Naps are good for your baby! Naps are awesome for mamma! From birth to one month old your baby will sleep A LOT! A lot a lot a lot! Sleeping every three hours is great for the first few weeks of your baby's life. Keeping your baby up for about 30-60 minutes between naps and making sure your baby is full helps keep baby happy and asleep.
Once your baby is about a month old it will be time to make a more "scheduled" naptime. Start with three naptimes a day from one to three months old. The naps should be about two hours long three times a day.
When your baby is about four months old you can transition down to two naps a day. You will stick with this nap schedule until your baby is 12-14 months. Take two naps a day, typically 9am-12pm and again 1pm-4pm. These two, three hour naps will make, will make your life and your baby's life much more rested and happy!
Once your baby turns one (wah!!!) they will be ready to start phasing out the second nap and turning two naps into one nap. It will likely take a month or so to completely drop the second nap but ah the freedom! Now you can go do things with your little one! They are alert, mobile, and happy for longer periods of time. Eating what you eat, for the most part, and are little people! They still need a nice nap during the day, typically from 11am-3pm is what I have found is best for the 12-24 month stage.
After your baby turns two their nap will start to dwindle. There will be days where they still sleep 3-4 hours and then there will be days that they only nap for two hours. This is all indicative of how active they are and how full their day is. If you intend to start your baby in preschool at two years old, hours are usually 9am to 12pm and a nap after school is important to their little bodies to refresh from all the learning they did that day.
After three, the nap will start to drop. It could drop off all together or it could keep up. It all depends on your child. If your child doesn't wish to continue their nap, than I suggest "rest time" for about an hour (or two if you are lucky)! Give your baby (now preschooler) books, stuffed animals, etc to read to themselves and snuggle with their animals in their room to relax and maybe fall asleep.
Bedtimes don't have to be hard. Routines make bedtimes easy! Do the same things every night: Dinner all together as a family, have a little bit of family time, do bathtime, rub your baby down with coconut oil after their bath to massage their muscles and refresh their skin, swaddle your baby, and nurse or bottle feed your baby until they have fallen asleep in your arms. Lay your baby down in their crib and sneak out of their room. Easy peezy! It may take a few nights of doing this to get the hang of it. I suggest doing this from 3 months until 12 months of age.
Prior to three months of age, if your baby is still sleeping in your room or infant swing, at night than that is okay! What ever keeps them happy at night is important. My two older children where in their cribs by one month old, but my baby Charlotte was three months when she finally was ready for the crib.
After your baby turns one replace the bottle, or boob, with a book. This will help eliminate that "comfort sucking" and you can snuggle and read books to them to still get that special bonding time.
Bedtime should typically begin around 6:30pm and your child should be in bed and asleep by 7:30pm at the latest. Anything after that is counterproductive. You are welcome to do a 6pm-7pm bedtime routine, but for most families that is too early to be able to fit in a little family time prior to sleep. Your baby should sleep until anywhere between 7am and 8am. Twelve full hours of sleep are very important for growing bodies!
Staying on Schedule:
Best way to stay on your baby's schedule is to in fact be on your baby's schedule. That means, if your baby is at the two nap a day period than you need to plan your day around those two naps. Lots of people say "my baby doesn't nap" but those are the same people that are never at home to in fact let their baby try and nap. 1. Don't let your baby sleep in their carseat past two months. 15 minute naps in the car are not healthy and will not make for a happy baby! It may be the easiest option, but easy doesn't make for a great sleeper. You have to work at it at first and then stick with it! 2. Make sure your baby is full before naps. Sounds easy, but they won't sleep well or long if they are hungry. Diet also plays in a factor after a year when your baby is eating food. Limit the sugar, juice, and make sure you are feeding wholesome and filling foods to keep them fuller longer and they will sleep more soundly. 3. If you are breastfeeding than I recommend one formula bottle, around 5pm, to help your baby stay full all night long. Formula is thicker than breastmilk and will help keep your baby full much longer.
Remember a well rested baby is a happy baby! A happy baby makes for a happy mamma!! I hope that these tips help you and your baby too!
Charlotte sleeping soundly :)