When a baby is born, they sleep most of the day. They wake up mainly when they feel hungry.
As the baby grows, their naps and feeds start forming a pattern.
From a young age, it is important to recognize this pattern for the baby and work out a napping routine for them.
A napping routine will help you set the feeding and playing routine for the baby as well. Moreover, it will encourage good sleeping habits in the baby. Let us learn how to form a napping routine for the baby and manage their naps. Let us first learn about the typical duration for which a baby sleeps in a day.
A newborn baby sleeps up to 18 hours in a day.
The baby's total numbers of sleep hours decrease to about 15 hours by the time they are three months old.
However, they do not sleep much at a stretch.
Gradually, the baby starts sleeping more during the night and lesser during the day. On an average, the baby sleeps for blocks of about two hours in the day, and blocks of four to six hours at night.
From six months till about two years of age, the baby sleeps for about 14 hours in a day.
They sleep for 10 to 12 hours at night.
At six months, the baby may take several naps in the day.
Gradually, they transition to one nap a day at about one and a half years of age.
Between the age of two to five years, the sleep requirement reduces to 10 to 12 hours. Now let us learn how you can establish a good nap routine for the baby
In the initial few weeks, there may not be much of a pattern to their sleeping or waking up. You should let the baby feed and sleep as they wish.
From about two months of age, you should start looking for signs when the baby is tired. These include pulling on their ears or rubbing their eyes.
If you notice these signs, you should try putting the baby down to sleep, before they get over-tired, encouraging them to sleep on their own.
Avoid rocking or feeding the baby to help them sleep.
You should also teach them the difference between day and night. To do this, in the day, keep the home bright with a lot of sunshine.
In the day, keep the baby active and play with them as much as possible.
Let the baby get accustomed to day-time noises such as those from the kitchen or the washing machine. Do not try to eliminate them for the baby.
Set up a bedtime routine for the baby, say from three to four months of age.
The first activity in preparing a baby to go to bed is to serve them their meal. The baby may breastfeed or take some other form of food, such as milk or pureed fruit.
Do not make the baby sleep immediately after dinner. Encourage the baby to spend some time playing with the family. This will help the baby spend any pent-up energy before you settle them down for the night.
You may want to give the baby a massage to help them relax.
You can follow the massage with a bath. Bathing the baby at night is another way to calm the baby.
However, you may exclude bathing from the baby's night-time routine if the baby does not enjoy it.
Instead, freshen up the baby by washing up their hands and face.
For an older baby who takes other types of food, including the cleaning of the mouth in the tuck-in routine. You can use a silicon finger brush that you can wear on your finger to clean the baby's mouth.
For older children, encourage them to brush their teeth every day before sleeping.
If the baby wears diapers, change the diaper.
For an older child, make sure the child goes to the toilet before going to the bed.
Change them into night clothes.
Remember to dim the lights to indicate sleep time to the baby.
Help the baby lie down in bed and cover their body with sheets appropriate for the weather.
Spend some time singing a lullaby or reading or narrating a story to the baby.
You can also try playing soft music to soothe the baby to sleep.
Stay nearby till the baby is fast asleep. This completes the tuck-in routine for the baby at night.
If the baby sleeps alone in a room, using a baby alarm is a good idea. A baby alarm is a system used to remotely listen to or watch the baby. The baby alarm helps you monitor the baby when you are not around.
Once you form a nap routine, try to follow it consistently. However, be flexible to accommodate an occasional deviation from the routine.
As the baby develops mentally and physically, around six to nine months, they may start waking up during the night for various reasons.
This may include separation anxiety or the emotional discomfort of being separated from the people who take care of them.
Sometimes, the baby may even get up to try out their new skills of rolling over or crawling. Let us learn how you can encourage the baby to go back to sleep on their own whenever they get up at night.
You could let the baby cry it out for some time before they fall back to sleep.
However, you may sometimes pick them up to comfort them, if you feel they need it.
Try other strategies such as giving them a security object, such as their favorite stuffed toy or a blanket.
If the baby feels uncomfortable and gets up frequently at night, try to find out the reason, such as uncomfortable clothes, the room being too hot or cold, or the diaper getting wet. Make sure you address such reasons.
When the child is older, make sure the child follows a nap routine that suits them the best. Encourage them to sleep early and on their own.
Remember that good sleep and sleeping habits are very important for their growth and development.