Every book and website that I’ve read about babies’ sleep has said that getting a good amount of sleep during the day is key to better sleep at night. Get the napping sorted and the night time sleep will naturally fall into place – that seems to be the consensus. When Little Bug got to be about four months and stopped sleeping as much during the day, I became a bit obsessed with naps.
My experience, unfortunately, is that the daytime naps don’t seem to make a difference to how Little Bug sleeps at night. Sometimes he doesn’t nap well during the day and he sleeps badly at night. Some days he naps really well and he still sleeps badly at night.
I do think naps are important though, but it’s more because Little Bug gets too tired during the day if he doesn’t have naps and then he is miserable and cranky. After a good nap, he wakes up refreshed and happy and we both have a much more pleasant day.
I’m more relaxed about naps now that I don’t think they are closely connected to nighttime sleep. I tortured myself before trying to get him to nap at particular times and for prescribed lengths and spent hours bouncing him in slings, feeding him and pushing him around in a buggy. I felt so frustrated when he didn’t fall asleep.
Now I have a rough schedule of when I think he will want a nap and I’ll give it 10 or 15 minutes and if he doesn’t fall asleep, I leave it and try again later.
I also look out for signs of tiredness and give him the opportunity to nap then. I am sometimes guilty of leaving it too long from the first sign of tiredness before I give him the opportunity for his nap in the afternoon and then I’ve ended up with an overtired baby who can’t sleep and has a meltdown. He can then end up taking a nap very late in the day and then isn’t tired enough at bedtime. I found that Little Bug needs to be awake from his afternoon nap by 4:30pm otherwise he’ll be wide awake at his bedtime of 7:45pm.
So my next resolution is to protect afternoon naps a bit better, especially as at eleven months, Little Bug is sometimes dropping his morning naps. Hopefully, we’ll have fewer tiredness related meltdowns and easier bedtimes as a result.