Any links to Amazon are affiliate links.
Ideas for successful nap routines to get your baby to sleep well.
We all know that sleep routines are helpful and even crucial at bedtime. A lot of people are left wondering what to do at nap time, however. Should there be a routine? If so, does it need to be the same as the bedtime routine? If not, what changes can be made? How long should the sleep routine be?
How to Set Up a Nap Sleep Routine
First, yes you do want a nap routine. Sleep routines help signal to your baby that it is time for sleep. It is a simple way to communicate that it is now time for nap.
Your bedtime routine is likely a little more involved than you want your nap time routine to be. Many people do a bath as their bedtime routine, and no one wants to do 5 baths a day in order to duplicate that in a routine. Another thing you might cut back is how long you read to your baby before nap, if at all. You might read for less time than you do at bedtime or not do a nap time story at all.
Further, I like nap routines to be relatively short. I don’t want to spend 30 minutes getting my baby ready for a nap. This was even more true when I had a toddler and a baby at home. I needed both the toddler and the baby to be able to be put down for a nap quickly so that I could attend to the other one if needed.
It is super helpful if your baby’s routine can be done by anyone and done anywhere. You don’t want the routine to be dependent upon you. This is one reason nursing to sleep isn’t ideal for a nap routine. If you have to be the one doing the task, you will not be able to be away from your baby for a very long time.
You also want it to be able to be done anywhere. Rocking a baby for a bit can be nice, but unless your baby is okay with substituting a sway while you stand, you might find it difficult to get your little one to sleep while traveling or even just visiting people for the day. You want to set the stage for sleep and be consistent. You want it to be soothing.
Here are some sample nap routines I have used with my children. Some are more complicated than others. They all worked.
- Take to room –Pick up special blankie (when old enough for blankie–before old enough, I skipped this step) — Lay baby in crib with blankie –Sing lullaby — Say, “I love you! Sleep tight. Good night.” –Kiss my fingers and touch to baby’s nose.
- Take to room — Swaddle –> Give kisses and hugs –Lay in crib –> Sing lullaby –Say, “I love you! Sleep well. Sleep tight. Good night.” –Kiss my fingers and touch to baby’s nose.
- Take to room –Close blinds and turn on sound machine –Change diaper — Do 3 of the 4 S’s (set stage, swaddle, sit) –Give kisses and hugs –Lay in crib — Sing lullaby –Say, “I love you! Sleep well. Sleep tight. Good night.” –Kiss my fingers and touch to baby’s nose.
- Take to room — Close blinds and turn on sound machine –Read stories — Change diaper –Change into pajamas — Do 3 of the 4 S’s (set stage, swaddle, sit) — Give kisses and hugs –Lay in crib –Sing lullaby — Say, “I love you! Sleep well. Sleep tight. Good night.” — Kiss my fingers and touch to baby’s nose.
Here is a great thing about having a simple sleep routine in place. When your baby wakes in the night for a reason other than hunger, you can attend to the problem, then run through a quick routine and put baby back in bed. Baby will understand that is still sleep time because you did the routine.
If your little one is having a hard time sleeping, try some essential oils to help him/her relax.
Here is a note: do what works for your child. When Brayden was 10 months old, my husband started wrestling with him right before bed every night. This is pretty much cardinal sin number one when it comes to preparing a child for sleep. But it worked! It really helped wear Brayden down for sleep. So do what works even if it seems all wrong.