How A Baby's Naps Helps with Sleeping Through the Night
Updated: Apr 5, 2022
It takes a delicate balance of naps and night sleep to help your babies fall into a predictable sleep pattern without the fuss.
Why Baby's Naps Are Important
Sleep is nutrition for the brain just as milk is food for body.
Both sleep and food are important for your child's growth and development. When your baby is hungry and rooting, milk should follow. So logically speaking, if your baby was sleepy and cuing with signs of drowsiness, sleeps could follow. For a full article on sleep cues, be sure to check this post out.
I like to think of babies like sprinters, who can run at max power and speed, but would quickly burn out if they were told to keep running beyond the finish line. Similarily, babies don't have the stamina to keep going past their max wake window and NEED naps to fill their energy tank.
I have had some moms tell me that their 7-month old baby only naps for 5-20 minutes yet they still fight to fall asleep at night. More often than not, it is those insufficient cat naps that are the root cause of bedtime struggles and interrupted night sleep.
In a more health science context, naps help reduce the build up of cortisol hormone throughout the day, otherwise they are pushed into overdrive and results in bedtime battles, fragmented nights and easy mornings. It takes a delicate balance of naps and night sleep to help your babies fall into a predictable sleep pattern without the fuss.
Key to Getting Good Naps
Simply put, routine.
If you're cringing at the word routine, structure, etc...I completely understand. I get it, no one wants to be on a strict schedule that lacks flexibility, especially not a cool mom like you. In fact, babies can't work on fully regimented schedules as their nap lengths can vary so wildly especially in the newborn stage.
But here's the thing, routine and schedules for babies are in place to give some form of predictability and pattern in your child's day.
Think about your own day. You always wake up by a certain time, have a morning ritual of brushing your teeth and catching up with e-mails and you eat your meals at relevant times.
Babies, despite their repetitive needs, aren't so different. Babies with a predictable pattern thrive better because they are napping and eating at intervals that make sense.
Key Reason Why Babies Fight Naps
If you've got a pattern and schedule, but naps and nights seem to be a tiresome battle of getting your baby to actually take those naps that are so nutritious to the brain, what then?
Up till now, if your baby has been relying on you (by nursing, patting, rocking, etc.) or something else (pacifier, swing, stroller, car seat etc.) to sleep, your baby will wake between their sleep cycles and need you to replicate that very thing each time. They essentially wake up in alarm because the environment which they fell asleep is no longer the same as when they wake up. So that external prop is the only way they know how to sleep.
This alertness between sleep cycles won't go away, nor their inability to fall back asleep. The 4 month sleep regression is all about that, and I've got all the need to know stuff here. Simply put, you need to teach baby how to self settle and sleep on their own. This new skill isn't mastered overnight, but takes practice, consistency and much needed coaching just like any other skill we want to pick up.
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