Some babies love to nap and will drop off for a little snooze at the first opportunity they get. Others refuse to sleep during the day until they are completely exhausted, by which point you are likely to be at the end of your tether!
Babies can also become easily confused between night and day, so there is always the risk that they will sleep for too long during the day and then stay up most of the night, leaving you feeling completely tired out and more than a little nocturnal! The key to getting a good night-time/daytime sleep balance and keeping it is in setting up a good sleep routine in the daytime and teaching your little one the difference between daytime naps and night sleeps.
Here are our tips on helping your baby enjoy a good sleep routine, day or night.
During the day, don’t try to turn your home or nursery into night. Many parents try to block out all light and noise but you cannot always control the environment your baby sleeps in during the day; when there is any noise or light, your baby simply won’t sleep if they have been used to darkness and silence. This is one way you can teach them to understand the difference in night time and daytime.
Create a new daytime nap routine – it may be tempting to go through the motions of your night time routine in order to help your baby relax and sleep but what is needed is a new routine that is solely for daytime naps. This will teach your baby that he or she is being put down for a shorter nap, not for a long night of sleep. So choose a different way to get baby over to sleep rather than the bedtime bathe and lullaby they enjoy at night.
The important thing is consistency – try to place baby down awake to help them soother themselves to sleep at the same time each day. In time they will get to know this routine and will be happy to doze off.
How Many Daytime Naps is Enough?
Every baby is different, but there are general guidelines as to how much day time sleep your little one should be getting. Up until 4 months, your baby will probably spend as much, if not more, time asleep than awake! Until this stage it is best to allow your baby to dictate their sleeping pattern and try not to force a routine on them. After the 4 month stage, your little one will probably settle into a pattern of taking two or three daytime naps – adding up to around 3 hours of sleep through the day. When your little one is a year old, they will probably want to sleep less during the day, cutting down to one main nap through the day, but this nap may still be 2 or 3 hours long.
Don’t worry if your little one does not sleep much one day, or if they sleep for longer another day. The needs of a young child change all the time and while it is crucial to be consistent so your little one can recognize the signs of nap time and enjoy the stability of a routine, disruption to that routine doesn’t spell disaster!
Remember that all babies are different and setting a routine may not suit everyone.