For those of you that follow my #latenightnursingfeed, you know that this post has been in the works for a few weeks! I teamed up with my favorite sleep coach, Melissa from The Cradle Coach to give you an entire blog post dedicated to your nap questions! This post is broken down into two parts: General Q&A and then Dedicated Mama Q&A (I chose a few of your more specific questions for Melissa to answer)
1.) When do you start sleep training? How young is to young? 🙂
We recommend beginning as early as 4 months of age or once a baby reaches 12 pounds, whichever comes first. Prior to that, we recommend that healthy habits are introduced to make it easier when the baby is ready to get sleep trained.
2.) What and when should good sleep habits be introduced? Does a night time sleep pattern need to be before naps?
We recommend that healthy sleep habits are introduced as early as possible while still feeding and allowing newborns to sleep when they want. Sleep training should always begin at bedtime and can be transitioned straight into the next day, for naps, if a parent chooses to.
3.) How many naps should a 4 month old take and how long should they be? It would be good to just give a break down of suggest nap schedules for the first year. So just break it down into the age categories and how many naps they should take, etc. 🙂
A 4 month old can begin to be transitioned to 3 naps per day, each nap being a minimum of 1 hour in length. The third nap of the day, most times considered a “catnap” is the one that will begin to shorten and will be the first to go away.
8-9 months of age: a baby can be transitioned to 2 naps per day, with each nap being a minimum of 1 hour.
13-18 months of age: children typically transition into just one afternoon nap at some point between this age. This nap should be a minimum of 1.5 hours and a maximum of 3.
4.) Can we talk about getting baby#2 on a nap schedule while still staying active with an older sibling? My son has activities almost everyday. How do I still keep him active and get his baby sister on a nap schedule?
Getting baby #2 on a nap schedule is just as important as it was for baby #1. When an older sibling has activities that we bring the younger sibling along for, the younger sibling tends to nap on-the-go a lot more than usual. If a younger sibling is sleeping on-the-go for one of their naps during the day, try to get them home and sleeping in their crib for the other nap!
5.) How can I get my 4-6 month old to take longer naps? They are only 30-45 minutes long!
There are many factors that can come in to the length of a baby’s nap. Are they getting enough sleep at night? Are they overtired? Figure out the length of time they should be sleeping for those naps and leave them in their crib until the duration of the scheduled nap is over.
6.) Any ideas on how to get a 2 month old to nap consistently?
A 2 month old may not show a consistent nap routine because their bodies are still adjusting to life outside of the womb. We can begin to introduce healthy sleep habits at this age, in hopes that it will help create a more predictable schedule for them.
7.) My two year old is fighting naps, how can I get her to still take one? She clearly needs it!
You still want to continue to offer that nap! When you stop offering the nap because she is not taking it, her body will adjust to a new routine with no naps which we do not want to introduce! Even if she is in her room having “quiet time”, you still want to offer the nap and do what you can to get her to take it. Make sure her morning activities have her tired enough and there is nothing in her room that would entice her to not want to nap.
8.) My 6mo old naps great at daycare but will not nap unless worn or held on weekends! Will sleep if we travel just fine and is sleeping through the night. Any tips on how to adjust from daycare to home for naps?
We want to keep her on the same schedule at home that she is on at daycare since she is there for the majority of her days in the week. You will want to use a sleep training method to get her take those naps at home. Create the same sleep environment for naps that she has at bedtime (dark room, sound machine, etc). Here are some additional nap tips we like to suggest this post here!
9.) What other way can I sleep train without using the CIO method?
There are many methods outside of just leaving a child to fully CIO. Every method may not be right for each child so it is all based on the child’s personality and the parent’s preferences. There are gentle methods that allow you to go to your child and pick them up if absolutely needed, methods that allow you to stay in the room with your child as they fall asleep and moving away over a period of time, and there are also methods that leave your child for a few minutes while allowing you to go back in the room to check on them if their cries reach a certain level for a certain amount of time. No matter what, they key to sleep training is consistency. No matter that you do, you just have to do it consistently so your child only ever knows one option to fall asleep!
10.) How can I get my 6 month old out of the rock n play napper and staying in his crib for naps?
You can try to slightly lift the mattress to provide a slight incline by placing some thick blankets underneath the actual mattress of the crib. You will want to place your child in their crib for naps and follow a sleep training method you are comfortable with as you continue to move forward with having them nap consistently in their crib. Here is a great example on how to easily and gently transition your little one to a crib!
11.) What do you do after baby is sleep trained and starts teething, is sick, or other issues? At what point is it okay to pick them up instead of telling them cry it out?
We always want to be there for our child if they are not feeling 100% due to an illness, teething, etc. The key is to still keep those healthy sleep habits and to not allow any new options to develop during these times. If you do not ever want it to be an option that they sleep in your bed, do not bring them in your bed when they are not feeling well. Stay consistent with having them go to sleep on their own while giving them some more cuddles prior to bedtime, while responding to them if they need you in the middle of the night, and checking on them as often as you feel you need to.
