Anyone who has looked after a baby knows that the business of babies and sleeping is tough and exhausting. New parents expect to be sleep deprived with their new bundle waking every couple of hours to be fed and comforted. This state of exhaustion can be managed early, the results being a baby sleeping through the night by 2-4 months of age. The ticket is structured nap times.
Structured nap times, also referred to as Sleep Training is not too hard to master. Though setting up times and exercising a bit of “though love” initially requires some effort, the rewards are significant, as parents and caretakers will be better able to schedule their days. More importantly, parents will enjoy the restful nights.
At 3 months, an average infant sleeps about 15 hours. If this is carefully managed, 6-8 of those hours can be night time sleep with the other hours being at predictable times during the day. Too much day napping leaves the child less sleepy during the wee hours. On the other hand depriving a child of necessary sleep will possibly leave them too overstimulated, unregulated and too irritable to sleep at night.
Structured naps begin by charting and following a baby's sleep and eating habits. A recognizable pattern makes it easier to work with. List your idea schedule for your baby to go down for the night, wake in the morning and nap during the day. Take in account specifics of your household, such as when you and your spouse leave for work, older children’s schedules and personal habits, i.e. if you are a night owl or early riser. Once this is establish, you will work with your infant’s current schedule and nudge it towards your desired schedule.
Schedule shifts are best done in 15-30 minutes bumps. If your baby is currently feeding at 9 PM, followed by sleep and waking just as you are going to bed at 10:00, you can hold off feeding them until 9:20-9:30 and nudging it another ½ hour the following week. This schedule would entail that one of the child’s nap is done late afternoon, early evening. Dinner, a bath and quality family time would be the ideal activity to engage your child and tire them for a good night’s sleep.
Depending on the age, your baby will want to have one to three naps a day. An hour to hour and a half is a good napping period. Sleep training may also require you to wake a baby from their nap before they wake on their own to keep them from oversleeping.
You will have to build certain habits in your little one and these habits will have to be properly and carefully planned. It is better to plan your baby’s whole day and include a certain number of naps at specific times. However, don’t be too strict and don’t make your baby’s day look like a boarding-school graphic.
Good luck and good rest.