We are excited to announce a very special upcoming event in April: All About Naps with Sarah Healy. To get us all prepared for the event, Sarah is addressing three of the most common issues parents face with sleeping through guest blog posts February through April.
FOMO—The Fear Of Missing Out.
Some of us with really social and alert babies find that if given the chance, they will literally push through their sleepiness just to continue playing with you—their favorite people on earth. While flattering, this is not the outcome we want, it not only creates an overtired baby, it also limits the amount and quality of sleep they are actually getting in the day (To achieve restorative REM sleep, babies need to nap for at least 45 minutes. For babies over 3 months, 2.5-4 hours of day time sleep is ideal.)
I was talking with a parent the other day who was telling me about how nap times are such a struggle. “She fusses, struggles and will not sleep when I bring her into her room for a nap!” mom explained. After exploring her situation more, we identified the root cause—moving baby too quickly from playtime to naptime was jarring her little system. This baby needed more time to wind down in order to successfully transition peacefully to her nap.
The transition from playtime (in the living room) to sleep time for naps or bedtime can sometimes take babies by surprise. Babies who are social have a particularly hard time making this transition. It would be similar to someone plucking you out of a party just as things were getting fun! Parents—you ARE the party and being at home with you is FUN! So naturally your baby may protest when you suggest that it's time to nap. Helping babies with this transition can really support them in establishing habits to wind themselves down for a nap or for bedtime. The following are some suggestions for noting their sleepy cues and also helping them to transition into sleep with more ease. These can be used for both pre-bedtime as well as pre-nap time routines.
Baby's Sleep Cues:
Be sure to watch for signs that your baby is giving you that he/she is getting tired. If you time it right, you will put them down in the right window when their body is physiologically primed to fall asleep, making it much easier to go down. If you push them too far, they will often struggle to go down or pop up soon after falling asleep.
Early signs of tiredness include:
Later signs of tiredness include:
Be sure to track how long your little one has been awake and be ready to put them down for a nap or bedtime when they have had enough awake time.
Establishing an Effective Sleep Routine for Baby:
Begin a consistent and regular sleep routine that involves low lights, quiet voices and simple play. Prior to bedtime, this can be a bath, a massage, or simply reading quietly in his or her room. Prior to the nap, you can skip the bath but do something else to wind them down like a book, a song, or quiet time in their room. Some babies habituate to a certain song or lullaby, or the sound of the white noise machine coming on. While you are doing this, please be sure to take some slow deep breaths yourself as your ability to calm and get present will send signals to your little one that will help him or her to calm their central nervous system.
If you have a little one who is at the age where he or she understands your words well, you can also begin to talk to them about the things that are coming up for the sleep routine ie: "First we are going to take a bath, and then we are going to read some books and then it is night-night time."
Be sure to re-establish the sleep routine in a way that has your child going into his/her crib drowsy but awake so that they learn to put themselves to sleep using their own self soothing mechanisms. Remember that bedtime is determined from when they wake from their last nap and this usually falls between 6:30-8:30pm.
Be consistent. More than anything this will be important. If your baby fusses as you begin the walk down the hall for naptime, don’t see this as a chance to turn back around and keep playing. The fancy word for this is “anticipatory behavior” and it is simply your baby letting you know that she is sad that the party is ending and she has to nap. Stay consistent, keep the nap and tell them that the party will pick back up once the nap is over.
There are few things more frustrating to parents than when your baby won't nap. Whether it's FOMO and she fights it and doesn’t sleep at all... or it’s just 5-10 minutes of sleep and then she pops back up, it's one of the most common reasons that parents reach out to me for help. If you’re struggling, please consider signing up for my All About Naps class on April 16th, from 10-11am at McNear Park through the Petaluma Mothers Club.
Did you know that I also offer a complimentary 10-minute discovery call to discuss what’s going on with your baby and offer suggestions for a solution? I provide research-based, proven solutions tailored for YOUR unique situation. There is no one size fits all when it comes to baby’s sleep. I am here for you. Let's talk!
Sarah Healy, MA is a mother of two, Certified Infant Sleep Consultant, and parent coach specializing in the transitions that occur in the first year after the birth of a child. She holds a masters in psychology and has devoted 20 years of her career to infant and child development, and family support. Sarah uses an evidence based approach to her sleep classes and draws from a multidimensional approach in understanding the various situations that occur with sleep and families.
For more information about Sarah or additional sleep tips, check out her website or follow her on social media.