Developing Regular Naps

Q:  What can I do to help my baby develop regular naps?

A:  Many parents, especially first-time parents, assume that if their baby doesn’t fall asleep by himself (on the breast, for example), then he must not be sleepy. If you wait for your child to show you that he’s sleepy, you may have waited too long for naptime. An overtired child is irritable, frustrated and may be unable to relax enough to fall asleep.

Babies often can’t fall asleep because they are overstimulated, which is why sleep experts recommend allowing children to fall asleep on their own in a quiet and darkened place, such as their bedroom. Having a regular nap schedule also helps to promote healthy nighttime sleep habits.

Most babies take a morning and an afternoon nap for the first 6 months. As your baby grows, you may find that he naps just as happily in the stroller or car seat (in the car only—the American Academy of Pediatrics warns against using car seats outside the car, which can lead to falling and injury). This will give you a little more flexibility than a rigid nap schedule. 

Disclaimer: This page is not intended to provide medical advice about your child. Always seek the advice of a physician, qualified healthcare provider or child-development specialist with any questions you have about your child's health, medical condition or development. Never disregard, avoid or delay contacting a doctor or other qualified professional because of something you read here.

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