Afternoon nap is a fundamental part of baby sleep schedule. Recent studies have shown that physical and psychological development of children up to two years of age benefit from scheduled sleep in the middle of the day. As your child grows and becomes more active, nap becomes a time of rest and recovery after morning activities and the baby can enjoy the afternoon communication with you and others.
Like many aspects of the schedule, it takes time, a lot of patience and perseverance until the child acquires this habit. As soon as this happens, nap will have great value not only for your child but for you as well. Many mothers tell how life-giving their nap has become. During the first months of baby’s life, you can use this time for the rest you need so much. When your baby starts sleeping through the night, you can do homework while the baby is napping, make the necessary phone calls or even start working. If you have a second child, and your older one still enjoys the afternoon nap – it is invaluable.
During the first days of life baby’s afternoon nap can be restless; your child can refuse to sleep even when you give him food. In 30-45 minutes after the baby is asleep, he goes into light sleep phase. Some children wake up completely, and then it is important to teach them to fall asleep again on their own.
Some words about baby’s morning sleep
Watch the baby’s morning sleep and make sure that his sleeping time is correct. Try to get the baby to sleep not earlier than 9:00 a.m., and the older children – not earlier than 9:15-9:30 a.m. If you see that the child sleeps too long in the morning, it will be wise then not to let him sleep for so long in the afternoon. Ultimately afternoon nap is much more important, because it is longer and corresponds to the child’s natural sleep cycles. Somewhere between 9-12 months of age most children need reduced morning sleep, and some ones may not sleep in the morning at all, especially if they sleep till 7:30 – 7:45 a.m. Other children may need to take a nap for 10-15 minutes. For the baby to stop sleeping in the morning, try to reduce it to 10 minutes every three or four days until your 9 month old child sleeps only 20-25 minutes. If the child gets very tired, you can give your baby second breakfast later and put your child to sleep earlier.
Associations with the sleep
During the first months of life, many children tend to nap in the baby car seats or portable crib, and it is very convenient because it gives parents more opportunities. Unfortunately, when the child gets older and more active, he will unlikely be able to sleep soundly or long enough in the car seat. If the baby keeps this habit, it will be very difficult to put the baby to nap in the crib. Sleep in the car seat can hardly give enough rest, and when the child gets older, he will probably sleep not soundly, after such sleep he will become tired and irritable. The immediate result of this may be that the child will eat enough for dinner or will fall asleep having not eaten a full portion of the evening milk. Therefore he can wake up at night hungry, you will feel tired the next day, and the situation will become worse and worse. You need to start putting him to sleep in the crib, in the darkness, and as early as possible. If you don’t have such an opportunity because of the older child, try to put the baby to sleep in the stroller in the quietest part of the house, so that he can sleep peacefully as long as possible.
If the baby’s wrong associations with the sleep are ingrained, you need to focus on the baby’s proper sleep, whenever he does that. This is called to help the baby sleep. Take him for a walk in the stroller, in the car, or put him next to you in the bed and let him sleep for 2 hours. If you do this a week or ten days long, the child’s sleep cycle can be corrected, and then it becomes easier to put him to sleep without any whims.