As you probably know, growing little bodies need their rest even if your little one doesn’t know it yet. Here are a few tips to get your baby or child to take a nap during the day if you’ve been having a hard time getting them down. Some of these tips are meant for children at least 6 months of age because infants tend to sleep more often and more frequently – but some of these ideas can help with an infant as well.
Wake Them Up At a Set Time in the Morning
Getting a child down for a routine nap at a certain time of day will be a lot easier if they wake up at approximately the same time every day. As long as the baby has gotten a full nights sleep, waking them up at around 8:00am or 9:00am every morning will make them “just the right amount of tired” at around 12:00 or 1:00pm to be ready for a for a nap.
A schedule like this can make both moms’ and baby’s life much easier because your baby’s body will get quickly used to it.
Of coarse there will always be times when this schedule might get thrown off, but if you stick to it often enough you will see them napping easier.
Wind Down Time Before Nap Time
It is much easier to put a mellow baby to sleep than an excited one. This is another place where routine can come in handy. Give baby their bottle while talking softly to them before naptime or rocking them while quietly reading a book to them will set them in perfect napping mode. If they are coming off a vigorous play session, remember they will need these few “downtime” moments or getting them to go to sleep will be much more difficult.
Let Them Be
Quite often it takes awhile for a baby to fall asleep after being put in their crib, even if they were starting to fall asleep outside the room just a few minutes earlier. Your might hear your baby talking or chatting to itself for what seems like forever and be tempted to go in and keep them company or even take them back out of the crib assuming they might not need a nap after all. If you would like to eventually get your child on a nap schedule however, it is probably best if you just leave them be to talk and wear themselves out until they fall asleep on their own. If you keep going in the room, they will keep getting re-stimulated and the process will just take that much longer.
Crying It Out
Here is the tough one. As a mom myself I know that one of the hardest things to do is to let your baby “cry it out” while you stand on the other side of the door holding yourself back from bursting in there. Eventually though, you might be left with no choice. It is of course different with every child, but those little ones are smart cookies and figure out really quickly what will work for them and what will not.
The first thing to do is be sure that baby is well fed and changed before putting them down so you know there is no physical reason for the crying.
Snuggle them, cuddle them, cover them and talk gently to them when first putting them in the crib – then quietly leave the room.
There are different expert opinions on how long you can or should let a baby cry it out before going in there and comforting. If you have a pediatrician you trust, you should ask their opinion as well. Some experts say it should be no longer than 10 solid minutes of crying – others say it can be up to an hour (though I know in my case I would have never been able to make it that long).
There have been suggestions that “increasing timing increments” can work after awhile such as letting baby cry for one minute before going in – then two minutes – then four etc.
That at the times that you do go in to comfort, you should talk gently for a moment or rub baby’s back – but do not take them back out of the crib.
Regardless of the method or length of time you use, the general consensus is that letting a baby “cry it out” really does work and really does get better after time. A baby will eventually cry themselves to sleep and as time goes on they will do it for much shorter periods of time until they no longer do it at all. Just remember: at the same time that you are trying to train baby – baby is also attempting to train you. So get out those earplugs and stop watch – it will be hard – but it will be worth it.
Motion is the perfect foil for a restless baby. You have probably already heard of driving them around in a car until they fall asleep – or even putting them on a running washing machine (sounds funny – but I’ve been told it really works!)
I’ve used a moving swing more than once to put my little one to sleep and because I was lucky enough to have it in a quiet environment, I sometimes let him have his entire nap in there because he slept so soundly.
The stroller also worked so wonderfully at times that I would actually bring it in the house and use it in the kitchen during the really tough teething stages. I would sit in a kitchen chair and simply face the stroller in the opposite direction gently pulling it back and forth until my son fell asleep. Then I would gently place him in his crib.
Most of all remember that this is just temporary and try to be patient. Babies go through stages and luckily none of the difficult ones last forever. Simply keep trying different methods and you will find the one that works perfectly for both of you.