Do you want to know how to get your baby to nap in their crib or cot? This gentle system will help your nap resistant baby or toddler get into the habit of napping. This will, in turn, have a positive impact on both their days and nights, making for a happier baby and less stressed out parents too. Check out the video below or keep reading to learn exactly how you can get your baby to nap, the gentle way.

Look At Routine As A Whole

You can’t look at naps on their own without also looking at the baby’s whole routine. As well as reading Mummy Of Four’s Routine post, you can download my printable resource below. This guide will give you indicators of how much your baby is likely to need at various stages and is adaptable of babies with varying needs.

So you ‘ve got the routine guide, what now?

Once you’ve downloaded the routine, decide which band your baby fits into based upon their age and which band matches closest to their current pattern. If in doubt, opt for the younger option, you can always switch up later.

Now let’s get your baby napping.

Stage 1: Start with feeding at the right time

Initially, don’t panic too much about when your baby is sleeping. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Being a more gentle solution, this is not a quick fix but will work if you stick with it. Just make sure that they are having a nice full feed at the times that are given in your chosen routine for your baby’s stage of development. Check out the post below on making sure that they are feeding well.

Stage 2: Waking at the right times

Once you have managed to successfully feed your baby at the times indicated in the routine, next make sure that you are waking your baby at the times indicated too. This is especially relevant for very young babies, who can often seem to want to sleep all day (even if they don’t sleep much at night). Even if you cannot persuade them to stay awake until their next designated sleep time, just make sure that they wake when they should.

Stage 3: Napping at the right times

For an older baby, perhaps getting them to nap at all can be a problem, so you may be starting here at stage 3.

At stage 3 we encourage baby to nap at the right time. Place, at this stage, is not such a concern, just as long as they are feeding, sleeping and waking at the allocated times. It’s more about “when” than “where” at this point.

So although it is less than practical to have to hold your baby for the duration of their nap or have to drive them around to get them to sleep forever, at this stage, it’s a little “do whatever it takes”. If pushing your baby around in the pram makes them sleep during stage 3, do it.

Do whatever you can to encourage your baby to naturally fall asleep at the desired time and for the desired duration and the following stages will be easier. Soon enough your baby will become accustomed to sleeping at these set times. It will be far easier to transition a child who is napping in a regular routine (even if it’s not where you’d like them to nap) to napping in a cot, than a baby who has not had any structure in their sleep.

Stage 4: Napping in the right place at the right time

Maybe you are one of those families who always goes for a walk during your baby’s nap time anyway? If that’s the case, great! This part won’t be so essential for you.

If, however, you would find it far easier for your baby to nap in their cot so that you can see to other children, do essential chores or even catch up on your own sleep, keep reading.

Start by holding your baby until they fall asleep

If your baby’s naps have been in the pram or car, you’ll need to start here. If you have been holding your baby or feeding them to sleep until this point, move onto the next part. Sit in a dark room, hold your baby, pat them, giggle them, just get them to fall asleep. If you have to hold them for the duration of the nap at this stage, do it. The most important thing is getting them to sleep. Do this for a number of consecutive days until they are settling happily.

Next, settle them next to you

Now settle baby lying next to you. Have your arms around them to comfort them, by all means, but have them next to you rather than on you.

Now settle them using your hands

After a few days of settling your baby with your arms around them, try settling them next to you simply by soothing and patting them with your hands rather than arms.

Next settle them in the cot, using your hands to soothe them

Once they have successfully settled next to you using only hands for comfort for a few days, they are ready to settle in the cot. You can continue to use your hands to pat, stroke and soothe them to sleep. Each day offer less and less physical contact relying more and more on your voice to shush them to sleep.

Voice only comforting

After gradually withdrawing for a number of days, you should be able to get your baby to sleep using only your voice. Finally, you will be able to put them down for a nap, say “Shhh, it’s time to sleep” and leave the room, allowing baby to happily settle.

It’s not a quick fix, but it works

This gradual withdrawal over a number of days is the gentle way of achieving successful napping. There are far quicker, more abrupt methods to try, if that’s what you want to do, but this way can often be less traumatic for everyone concerned.

By moving from feeding at the right times, to waking at the right times, to napping at the right time (in the wrong place), it is a much easier transition to napping in the cot.

When naps go wrong, go back and follow the steps

We’ve all been there, your baby is sleeping well, then illness strikes or a holiday or some other event disrupts routine and it’s all out of the window. Don’t panic, just breathe. Go back to stage 1 (or whichever stage suits your baby) and work back through the steps.

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