The second most common reason for people contacting me for help, is regarding naps and helping to find a rhythm and routine for successful naps. Naps are essential for keeping little ones going throughout the day but it's also important for their naps to contribute to good night time sleep.
There is often one common over sight when it comes to naps, and this can affect families with even the best nap and bed time schedule and good sleep hygiene habits. One of the most important, yet under used nap technique is;
WIND DOWN TIME
Often we are out and about or playing at home, we notice the time and rush to put our little one down for their nap. Often then the case is they've gone from a very stimulating environment straight into their bed and are expected to sleep. Parents then find it frustrating if the baby or toddler doesn't nap or becomes upset.
It is vital to factor in some time between play or being out and about and nap time. Just like we would have a wind down bed time routine, the same applies for naps. Although this routine doesn't need to be as long or as extensive as their bed time routine, some time to calm down, reduce stimulation and create a predictable set of signals to your little one that it's time for a sleep can improve nap success rates hugely.
PRE NAP ROUTINE
Just like their bed time routine, their pre nap routine is individual to them and your family. There is no set routine to follow, however, the tips I recommend are as follows;
15-20 minutes quiet time in a dimly lit room without external noise
No screens or iPads for at least 30 minutes, but preferably an hour before nap time
Avoid sugary food and drinks too close to bed time
CREATE A ROUTINE
Whatever your decide your pre nap routine is, try and keep it consistently the same. This will enable your little one to understand what is required of them and help you to communicate that nap time is approaching. It also allows them time to comprehend that nap time is soon and that this routine signals the steps towards a nap. Communication with babies and children is very important even before they're verbal, and they understand sequences of events from an early age. Implementation of a pre nap routine can help reduce any sudden changes of environment for them that they may struggle to understand.
There are of course many other factors which can determine whether a nap goes ahead or not. Factors to consider are;
Timing. Is their nap an appropriate amount of time since their last nap? Too soon and they'll not be tired enough and may resist, and too late they could be over tired.
Environment. Is their nap environment set up for good sleep? Is it dark, cool and quiet? Are they comfortable and safe?
Schedule. Have you formed a schedule to enable your baby to fall into a routine and enable naps to happen consistently at around the same time every day?
Developmental. When a baby learns a new skill or is going through a developmental stage, this can affect naps and sleep. Give them plenty of time to practice their new skill in the day time, but try not to practice right before bed!
Working out your baby or child's sleep needs can be daunting and it can also cause worry that you may disrupt them or make their sleep more unbalanced that it currently is.
This is where working with a professional can help you look at your little one's current schedule, the issues you're facing and where they are in their development and whats going on in their home life and help you to build a schedule that works for your individual.
If you would like more help with your child's sleep I can help create a tailor made plan for your family based on your individual needs. Explore my packages for something that suit you