I’ve often had parents ask me where to put their baby for daytime naps. So over and above suggesting the ideal sleeping gear, I’ll do you one better. I’ll take it a step further and differentiate between a newborn’s and older baby’s sleep cycle. And yes, they’re different.
I’ll explain how to get your little one to sleep and how to create a conducive sleep environment both at home and away. I’ve had the privilege of putting my daughter down for a quick daytime nap many times, especially every Saturday when my fianceé normally works. So let’s just say I might know a few do’s and don’ts when going about it!
When Should My Baby Sleep? And How Often?
As parents we absolutely adore our babies. But they can be a handful sometimes when they’re up and about. In fact my fianceé and I look forward to the times our daughter takes her daytime naps. I’m a big believer in taking a siesta after lunch when our daughter sleeps, too. This allows us to refuel our energy for when our daughter wakes. Or in your case you might use that time to get done with other stuff around the house of course.
But aside from the additional rest and “short-lived tranquility”, naps are extremely beneficial to growing babies. Did you know napping plays a HUGE role in your little one’s physical and emotional development? Kids who don’t nap are generally irritable and fussy resulting in endless tantrums. Plus, they also have a hard time concentrating and often have a short attention span!
But then again, there’s such a thing as too much napping especially for the older babies. A baby’s nap time shouldn’t exceed three hours. Why? Excessive day time naps negatively impact their night sleep. You need a healthy nap routine. I’ll discuss the general nap guidelines and recommendations for both newborns and older babies. We won’t elaborate much on naps for toddlers, except in the FAQ below.
Babies sleep for longer when younger. In other words, the older your baby gets, the less she sleeps. Most newborns tend to sleep an average of between 14 and 17 hours in a day. To further break it down for you, your little one will sleep for 8 hours during the day and 9 at night.
What is the ideal number of naps recommended for newborns?
Your newborn baby may nap between three to five times a day. This is often for a 2 or 3 hour timeframe, maybe more. And that’s perfectly normal. But since newborns have small tummies, you may have to wake your little one up for feeding if she goes longer than 3 hours. Newborns typically need a feed once every 2 to 3 hours.
As your baby hits the 3 month mark, nap time decreases. You can expect him to nap 3 or 4 times a day for between 2 and 3 hours. But you should quickly adjust the napping cycle by the time your little one hits 5 months to make it 2 or 3 times a day for 1 to 2 hours. When your baby is between 6 and 12 months, ideally she should nap twice a day.
Reducing nap times prevents cat napping and allows your child to sleep better throughout the night. And also form healthy sleep habits.
So Where Should I Put my Baby for Daytime Naps?
Babies will sleep whether they’re at home or away from home. Your job is to make sure you create a comfortable sleep environment wherever they are. At home, you have typically 3 options: putting them into a crib, bassinet or lounger. When you’re away from home, you’ll need to invest in portable sleep gear such as a playard, bassinet, baby carrier or stroller.
I’ll give you some more tips on both at home or away daytime napping below.
At Home Daytime Napping
Thankfully at home you’re spoilt for choice when it comes to creating the perfect sleep environment for your child. You could use any of the following options:
- Crib: Cribs are especially safe for older babies. Make sure your little one is lying on his back. The Graco Benton Convertible Crib is worth considering. It features a sturdy construction and is designed to grow with your child. Plus, it offers a three-position adjustable mattress support base.
- Bassinet: Bassinets are better suited for younger babies. They’re portable enough to move from one room to the next. The Disney Baby Ultimate Sweet Beginnings Bassinet is an excellent product because it’s lightweight and has wheels for easy mobility.
- Loungers: Most parents prefer to use loungers such as the Premium Baby Nest Lounger. Loungers fit perfectly in most mini cribs, are perfect for tummy time and nursing. But I’ll quickly point out that loungers are only useful when used correctly. Incorrect use can result in your baby turning or rolling resulting in suffocation. Read this article to get more information on choosing the correct lounger.
Away Daytime Napping
For your little one to nap comfortably away from home, you’ll have these options;
- Playard: Playards are known for their easy mobility. That’s provided you pick one easy to pack and assemble such as the Graco Pack and Play On THe Go Play Yard.
- Bassinets: Bassinets are generally portable, lightweight and easy to move around with. And no assembly is usually required. Make sure you pick one that’s breathable, has a carry handle and is lightweight like the Munchkin Brica Fold ‘n Go Travel Bassinet.
- Baby Carriers: These nifty items can help with naps during the daytime if you’re out and about. Read my article on carriers if you want to find out more about which is best for your needs.
