If it’s the sitting up while holding Baby that is the issue for you, then try sleeping lying down with your baby at nap time – of course ensuring you have created a safe environment in which to do this, and never on the sofa.
Newborns love movement – naps in the pram, car, baby carrier are all fine. After about four months, these kinds of motion naps become less restorative for your baby, so you can try to phase some of these out at this time.
The correct sleep environment can promote sleep. Darkness, white noise and a short relaxing pre-nap wind-down routine can prepare and relax Baby’s body for sleep. Swaddling (up until Baby can roll in the swaddle) can help with those babies that like to fall asleep being fed/ rocked/ held but then wake when being put down.
You want to make sure your baby is not overtired before nap time. It’s helpful to watch for sleep cues such as eye-rubbing, fussing, yawning, disinterest in toys, etc., and it’s also great to watch the clock. Here’s some guidance on nap timings:
|Age||Total Day Sleep||Wake Window (time from last wake to next asleep time|
|Newborn||7-9 (3-5 naps)||Up to 40 minutes|
|1-2 months||7-9 (3-5 naps)||
Up to 60 minutes maximum; but less if the previous nap was shorter than 60 minutes, and if Baby is sensitive or colicky.
Fine for Baby to fall asleep sooner, but if Baby fails to fall asleep unaided by 60 minutes then the caregiver should help to soothe them to sleep.
|2-4 months||4-5 (3-5 naps)||Equal to the duration of the last nap up to a maximum of 60-90 minutes.|
|4-6 months||3-4 (3-4 naps)||Equal to duration of previous nap, up to a maximum of 1hr 15 – 1hr 45|
|6-9 months||3-4 (2-3 naps)||
2.5 hours for a three-nap routine, with a shorter wake window for the first two naps than between third nap and bedtime.
3 hours for a 2-nap routine.
|9-12 months||2-3 (2 naps)||3 – 3.5 hours for a 2-nap routine, with a shorter wake window between morning wake and first nap.|
Beginning to create a routine can help with babies that are grazing on the breast between short sleeps, and can help Baby’s body clock to tune in to sleep times. Try to feed Baby after a sleep rather than just before, and perhaps try rocking to sleep instead whilst your baby adjusts. You can then slowly work towards putting them down awake for a nap.
Give it time if you can. Around 4-6 months, many babies lock in that first nap time, and at around 7-9 months most babies lengthen their naps if they weren’t already doing so and will take good restorative naps in a fairly set pattern through the day.
If you’re working on putting your baby down for naps, then start with the first nap of the day as this is usually the easiest.