The Importance of Naps

Drowsy BAby 5 mo.

Sleep is a necessity to everybody but especially babies and young children.  It is a time when our bodies are restored of lost energy and when the body can repair itself.  Naps are a very important part of your child’s daily schedule.  It is something that should be protected at all costs.  Some of the benefits include

  • Naps reduce daily fussiness
  • Naps promote optimal alertness so children can learn
  • Naps fuels children’s growth physically and emotionally
  • Naps improve brain development
  • Naps help children sleep better at night

So why are naps so difficult when they are so needed.  The simple answer is they happen during the day.  Why does day time make such a big difference?

  • Parents busy schedules
  • Light makes it harder for infants to fall asleep
  • Babies are becoming more social
  • Parents and caregivers aren’t able to identify baby’s natural sleep cycles

Parent’s busy schedules

Some working parents find it very difficult to protect their child’s sleep schedule.  A baby or toddlers sleep schedule is often regulated by the daycare facility schedule which has more children. Most have to follow the same schedule for everyone and not everyone’s biological clock is in sync.  They have less individual attention so sleep signals are missed by caregivers.   Parents that don’t work often have other children at home that need attention and have activities scheduled.  This requires car rides and errands that can be very disruptive for the children who are on two completely different sleep schedules and wake windows.

Light makes it harder for infants to fall asleep

Depending on your baby’s age during the day it is harder for baby to fall asleep.  Young babies do not start producing melatonin on their own till around four months of age.  When baby is born they have a limited supply of Melatonin left over from the mother so daytime sleep can be difficult even in a dark room.  It is especially important to keep baby’s room as dark as possible for naps and early evenings when daylight savings time is in effect keeping it light till sometime 9 pm.  Black out shades can really make a difference to children who are very sensitive to light and need total darkness to sleep.

Babies become more social

Around 4 months of age babies become more social and really relish in interacting with their parents or caregivers.  It is hard for them to want to go to sleep during the day when they can be smiling and having playtime with an important person in their life like Mom, partner or nanny.  They don’t want to miss a thing and with so many developmental milestones it is hard for them to slow down even though it is essential for healthy growth.

Parents and caregivers aren’t able to identify with baby’s natural sleep cycles

Following babies natural sleep cycles can make a huge difference when it comes to naps.  Learning to identify these patterns in your own child can shift things to a whole new level.  Learn your baby’s and toddler’s windows of wakefulness and follow their natural rhythms and their nap time will be easy to predict making them more susceptible to sleep.

What can you do to help?

Make a conscious decision to change the patterns you can by talking with your daycare or caregivers to create a plan that works for your child.  Change the way you do things so your child can get the sleep he needs.  He is worth it!

Make sure your baby’s room has a good sleep environment.  Read my blog on Ideal Sleep Environment for Babies at https://babyblueandpink.com/ideal-environment-when-babies-sleep-through-the-night/

Make sure baby gets lots of social time, floor time and interaction with his caregivers during the day.  Also allow for a wind down period prior to all naps so baby is in a good state.

Learn about sleep cycles and wake windows so you can follow your baby’s natural rhythms and know when the optimal time opens and your child is most primed for sleep.

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