Welcome to Educated, Common Sense Parenting! This is my parenting education/commentary blog. Start here and read About This Blog.

I believe too many parents today have let their children rule their households. Their children dictate their daily lives, demand every ounce of their attention and do not show any respect for their parents. This needs to change. The only way to do this is if parents start letting good old common sense start dictating their parenting practices and stop letting their children run the show. You're the parent. Act like one.

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Friday, June 25, 2010

Things I Never Knew About Naps: The First Year

I was looking back at Brooke's old "schedules" last week and frankly, I was appalled. At 3 months she was taking three 45 minute naps a day. That was it!!! This is before I knew anything about BabyWise or sleep training or anything--and it showed. Brooke wasn't a good sleeper until she was about six months old.

The more I talk to moms and read non-Babywise message boards and things like that, the more I realize that 45 minute naps in the first year are commonplace. Very few moms know any better! But we as Educated, Common Sense Parents need to be informed and spread the word!

Once I discovered the books Babywise, Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child and The Baby Whisperer and put their principles into action with Will, I was kicking myself for not knowing about all of this sooner! It was so simple!! So today I'll post my top Things I Never Knew About Naps...so hopefully others won't fall until my trap of foolishness.

Tops Things I Never Knew About Naps

1. Nap Length:
A "good" nap in the first year is between 1.5 and 2.5 hours, give or take. Some babies have more or less sleep needs but naps should be more than 45 minutes (unless a growth spurt is happening, more about that later).

2. The Sleep Cycle: We all go through a sleep cycles every 45 minutes. Every 45 minutes our bodies "wake up" and readjust. For most of us, we don't even notice this transition. For babies, they will often cry, groan, roll over, move about and possibly even sit up and seem like they are waking up. If a newborn of young baby doesn't know how to put themselves back to sleep, they'll cry until Mom or Dad comes and rescues them--nap ruined! The exception to this is when young babies are going through a growth spurt and need to eat more often. In this case, babies will wake up at the 45 minute transition and realize they're hungry!

3. Overtiredness: Babies under 2 months need a lot of sleep. 15-20 hours or more! For most babies, this comes naturally. However, some babies appear to be more "alert" and awake than others...but don't let this fool you. These babies still need their rest! According to Babywise during the first 2 months, babies should be awake no more than about 45 minutes at a time. This includes feeding and a diaper change. As baby gets older (up to about six months), waketime can increase to about 1.5 hours. This isn't a lot of waketime and you'd be shocked at how many people keep a 6 month old up 3, 4 or 5 hours at a time! These are moms who usually complain their baby doesn't nap well. Yes, this was me.

When baby isn't napping well, the first thing to try is cutting back their awake time. With Will, that always did the trick. That is the opposite of what most people would think. Most people would say they are not sleeping well because they're not tired enough. Not so with babies! Some babies don't show signs of sleepiness. I can't tell you how many times I would put Will down for his "scheduled" nap and my parents would say, "He doesn't seem tired at all!" Five minutes later he was fast asleep. Figuring out the ideal waketime can be tricky and takes some trial and error, but it's definitely worth knowing.

4. Overstimulation: Watching TV, playing with loud toys, crowds and loud noises right before a nap can be overstimulating to a young baby. It's important to choose a short and sweet nap/settle-down routine when your baby is young and stick to it. I used Tracy Hogg's (The Baby Whisperer) 4-S routine with Will. I will post on the 4-S routine soon. Baby will know what to expect every time he goes down and this routine will be his signal to settle down and sleep.

Part of being a parent is recognizing your mistakes and fixing them. I was a MUCH more happy, well-rested mom with Will!!

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