Mamas, we know the nap struggle is REAL. Both of my girls have not been great nappers. It wasn’t until Piper was 13 months that she started really taking a nice, solid nap. A nap where I could actually DO something with that time instead of constantly soothe her back to sleep. I’m now in the same situation with Flora. Her naps rarely reach 45 minutes — and so today I’m so excited to introduce you to a Pediatric Sleep Consultant, Becca Campbell of Little Z’s Sleep Consulting. I’m determined to get Flora’s naps extended and can’t wait to start implementing Becca’s tips. Becca has a ton of resources on her website — and also provides private coaching and group classes!
Becca is also going to do a live chat with The Mama Notes Community — so be sure to check my Instagram today to send in your questions!!
Three Steps to Improve Short Naps
You finally got your baby to fall asleep after 20 minutes of hard work…and 20 minutes later, they are up and ready to party!
Oh the struggle of the short nap! It’s REAL!
As a Pediatric Sleep Consultant I help families put together all the pieces of sleep. Because sleep truly is a puzzle! Naps and nights go hand in hand. So, let’s begin with this piece of the all too common short nap! I’ll be sharing my Three Steps to Improve Short Naps so we can preserve your sanity and help your baby keep snoozing into the next sleep cycle.
Make the room as dark as possible. Seriously! I’m talking mid-night dark, ya’ll! When I get started with a family I ask them to send me a photo of their child’s room. If I see light streaming through the curtains, we need to make a change quickly.
Why is this so important? Believe it or not your child’s brain (and ours!) can register light through our closed eyelids. When your baby emerges out of a sleep cycle and their brain says, “Hey! It’s light! Time to get up!” nap time is over.
How can you be sure your child’s room is dark for sleep? Either the BlackoutEZ blinds or Twill Light Blocking Curtains by Pillowfort will work! Add my pro-tip of using velcro to secure the curtains on the sides, and you’re set!
The final environment piece I want to have in place for a great nap is white noise. You might be rolling your eyes because you’ve already been rocking the white noise for some time. But hear me out. We need to get specific on the type of white noise!
Just like the brain recognizes light entering the eyes, the brain also registers the END of noise which triggers a wake up. This is important to know so that we avoid noise makers with timers or tracks that end. While music and lullabies are a great addition to a bedtime routine or playtime, they really don’t have a place in the sleep picture. When a song ends, or a lyric ends it can totally cause your baby to wake up. And how frustrating! They did all this work to go to sleep, but it was the environment that woke them up.
So if you now find yourself in the market for a white noise maker I would 100% recommend the Dohm machine! It’s a continuous motor that won’t quit! Bonus? It travels so well!
The enemy of a great nap is your child’s over-tiredness. While we may not like the idea of living bound to a routine or schedule, it’s actually exactly what your child needs. (Plus, when you build that consistency you’re building freedom!) The idea of keeping a child awake for hours on end to let them crash for a good nap just isn’t reality. They need naps routinely.
To help you understand the timing behind a nap I’ve put together a quick photo you can save on your phone to reference as your child grows. The key? Avoid over-tiredness! If you have a young baby they really can’t handle hours of wake time. You might be rotating the day around 1.5 hours awake and then down for a nap and repeat until bedtime.
The final piece of sleeping well is to ensure your child is in full control of their sleep. To be clear, newborns cannot self-soothe. I don’t expect them to nap for hours! Short naps are the nature of a newborn. Around 4 months old though, I want to see some longer naps start to connect! Since this is also the time that your baby can learn to use their body to self-soothe, I want to see them FREE to do so!
Being free to sleep well means it’s time to nix the sleep props. I know, SO scary! But it’s true. If they can be in control of their sleep, and not rely on the following for sleep- you’re really setting them up well!
-Rock N Plays, Dock-A-Tot, wedges, etc
-These positioners are not allowing your little one to roll and get cozy on their own. Learning to use their body as self-soothing is important, and prohibited by these positioners.
-While these are perfect for newborns, we really need your baby to use their hands!
-Babies love to suck on hands, pjs, or even the sleep sack! Give them the freedom to do so! Transition your little one out of a swaddle by 4 months old so they can learn how to handle sleep independently. Wondering how to do that? I’ve got a Swadde Transition Guide!
The goal is: we want YOUR baby to self-soothe from one sleep cycle to the next. If they have their arms and bodies free, it’s so much easier for them to do so!
The good thing about improving naps? You can begin this instantly!!