As a new parent, it may be pretty daunting for you to understand the first steps of parenting. One particular area where you might face more than a few concerns is nap time. As a first time parent, it may be hard for you to figure out the dos and don’ts of baby napping. Well, here is a small guide that can help you understand the basics of baby napping effectively.
Spot the signs of sleepiness
You may think your baby feels sleepy only when he yawns. However, there are many other symptoms to indicate that your baby is feeling sleepy. These include crying, fussiness, and even rubbing eyes continuously. Older babies tend to be clingy, clumsy and sometimes even hyperactive as well when feeling sleepy. So watch out for these signs.
Know that babies sleep a lot
You may think that your baby does not sleep a lot. However, know that babies sleep for at least 16 hours a day. While these may be divided in the form of short naps throughout the day and night, your baby will start to sleep more in the night and lesser during the day after about 6 months. So don’t worry about his irregular sleeping habits. They will get better eventually.
Encourage longer naps
Although your baby may take short naps throughout the course of the day, you will need to encourage him to take longer naps as he ages. He may act fussy at first. But increase the time between his naps gradually. This will enable him to naps for longer intervals when he falls asleep later on.
Encourage him to sleep alone
After the initial few months, start encouraging your baby to start sleeping on his own. Stop holding him in your arms until he falls asleep. Rather, lay him down on a firm mattress as soon as he starts feeling sleepy. This will encourage your baby to start sleeping on his own rather than be fed, rocked or held to sleep. This will also help him fall back asleep on his own if he happens to wake up during the night.
Don’t wake up a sleeping baby
There’s nothing worse than a baby woken up from deep sleep. If your baby falls asleep, let him sleep undisturbed. However, don’t let him sleep simply on the couch, table or seat. Place him gently on his back on a firm mattress and let him finish his nap peacefully.
Don’t break naps according to your convenience
You may find it pretty tempting to make your baby sleep according to your work schedule. However, this may disturb your baby’s normal sleeping patterns. Never compromise on your baby’s sleep. Rather than planning your baby’s naps around your work schedule, plan your work schedule around your baby’s nap timings.
Don’t put him to bed immediately after feeding
It is common for babies to sleep off immediately after feeding. While this is ok during the initial months, you will need to gradually separate feeding times from nap times. Even if he feels sleepy after nursing, make him stay awake for a few minutes before letting him sleep. You can read a story or play a game to keep your baby active during this period.
Don’t interrupt if your baby fusses or cries while sleeping
It is very natural for your baby to fuss, cry or whimper while sleeping. Your baby may even sigh, squeak, sneeze or hiccup while sleeping. These are signs of settling down. So don’t rush to your baby and interrupt his sleep. Wait for a minute or so, checking on him to see if he continues to remain fussy. If he doesn’t, let him sleep.
It may be hard for a new parent to know everything there is to know about a baby’s napping habits. These tips will help new parents be more confident about interpreting their baby’s sleep habits.