There are a few things that frustrate parents more than sleep issues with their little ones. Night wakings seem to be on top of the list, but slightly more challenging for parents is when their baby fights naps.
I know of parents, and maybe this is you too, with a baby that is clearly tired, rubbing face, yawning and doing other sleep cue signs, but no matter what, the baby will not fall asleep for naps.
Why is baby not falling asleep for naps?
I wish I could say "do this one magic thing and your baby will fall asleep for all naps, at all times, every single day", but the truth is, it's going to be more holistic.
Here are steps to take to help you find solutions for your baby's naps.
Are you catching sleep cues in time?
You could want your baby to fall asleep on your own time frame all you want, but when we do that, we forget that our babies are individuals. They have their own patterns and cycles of wake and sleep.
The best time to have your baby nap is when your baby wants to nap. You have a window of about 10-15 minutes when your baby gives you their first sleep cue before they become overtired.
An overtired baby is going to fight sleep and you'll have a challenge accomplishing a peaceful nap time. If you're unsure about your baby's sleep cues, then consider tracking them for a while until you have learned all of their sleep cues. Here's an article on learning sleep cues beyond the yawn and eye rub.
Have you considered increasing active play?
Your baby needs interactions and developmental play throughout the day. I encourage parents to learn how to play with their babies in a developmental way and to engage with their babies during their wake cycles. A quick Google search will begin your research on ways to actively play with your baby.
In addition to play, being outdoors and experiencing nature with your baby in an engaging way (beyond stroller walks) can be a very life-learning, interactive time for your baby. This could be picnics with your baby, hiking with your baby in a baby carrier and at times, placing your baby down safely on the ground with you, to explore what nature has to offer in sensory learning.
Could your baby use more touch?
Being touched often throughout the day will increase the oxytocin (the bonding hormone) in your baby and also increase neuron connections in your baby's brain. Touch is essential for healthy development of a child.
While today's parent has an array of baby gear to choose from for their baby, and there are one or two that will for sure make life easier, your baby biologically needs touch, and often, throughout the day.
When a baby fights naps, it could be an indication that baby is seeking more touch.
Would your baby prefer a transition?
When going from one activity to another, such as playing and then a nap or having a snack and then following it with a nap, babies will often respond better from one to the other when you add a short transitional stage.
For some parents this may be a quiet story time in the living room before nap time. Other parents have done a ritual of walking through the house turning off lights in the room and shutting curtains as they tell the house it's time for nap.
You know your baby best, as well as what you're able to do for a transition. Develop a short transition for your baby to help your little one transition between changes.
Does your energy match the calmness you'd like to see in your child?
Babies are your mirrors. They will look at your energy (vibe, aura, etc) to determine theirs. I'm sure like so many parents (me included!), you've noticed that if you're child is upset, you begin to also get upset. And when you're frustrated or upset, you've found that your child is not at peace and calm. This realization is powerful.
When you're a mindful, positive and calmer parent (not just at sleep times), your child will also develop a calmness and security that allows for better sleep.
Studies have shown that mothers in postpartum anxiety or depression experience sleep issues with their babies.
Babies are perceptive. Children of all ages are perceptive.
Is your child comfortable?
There are environmental and physical issues that can make a child feel uncomfortable and unable to sleep well, these include:
- teething discomfort
- electromagnetic hypersensitivity
- temperature (too hot, too cold)
- early symptoms of illnesses
- scent sensitivity
- light in the room
- sensory disorders
- food allergies
- environmental allergies
Part of being a mindful parent is thinking holistically when your children are having sleep issues. I hope that these tips help you in the process of solving nap challenges.
I'm happy to provide additional coaching should that meet your family's needs.
Book a Session
Disclaimer: I use a hand-selected number of affiliates to contribute towards continuing to offer free resources to mothers and pregnant people. There's no cost to you when you click on any of the affiliate links.