You know me, I like a bit of research, a bit of science to help us navigate our way through the tough bits of parenting.
The trouble is, there is naff all research about infant and toddler naps. It’s a HUGE area of concern for so many parents. It seems it’s one of those situations where we have to be guided by experience.
I have previously written about research which demonstrated a link between infant development and naps of at least half an hour – but that doesn’t help much! (Though at a push, in terms of brain development, we could gleam from this that a half hour catnap is acceptable.) So where does that leave us?
Should we do anything to make naps longer and is there anything we can do?
If your baby or toddler seems happy and content, despite their short naps, it sounds like they’re one of life’s energetic types. Ignore the books and websites that say your little one should sleep for X amount of time, X amounts of times per day. These aren’t based on any credible study at all! Follow their cues, we aren’t all made the same.
Importantly though if they aren’t happy and content, there may be a few things that you can tweak…
> Use wind down time
> If you co-sleep at night, this will be a strong sleep association, you might need to do it during the day too (never on the sofa)
> Use clear cues (like special comforters, covers or sleeping bags)
> Don’t stress about schedules. Follow cues, not a clock.
> Routines are good – for me, routines are patterns of behaviours, (not a schedule where everything happens at the exact same time everyday) but remember to be flexible with them. They can vary depending on what has happened in the past 24 hours.
Whichever way you go, remember that sleep is transient. It goes through phases, I know that the rough ones can be really difficult to get through. There is no right or wrong way about coping with difficult times. Follow your gut, trust your instincts and if you need it, seek support from someone like me or from a health or childcare care professional.
Remember that gentle sleep is my thing. If you need more bespoke support, take a peek at what support is on offer by clicking here. (Don’t forget, I’m all about being affordable!)