Turn a nap time nightmare into sweet dreams with Mighty Sleepers
Every soon-to-be parent is warned with prescience: “Enjoy your sleep while you can.” Every seasoned parent knows how unpredictable infant and toddler sleep can be. It’s true at night, and it’s true at nap time
There exists so much information on sleep training methods and how to get your child to nap and sleep consistently, but finding the right technique can feel overwhelming. The goal is to get more rest, but it can be tiring to read, research and figure out which way works for your child.
Asa board-certified pediatrician and infant sleep expert, I am here to answer your questions about sleep and nap time, validate your concerns and help you and your child get the sleep you both need and deserve.
Mighty Sleepers is a commonsense approach to sleep training that I have used on my own five children and has worked for thousands of other parents.
Mighty Sleepers is for parents who…
- Want to make bedtime easier for themselves and their 4-18 month-old.
- Don’t have the time to trial and error different sleep training techniques.
- Want a flexible but effective approach to sleep training.
- Want parenting to be more enjoyable.
- Need to make more time for their partner.
- Are ready to regain their confidence as a parent.
- Crave more peaceful and productive evenings.
Why is nap time so important for babies and toddlers?
Regular sleep is crucial to the proper development of babies’ brains and systems, and naps play an important role. You may be able to see for yourself that children who don’t nap well are typically more irritable and fussy, so taking the time to prioritize sleep training your baby will not only help you function better, but also help your baby in their development.
Kids who lack adequate sleep, which is more likely if naps aren’t taken regularly, have a higher risk for childhood obesity and have more difficulty with emotional and social functioning in early school years. By sleep training when your child is young, you are setting them up for more sleep success later in life.
It’s exhausting trying to get my baby to nap. Should I just keep him up for nap time so he’ll sleep better at night?
This is a common question parents have. Though it seems logical, the truth is that a good nap can actually help your child sleep better at night. University of British Columbia School of Nursing professor and sleep researcher Wendy Hall says, “Children who have regular, adequate daytime naps settle to sleep at night easier, have less night waking, are less accident-prone during the day and show better performance on cognitive and language tasks.”
A mother walked into my practice recently who had a two-month-old napper nightmare. He would take catnaps all day and then stay up all night. His naps were also completely unpredictable so she didn’t know if he’d nap for 10 minutes or two hours.
She needed a solution to this desperately. Babies change in such a short time, so we made a strategy for the next two months and planned to reassess at that point. Once you have a foundation in place, your baby can more easily adjust.
As this patient’s baby adjusted to the new naptime and bedtime routine, he took two naps during the day and slept much better at nighttime. Making sure your infant or toddler is taking appropriate naps during the day can ensure a better night’s sleep for both parent and child.
What age is best to try sleep training at night and for naps?
The Mighty Sleepers course can be started at any time but works great for babies aged 4-18 months old to make bedtime easier for parents and babies. The sleep cycle for babies changes frequently throughout development, but having these foundations in place can help them adjust in different ages and stages.
Sleep training a baby and sleep training a toddler may be slightly different, but when the child is familiar with nap and bedtime routines, their brains will know to start slowing down to get ready for sleep.
How do I get my baby to fall asleep on his own for nap time?
The first step in sleep training is to create a routine. For naps, you want to have a short and sweet routine similar to the bedtime routine. This helps the baby’s brain know that rest is coming.
A sample routine consists of:
- Changing their diaper
- Reading a short book
- Feeding your baby
Once you repeatedly practice this routine in the same order before naps, she’ll get the idea that these are the steps before sleep. If you use a noise machine or dim the lights, make sure you are repeating these actions in a consistent order to further solidify the nap time routine for your child.
Is it possible that my baby is not sleeping because she’s hungry?
Making sure your baby is full and satisfied is essential in sleep training for bedtime and naps. After you’ve mastered the bedtime and naptime routine, the second key is to top off your child under a year old so she’s well-fed and ready for a post-meal nap.
Feed your child normally until she’s looking drowsy. At that point, stop feeding and try playing on the ground together or doing something to wake her up a little and encourage her to burn a little more energy. Next, feed her a little more to get those extra calories in as she is getting drowsier. This will set her up for a nice post-meal nap that will likely be longer and more restful.
My baby seems to startle himself awake. What can I do to help him sleep better?
Swaddling works great for young babies. It suppresses his startle reflex and makes him feel all warm and cozy like he’s back in the womb. When you are hoping for your child to take a long nap, swaddle him before feeding or shortly after, depending on how tired he is. Swaddling can also help prevent your baby from getting distracted or stimulated through touch while you are trying to wind him down for rest.
How long does the Mighty Sleepers’ process of sleep training for babies take?
The best part is that it works quickly without trial and error. Most parents see a difference after the first night, with babies often sleeping consistently through the night in about a week. You may not have the time or energy to read dozens of parenting books on sleep training for babies and toddlers, but everyone has time to watch a video for just over 30 minutes. That’s how long it will take you to learn the Mighty Sleepers sleep training technique for safe and restful sleep.
Now that I am starting to learn how to properly sleep train my toddler, what’s the best time to start the nap time and bedtime routine?
By 2-4 months, most babies will begin to have longer and shorter naps at similar times of the day. Try to log when those naps are more likely to be and use that in planning the nap and sleep schedule.
If you know your child’s morning nap is usually around two hours long and their afternoon nap is closer to an hour, you can use this as an established pattern to start the routine, feeding and swaddling at that time.
How can we make infant and toddler nap time less stressful? I always plan to be productive, but sometimes it just doesn’t happen.
Naptime can be a great time to accomplish tasks, but especially at the beginning of establishing a sleep schedule for your baby try to go easy on yourself. Don’t try to over-achieve on your to-do list because that will leave you feeling overwhelmed.
Try to plan your most important task right after your child goes to sleep so even if the nap ends up shorter than usual, you can feel accomplished in getting your high priority tasks done first. Make sure to also plan some self-care time while your baby is napping. Sometimes watching Netflix or scrolling through your social media feed is just what you need to recharge your brain.
How can I motivate myself to make infant and toddler sleep training at naptime a priority?
Establishing a daytime nap routine can be a lifesaver for exhausted parents and is also essential for your child’s development. Though it does take some time and effort to establish good sleep habits, in almost no time your investment pays out with a more rested child and parent.
Mighty Sleepers has helped hundreds of parents safely and confidently get their little ones on a consistent sleep schedule and get the rest they need to be the best parents possible. Click here to join the Mighty Sleepers sleep training.
We also offer one-on-one consultations to help parents with sleep training. Click here to find out more.