- Sleep is actually a basic need. It is neither a privilege nor a punishment. Would you ask your little one to forego a meal in order to attend a birthday party? The hard part is that a nap takes 60 minutes to two hours whereas feeding a baby only takes 15 to 30 minutes.
- Motion sleep – sleep in the car, the swing and the stroller is the equivalent to junk sleep. Yes, it’s OK to give our children the occasional treat but you don’t want to make it a daily habit. The reason it is junk sleep is because the body and brain will simply not relax and go into a deep sleep. Think about how well you sleep in a moving vehicle or on the plane. Part of your brain is saying … “Hey! You are semi-upright and moving! Don’t go into a deep sleep!” Yes, newborns and young infants will sleep well in motion but it poses problems when you ask them to sleep stationary in their cribs. The older a baby gets with their maturing brains, the more this sleep becomes junk.
- A baby or young child with strong sleep skills will sleep ANYWHERE and for ANYBODY. It is possible to confidently put your baby down for a nap at the gym, your friend’s house in a strange crib – even when there are other kids playing loudly downstairs. You can also put them down for bedtime at your friend’s home and then wake them up around 10 or 11 when you want to come home for the night. They will be happy and content on the way home and go right back to sleep peacefully in their crib/bed when you get home. This also helps save on babysitting costs!
- A well rested baby LOVES the car and the stroller when they are AWAKE. They will be content to go for long drives and walks and soak up the views around them. Videos, soothers and toys are not required. They will also not fall asleep by accident in between their naps and bedtime.
- A well rested baby or child is at their OPTIMAL ALL DAY LONG. They are a JOY to be around right up to nap time and bedtime.
Focus on the first nap of the day and all night time sleep in the bassinet or the crib. The rest of the day can be “your’s”. You can let a newborn sleep in other places than the bassinet/crib for their naps but make sure they still get loads of sleep during the day. The more they sleep by day, the better they will sleep by night.
Ideally, all naps should be in a crib or a playpen. This does not mean that you have to be at home for all of them. Take a playpen with you and have your baby nap at the gym or at a friend’s house. Limit car naps and stroller naps if they are affecting your other daytime sleeps and your nights. If you are finding that two naps a day are restrictive, then you can transition your baby to one nap per day as early as 9 to 10 months.
Toddlers and Pre-Schoolers
Trust that your child will still sleep at your friend’s house rather than skipping a nap during a play date. Pack his lovey in your diaper bag just in case you are having a great time and don’t want to rush home.
Yes, you may end up planning swimming and music lessons and birthday parties around nap times but it is well worth it! There is actually FREEDOM in ROUTINE. The best part? Happy Child = Happy Parent
My thanks to @April McGowan who inspired today’s tip!