Baby Nap Schedules: How To Get Started
So, you've had your baby. A lot of big changes are about to happen, which means you're going to be learning a lot of new things. Of course, this overload of information is a lot to handle.
Sleep schedules are likely at the top of your list. Making sure they are getting the right amount of nap time is important. Don't know where to start? Read more to get some helpful information!
Let's begin with your first arrival home after giving birth. Most commonly, babies get good rest at the hospital before you take them home. But it is important to remember that babies tend to naturally change their sleep schedule all the time in their early days. This is completely normal and it is crucial to simply work with what happens - as opposed to trying to guess. Of course, as time goes on, you will start to memorize and predict when your baby will be tired and in need of a nap.
Newborns actually spend most of their days and nights sleeping. If they aren't sleeping, they are either crying or being fed. Parents must be prepared - their newborn will wake up every 30 minutes to every few hours to be fed. These "awake" periods of time where you can interact with your new child are important for many reasons. When they seem tired after being fed, make sure you allow them a safe and comfortable environment to sleep. Babies should not be put to bed in their crib with a dock a tot or other similar product. Those are for supervised sleep ONLY. According to Stanford Medicine:
Your baby may show signs of being ready for sleep when you see the following signs:
This cycle will likely repeat for a few months and eventually you will be able to understand more about your baby's sleep schedule, don't worry!
Once your baby is past the 3 month mark, they will begin to only typically require 2-3 naps a day. They may sleep a bit more than that which is ok, however you must make sure they don't sleep any less than twice a day. In case you have trouble getting them to sleep during the day, try to use different tactics that have been successful in the past with your baby. This could be simply talking to them, reading, singing a lullaby, rocking them gently, and more.
Similar to when your child is a newborn, until they pass 12 months, it is a good idea to allow their sleep schedules to be natural to their bodies' needs. Pay attention and attend to what they require and it will all be much more tolerable for you and your baby when you can understand more about their sleep schedule.
But what happens if my baby won't fall asleep? As briefly mentioned before, trying out different tactics that typically get them to sleep are useful. Other than swaddling them, rocking them to sleep, and so on, you can also try methods that don't require much from you (it's still important to have intimate moments where you can connect with your baby such as talking or singing them to sleep, cradling them, etc.). Some of these methods can be using a noise machine and finding a setting that works best for your little one. Another thing you can do is use blackout curtains to make sure no bright sunlight can get in the way of a good nap.
It also might not be easy for your baby to fall asleep if they are uncomfortable. Make sure they are in a clean diaper, comfortable clothes that fit them well, and well fed. This will ensure that they are going off to sleep without discomfort which will make falling asleep easier. Also make sure the temperature in the nursery is at a good setting. What To Expect states that, "...keeping the temperature between 68 and 72 degrees F is a good range in the summer and winter. When the room is too hot, research has shown that it can increase your baby's risk of SIDS; when it’s too cold, baby can easily become uncomfortably chilly and wake up unnecessarily."
Overall, finding a set sleep schedule for your new baby can be difficult. However, it is entirely a group effort between the baby and the guardians. Understanding the way your child is something that takes a lot of time, and all you can do to achieve that understanding is work with them.
Source for photo above: whattoexpect.com
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