It can be frustrating and exhausting for both parents and babies when you are constantly battling nap-time struggles. While we often focus on our baby’s ability to sleep through the night, regular naps are necessary to ensure that they are getting the required amount of sleep each day. Many parents face the challenges at nap times, and the good news is, I can help.

Why Won’t my Baby Nap?

From my experience, the most common reasons for a baby fighting nap-time are either they aren’t tired enough or they are overtired. When a baby becomes overtired, their body produces cortisol, a stress hormone that is part of our natural response to fatigue. When a baby is overtired, cortisol levels spike, making it much harder for them to settle down and fall asleep. Therefore, we want to lay the baby into the cot at the appropriate time. This is as they begin to get sleepy but before reaching an overtired state. If your baby is very cranky or hyper it’s likely that they are overtired.

It’s also important to consider the sleep environment. The room temperature should be between 16-20°C, and the room should be dark. I recommend using blackout blinds or curtains to create an ideal sleep setting. Ensure that your baby is placed to sleep on a firm flat surface (I recommend a cot) to ensure their safety. Never let your baby sleep unsupervised on a couch, sofa or armchair as this increases the risk of suffocation.

Optimising Nap and Wake Times

First and foremost, it’s crucial to comprehend the total sleep requirements for your little one’s age group. However, grasping the concept of wake times is equally vital when aiming to facilitate successful baby naps. A wake window is the duration during which your baby or toddler remains awake between naps. Excessive wake windows can lead to an overtired baby, and short wake windows result in a baby who isn’t quite ready for sleep or only manages to take brief catnaps. Therefore, our aim is to find your little ones ideal balance with wake windows so they can fall asleep effortlessly and enjoy longer periods of rest. Babywinkz’s free downloadable Infant Sleep Guide contains the recommended wake windows for each age group.

Sleep Cues

Another method to gauge when your baby is tired is by looking for sleep cues and signs. Every baby is different; some may show more signs than others, and some may only show signs when they are already overtired. Try to be aware of your baby’s individual body language and notice any sleep cues. As a guideline, babies may begin to stare blankly into space, yawn, rub their eyes, or become restless when they are tired. It’s best to put your little one down for a nap before these signs develop, as babies are often close to or already overtired when displaying clear signs. The risk of ignoring these cues is that you’ll miss the sleep-readiness window, making it harder for your baby to settle.

Creating a Routine

Just like a bedtime routine, a quick and consistent routine before nap-time can help signal to your baby that they are about to sleep. A nap-time routine involves a predictable series of activities leading up to nap time. An example of this could be a feed, nappy change, book, light out and putting your baby into their cot awake. Your routine doesn’t need to be long, it can be a few minutes, but it will help your little one to wind down and prepare for sleep.

Finally, teaching your baby the skill of falling asleep, or back to sleep without your intervention, will greatly improve their overall sleep. By fostering these skills, you help your baby develop a consistent and restorative sleep pattern, contributing to their overall well-being and making nap times smoother for everyone involved. With patience and consistency, you’ll set your baby up for a lifetime of good sleep habits.

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