Nap training is one of the most difficult things to try training a child. It is way harder than training for night sleep. Usually, nighttime sleep can develop into better and longer stretches when your child is around 6 weeks old. This can become a reality even faster if certain things are done to encourage it.
However, when it comes to naps, things are completely different, and it has to be tackled well for a good outcome. When a baby is involved, they don’t recognize daytime sleep. This happens much later in their life. Things can be a bit crazy within the earliest weeks, and it is hard to adjust to the baby’s schedule. The brain starts recognizing daytime from around 14-16 weeks.
It is important to know the right time to start the training for better outcomes. To help the baby learn faster, it is always better to night sleep train, and nap sleep train concurrently. When you do this, sleep training takes a much shorter time. With the right ideas, you should be able to stretch those night sleeps even longer.
Nap training your baby and when this should start
It is recommended that parents should wait before they elicit these long stretches of daytime sleep if the child does not have naps at that particular moment. You should wait to start nap training when the child is around 14-16 weeks.
There are instances when moms are wasted or may have to go back to work. Any mom would feel better knowing that the baby is safe and is learning some things. Being able to put herself to sleep is an important milestone that most parents appreciate before leaving the babies with caregivers and nannies.
If you need to train your baby earlier, the training may be initiated at around 11 weeks. There are times you may want to start at an early age, but it is important to understand that babies are different. Each child should first be evaluated and each one treated differently. Some babies are strong-willed and show this trait very early. Some babies are laid back a bit, which means some challenges with the training. It is important to find a training time that works perfectly for your baby to avoid disappointment. Regardless of when you decide to start, it is important to be very consistent.
Why timing is important
There are a couple of reasons you should wait to nap train your baby when they are at least 3 months old. This is around 14-16 weeks, as stated earlier. At this age, the brain has started consolidating daytime sleep, which is a major milestone in a child's life. What you notice is when you try to nap train a child who has not achieved that milestone yet, it may take longer to train them, which is not always ideal. It may seem that things are not working out. It may be difficult to train the babies who may fail to fall asleep without assistance. After the skill is mastered at an earlier age, the brain may hold them back and keep them from having long and nice naps. This results in doing so much work without achieving the desired long naps.
The other reason why early nap training is not a good idea is because it can be very frustrating for the mom. When nap training, there is some level of protest from the baby. Babies protest through crying. This has to happen for results to be achieved. A child will always cry when upset, frustrated, tired, or angry. When crying and the child is protesting, the mom or caregiver has a very tough time, especially when the baby is only a newborn. Crying is always so hard for parents, and it should be avoided, especially for newborns. This is why it is not wise to nap train a newborn.
What is it, and is it necessary?
Defining nap training helps you understand and appreciate what it can do. This is teaching a child to sleep without any assistance. In most cases, babies from 4-6 weeks can fall asleep without assistance. However, the caretaker or parent needs to be very capable of achieving that. Different methods differ from one baby to the next.
Apart from the fact that the baby’s brain can consolidate sleep into some longer stretches, nap training needs to start at 3 months because the brain starts excreting melatonin at a regular rate. In newborns, melatonin is excreted randomly, which causes crazy sleep patterns. The melatonin is excreted at regular intervals in the day. This helps in regulating circadian rhythm and melatonin.
The above information tells you that there are biological reasons why nap training should be done at the right time. First-time parents may not accept or accept the significance of this concept. However, it is important to appreciate that as a child grows older, they become even more resistant to any changes. When a baby is 4 months old, they require more sleep than when it is 6 months old. The child needs less sleep at eight months old than a 6-month-old baby. This goes on and on. If you wait a long time to nap train your baby, you will have to deal with more resistance. The child will get more upset when you are attempting to adjust the sleeping habits.
When you train a child from 14 weeks to 6 months, you can enjoy a greater success rate. Things get a bit harder going forward.
Benefits of nap training
You should appreciate the fact that your baby cannot get enough sleep or all the sleep that they may need at night. With training, the baby is assisted to nap, which improves their well-being. Naps can:
- Protect your baby's health: when the baby naps during the day, they fight the nighttime sleep deficits. The baby is well-rested and achieves the sleep needed within that period. Naps assist the baby in sleeping more soundly and longer to promote mental and emotional functioning. You may have heard that when a baby sleeps more, they grow more. This is accurate.
- Parental well-being: when a baby gets healthy sleep and naps, it is good for parents. They also get a chance to rest, which improves mood and satisfaction in parenting and relationship. This reduces depression and stress.
- Language acquisition may also be boosted. Getting quality naps may help a child's expressiveness and vocabulary in the future.
Every parent should know and appreciate that there is no fast or hard rule regarding how long this kind of training can take. In most cases, results can be achieved within a week. While sleep training may not work for every baby, you should never give it up so soon. Some methods are soothing compared to others. If one method fails, you should try another one. You may have to let the baby cry it out in some instances.
Giving your baby the best chance to learn
For a successful outcome, you should:
- Learn the sleepiness signs. This involves being cranky or rubbing her eyes. At that time, she could be ready for a nap.
- Have a nap schedule. Maybe you know when she begins getting drowsy or fussy, and you should be ready.
- Keep the baby comfortable. Ensure she is not damp, has been fed, has a fresh diaper, and is in a quiet, darkroom.
- Don’t respond to every cry. You have to allow her to try falling asleep again without assistance. Give it some minutes.
- Even when things are bright outdoors, a baby will sleep better when you keep her environment as dark and quiet as possible. White noise can help.
- When the baby is awake, ensure she stays as active as possible to tire her up and help her sleep better.
- Every parent should learn about different baby cries. There are times babies will cry from actual distress, while the baby is only protesting at other times.
With the right idea, nap training can work in your favor.