Mom Specific Questions
1.) “My lo is 9 months and will wake at 7 or 8am and nap around 1130 for 1-2 hrs and will either not nap in the afternoon and go down at 8pm or naps in the afternoon 4-4:30 for 30 minutes and fights me to go to sleep at 9:30pm. My question is do I just cut the afternoon nap out all together or do I try putting him down sooner for an afternoon nap?! Thank you in advance!”
At 9 months of an age, a baby should be napping about 2 hours after waking in the morning and then again 3 hours after waking from that morning nap. Each nap should be a minimum of 1 hour and the times should stay consistent each day. A 9 month old should still be taking two naps a day.
2.) “My son is such an inconsistent napper. One day he will sleep for 2 hours and the next day 20 min. The hard part is we just started day care so training him is hard bc the sleeping environment is different than his room and they tend to rock them to sleep. He is almost 6 months. Do we try to transition to 2 naps?”
I would recommend still allowing him to have a third catnap in the late afternoon so he is able to make it all the way to his bedtime without getting overtired. Try to see if the daycare is able to follow a slight nap schedule that you’d like to have him on or if they are able to place him down in his crib while still drowsy so he is able to put himself to sleep. Most times, the daycare has to do whatever they can to get babies to go to sleep.
3.) “My 5 months old start waking up every hour throughout the night, is that normal? Is he going through the sleep regression at 5 months old? During the day sometimes it’s a struggle to get him to nap since he will only nap in my arms from the past 3 and a half months. He still seems tired after a two hours nap why?”
He could have hit a sleep regression. Sleep regressions are usually associated with new skills that baby’s develop. As long as he is not crying, try to leave him be to put himself back to sleep. You will also want to find a sleep training method that you are comfortable with so you can get him to nap in his crib. He may not be getting as much sleep as he needs in a 24-hour period which will make him more tired, perhaps even overtired, throughout the day. Find a method and schedule that works for you and be consistent sticking to it!
4.) “My 6 month old has been waking up in the middle of the night to either talk, cry, or both for a couple hours when we finally move her next to us in a bassinet where she calms down. Should we start letting her CIO (not a fan), or keep running in to give her her last every five seconds? It’s so exhausting and seems easier to move her next to us. Thoughts? Thanks!”
Try to leave her be to put herself back to sleep unless she reaches a loud cry for a set amount of time (you can start with a 3 minute check). If she is crying with a loud cry for a full 3 minutes (and no break in that cry), go into her room but do not touch or pick her up. Simply tell her that it is time to go to sleep and leave the room, even if she starts to get upset again. Repeat this every 3 minutes until she falls asleep on her own. Try not to take her out and bring her into the bassinet – we want her to get used to sleeping in her crib and putting herself back to sleep when she does wake in the middle of the night.
5.) “I have twins that are 5 months (adjusted age). One did great with CIO and now takes two 1.5-2 hour long naps most days but the other won’t fall asleep (or when he does, he only sleeps 30 minutes) unless we hold him or put him in a carrier/wrap. He will just scream in his crib for over an hour if we don’t intervene and it’s terrible. How else to get him to nap?”
Stay consistent with a sleep training method for him. Once he knows he has an option of being held or placed in a carrier to go to sleep, he will keep crying until he gets that! As you eliminate that option and put a consistent sleep training method in place, he will realize that sleeping in his crib is the only option moving forward. Keep him in his crib for the duration of the scheduled nap so his body will begin to adjust to those times as well. Be strong and stay consistent!
6.) “We started sleep training my 7 month old son for bedtime and naps. Before sleep training when I went into his room to pick him up after he wakes up he would be all smiles, laughs, and super excited to see me. But now when I go to get him, he starts to cry and is super sad. Is this normal? I think he is crying because he thinks I won’t pick him up. Does this eventually go away? I want my happy baby back. Also, while doing sleep training, I noticed he is having separation anxiety, is this normal?”
When you go to get him after his nap, make sure you are giving him a “Great job!” and really being happy with him. The cries will go away as he picks up on the consistency you are providing in your sleep training efforts. Having separation anxiety during sleep training can happen – make sure you are spending lots of quality play time with him while he is awake during the day! You can even place him into his crib during the day (outside of naps) and play “Peek-A-Boo” or “Where’s Mommy”? Try ducking down and popping back up so he sees that Mommy always comes right back for you!
7.) “My 6 week old will only sleep for 20-30 minutes in his crib for naps but in the car or stroller 1.5-2 hours. How do I get him to sleep longer in his crib for naps? Also, when I put him down drowsy he just cries-what technique do you suggest for this? I’ve tried the shush pat and it only makes him cry louder. Thanks for any advice!”
He is probably still being soothed by that motion of the stroller/carseat. Depending on his weight, it may be too soon to introduce any methods to get him to sleep for longer periods in his crib at this time. Try to see if you can go to him and pick him up when he wakes after only 30 minutes and as soon as you see he is starting to calm or get drowsy again, place him right back down in his crib. It’s not easy but try to stay consistent in doing this. Again, you can’t really force it just yet at his young age but starting to work on these habits will help for when he is ready to be sleep trained.
Read More about Baby Sleep here