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Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, can be an ordeal. The newborn becomes the crux of your life, and you find that you have questions about each and everything that affects the child. While much of that may be due to confusion and a sense of emotional overwhelming, some aspects do need much thought- like napping.
As a parent, you will surely have heard that naps are good for your child. You will soon see that babies love napping, but how much time should a baby actually sleep? In this article, let us take a deeper look at the sleeping patterns of a child in his first year.
Why Naps are Essential for Babies?
Naps are extremely essential for the child, even at such early ages. They can help improve the mood of your child, and reduce tantrums, crying and other kinds of whining. During naptimes, the brain grows more than it would when the child is awake. Naps help your child grow faster, and understand his environment better. Another common misconception is that skipping naps can improve the quality of sleep your child has at night time- this is not proven, so choosing daytime naps are better for the general health of your child.
Where Should Your Baby Nap?
The best place for your baby to have his daytime naps in his crib; this makes him feel secure and safe, sleeping in a known environment. If you lead an active lifestyle, you need to practice putting your child to sleep in a stroller or carriers so that he gets used to it- if that is not possible, at least carry one or two items that will remind him of his bed, so that he feels secure. If your room is a bright one, you can use blackout curtains so that your baby settles in well.
How Many Naps Does a Baby Need?
The amount of time a baby needs to nap depends upon how old he is, and also on his behavioural pattern. A table that indicates the required amount of time according to his age has been given below.
|Age||Daily Naps||Total Daytime Sleep||Duration of Each Nap||Awake Period Between Naps||Things to Remember|
|0 to 11 Weeks||6 to 8||4 to5 hours||10 or 15 minutes to 4 hours||30 mins to1 hour||Since your child is a newborn, he will not have a definite sleep schedule. So do not worry much about how erratic his naps are.|
|3 to 4 Months||4 to5||3 to4 hours||30 minutes to2 hours||about 1 to2 hours||At the age of four months, your child may exhibit sleep regression and the naps may reduce.|
|5 to 6 Months||3 to4||2.5 to3.5 hours||30/45 minutes to2 hours||about 2 hours||At the end of this stage, your child should be settling into a more predictable, stable nap routine.|
|7 to 8 Months||2 to3||2 to3 hours||1 to2 hours||2 to3 hours||The number of naps reduces from three to two at the end of this stage, owing to another regression.|
|9 to 12 Months||2||2 to3 hours||1 to2 hours||about 3to4 hours||At the end of the year, your child would have settled into a predictable nap schedule.|
Tips to Get Your Baby to Nap
As a new parent, the answer to how to get your baby to nap will not be clear- the process can be quite trying. He might end up throwing tantrums at the slightest provocations, or just refuse to go to sleep altogether. However, there are a few things which can help you help your child get into his baby nap times.
- Try to make construct baby nap routines that fit your child. Think of his energy levels around the day, and set up the nap times when he is tired so that he is more willing to go to sleep. It has been proven that two napes, one in the mid-morning and one in the afternoon can really help your child rest.
- Children like to have consistent timings, and this applies in the case of naps too. Establish correct timing for his naps, so that he sleeps readily when it is time.
- If your child is showing reluctance to nap, try to lull him into it. You can sing a lullaby, draw him a warm bath or even massage his tummy so that he becomes relaxed easily.
- Your baby is sure to show signs of fatigue and tiredness, so look out for those. This can help you better understand when your child wants to sleep, and thus construct a routine based on these signs.
- Naps are important, but activities are also equally important- there must be a balance struck between the two. If your child has been energetic always, he is sure to tire out when his naptime comes- a nap also gives him the energy to be a part of more activities. The right activities can help your child develop and grow mentally and physically.
- Long naps are not great, either- if you see your child asleep for more than three hours in a stretch, wake him up gently and help him burn off energy with a few activities.
- If your child is adamantly against napping, do not be frustrated- in some cases, it is normal for children to have only one nap or even no nap during the daytime. Ensure that he is sleeping well at night, though.
- If you are ever in doubt about even the smallest thing, the best thing to do would be to consult a doctor.
Is It Okay to Limit the Length of Baby’s Nap?
If your child has slept for the appropriate amount during the daytime, it is okay to wake him up so that he does not sleep too much. This ensures that he does not sleep too much during the daytime, and his night sleep is not affected. If he is in danger of missing a feed, it is not wrong to wake your child up- also, ensure that he is taking part in some engaging activities when he is awake so that he becomes tired after some time.
The answer to how much sleep a baby needs would have been a confusing one, as it depends upon the personality, energy levels and what he does when he is awake. Although general guidelines for the amount of sleep he requires are given above, do not fret if he does not follow it accurately. Also, do consult the doctor if you feel that something is wrong with the sleep pattern of your child.