10 Aug Newborn Naps- Why They Are So Important
Everyone has an image in their head of a tiny baby peacefully sleeping in his parent’s arms, or her baby cot. At least, that is, until you have a tiny baby of your own and discover that it is not always so easy to help your baby reach this state of peaceful sleep. And, while we as new parents usually think most about our little one’s night sleep, figuring out a rhythm of daytime sleep for your newborn is also important. So, I want to talk a little about why naps really matter and how to help your little one with daytime sleep.
The world on the outside is new and interesting, and perhaps a bit overwhelming, to your new baby. There are things to hear, see, smell, taste, touch all around. And in the first few weeks and months of life in the big wide world, your little one’s senses are also developing at a rapid rate. Lying on her same baby blanket, your little one might see a bit further that they did yesterday. They might notice that painting on the wall, or the mobile hanging overhead has now come into focus. Even if you think your baby’s day has been pretty calm and quiet there is still a lot to be processed and it is easy for a new baby to become overstimulated. In addition to adding to the total amount of sleep your baby gets in 24 hours (did you know that a newborn should ideally get 16-18 hours of sleep in a 24-hour period?), naps also serve to give your little one a quick break from the wide world before it becomes overwhelming.
Those of you who struggle to get baby to fall asleep for naps, thinking about naps in terms of how long your child can be awake for, instead of how long they will sleep for, can be helpful. Once overstimulated it is harder for your baby to fall asleep, and an overtired baby struggles more to fall asleep and stay asleep. If you have a baby six weeks old or younger, research shows that 45 minutes to 1 hour of awake time is likely just right for your little one. As babies grow from six weeks to three months old, they are able to sustain more and more awake time and you can aim for 1 hour to 1 hour and 45 minutes awake between each nap/sleep. Most babies are not very regular in their schedules yet- but having these general time frames in mind can help you plan your day a bit and aiming for a nap at the right time will make it more likely that your little guy falls asleep easily.
Are you worrying that 45-minutes sounds very short and how will you ever get out of the house? Remember that some naps can be on the go. Your little one can sleep for 30-minutes in the stroller on the way to your friend’s house, or for 15-minutes on your lap in the café while you get coffee together. These little naps do still help to break up the day for your baby. So yes, get out and about in the world. Meet friends, get coffee, have someone adult to chat with for a while (even if all you do is talk about the baby). And try to keep those awake time goals in mind so you can time the stroller ride, or feed, or cuddle before baby gets too tired to easily fall asleep.