Baby Naps

By this time, the frequency of your baby's naps may have decreased to twice a day -- once in the morning and once in the afternoon. (This usually happens between 4 and 12 months.) Naps are an important source of the total amount of sleep your baby needs to develop properly.

Experts consider napping so important, in fact, that they recommend making a set schedule for it. Plan activities so they don't interfere with naps whenever possible -- your baby will develop regular sleep patterns more easily if you put him down for naps at roughly the same time every day. Generally a baby develops the best sleep habits (and has the best-quality shut-eye) if he naps in the same place he sleeps at night -- though of course there will be times when you need him to catch his zz's in his car seat or stroller.

You may want to use an adaptation of your bedtime routine to put your baby down for a nap. Your naptime ritual can be shorter and less elaborate than your bedtime ritual: a story, a song, and a cuddle, for example.

If your baby has a hard time settling down for a nap, it may be that he's overstimulated. Don't wait until your child is extremely tired before beginning your going-to-sleep routine. If you do, your child may be too wound up to sleep well -- or even to sleep at all. You may want to keep playtime mellow right before your baby's nap. Loud noises and roughhousing could make it hard for your child to settle down and go to sleep.

If your child isn't much of a napper, don't blame yourself or your parenting skills -- even if your best friend reports that her child is taking three-hour naps every day. All you can do is offer your child the opportunity to sleep by preparing him and putting him down on a consistent schedule.

Your baby may be a natural catnapper, consistently napping for less than an hour at a time. As long as he doesn't seem too tired, fussy, or difficult during waking hours, he's getting the sleep he needs.

~ Courtesy of BabyCenter

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