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The secrets of a nap routine to encourage better sleep for your baby

The topic of routines is hotly debated in parenting circles. Whether you are for or against a routine, there is no doubt a simple rhythm to your day can help you and your child thrive in these early years. No matter which side of the routine fence you sit on… there is one routine I HIGHLY recommend implementing, especially if you are struggling with short naps.

The introduction to a simple pre-nap routine..

This isn’t about long and drawn out habits to basically put your baby all the way to sleep. It is a shortened version of your bedtime routine. These simple, predictable activities before every nap can become a cue to wind your baby down for sleep; making naps longer and nights easier.

Do I have your attention?

Yes, this simple tip could be the solution to help your baby love naps as much as you do. So lets break it down…

Do I really need a pre-nap routine?

I would say yes, but if your baby settles calmly and sleeps well day and night, continue what you are doing - its working!

How do I introduce a pre-nap routine?

The key is consistency. Do whatever works for your family but keep it simple and repeat it before every nap. Your pre nap routine should be short, predictable and calming and be a maximum of 5-10 minutes in length.

The main elements to a pre nap routine would be:

  • Go to a dark room

  • Pull the blinds/curtains.

  • Turn on your white noise

  • Offer a calming activity - one lullaby, a cuddle standing over their cot whilst you stroke their face ten times, a short hand or head massage. Keep it simple and low stimulation.

When should I introduce a nap routine?

Consistent routines are great to start early - so you all get used to doing them and they become habitual. There is no definitive age when a nap routine starts to be beneficial. The thing to remember is, this is NOT about adding stress. Those early weeks at home with your baby are about adjusting to parenthood and getting to know one another. Don’t stress to introduce any routines when things are so new.

Beyond 12-16 weeks the benefit of a nap routine can really start to shine. Your newborn may struggle to recognise day and night and just sleep when their body needs, but beyond 3-4 months babies regulate their circadian rhythm and can settle into a routine positively.

If your baby is older than this, worry not, it is never too late to start a pre-nap routine! Even on the 2-4 year olds this can be a great way to help them hold onto a nap as long as possible!

Why is my nap routine not working?

If the simple calming activities you have chosen for your routine are calming baby down so much they are zoning out, start falling asleep or result in baby asleep you are doing too much. Your nap routine is not about getting your baby to sleep. Instead this simple nap routine is about giving your baby signals that prepare them for sleep. It should act as a cue to go from go go go in the bright lights and activities to calming and preparing for sleep. If your nap routine goes on too long your baby may get bored, or get over tired. This should be 5 minutes in length and be short, sweet and calming.

If you continue to struggle with short naps read the blog HERE.

Need more support? Short naps are one of the most common reason parents book a call with me. Find the support package right for you HERE...

  1. If you are struggling with short naps, the introduction of a simple, predictable and repetitive 5 minute routine before offering a nap could be the solution you are looking for.

  2. If short naps continue and you need more support, you are not alone. Mums inside of my Gentle Sleep Tribe came in struggling with the same issues and now, after a few short months have found positive change and amazing friendships. The affordable membership could be the perfect way to get support from a sleep consultant without the price tag.

What my clients are saying about Gentle Sleep Tribe:

“We were in a cycle of short naps and early bedtimes and more recently an early rise had crept in. I felt so alone, overwhelmed and struggling. A friend mentioned The Gentle Sleep Tribe and I couldn’t say no! It is so affordable and Tessa does so much for us mums inside the group. Every week she comes in and answers our questions, we go live to have our questions answered and best of all, I have made friendships to last a lifetime. Our babies are now growing up together and I have a companion through this journey of motherhood. Thank you Tessa for setting up such an amazing group.”

Come join me on Instagram @enhancesleep to see sleep tips, solve your sleep issues and hear of upcoming promotions and consultation availability. Don't miss out. Our free tips could solve your sleep issues!

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