Adjusting Your Babies Nap Schedule – Fixing Delayed and Early Nap Times
If you’re worried because your baby is napping at times that are less than ideal or potentially for too long, I have plenty of tips to give you to help you and your baby out.
Changing your baby’s nap schedule if they sleep too late during the day – If you suspect that your baby’s extra long siestas are worsening their nighttime sleep, then now might be the perfect time to establish a nap schedule for them. Maybe you only need to adjust a few things to get them back on track to sleeping throughout the night, but let’s go over that.
I know that trying to change your baby’s ever-changing nap schedule may seem like just another list to the long list of parental tasks that need to be completed, but if you do actually give these suggestions some time and effort, you and your baby will be thankful for them.
How Often Should My Baby Be Napping?
Naps seem like the golden opportunity for parents to be productive, get some well-deserved rest, or just simply relax, and let their parental instincts and guards down for just a moment. This is why naps are so important for both babies and parents, because it gives everyone just a little bit more energy in that downtime. Much to no one’s surprise, and I’m sure many of you are familiar with this, but an interrupted nap for your baby or yourself is frustrating to say the very least.
Although naps are very important, it’s essential that you strike a balance in your baby’s naps. They should not be excessively napping and the same applies to the concept that they shouldn’t be not napping either. If your baby is napping excessively, then it might make them have more trouble getting to sleep later in the night, which results in less overall sleep. It’s easy to spot the difference between a well-rested baby and one who’s cranky because they didn’t get enough sleep.
If your baby is younger than three months old, then they have yet to establish a nap schedule. Because their sleeping patterns are simply too unpredictable and random, it’s not really possible to schedule one and have it be effective. Typically, at this age, they’ll sleep for a bit, wake up, then go back to sleep. The cycle will repeat. Over time, your newborn’s sleeping schedules and patterns will normalize, but until they’re older than three months old, trying to establish a nap schedule is most likely going to be a waste of time.
Older babies tend to have a much more normal and regular pattern of naps throughout the day. Usually, they’ll have one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Your baby should be sleeping around 14 hours throughout the entire day, although there isn’t a set number that is viewed as “correct”. The length and quality of the naps are very important as well, because if their afternoon siesta goes on for longer than it should, their quality of sleep could pay the toll.
It’s a tricky conundrum to deal with because you think your baby might be sleeping for too long, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you should go ahead and wake them up. With that said, it is still entirely possible for babies to sleep too long. If you start to realize that your baby is waking up at extremely early hours in the morning, or even struggles to maintain a steady sleep through the night, it might be worth it to simply not give them an afternoon nap at all.
How to Take Away One Of Your Baby’s Naps
Sarah Ockwell Smith, who’s a well-known child and parenting expert, suggests that your baby will tell you if they are ready to eliminate one of their naps in one of the following ways:
You can read more from her here.
If the signs are clear to you, and your baby is showing some of the signs, then there are two ways how you can get rid of one of their naps.
Let It Happen Naturally
I know that this suggestion doesn’t seem very helpful, and is rather a bit selfish/tough, but sometimes, your baby might eventually just outgrow one of their naps and get rid of it naturally.
This is definitely something that will not happen overnight. This will usually take a few months at the very least. Sometimes, they might take that nap, and other days they might just not feel tired and not take it.
You also might notice that in the event that they do drop one of their naps, that they might appear extra cranky or fussy. This is perfectly normal, and you don’t need to worry. Even if they are showing signs of being tired, upset, or grumpy, you shouldn’t try to force them to sleep – especially if they don’t want to.
Creating The Schedule Yourself
If you notice that your baby seems uninterested at any point in taking a second nap, try shifting their first nap to a different time later in the day. One example would be this: if your baby usually fell asleep at around 9 AM and again at 1 PM, try to aim to put them to bed for a nap at around 11 AM. A nice compromise in the middle could be all they really need.
