Do you struggle with your baby needing a longer nap, yet they are bound and determined to defy the long nap they need, and you are both left feeling tired and frustrated at the lack of sleep? We here at Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby are not only sleep experts, but we are also parents, too, and have some great tips and tricks to get your baby to take and sleep through a longer nap.
To be fully transparent, we need to consider what a short nap is. Infants typically nap in 20-minute increments during the day/night until they learn a more consistent sleep schedule. If you have a newborn and need help setting up a sleep schedule, one of our certified sleep experts can help you when the time is right.
When toddlers decrease from two naps to one per day, typically they will need at least 90 minutes to complete a full nap cycle, anything less is considered a “short nap.”
If you need to extend the length of your toddler’s nap, our certified sleep consultants have compiled the best tips and tricks to help you!
To ensure that the room your toddler is sleep in is dark enough, a great way to test this is to turn off all the lights, close the curtains and/or blinds and place your hand in front of your face. If you can still see the silhouette of your hand, it needs to be darker in the room for optimal sleep. You can achieve a darker room with black-out curtains and/or blinds that do not let extra light seep in. You can find these at various home-good stores, department stores or even online on Amazon.
Light is a stimulant for your toddler and too much of it will keep them up or trick them into thinking that it is time to play, and it will be harder for them to fall asleep for nap or bedtime. If you would like further information regarding how to create a dark space for your baby to sleep in, give Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby a call. Any one of our sleep experts can work with you on creating a dark enough space for your toddler and go into further detail on why it is important for your toddler.
A white noise machine is a great addition to your toddler’s nap or sleep schedule. White noise contains all frequencies at equal intensity. It can help mask loud noises that may stimulate your brain. They are great for sleep training babies and toddlers, and for adults with insomnia, too!
A white noise machine is a great tool for sleep training your toddler as it will dim the background noise going on around them in the house and create a soothing sleep environment that helps keep your toddler asleep for their full nap or bed cycles. Many people ask us if a mobile that plays lullaby or even playing a playlist with baby lullabies is an option, and as your certified sleep consultants, we deter from this option as music can be stimulating to your toddler, or even distracting if there are songs that grow louder or linger too long in between playing a new one.
For toddler sleep training, we recommend creating schedules based on your baby’s age. If you are unsure of what is the appropriate schedule for your baby, our certified sleep experts are always happy to help you create the perfect schedule for your little one.
Toddler’s that are either not tired enough, or over-tired they will struggle with naps and consistently fall into the shorter nap category. Over-tired babies are subject to their bodies creating stimulating hormones to keep them wired and awake. When hormones are stimulated, your toddler will not be able to fall asleep as easily or stay asleep for the longer nap that they need to regenerate their tired brain and body. These hormones are equivalent to an older person who drinks caffeine such as soda, energy drinks or coffee.
If your baby is not tired enough, they may struggle with staying asleep once they finally do fall asleep and may wake up frequently during their nap time.
Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby is always here to help you create the perfect sleep schedule for your toddler, we would love to work with you and help create the best schedule possible for your toddler. We work virtually and are able to help you from anywhere!
Encourage Independent Sleep while Avoiding Props
Of all the tips our certified sleep experts have creating on this subject, independent sleep is one of our most important for creating the optimal nap schedule for your toddler.
Ensuring that your baby is able to fall asleep without using sleep props or sleep aids is incredibly important to creating their optimal sleep schedule. Sleep props are also known as sleep associations and are objects such as a pacifier, bottle, or swaddle, or an activity such as rocking in a chair, swaying in your arms, or being fed.
When sleep props are used consistently, your child grows accustomed to them, and when they are not available or if they end such as the end of a bottle, or the rocking chair stops, the sleep cycle may abruptly end because the toddler may wake themselves up looking for their sleep prop and when they are unable to find it, they will awaken fully searching for it or reacting to obtain it again.
When your toddler is able to independently fall asleep at their nap or bedtime, and complete a full cycle of sleep (typically lasting between 30 to 45 minutes,) they are not feeling like they are missing their sleep prop or sleep action, and will develop the proper skills and tools to sleep independently and continue sleeping for their full nap cycle (90 minutes or more) or their full bedtime, and remain sleeping until they are fully and well-rested and awaken naturally.
For more information on sleep props, sleep association or how to break a cycle that has been created with one, our sleep consultants are happy to work with you and your baby. If you have been using one and feel that you have created an unfavorable routine with your baby, please do not fret, or feel that you have caused irreversible sleep issues. There is a lot to learn with babies and often new parents get so much advice from friends, parents, and others, and we learn so many new techniques that it is hard to know what the best for your baby is. We are sleep experts, and parents ourselves and have been in your shoes, and we are here to help!
When your baby is awakening from their nap, think about what you might be doing as they awaken. Are you creating a routine of rushing in to get them right away or creating a routine as soon as they wake up of a bath or a feeding? If so, these can create a reinforcement in your babies that these things will happen every time they awake from their naps and they will believe this will be a consistent cycle and they begin to anticipate this happening every day. It can also create a sleep association that is hard to break them of and may interfere with sleep independence that you have worked so hard to create.
Rocky Mountain Sleeping Baby is happy to help you with any questions you have regarding naps, sleep training, sleep questions, and much more! Give us a call, or send us a message and one of our certified sleep experts will get back to you right away!