We’ve all heard expecting parents announce that they WON’T be one of ‘those parents’ who revolve their lives around baby’s nap times. But then they have a baby…
And they realise that if their little baby doesn’t get their required sleep, they get cranky, and a whole long list of other side effects entail too.
But as the months pass by, whoa, baby gets bigger and requires less sleep. Most babies will drop a nap and for those parents it’s like … magic! Parents reclaim a third of their day (otherwise spent rocking baby to sleep and housebound!). And life starts to get better, happier, more rested, social and efficient. Parents can make plans again! And go to the gym! And get work done! It’s like life used to be… but plus one! They finally feel like they are #winning
Of course, some babies need a little nudge when it comes to dropping a day nap and sleeping soundly throughout the night.
According to Australian Baby Whisperer Sheyne Rowley, the two go hand-in-hand. Master your baby’s night sleep, and the day naps will fall into place. But how do you get baby to sleep – and not just to sleep – but enjoying good quality sleep that sees them waking with vibrancy and energy for the day? Try these tips …
1. Identify your baby’s sleep requirements
How much sleep does your baby need? “Babies typically fall into two categories,” explains Sheyne. “For example, babies six to 12 months old can be a low-sleep requirement babies, who need 13-14 hours sleep in a 24 hour period, or a high-sleep requirement baby that needs 15 to 16 hours sleep.” Neither is right or wrong – they are just different.
2. Don’t listen to myths, listen to your baby.
Sheyne says there’s a common myth that babies need a routine which is typically two hours up, then two hours down. “If we followed this myth, we’d have a whole lot of parents having sleepless nights – because their baby would be either getting most of their sleep requirement during the day, or having restless cat-naps. All babies require 11-12 hours sleep at night.”
Use the 11-12 hour night sleep as a guide, and the remainder of your baby’s sleep requirements as a morning and afternoon nap, or if they are already down to one nap, a nap in the middle of the day.
3. Learn what sleep associations work for you and your baby.
Does your baby sleep better after a warm bottle and a cuddle? Do they need to be rocked to sleep?
Work out what your baby’s best routine is and their preferred sleep associations.
“There’s two kinds sleep associations – parent-governed associations and child-governed associations,” explains Sheyne. “Parent-governed sleep associations include patting baby, rocking them, pushing them in a pram, anything that requires your intervention. Child-governed associations include thumb-sucking, dummies, cuddle toy, blankie, twirling hair, bottles… Whatever baby is doing when they go to sleep, they will expect to see when they wake up or stir at the end of a sleep cycle (typically 45 minutes). There is no right or wrong way, but if you practice parent-governed associations they will call out through the middle of the night and expect to be resettled the same way they were put to sleep. A child-governed association teaches the baby what to do to get themselves back to sleep.”
4. Make sure baby is getting enough nutrition during the day
Sheyne says a well-nourished baby is less likely to wake during the night. Of course, fussy little eaters don’t realise this as they’re blankly refusing to eat their peas and carrots. If this is the case for you and your baby is 12+ months, try offering the baby a Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink before bedtime. Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink contains the essential vitamins and minerals to support your growing toddler’s nutritional needs.
Q. How did your day change when your baby dropped a nap?
Parents tell ...
Here, parents whose toddlers have already dropped a nap reveal just how much their day to day changed for the better!
“We were freed!”
“Chloe was a terrible sleeper for the first 8 or so months – both at night and during the day. My daily activities were limited by my need to coax Chloe to sleep at home, in the pram or in the car three times each day. Then at 9-ish months she dropped a nap, down to two longer naps, and we instituted a different routine at night. Bath, pyjamas and a bottle worked a treat – Chloe settled so much better.
This was life changing! With longer periods between naps, I could do more, socialise more, and expose Chloe to more activities and events. I wasn’t limited to two hour periods outside the house anymore. We weren’t in a perpetual rush. And I could concentrate on my studies at night without feeling like a zombie. The best part thought was the stress associated with naps and getting Chloe to sleep disappeared. Everyone was happier!” #Winning
Megan, 33, and Chloe, age 1
“I started yoga classes again!”
“I didn’t realise just how much I missed yoga until I started classes again! Blake was 13 months when he dropped a nap from two to one – which is now in the middle of the day and lasts for around 90 minutes. So we literally reclaimed our mornings and our afternoons! My fitness centre has an onsite nanny so I can leave Blake for an hour to play with the other little ones while I stretch, and sweat, and hold a pose uninterrupted! It’s not only good for my soul, but helps my back aches and just makes me feel more alive and energised. I reckon I’m a better mum after a yoga session!” #Winning
Susan, 34, mum to Blake, 20 months
“We suddenly had more time!”
“Gino was having 2 naps a day up until about 18 months of age. He’d have 1 in the morning at around 9 or 10am for 1 to 2 hours, and then another in the afternoon around 2pm for about 1 to 2 hours. It was so inconsistent and so disruptive to our day. And it was really hard to plan anything, like catching up with friends and family, or getting chores done!
When he went down to 1 day nap it felt like we had so much more time! We could plan things like catch ups with family and other things we wanted to do because we knew when he’d need to nap and for how long.” #Winning
Hunmi, 40, mum to Gino, 22 months
“I finally got my retail therapy!”
“I know it sounds silly but I hadn’t bought any new clothes for myself during the pregnancy or for the 12 months post-baby because I was waiting to get my ‘body back!’ Now I’ve accepted ‘my body’ is this ‘new body’ and I desperately wanted to get some retail therapy but it was impossible with Charlotte – she won’t sleep in a pram and her awake times were around 2 hours for the first year! Now she’s down to one nap so I can get a good dose of shopping in the morning or arvo’s. Having new clothes was just what I needed for a confidence boost!” #Winning
Carly, 42, mum to Charlotte, 19 months
“Working from home and looking after a baby is no easy feat, I can assure you! I do it twice a week (and my wife does it two days a week.). The first six months was torture because my wife and I were so sleep deprived, but by 18 months Maddy was down to one sleep a day, which was for around 2 ½ hours! It’s so much more efficient working uninterrupted for a large block of time. And we literally reclaimed 3 x 45 minutes of ‘rocking baby to sleep’ time a day.” #Winning
Paul, 38, dad to Madeline, 19 months
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Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink contains the essential vitamins and minerals to support your growing toddler's nutritional needs. For more information about Blackmores Toddler Milk Drink and other products, visit Blackmores.com.au.