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Let's imagine that your baby wakes up in the morning, you feed him, you change him, you play a bit, you go for a walk and then you start rocking him to sleep and once he is asleep in your arms, you gently tuck him into his crib to let him take his nap. Everything seems to have gone smoothly, but ... 30 minutes later he wakes up restless and irritable and, despite your trying, he refuses to go back to sleep. How to lengthen the time of naps in babies? We know it and we are going to tell you!
Babies, like adults, sleep in sleep cycles. We start with a light sleep in which they can wake us up easily and we end up in a deep sleep in which not even loud noises or movement can wake us up. This is the restful sleep, in which our brains and bodies do all the maintenance work that leaves us fresh, clean, and energetic.
Once we have reached the end of deep sleep cycle, slowly, we begin to return to the stage of light sleeper again. In the transition from one cycle to another we may wake up for a few seconds, but as adults we have the ability to quickly fall asleep again.
From 4 months, these cycles usually last between 90 and 120 minutes, but in a baby who has not yet reached 4 months, their cycles are 30-45 minutes. So, here comes one of the answers: if your baby is less than 4 months old and he is napping for 30 minutes, don't worry, it is completely normal since his sleep cycles are shorter.
But if it is more than 4-5 months old, things change. You may not have learned how to sleep and you may not know how to link these sleep cycles. They haven't learned to sleep independently yet and that's really the heart of the problem. Once your baby knows fall asleep without help, it will begin to connect those sleep cycles.
Think about how your child is sleeping, does he sleep alone? or are you sleeping? If you are putting him to sleep, this is where you need to make some changes. "Sleep aids" are basically anything your baby uses to make the transition from being awake to being asleep: breastfeeding or bottle feeding until he falls asleep, putting him to sleep, strolling in the stroller ...
I'm not saying you shouldn't hug your baby, or sing to him, or read stories, or stop breastfeeding, it is simply not to do so to the point where he can fall asleep.
A short routine for nap time It's great for helping your child get ready for bedtime and know it's time for bed. How? Here are some tips!
- You have to give him enough time to relax and thus be able to fall asleep faster.
- Do not put him to sleep right after a stimulating activity, as it will cost you much more to fall asleep.
- The routine should not last more than 10-15 minutes.
- It is important to always follow the same order so that your baby knows what to expect. Babies and young children need order to feel more secure.
- The room environment has to be dark (from 4 months). In this way the brain will begin to produce melatonin and prepare them for a good nap.
Example of routine: sit in a chair together and read a story, change the diaper, close the blinds, say goodbye to the dolls in the room and go to bed awake.
There may be a bit of protest for 2-3 days, but if you are consistent and make your baby learn to sleep without help, the results will start to show in a very few days.
** All of these recommendations are taken from the books of children's sleep experts: Tracy Hogg, Elisabeth Pantley, Kim West, National Sleep Foundation, and a few more.
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