Sleep training for naps can be so different than bedtime sleep training. See our top tips on how to tackle daytime sleep training.
Nap time is sacred for parents.
I don’t care how old your child is. We all look forward to nap time.
And our babies and toddlers need their daytime sleep just as much as we need the midday break.
After all, sleep begets sleep in those early years.
So what do you do when naps aren’t happening? How do you sleep train during the day?
See how sleep training is different for naps vs bedtime and get some tips for sleep training for naps.
Should You Do Sleep Training for Naps?
Yes, sleep training can apply to naps too. Usually, when parents decide to sleep train their goal is to teach their baby how to fall asleep without parental assistance or unsustainable sleep associations.
If that sounds like you, then you would want to sleep train for naps as well.
There are a few situations where you might not be able to sleep train for naps though.
If your baby is in daycare, sleep training for naps may not be an option for the majority of the week.
Or, maybe your baby is watched by another caregiver who isn’t on board with your sleep training method.
Don’t let that discourage you. Daytime sleep and nighttime sleep are driven by different biological processes.
Even if you can’t sleep train at nap time, you can still sleep train at night and see major improvements with your baby’s nighttime sleep.
Should You Start Sleep Training with Naps?
Parents always wonder if they should start sleep training with naps or at bedtime and my answer is always the same.
Start sleep training at night.
While sleep training for naps should be part of your overall strategy, you should always start sleep training at bedtime first.
The need for sleep is so much greater at night, so chances are better that your baby will fall asleep quicker.
The sleep pressure during the day simply isn’t as strong, so sleep training for naps can be much more difficult.
When to start sleep training for naps depends on how bedtime is going. Most babies are ready to start sleep training for naps about 3 to 5 days after parents have started sleep training at night.
Is Sleep Training for Naps Harder?
Sleep training for naps can be more difficult than sleep training for bedtime.
Mainly because the sleep drive isn’t as strong during the day and you have a shorter window for your baby to fall asleep.
It can also take more time for naps to really click. Even if your baby starts falling asleep easier at naptime, it’s very common for babies to only nap 30 minutes at first and then wakeup.
Don’t be discouraged. Keep going and see the tips for sleep training for naps at the bottom of this post.
Get Better Sleep with The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System
If you want someone to walk you through the process of sleep training, let me help. The Baby D.R.E.A.M. System is for babies 4 months through 2.5 years old. I’ll walk you through how to establish daily routines, sleep schedules, and sleep training techniques to help you break the sleep associations you no longer find beneficial! Check it out here.
How Do you Handle Naps During Sleep Training?
When you’re ready to start sleep training for nap time, you’ll use the same sleep training method that you’re using for bedtime.
There is one important difference between sleep training at nap time and sleep training at bedtime.
For bedtime, you continue using your sleep training method until your baby falls asleep.
For naps, you can attempt the nap for about an hour and if your baby doesn’t fall asleep, end the nap attempt and provide your baby with a reset.
This reset can be a feeding and playtime. Make sure to engage with your baby and not let them fall asleep on you.
You can then try another nap attempt after giving your baby a reset.
If your baby doesn’t fall asleep for their morning or afternoon nap, you may want to assist them to sleep with a rescue nap between their afternoon nap and bedtime.
If you utilize a rescue nap. the main thing you’ll want to do is help them fall asleep in a way that is different than your usual method.
For example, if you usually feed your baby to sleep and are moving away from that, try going for a walk and letting your baby snooze in the stroller instead.
Do You Let Baby Cry It Out for Naps?
Cry it out means different things to different people and how you approach it will depend on your sleep training method.
For example, if you’re sleep training for naps using the Ferber Method, you’ll continue to check on your baby at nap time using whatever intervals you’ve chosen.
If you’re using the Chair Method sleep training, you’ll sit in your chair next to your baby and wait for them to fall asleep during nap time. They may still cry or whine, but I don’t consider this cry it out if you’re right there to help soothe your baby.
How Long Do You Let Baby Cry for Naps?
If you’re doing a leave and check method, how long you let your baby cry for is totally up to you. You can start with shorter intervals and go from there.
Take note that your presence will likely be more stimulating during the day. Some babies will do well with that, while others may struggle.
How Long Does Nap Training Take?
How long nap training takes will vary. If your baby is close to falling asleep independently and just needs some schedule tweaks and a little practice, it may only take a few days.
If your baby currently needs parental presence for their entire nap, nap training can take 2 to 3 weeks or sometimes even a little longer for things to completely come together.
4 Tips for Sleep Training Naps
Sleep training for naps can be so tough, but these four tips will help you tackle it!
1. Start 3 to 5 Days After Starting Night time Sleep Training
It really doesn’t take long to start seeing results at bedtime. Once your baby starts going down easier at bedtime, you can start sleep training for naps. I typically advise parents start nap sleep training about 3 to 5 days in.
2. Pay Attention to Your Baby’s Sleep Schedule
The best thing you can do for both you and your baby while nap training is to make sure your baby’s sleep schedule and wake windows are on track.
If you are trying for naps before your baby is sleepy, nap training will be harder than it needs to be.
If you are trying for naps after your baby is sleepy, and they have become overtired, nap training will be harder than it needs to be.
Keep this in mind: daytime sleep is driven by sleep pressure. The longer your baby is awake, the more sleepy they become.
You want to aim for naps when your baby is sleepy, but before they get a second wind.
3. Optimize their Sleep Environment
Make sure your baby’s sleep environment is setup for sleeping. This includes using white noise for sleep and blackout curtains even during nap time.
Curtains like Sleepout Home will create total darkness, which can really help lengthen your baby’s naps!
4. Be Consistent
Sleep training for naps takes time. Bedtime usually falls into place in a few days, but naps can sometimes take up to two weeks. Don’t be discouraged if your baby is still experiencing a 45-minute intruder and short naps.
Stay the course and their naps will get better!
If you need help, check out the Baby D.R.E.A.M. System. We’ll walk you through our step-by-step sleep training system, including everything you need to know about handling nap time.
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