Does your little one fight naps? Ha ha, I hear you.
You are not alone.
Do you find yourself pacing around or walking around with the push chair and just, no matter what you do, you cannot get them to take that sleep. They just fight, fight, fight, even though you know that they’re exhausted and really need the sleep. Well, this is all too familiar for us. We know exactly what you’re going through.
Many, many parents are struggling with the same thing. But the good news is, we have a solution and we know how to help you to overcome this so that your little one can get the naps they really, really need. Stick around because we’re going to share the keys to getting this on track.
The first thing that I’m giving you to help you to get your little one napping well is to understand and to know the ideal intervals for naps at your little one’s age, because this changes with age. The older they get, the longer they are able to be awake between sleeps.
If you know what that looks like, you’re far more likely to attempt to get your little one down for a sleep at a time that’s going to fit better for them. There’s no point in trying to force your little one, or trying and trying and trying to get your little one to sleep, when it’s not the ideal window for them.
Maybe they’re under-tired, maybe they’re overtired. And you might think, “But I know my child’s exhausted. Why aren’t they sleeping?” Because perhaps they’re so overtired, they’re wired.
When we go into an overtired state, the brain releases hormones that actually are chemically keeping us awake, even though we’re exhausted. You could be fighting a losing battle if you’re trying to get your little one to try to go to sleep at the wrong time for them.
Knowing what those intervals are is like a sleep secret weapon. And the next thing to note is the ideal nap length. These two go hand in hand. By knowing how long they ought to be asleep for will also help you, because if they are catnapping and if they are grabbing 20, 30 minutes here and there, they’re not getting quality rest. They’re not getting the sleep they really need.
If you know how long they ought to sleep for, you can help them to get that sleep. If they wake too soon, you can work on a resettling technique and to try to get them back off to sleep, rather than just accepting that that’s it now. That’s the end of that nap.
And I say they go hand in hand because actually getting them down for the sleep at the ideal optimal window is more likely to lead to the ideal optimal length of nap as well.
Just understanding those things and knowing what that looks like at every age and stage means that you’re informed and you can get little one down at the right time and for the right amount of time.
Now, something that is often overlooked when you’re facing nap challenges is bedtime. Bedtime’s important too. It plays a part in this because overtiredness is going to sabotage the naps. And if your little one is overtired because bedtime is not great or takes too long, or they’re going to sleep too late, if they’re overtired, then the next day, they’re overtired already.
Again, fighting a losing battle because they’re going to find it very difficult to go to sleep when they’re overtired. Of course, occasionally, they will crash and burn and they will just zonk out, but that’s not what will happen regularly. Those are usually one-offs, and then not great quality.
And the other thing to look at is the sleep onset. You could have these things checked off your list and go, “Yep, yep, yep. Got that. Got that.” But what about the sleep onset? And by sleep onset, I mean, how your little one falls to sleep.
Is there something that does it for them or is there something you need to do to them that gets them to sleep? Because if something has to be done to them or for them in order for them to fall asleep, that’s the sleep onset association and they’re going to require that in order to get to sleep for a nap as well.
Until, of course, you’ve reached the point where that doesn’t work anymore and that’s inevitable.
The best thing you can do is help your little one to develop a really healthy sleep onset that doesn’t require something to almost trick them into it, or to lull them off to sleep, but actually helps them to feel that sensation of going to sleep. And then, they’re going to sleep longer and have more nourishing, deep, healthy sleep.
A big tip I want to share with you right now is that you’ve got to keep practicing at this because the thing with naps is, it doesn’t come so easily for some as night sleep.
We can sort night sleep out and still have nap challenges because it takes some time and it takes a lot of practice. And just as you feel like it’s not working is when you’re probably really, really close and you’ve got to keep going.
Take Naomi, for instance, a client of mine. I remember when she felt this way and we had ticked off all the other things and we had so many other things solved, but the naps were a continual battle. Several times, she felt like saying to me, “It’s not working. Give me something else.”
But I said to her, “Keep going. Trust me, keep going.” Because every day that you practice, even if it doesn’t feel like it’s working, that practice is leading to an outcome and to a result. And I said to her, “I promise you, it will click.”
And I helped her and supported her, and it absolutely did click. And she said to me, “I would never have kept going if it weren’t for you encouraging me and supporting me and holding me accountable.”
She would have quit. She would have gone, “It isn’t working. It’s too hard.” But she kept going and it did click, and that little one went on to be such a great sleeper. And for many, many years later, she’s still a great sleeper.
What are these key things that you need to know to make sure your little one sleeps really well for naps and doesn’t keep fighting the naps?
Know those top two things.
First of all, what are the ideal intervals for the naps to take place for your little one’s age? And what is the ideal nap length? Do you need to work on some nap resettling techniques?
The third one is bedtime. Check in on your bedtime. How does it look? How does it work? Is it all going smoothly or does it need some attention? Is it too late? How can you shape the bedtime to make sure it’s absolutely optimal to avoid overtiredness? What does the sleep onset look like? Both at bedtime and for naps.
If something is putting your little one to sleep and they’re not completely doing it, then you’re going to continue to have challenges. But if you can help your little one to develop amazing sleep onset skills and associations, they’re going to be so good at it. Naps are going to become a lot easier for them and for you.
And the fifth point was keep on practicing. Keep going. If you don’t know what to do, then get the answers first. But once you know what to do, stick with it. Keep going and it will then click into place. You need that solution first. Once you’ve got it, keep going.
I want to give you right now a gift of my free sleep training series, a three-part video series that you can get instant access to right now.
Click the link and join us inside of the Sweet Dreams sleep series. I can’t wait to see you in there and I’ll see you very soon.