Ok, so 'mistakes' is a little bit strong, but hopefully it got your attention! When it comes to parenting, and especially sleep, there really can be no right or wrong way. There is just your way, hen you use your instincts you can rest assured you're doing the best you possibly can. BUT there could be a couple of things that you might be able to tweak to get better naps from your babies. So for the sake of argument, here are three common nap 'mistakes' you might be making...
Your sleep environment isn't very sleepy
Ok, so we're huge advocates of napping on the go, but this doesn't mean that you don't need to think carefully about your child's sleep environment. Some babies and toddlers can sleep anywhere (you know the old saying about being able to sleep on a clothes line) but some can't. And that's no different to us adults. Some of us are lighter sleepers than others, and some of us need sleepy conditions to be just so before we can even think about falling asleep. Your sleep environment is very important, whether at home or away, so here are some tips for making it conducive to sleep:
- Remember that nap time is different to sleep time, and you want your baby/ toddler to know that too. So don't be tempted to eliminate ALL noises (that can be quite impossible at times anyway), but at the same time you might want to ask your older kids to postpone drum practise for an hour or two.
- Use black out blinds to block out the sunlight. During the day sleep can be a little harder to achieve for some children because of the amount of light coming through to the bedroom, so do all that you can to create a sleepy, darkened room.
- White noise might help to block out normal every day sounds for the baby that finds it hard to settle. You can use an app, or take the opportunity to hoover upstairs (!) while baby sleeps.
- Use a SnoozeShade! When you're out and about it can be hard to control noises and the stimulation that comes with other people in the cafe, cars on the road and dogs being walked. In the pram or buggy you might find that your little one is so distracted by what's going on that he just cannot sleep. Your SnoozeShade will create a cosy little nook to eliminate distractions, and at the same time it will block out the daylight too.
- Read our post on napping on the go. It says it all really.
You don't have a consistent day time routine
Just as bedtime/ naptime routines are important, your daily routine is just as essential for ensuring naps go to plan. If you don't have the regularity of a school run for older kids, for example, it can be hard to get a routine going if you're not that way inclined. Try to start the day around the same time each day, and incorporate a good sleep time routine into your day every day so that your baby/ toddler knows when to expect sleep. Of course, this will need to be adapted every now and then, and your baby's needs will change too, but as long as you keep naps a priority you should see improvements. So rather than squeezing naps in in-between your activities, plan your day around naps instead.
You let your baby get over tired
Watch for the sleep cues. And just because your baby usually sleeps at 11 am, doesn't mean they aren't tired at 10 am. Babies change, sleep needs change and your routine needs to change with it. So watch for eye rubbing, yawning and other sleep cues that mean your baby needs to sleep, and adjust your day accordingly. The result will be a baby that sleeps a lot better than a baby who is over tired.
How are your naps going at the moment?