- Strollers and car seats: Both a stroller and car seat are often when your baby falls asleep for their daytime nap. So, if you’re on the road or out in the park, try and time the excursions around your baby’s normal daytime napping time.
The Best Way to Get My Baby to Sleep During Daytime Naps: The Dos and Don’ts
Reading the recommended nap times and durations in relation to your baby’s age, you would think getting your baby to sleep is simple. Sadly, that’s not always the case, especially as your little one gets older.
To get him to stick to the recommended routine, you have to create a conducive sleep environment for your child. I’ll make it easy for you by giving you a list of do’s and don’t to keep in mind when getting your baby to sleep.
- Firstly, be consistent. Aim to put your baby down to sleep at the same times each day. You can never go wrong with consistency.
- Use a crib with a firm mattress.
- Use a firm mattress that leaves no gaps when using a playard.
- Make sure playards, bassinets or cribs are made using baby safe materials.
- Don’t rely on your baby’s sleep cues like rubbing eyes, being fussy or yawning. Once your baby starts displaying these signs she’s already overtired. This makes it difficult for her to fall asleep. Rather stick to the napping schedule.
- Avoid using a lounger as it may result in suffocation.
- Avoid leaving your child in a playard for too long as they may end up feeling isolated.
- Don’t place anti-roll pillows in bassinets as they can cause your baby to stop breathing.
- Avoid using playpens for unsupervised sleep.
I’d highly recommend that you get yourself a copy of The Natural Baby Sleep Solution for additional sleep training ideas.
Should I Swaddle my Baby for Daytime Naps
Should I swaddle my baby for daytime naps? This is yet another common question from first time parents. I’d say yes, especially if your little one is younger and isn’t sleeping in a bassinet.
Swaddling is a tried and tested method that has been used for centuries. Experts say swaddling makes babies feel like they’re back in mommy’s womb. It’s excellent at calming a cranky baby and makes your little one more comfortable and cozy enough to fall asleep. Also, it makes sure your little one lies on his back. As you know, babies must ALWAYS lie on their backs to avoid risk of suffocation or SIDS.
The only major downsides of swaddling are they keep your baby’s legs straight which can interfere with hip development. And, if you decide to hold your baby in your arms, you won’t be able to do anything else while he sleeps!
Have a look at this video on how to swaddle your baby correctly.
How to Get Baby to Nap in the Crib During Daytime
Wondering how to get your baby to nap in the crib during the day? Cribs are definitely popular among parents. And they’re safer for babies. If you decide to let your baby nap in the crib during day time, keep the following tips in mind:
- Keep white noise away from your child’s crib.
- Keep stuffed toys and heavy blankets out of the crib
- Aim to put your baby down while she’s awake. This will help her learn how to fall asleep on her own.
- Always place your baby on his back inside the crib.
Creating the Best Daytime Nap Environment
Babies are extra sensitive to things such as sound, light and noises. That’s why it’s extremely important you create the best daytime nap environment for your little one. Try and follow these tips:
- Create a dark and cozy ambience in the baby’s sleep room. Close the curtains or blinds if necessary to keep light out.
- Make sure you feed and change her diaper before the scheduled nap time.
- Make sure your baby’s room is quiet and there are no loud noises.
- Keep your baby’s room cool. It should neither be too hot or too cold. Ideally the room should be around 72F.
- Sing for your baby to lull her into a state of slumber. It works for me everytime!
- Don’t overdress your little one. Make sure he’s comfortable with appropriate clothes depending on the weather.
Is it normal for my baby to nap for a long time during the day?
Babies tend to nap for longer especially if they are extremely tired or feeling unwell. If your child naps for longer on occasion it shouldn’t be a cause for concern. But if you notice your little one is running a fever or generally unwell, seek medical attention right away.
Should babies nap close to bedtime?
You should avoid letting your child sleep close to bed time as it’ll negatively impact her sleep cycle. Rather aim for morning or mid afternoon naps.
Do toddlers need a nap during the day?
Toddlers generally sleep between 12 and 14 hours in a 24-hour cycle. And yes, toddlers should be allowed to nap during the day for at least an hour. But make sure it’s not too close to your little one’s bedtime or else the next sleep session might be at the crack of dawn!
Babies sleep. That’s how they grow. You just have to play your part and ensure you create a safe sleep environment and healthy sleeping habits for your little one. Make sure the room is quiet, cozy and comfortable. If you decide to swaddle your little one or use a lounger, be sure to use the respective sleep gear correctly.
Above all, always make sure your child sticks to a scheduled napping routine. If parenting has taught me anything, it’s that babies are BIG on consistency. And this not only applies to napping, but feeding times, play times and bath times too.
Hopefully this article answers the burning question “where to put baby for daytime naps?”.