When it comes to planning the day for your kids as they grow up, naptime takes an important slot. Naptime after school, on weekends, during holidays etc helps to keep babies and toddlers well rested and grounded. Even adults need nap time too and we wish we could have more of it but it’s not the same for kids. You have to enforce it. You have to establish nap time and it helps to have some tricks and information under your sleeve to help you do this.
Choose a good napping location:
When establishing nap time it helps to have an established and comfortable nap place. Comfort is critical to a long nap, so make sure your baby drifts off in a place where she can happily snooze for a while. Of course, occasional naps in the stroller or car seat are inevitable and fine but don’t substitute those spots for the crib on a regular basis.
A little advance planning can translate into many more minutes asleep, so avoid these surefire nap killers. Make sure your baby eats beforehand and use comfortable bedding and quilts like Layered Baby Quilts that are soft and comfortable. They will help your baby have a good snooze. Also check the baby’s outfit and the temperature around ahead of time.
Ease into the nap mode:
Scooping your baby up from her toys and sweeping her off to her crib isn’t the best way to get her in a mellow mood. Instead, allow a little buffer time where she can wind down from her activities and get in a sleepier state of mind.
Run interference. If your baby wakes or cries minutes into nap time, try to encourage a longer snooze by offering some gentle strokes and soothing words or hum without picking her up. Once your baby realizes that play is not in the plan right now, chances are she’ll close her eyes again. By four or five months, you can expect your baby to be able to stay up for two to three hours at a stretch. And the longer your baby is awake between naps, the longer she’s likely to sleep once she goes down.
When your baby starts to approach preschool age, some nap strategies have to change. Research Has shown that when preschoolers nap, they process information better, form sharper memories, and have a leg up on regulating their emotions. Naps often get disrupted by the life of a preschooler, though: half-day preschool programs, afternoon schedules that interfere with the siesta hour, extracurricular activities (like dance class or piano lessons) and in the case of full-day programs, the transition to sleeping with 15 buddies on cots around you. Thankfully, all these challenges can be overcome with a bit of thought and planning. There are ways you can figure out the best nap schedule for your preschooler, decide when she’s ready to drop the nap, and help her smooth the way. There is no set age when little kids are ready to go the whole day without sleeping. You can find out if your baby needs sleep and how much sleep they need by following these points below.
Baby’s total sleep needs: For a preschooler, that’s about 12-13 hours a day, whether she naps or not. Some kids can get all the sleep they need at night, while others don’t sleep quite as much at night and make up for it with a longer nap.
Mood and Behavior:
Watch to see how your baby behaves without a nap. Are they cranky or tired? Then they definitely need to nap.
Nighttime sleep schedule:
If your preschooler takes a nap, she might go to bed at 8 PM or even 8:30 PM, but if she doesn’t nap, it’s more like 7 PM.
Your family set up:
What time do you get home from work? How many other after-school activities and other children are involved? For some families, it works perfectly to start bedtime routines after an early dinner and make the 7 PM bedtime — that might make for a 12-hour night of sleep for the child and no nap the next day. For other families, that’s not realistic, so the daytime nap is important. Make sure if your little one isn’t napping, you can commit to the early bedtime.
Several sleep experts say that the best environment is a cool, dark, and quiet place. They suggest that you try to achieve that whenever possible, rather than having the baby sleep in a bouncy seat while you’re vacuuming nearby or in the car when you’re en route to an older child’s soccer practice. The sleep sanctuary, however, doesn’t always have to be the crib in your baby’s room. It can be a portable crib in another room or another house. The idea is simply to keep the environment similar.
Once you have a cool spot, try light-blocking shades to make the room dark enough. To achieve that elusive silence, a white-noise machine can go a long way, as does heading off potentially loud events.
Like adults, children have a body clock that signals when they are hungry and tired. However, they don’t have the power to satisfy these needs on their own. That’s why they need you to create and maintain a consistent schedule.
Most pediatric sleep specialists agree that if toddlers skip naps, they usually don’t make up for lost time by falling asleep earlier or sleeping more deeply. Instead, they tend to sleep poorly at night. The role of sleep in growth, metabolism, and development is huge. Growth-hormone secretion from the pituitary gland requires steady, uninterrupted sleep.
Infant, naps have been deemed so important that parents are advised to plan their entire days around them. So if your 11-month-old had a great day yesterday when she woke at 8 a.m., and napped at 10 a.m. for an hour and again at 2 p.m. for two hours, you want to make that a routine. This means if you have a baby gym class today at 11 a.m., you don’t go. And you rethink bringing her back to class at all until she moves to one early afternoon nap.