How do you improve naps in 4-5 month old babies? (If I don’t hold him, he won’t sleep.)
Getting enough day sleep any way possible is the building block for night time sleep and sleep skills. Night time sleep skills is the building block for daytime sleep skills. Especially in alert babies. Maximize day sleep by using your sleep crutch blessings. Work on night skills if your baby is ready and then work in nap skills.
Do people describe your baby as “bright eyed”, curious, observant, social, aware? If so then his alert temperament likely means he has an active mind and has a hard time shutting if off to sleep. It also means he is probably very smart. I have 5 of these alert children. They are very fun as they grow up but sleep is a real challenge at first.
Learning to self-regulate (manage stress like going to sleep without mom) is much more difficult for alert temperaments and he needs you to help him. If he is over 18 weeks, was born full term, is heathy and you have seen an increase in his perceptiveness for over 2 weeks, then you can gently do some sleep shaping to begin working on night skills but take it slow. Usually, once the nights get to using less crutches, the naps get easier.
Gentle sleep Tip for immediate results: Catch the sleep window. Doing this for naps prevents the cortisol hormone from complicating things. Cortisol is the hormone the body produces when it is ready for sleep (run out of energy) but not going to sleep. It’s a defense mechanism. It feels like the second wind you as an adult get when you stay up later than usual. In fact, that is exactly what it is.
How do you do it? Try napping him after 60-90 minutes of wakefulness when you see him staring into space, zoning out, glassy eyes, disinterest. That should happen before yawning and eye rubbing. Pay close attention, it’s easy to miss. If all you see is yawning, take note of the timing interval from the last wake up. Then try for a bit shorter interval next time. So if it’s been 1.5 hours since the last wake up when you see him yawn, try watching his body language closely after an hour and 15 minutes next time to see if you notice the earlier sleep cues. Some babies pull their ears, bonk their head against mom or have some other unique but subtle signal. When you see this, put your baby down to sleep. You may even get a longer crib nap if you have caught the sleep window. Try a swing nap. Motion sleep is better than no sleep. If notch at still doesn’t get you longer naps, keep doing it while you spend some time on removing night crutches. For some babies, naps just don’t get better into 6 months and nights improve. Just be sure to get lots of those 30 min naps. (More than 3.)
If you are happy snuggling or nursing your baby to sleep and/or holding for naps, and you are both bonding, eating enough and getting an adequate amount of sleep, don’t let anyone tell you that you have a problem. For young babies, sleep crutches are not a problem. You are a terrific mom taking great care of your baby.
If you want to talk to me about gentle sleep shaping plans or your baby is older and need a gentle sleep coaching plan and don’t want to do cry it out, give me a call. I’m a certified gentle sleep coach. No cry it out. I’m different from other sleep trainers. I’m pro nursing, pro attachment theory, and you can night feed and co sleep or not depending on your family goals. I look at your unique scenario and your unique baby and I will come up with the right gentle plan for your family. And it may not be what you think. I prefer resonsive methods that support the baby’s healthy growth and development.
Contact me for a free 15 minute sleep assessment.
Tracy Spackman 602-524-7610