How to get your child to nap

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How to get your child to nap

These are the 3 most common snafus as I like to call them in nap coaching. So let's say you've decided, I'm going to get started. I'm going to nap coach my 10-month old. And I usually tell you, I want you to try the nap in the crib, twice during the day, for an hour. So the first thing that could happen is they don't sleep the entire hour. You try. You're sitting there. You're patient. Maybe you're doing checks. And there's no sleep. So I just tell you, give up. You cannot have your child spend hours and hours just trying to get them to sleep for a nap. It's just not realistic and it's not very fruitful in the end. So get them out. Do dramatic wake up. Turn on the lights. Say nappy time is over, even though you know there's been no nap. Get them out of the crib, change them, leave the bedroom, and then have some kind of distraction. Maybe it's time for of a snack, some play, and watch like a hawk for the next sleep cue, and then bring them back in. And I know that in the beginning, you're going to feel like oh my God. This is all I'm doing. It is trying to get my child to sleep all day long. That's about right for nap coaching a couple of weeks. Sorry. That is a little bit the bad news. But I want you to do that. The other second thing that can happen is you put your child in. Maybe it takes them 15-20 minutes to go to sleep by the way that's the average length of time it takes to go to sleep is 15-20 minutes. And they finally go to sleep. And they only sleep for 45 minute, which is almost a sleep cycle. And they could wake up refreshed, especially from the morning 45 minute nap. And it's okay, get them out. And just know that the next nap might come a little sooner. And if your baby is taking 4, 45-minute naps and is working out okay and is sleeping through the night, I would tell you to leave it alone. Eventually it will consolidate. Because that's a little bit harder to do. Then the third, which is the most difficult piece of advice I have to give which is if your child sleeps under 45 minutes, what I fondly like to call a disaster nap. It's like enough sleep to take the edge of your tiredness, but not enough to be restorative over time. Then they're like cranky and tired 45 minutes later. So again, let's say they went into their crib at 9. They fell asleep at 9:15. They only slept until 9:45. I would immediately go in and I would sit, reassure them, say, it's okay sweetie. Of course it's still nice and dark in their room. And I would try to get them back to sleep. Ideally an hour. If you can't do it, I want you to try 30 minutes. Eventually, they start to go back to sleep faster and faster and sleep longer, or they start to sleep that partial arousal that woke them up in the beginning. So it's a lot of dedicated work, but it's absolutely worth it.

See Kim West, LCSW-C's video on How to get your child to nap...


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Kim West, LCSW-C

Psychotherapist & Author, The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight

Kim West is a mother of two and a Licensed Certified Social Worker-Clinical (LCSW-C) who has been a practicing child and family social worker for more than 19 years. Known as The Sleep Lady by her clients, over the past 12 years she has helped thousands of tired parents all over the world learn to listen to their intuition, recognize their child’s important cues and behaviors, and gently create changes that promote and preserve his or her healthy sleep habits. 

West has appeared on the Dr. Phil, Today Show, NBC Nightly News, Good Morning America, TLC’s Bringing Home Baby  and CNN, and has been written about in a number of publications including The Wall Street Journal, Associated Press, Baby Talk,  Parenting, The Baltimore Sun, USA Today, The Telegraph, The Irish Independent and the Washington Post. West hosts the sleep section of The Newborn Channel, played in maternity wards in hospitals across the country. West is the author of The Sleep Lady's Good Night, Sleep Tight: Gentle Proven Solutions to Help Your Child Sleep Well and Wake Up Happy with Joanne Kenen. She is also the author of 52 Sleep Secrets for Babies and The Good Night, Sleep Tight Workbook.

Kim received her master’s degree in Clinical Social Work from Simmons College in Boston, Massachusetts. She lives with her family in Annapolis, Maryland.

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