When a brand new parent imagines naptime, they might think it's a natural instinct for their little one, that baby will surely get tired during the day and peacefully doze off to sleep. While this may be true for a lucky few, unfortunately it's not the reality for most. Naptime is often a learning curve for both babies and parents!
While having a perfectly scheduled, multiple-hours-long nap each day might not be the most realistic scenario, there are still ways to avoid making things more difficult than they need to be, and to help baby (and parent) get some much needed sleep.
Consistency Is Key
One of the best baby sleep tips is creating and sticking to a consistent schedule. This means trying to put baby down in the same spot such as their crib or bassinet, at the same time each day, and using the same routine. Babies will learn through repetition, so sitting in the same chair with your baby and reading them a story or singing the same song to them will help them associate this routine with winding down.
Avoid These Mistakes
When it comes to how to get baby to nap, there is a lot of information out there, and new parents can often be led astray. The main mistakes you’ll want to avoid include skipping naps altogether, letting your baby nap for just a few minutes at a time and dropping your nap routine while away from home. It can be tempting to let baby guide the way or skip out on the routine here and there when it comes to napping rather than struggling to get them down. This will ultimately cause more issues in the long run.
Time It Right
One of the biggest mistakes parents make is letting their baby get overtired. Waiting until they are exhausted may end up costing you nap time altogether, as they will become cranky and fussy when they don’t get their rest. The goal is to put them to sleep when they are drowsy, not sleepy. The activities you’ll do such as reading to them, dimming the lights or singing a lullaby will signal that it is time for them to sleep.
Set The Mood
Speaking of lullabies, setting the mood is one of the best ways to ensure your little one gets their nap in. This means ideally having them nap in the same place they sleep at night such as their crib or bassinet. Turning off the light will help the baby drift off. A noise machine or other sleep accessory could help as well. Try to keep the environment dark, cool and quiet, just as you would for their bedtime routine at night.
Remember, there will be difficult days. There might be times where the baby fusses and doesn’t want to nap, and other times where they go down easily. Just remember to be consistent and don’t give up. You’ve got this!