I bet this sounds familiar to you.
After a good night’s rest, your little one wakes and you go about getting them ready through feeding, changing, getting in a play session, maybe take them outside for a little walk then move on to gently rock them to sleep for their first daytime nap. And not minutes later, they awake all fussy and super irritable and despite your best efforts, they outright refuse to go back down to sleep.
A half hour or so rolls by and you finally throw in the towel in the hopes that they will go down easier for their afternoon nap. Unfortunately, to your dismay, your little one goes through the same process as earlier – and again they morph into a little ball of unhappiness!
Just like food, unfortunately babies have the last word when it comes to sleep as well, so trying to fight them on this is completely futile!
Unfortunately, just leaving your child awake in their rooms won’t work, but here is what will!
Just like us, babies sleep in what we like to refer to as cycles. Initially we start off in a lighter state of sleep where we are still easily awoken, but as the sleep progresses, so too do we move into a deeper stage of sleep where we are harder to wake. Now this right here is the good stuff!
This deep sleep is the sleep our bodies need to heal and almost reset to a more energized state. When we reach the end of this deep cycle of sleep, we slowly transition to the lighter sleep cycle where we usually awake for a few moments, only to drift back to sleep again. And so the cycle continues.
In babies, all this can take as little as 30 – 45 minutes, which means that them waking after only 30 – 45 minutes is completely normal. If they didn’t, this would definitely be something we should be concerned about! I know you’re probably thinking “but hey, I have friends whose kids sleep for hours at a time!”. But these babies are simply taking all those bits of sleep and connecting them like a sleep chain of sorts. The only difference between your little one and theirs, is that their child has learnt one of the most important sleep skills children learn – how to fall back to sleep! And this juicy topic is the central subject of this blog. Once your baby has learnt and mastered this skill, they’ll be able to remain sleeping which leads to a happy, well-rested baby. And as a new parent, this time you have while the baby is asleep is something where you can have some time to yourself, most probably doing some parent-related thing as we all end up doing!
Anyway, I digress, let’s go back to the start where you were getting your baby ready to take a nap and you started with the gentle rocking and then gently putting her in the crib. Well, you need to STOP right there! By doing this you are inserting yourself as a “sleep prop” in the nap routine and probably the nighttime sleep routine as well. If you’re not yet aware, a sleep prop is something that your baby becomes dependent on to sleep, and they cannot do for themselves. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should become a stone and not rock your baby, or sing to them, or just absolutely love her like crazy! You can do all this, but avoid doing it up until she’s asleep. Regardless of whether you’re putting your baby down for a daytime nap or for her to sleep at night, you need to be putting baby to sleep awake.
I’ll be honest, for the first few days the little one will put up a bit of a fight as they do with anything new. But just imagine this… After those short few days your child will be sleeping like a superstar where both you and your little one will benefit from this! Baby will be happier, and you will have reduced your stress level a great deal.
So here are few pointers to extending your baby’s naps:
- Make sure to keep the room as dark as possible. BlackoutEZ Window Coverings are the best for long term use and 100% blackout., but in a pinch, heavy duty aluminum foil and/or black garbage bags and some green frogs painters tapes will work for the short term., even some black garbage bags will do the trick. It doesn’t have to look beautiful; it just needs to work.
- Another great thing is a white noise machine, and they are especially useful if you need to buffer the noise of a barking dark, older sibling or outside traffic. Just be sure to keep it away from baby’s ears and ensure it is not too loud, 50 decibels or lower.
- Put a temperature/humidity gauge in the room, to ensure it’s between 68-72 F. A room that is too warm or too dry almost always results in restless sleep.
If you have tried all this or you’re open to getting to the root cause with a sleep professional, let’s set-up a free sleep evaluation call. It may not seem so now, but the solution to your cranky baby is easier than you think!
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