Cranky babies are no fun for parents. Truthfully, sleepiness is hard on babies. Helping your baby get better rest can maximize the benefits for all involved. Babies experience growth and development from better rest and wake times. Babies learn through play and their environment, and a sleepy child isn’t learning. In addition, sleep and rest are times to allow the brain to rest and solidify the information that your baby has taken in.
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While you may not be able to schedule exact nap times during the day, you can make the sequence of events predictable and generally at the same time. Sleeping on a schedule will make things easier. Let them play and get interaction and then feed them. Most babies will sleep well with a full belly. Roughly two hours awake is a good idea. If your baby sleeps for more than two hours, you can wake them to keep them from having too much sleep time.
No Exhausted Babies
If your baby is exhausted, sleep is more difficult. Babies will often resist sleep anyway because they are new at experiencing the world. Likewise, it is generally difficult to sleep for adults if they are too tired. Do not let your baby get too tired. Try to begin getting your child down for a nap at the first signs of being sleepy. Rubbing the eyes or yawning are good signs your baby is ready for a rest.
Be Ready for Transitions
As your child grows, he or she will need fewer naps. The period of transition will vary depending on the age of the child. As you transition, keep in mind that babies will not just jump from four naps to three or fewer. These periods will be challenging, and some will be smoother than others.
Every day may present challenges without warning. Be flexible with naptimes and the length of naps. Illnesses, stimulation, and changes in routine may change the nap times or length. This change is normal and should not be cause for concern. Your baby may be exhausted from a visit with grandma and have more trouble resting. Be prepared for that time to be a challenge. Most days will be smooth, but some days will be difficult.
Routines are not the same things as scheduling. Naps should be in their bed or crib with the lights low. If you use soft music at night, consider using it during naps, too. Routines will help your child to get better rest. Rocking, back-patting, and other parental encouragement are up to you, but be consistent with your interaction. Turn off stimulating devices, even your cell phone.
Parents are the best tools for children to get a good rest time. Well-rested children have better brain development and are more capable of making new connections.