hand on his stomach and at his side. He’ll probably wake up and fuss for a minute, but keep your hands on him to assure him he’s okay. When he’s drifted back to sleep, remove your hands and walk away.
2. Consistency Is Key
Although it’s tempting to let your little one sleep in the car seat, it’s okay to move a sleeping baby. In fact, it’s downright necessary if you ever hope your baby will sleep in a crib and be a good napper. Each time it’s nap time, try and make sure your baby is in her designated sleeping space.
photo: Abigail Batchelder via Flickr
For 6 – 12 Months
3. Tools of the Trade
Have the tools for happy naps at the ready. Keep baby’s pacifier, sleep sack and sound machine at hand so that if she happens to fall asleep in her chair, it’s easy to transfer her to her crib. Doing this will help cement the fact that when their heads hit the crib mattress, it’s time to doze.
4. Create the Right Climate
There are a lot of potential distractions for babies during the first year of life, so cut out the easy ones: light and noise. Turn on the sound machine, close the blackout curtains and help them get used to knowing that when it’s “night time,” it’s nap time.
5. Let Them Self Soothe
You don’t need to use the CIO method in order to create a champion napper. But, even letting your little one cry for a full minute before charging into the room gives her a chance to simply resettle on her own. Sometimes an instant interruption from Mom will only disrupt sleep further.
photo: Shelley Glapion via Flickr
6. Keep It Simple
Don’t get too involved. Although we’re prone to create elaborate routines to get our kids ready to settle, the more elaborate the routine, the more they may rely on it in the long run. Keeping a nap time routine simple (i.e. one quick book as soon as they start rubbing their eyes) is one that you can perform anywhere, which could be the secret behind raising an easy napper.
7. Don’t Force It
Pay attention to sleep schedules. If your child is already getting 12 hours of sleep at night (lucky you) then a two-hour nap might not be what they need. Instead, settle him down when you notice the need for a rest, and encourage him to do so. If your son only needs a 30-minute snooze midday, forcing him to sleep too much could end up ruining his nighttime slumber.
photo: Dan Pearce via Flickr
For Three-and Four-Year-Olds
8. Create a Spa-Like Experience
Cue up soothing spa music, which you can find on any music app. Use a diffuser to pump out a relaxing spa scent (lavender, eucalyptus, etc.). Kids will feel instantly relaxed the same way we immediately get zen vibes when we walk into a spa. Now if only we had time for pedicures.
9. Have Their Favorites on Hand
Kids at this age can go either way with napping, so try thinking about the items needed to get them to nap longer. Keep a sippy cup of water in the crib in case your kiddo wakes up thirsty. Or make sure her favorite lovey is with her in case she needs some extra coaxing during nap time. Whatever it takes, make sure all the tools for a happy sleeper are available.
10. Make It Something to Look Forward To
Change your tone when it comes to gearing kids up for a nap. Make it a thrilling event, with a book they can pick out and an exclamation at how cozy it is to snuggle up and hit the hay. If it helps, let your kid know that it’s time for Mom or Dad to nap too. If she think everyone’s doing it, there will be way less FOMO.
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Do you have any nap time or sleeping tips? Share with us in a comment below.