Sleep begets sleep. That is a fact. So having good naps will bring on longer stretches at night or even a nice looong night of continuous sleep.
So, how can you get your child to sleep longer? Keep reading!
First of all, how many naps should your child be getting?
If you have a newborn at home, you do not need to worry about the length of the naps, but rather about the wake up time.
If your baby is already on a 2 nap schedule, you should be observing something around 3 hours of total daytime sleep.
While if your baby is on a 1 nap schedule, then you want to get a minimum of 1,5 hours of daytime sleep, ideally 2 and, if your little one is a sleepy head (lucky you!) 2,5 h.
Now let's get on the five steps you want to follow to elongate naps!
1. KEEP A CORRECT SCHEDULE
For a person to sleep well it is important to be tired. That is true for children as well! So keeping a correct schedule with correct wake windows will help them be tired when you put them to bed. If you put your baby to bed too early, naturally, he/she will resist the nap but, if you put your baby to bed too late, he/she can actually get overtired and be difficult to put down. So make sure that you have a correct schedule in place!
2. MAKE THEIR SLEEP SPACE PERFECT FOR SLEEP
Past the newborn stage, children rest better in the dark. That is a fact. So don't be afraid to make their bedroom as dark as you make it at nighttime. Darkness is a cue for the body to release melatonin, the hormone of sleep, so this, together with your child being tired, will be the perfect mix for a good nap.
Also, make sure that the room is in a good temperature (between 20-24ºC) and turn on the white noise machine if you use one all throughout the nap.
3. FOLLOW A NICE NAP TIME ROUTINE
I know, I know, you don't have all the time in the world for so many bedtime routines everyday. Me neither! But you don't need to recreate the exact bedtime routine you follow for nighttime! Make it a 5-10 minute one. The most important thing is that you repeat it the exact same way every time before the nap, so that your little one gets the pattern and, in the future, can foresee that the nap is coming. It will make things a lot smoother.
Want an example? Say night night to toys, go in the room, change the diaper and put on comfy clothes and a sleep sack, darken the room and sing a song.
4. DRESS YOUR LITTLE ONE FOR SLEEP
The same way that you don't sleep comfortably in your jeans, your child does not sleep so comfortable in his day clothes. Also, putting pjs or comfy clothes on him for the nap is already a strong cue that let's her know that is time for sleep.
If you don't want to get in the hassle of putting on pjs, just take away whatever may not be as comfy and get your child in a sleep sack.
5. ALLOW YOUR CHILD TO FALL ASLEEP INDEPENDENTLY
When your child wakes up and calls for you, chances are that she fell asleep with your assistance. So now that she wakes up, she feels like she needs your assistance to fall asleep again! Once babies learn to fall asleep independently, if they wake up, they go back to sleep by themselves because, honestly, they are comfy so why bother crying out when you can just turn around and fall asleep?
If your baby does not know how to fall asleep independently, I can help you!
Follow these four steps every day and you will see that your naps get better and better!