How To Get Your Baby To Nap During The Day

Why won’t my baby nap? How can I get them to nap in their cot? My baby hates napping! How can I get my baby to sleep without being held?

These are things that I hear time and time again from parents. Luckily, there is a gentle solution to this universal problem – my settling in stages method to help your baby fall asleep the gentle way.

First download the routine

My method is based on following a routine that works around your baby, meets their needs before they become distressed and generally makes your life easier. Read on or watch the video below to learn all about this method.

Grab your printable copy of the full routine below.

Next establish which stage of routine you should begin with

All babies are different, so the routine is designed to reflect this. Choose the lowest routine band that matches your child’s age (for example, if your baby is 6 weeks old, start with the 2-6 week routine rather than the 4-8 week or 6-10 week and progress from there). If your baby is sleeping well already, choose the band that closest matches both their age and current schedule.

Then it’s time to get started

“That’s all very well!” I hear you say, “but how do I go from no routine to your routine?” Fear not, you can follow my simple steps below to get on track.

Stage 1 – Start with feeding times

Begin by feeding your baby at the times indicated in the routine for their age bracket. If your baby has no routine at all to start with, don’t worry about too much else at this stage. Concentrate on making sure that they get a full feed at this stage at the indicated times.

Check out the video below for essential feeding tips that will in turn help your baby sleep better.

Stage 2 – Waking Up At The Right Times

If your baby is quite young, you may find keeping them awake for very long at all during the day, a challenge. If keeping them awake until their designated nap time seems unachievable at this stage, just focus on waking them at the time that their nap is supposed to end.

Stage 3 – napping at the right times, even if it’s in the wrong place

While this may be stage 3 for a newborn baby, older babies or toddlers who are nap resistant may jump straight to this stage.

The essential component of this stage is that your baby gets used to falling asleep and waking up at the right times, even if this is not in the place that you would ideally like them to sleep.

For this phase you can use any means necessary to get them to sleep – a car journey, a pram ride, rocking, feeding, whatever you know works. Equally, at this stage, avoid these things when your baby is supposed to be awake.

The idea is that once your baby is used to napping at the right times, transitioning the way in which they fall asleep and the place that they sleep will be much easier.

Stage 4 – introducing the right place

Now if you are content that you will always be out during nap times and your baby will always be in the pram at this time, you can stop at stage 3. If, however, you would like your baby to nap their cot, it’s time to move on to stage 4.

It is worth making sure that your child’s room is set up correctly for sleep, check out the post below for more information.

The key here is to settle your baby to sleep in your arms in the dark in the room in which you would like them to eventually nap, usually their own room. Do not feed them to sleep at this stage, instead cuddle, rock and hold them until they fall asleep.

Like I said, it is important that your baby is sleeping at the correct times for their age or stage of development as laid out in my routine. Although the aim is to get them to settle themselves to sleep in their cot and sleep for the majority of the night, the first stage is to get the “when” right before the “where”.

Stage 5 – settling to sleep next to you

After a couple of days where your baby has fallen asleep next to you with your arms around them, move on to settling them to sleep next to you with just your hand on them.

Stage 6 – patting to sleep

Once this has gone well for a couple of days, move to patting them to sleep next to you, rather than holding them.

Stage 7 – napping in the cot

During the next stage, your baby can be settled to sleep in their cot with your hand on them through the bars. This is made much easier if you have a co-sleeping cot, or a bed next to their full sized cot.

Stage 8 – hold their hands

Once your baby is settling well for a few days with your hand on them, move to only holding their hands, rather than touching any other parts of their body as you settle them to sleep.

Stage 9 – soothing with speech

Finally, once they are happy to settle wile just holding your hand, you can move on to settling them by simply speaking gently to them before leaving the room.

Stick with it, it works

This method is far more drawn out than other methods such as controlled crying, but is a gentle way to help your baby learn how to settle themselves without getting too distressed.

Don’t forget to download the printable PDF of the routine to establish the routine that will best suit your baby.

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