However, you won’t see results overnight, as this can be difficult for the baby to adjust to. It’ll be completely normal for your baby to be grouchy and cranky for the several weeks they are on this new schedule. However, this won’t last forever and they will soon be able to benefit from these changes.
Try to be aware of the location that your baby is falling asleep. Is it in the same location each day? Do they seem to sleep better in one area of the house than the another? They should be sleeping in the same place that they wake up. What is your baby most used to at bedtime? Do they have any stuffed animal they sleep with? How do you prepare them for sleep? Do you sing to them, swaddle them, or rock them? Maybe use white noise or have music playing in the background to help them get to sleep? It might be worth trying to figure these things out so that when you do want your baby to sleep, you’ll be able to identify all the little things that help them get asleep. Additionally, you’ll also help by eliminating and altering aspects of their environment at certain parts of the day to differentiate naps and night time sleep.
It’s very important to not let your baby associate the routines that you use with waking up during the night. What I mean is that if you’re constantly rocking your baby back to sleep when they wake up in the middle of the night, it’s going to do more harm than good at some point, if it already hasn’t. Your goal should be trying to let them soothe themselves back to sleep without any of your intervention or help.
Make sure that you aren’t feeding your baby at least 20 minutes before you put them to bed. If your baby is over 6 months old, then you probably should start looking at phasing out their late-night feedings entirely. By slowly decreasing how much your baby is dependent on you to fall sleep, you’ll be able to slowly encourage them to sleep longer, and have more restful nights with less awakenings.
Changing your baby’s sleep schedule is no easy task. However, there are things you can do to make the process as simple and straightforward as possible. Babies are fast learners, and always try to remember that in the back of your head.
Difficulties With Your Baby’s Willingness To Change Their Sleep Habits & Patterns
It’s expected to come across roadblocks in parenting – especially in the process of trying to change your baby’s sleep patterns for the better. Babies are subject to sleep regression and sometimes, you can do everything right and they’ll still wake up or be cranky. That’s simply always a possibility of life once you’re a parent and they’re still learning.
However, if you believe that you’re doing everything possible correctly and your baby is not sleeping persistently throughout the night after 2 or 3 weeks, then it’s worth giving your pediatrician a call to rule anything else out. After all, “safe than sorry” is one of the golden rules as a parent.
It’s also worth trying to see a doctor if your baby is still struggling to sleep more as you’re trying to adjust their nap schedule. A pediatrician or child doctor may be able to give you some helpful advice that’s specifically suited for your baby and their needs.
Remember that at the end of it all, these problems won’t last for that long. Like I mentioned before, babies are quick learners, and they’ll learn to deal with this eventually. Try not to let the frustration of changing their schedule add anymore to your already mountainous daily stress. Plus, remember that millions of other parents have gone through this process, and you aren’t any unique exception, nor are you alone in this matter. Stay calm, take a breath, and remember that you can do this!
Is 3 Hours Considered Too Long of a Nap For a Baby?
Depending on how old your baby is, the answer can be either not at all, or yes. Newborns need much more daytime sleep than any other age groups, so in the event that your baby is taking a three hour nap, and maybe 2 one hour naps, then it’s perfectly acceptable and nothing to worry about. If your baby is over six months old, they will eventually begin to need less and less naps. Babies who are eight months old only need about 2 hours worth of naps throughout the day. I made this handy baby sleep table if you’re not sure where your child falls under, and are trying to find out if the sleeping too long or too little. Check it out here.
How Can I Change My Baby’s Bedtime?
The smart way to tackle this issue is to make changes to their wake up times. For example, if your goal is to try to put your baby to bed an hour earlier than normal, then you should do so with the expectation of them waking up an hour earlier as well. However, each baby is sensitive to the time that they go to sleep and wake up and depending on your baby’s age, it might not work out too well and you might end up pushing your baby’s bedtime too far. If they already nap late into the evening, this shouldn’t cause too many problems for them.
Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!
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