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NAP TRAINING

How to get your baby sleeping for naps. Nap training 3 step method.

How to get your baby sleeping for naps. Nap training 3 step method.

Our nap training evolved over time. No matter when you start doing nap training, however, there are a few steps to follow.

3 Step Nap Training Guide

1. Get baby sleeping when they should be sleeping

This is essential, because an overtired baby does not go to sleep easily. This is why I advocate for using schedules.

If you wait for a cue from your baby (fussiness, rubbing eyes, yawning, etc.), it may just be too late to get them to sleep before they become overtired.

Especially if they need help getting to sleep- which they typically do in the first stages.

At this stage you simply want to get your baby on a schedule and get them napping at appropriate times. Here are some tips on how to do this:

  • Create a naptime routine:

    • They need to KNOW that it is naptime. Our routine is simple:
      • Place in sleep sack or swaddle
      • Close curtains
      • Turn sound machine on

With these cues, they will start to form sleep associations. This is a good thing! This means they will start anticipating naps during the routine and go down easier!

  • Help them get to sleep

    • Rock
    • Bounce
    • Walk (this was Caroline’s favorite the first few weeks)
    • Talk (also a favorite)
    • Shhh
    • Sing
    • Etc.

In other words do what you need to do! Don’t worry about forming bad habits.

  • Allow them to sleep where they want (that is safe)

    • In your arms
    • In a rock and play
    • In a swing
    • Anywhere

As long as they are sleeping, you have succeeded! Again, don’t worry about forming bad habits at this stage.

2. Get baby to sleep when and where they should be sleeping

Once your baby has the routine down, start having them sleep where you want them sleeping (in the crib). While it is really nice to hold your baby for naps and get the sweetest cuddles in the world, it is not practical over time.

You probably have things to get done, and your baby will actually sleep better in an environment such as his/her room where there are no disturbances.

  • Continue your naptime routine
  • Continue to help your baby fall asleep at this stage with whatever works for her
  • As soon as you have her eyes closed, lay her down in the crib
    • You do not want to put your baby into a deep sleep before placing them in the crib, because if they wake up at some point, they will be startled by the environment. You want them to know they are there.
  • Help your baby fall asleep fully (if need be) while still in the crib
    • Bounce the crib mattress
    • Rub her belly
    • Shhh
    • Anything that works without picking her up
3 easy steps to follow for nap training your baby

3. Get baby to sleep when and where they should be sleeping on their own

I did this in stages, but you can jump all in if you want as well. Basically help her less and less. We got to the point that I would do her naptime routine and lay her down immediately…eyes wide open, then bounce the mattress and get her to sleep.

Eventually, I dropped this step all together and I was able just lay her down and walk away. She puts herself to sleep in 1-2 minutes.

  • Continue your naptime routine
  • Help your baby to get drowsy by holding and rocking in shorter amounts of time each day until you can eliminate this step
  • Lay her in the crib and help her by bouncing the mattress, etc. less and less each day until you can eliminate the help
  • Eventually you will be laying her down and she will put herself to sleep

A common “mistake” that can happen with naps:

3 step nap training guide for babies

Responding too quickly to their cries…

Babies will wake as they are trying to transition sleep cycles. This is normal. Just because they wake, or even fuss, or cry…doesn’t mean that they are done with their nap, however.

Many parents rush in and grab their baby. Try to wait 5 minutes before you do this.

I have found that in 5 minutes, even with loud cries, babies can and will put themselves back to sleep. This rule of thumb made the difference between 20/30 min naps for us, and 1.5/2 hr naps. This one tip has helped a lot of mamas out!

I would not let your baby cry longer than 5 minutes, though. Typically (and especially once they know day from night), it is difficult for them to get back to sleep after that length of time.

After 5 minutes, though, if you still want to give the nap a shot… go in and bounce the mattress or shhh (whatever tactic you were originally using), and this may help show your baby that it is still naptime.

If your baby is awake early, and not crying. Leave them in their crib until naptime is over. They will start to learn the length of time they should be napping, and, if nothing else- they get quiet time which is the second best thing to a nap in getting some much needed rest!

No Cry Sleep Training

This is a great post from a friend of mine on how to do no cry sleep training!

No Cry Sleep Training

How We Did Sleep Training Using Babywise

We like to lay a foundation for sleep training, using the babywise method!

How We Did Sleep Training Using Babywise

Other Posts of Interest:

How to Avoid Short Naps

Knowing When and How to Switch to One Nap per Day

Waking Early From Naps- What To Do (Broken Down by Age)

Dropping the Last Catnap

6 Reasons Why I Wake My Sleeping Baby

Nap Regressions- Find all links here

Frequently Asked Babywise Q&A