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Pregnant mum

Any advice on sleep training for naps? It doesn’t seem to work like bedtime.

Hello! I would not recommend any strict nap interventions for babies until they’re closer to six or six and a half months. There are several reasons for this:

1. Your baby’s body clock is not fully established until they are closer to six months so trying to stabilise and have consistent nap times can be quite futile and often parents feel like they are going one step forwards only to go two steps back.

However, around six months a three nap day often comes into play and I would start by focusing on stabilising the timings of your little one’s naps first before addressing where they happen. In the meantime, I suggest using a combination of assisted naps in the buddy or carrier as well as contact naps if this is possible.

If your little one is waking under 45 minutes of their nap, you could also pre-empt their wake-up time by setting an alarm and going to them five minutes earlier to re-establish whatever it was you did to get them to sleep in the first place. It is not a guaranteed technique but the more you assist them in linking their sleep cycles, the more they’re likely to do it on their own.

2. It is very normal for babies to catnap until they’re six or seven months old due to the amount of REM stages of sleep they have during the day. REM sleep is very important to brain development but it is also very light so your baby is easily disturbed! Around six or seven months the amount of REM sleep decreases and NREM sleep increases, which often leads organically to longer naps.

3. If you are trying to change the location of where your baby is falling asleep during the day, I would start off first by focusing on how you are supporting them to sleep at bedtime, i.e. if you are currently feeding and rocking them to sleep at night it’s going to be very difficult for them to fall asleep without this support during the day. This is especially because during the day they only have one sleep drive - 'sleep pressure' whereas in the evening they also have the circadian alerting system telling their bodies it is time to switch off and sleep.

4. I would also advise if you would like to make some gentle changes to their naps, i.e. where they have them, that you begin with the first nap of the day - especially as there is something called the 'sleep maintenance zone' first thing in the morning which means it is often much easier for your baby to fall asleep. Plus if you try and make a change and you end up having to abort the nap you have the rest of the day for them to sleep so it is not such a worry.

I hope that helps a little bit!

Emma, Tinto Expert