Nap times are really important, not only for your baby but for you as a Mum. You will function better as Mum and as a person if you are not sleep deprived and your baby will be happier and more content if they get a full nap when they need it.
So how do we make nap times work best for your baby and you? Here is Mums NI's guide to successful nap times.
Every parenting book under the sun has a guide to sleep times and naps. So we know there is lots of conflicting advice. But our most important bit advice, before we get to our top tips below is: "calm". The key to any successful nap time, especially during teething times and times when your baby has the sniffles or a cold, is to try to remain calm. Remaining calm during the really tough nap times is vital to helping your baby settle.
It's not as difficult as it might seem. First try breathing deeply and rhythmically, and thinking clearly about the task at hand. Your focus should be on your baby, remaining calm for your baby will help them sleep. Babies are very aware of our stress levels and will react accordingly. Remaining calm will reassure and settle them.
By the way, you should never feel ashamed of being stressed and loosing your cool. We are all human. In fact parents are the busiest, most stressful humans around. So be sure not to blame yourself if your child is unsettled. There are many, many reasons that your child could be upset and the chances are, it's not to do with you!
So here are our top tips for new Mums for settling your little ones for bed.
A lovely warm (not hot) bath is our first port of call in the steps to creating the perfect bedtime routine for your baby. Not only is it a nice experience for your baby but it can help settle a little one if they have colic. There is no need to add any bubble bath to the water, just plain water is perfect for delicate skin. Keep bathtime short though as babies can get cold pretty quickly.
Follow up the warm bath with some gentle baby massage moves. Baby massage can really help settle your child and increase the trust between you and your baby. You can read our expert advice on baby massage here.
It might seem obvious, but a nice warm feed just before bed will mean your baby is full and content. Feeding also helps settle your baby into a slowed down mood - all good things before a nap. Look out for the relaxed hands as an indicator that your baby has received enough feed. As well as that, baby won't be happy with a wet/dirty nappy, so make sure they always have a nice dry nappy just before bed.
A few minutes before each nap time, try humming or gently singing the same lullaby. This will help your baby develop a routine and they'll know when it's settling down time. Try to make nap times consistent, if possible. It also helps to wrap up your child in the same way each nap time. Again, familiarity for your child is reassuring.
Remember that most babies can take as much as 10 minutes to go over, so don't panic if your baby is still blabbing after 5 mins. Use this time to take a few deep breaths and give your baby time to go over.
You might have noticed we haven't given any advice about when you should put your baby down for a nap. That's because every child is different and every family has different circumstances. It's no use us (or anyone else) telling you "You should put your baby down at 3:30pm". It doesn't work for everyone! The best advice that we can offer is to do what's best for you and your baby. Living up to other people’s expectations is very draining. Honour your personal values, stay true to you and what you instinctively feel is right for you and your family.
We hope this article helps. If you would like to discuss further, visit the Mums NI forums.
Tagged with: how to get my baby to sleep overnight, how to settle a crying baby