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For a parent, the most important time of the day is when their baby is napping peacefully. Most parents look forward to it so they can complete some tasks from their to-do list, have a little break or take a much-needed nap themselves. But what if your little one is not taking naps long enough? Not only does it increase your workload, but it also adversely affects the baby’s growth and development.
According to a pediatric sleep specialist, sleep plays a very important role in growth, development, and metabolism. To secrete growth hormone, the pituitary gland requires constant, uninterrupted sleep. So, how to get your baby to nap longer? To find the answer to this question we will first have to look at the reason baby’s naps are being cut short? If the baby is waking up after they have completed their nap and is well-rested, even though it is before you would like them to be up, then there is not much you can do to change that, but if the baby is waking for another reason, then the following tips can help you to get your baby to nap longer
1. Create a Sleep Inducing Environment
When putting the baby to sleep, keep their room dark so they don’t get disturbed between their sleep cycles because of bright light. Also, keep a white noise machine in their room and keep it turned on for the rest of their sleep.
2. Use Baby Gadgets
3. Keep an eye on your baby’s sleep cues
Responding to your baby’s sleep cues right away will help you in getting them to sleep quickly and will also help them in staying asleep longer. As soon as they yawn and rub their eyes, put them to bed. Don’t wait for them to cry. Crying is usually a late sign. By that time, the baby will become overtired and thus difficult to soothe. Keep an eye on their cues and respond to them immediately and then you will see, in a few days, a pattern will form. This will help you in organizing their daily naptime schedule. Staying still losing interest in playtime and staring into space are also some signs you should be vigilant about.
4· Get them used to their crib
Let your baby have their play sessions in their crib during their waking hours. Stay with them and keep them interested in new toys. Let them associate you with their crib experience so they feel happy whenever you put them in there. This way, they won’t feel like they are in a foreign, lonely place rather, they will feel like it is a place where they have fun memories of you. This will make them see it as a safe place for sleep and allow them to go right back to continue their nap.
5· If the baby is older than six months, then teach them to fall asleep on their own rather than depending on you. This may encourage them to go back to sleep if they wake up during the middle of their nap. Ensure you put your baby to sleep on a firm surface. Make sure their crib sheets are tightly fitted and clear out any toys or blankets were in their crib before putting them for a nap in there.
6· Wait before going in
If your baby has woken up 20 or 30 minutes after their nap, resist the urge to go to them immediately. There is a good chance they will go back to sleep on their own, especially if they are older than six months. If their fussing continues for over five minutes, then see if a simple back rub or pat will do the trick of putting them back to sleep.
7· Be Consistent with Routines
Your baby will get the most out of their naps if they take them at the same time each day and for about the same time.
8· Create a Naptime Routine
Just like adults have a bedtime routine that signals their bodies to sleep, you can also try creating a naptime routine for your little one. Whether it’s in the form of a gentle massage, singing them to sleep or changing their clothes, your baby will learn to associate these activities with sleep which will help you in settling them for naps easily.
9· Offer a snack before sleep
To ensure that the baby naps well, offer them a snack before sleep. This will settle their tummy and they won’t wake up in between their nap because of hunger.
10· Avoid Screen Time
As tempting as it may be to have some alone time by letting your baby watch TV or videos on iPad, avoid screen time before naptime as this will over stimulate their active minds and will keep them awake even after you switch off the electronics. Keep the background noise to a minimum and maintain their room at a comfortable temperature to ensure a prolonged and uninterrupted sleep.
Every baby is different. Some of them are marathon nappers, who will provide you with ample time to do whatever you want to do, while others are cat-nappers who will never sleep for over 30-40 minutes at a time no matter what you do.
Remember that consistency is the key to a peaceful slumber! Even though your baby’s sleep patterns may seem like a mystery at first, especially when they can’t talk yet, learn to read their signals. Once you understand and answer their cues for sleep, it will get easier to develop a routine that is comfortable for you and your baby. A little trial and error will take you a long way. So, hang in there and see what suits your baby the best and then apply it, because no one knows your baby better than you do.