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Baby Sleep Tips: How to Improve Naptime

Updated: Jun 1, 2023

Argh! Nap time sure can get a parent down! Naps that are too short or naps that don’t follow any predictable pattern can make for a tired and grumpy baby – and Mum!

It is especially frustrating when your baby or toddler has been napping beautifully and then things suddenly go pear-shaped. If you’re struggling with short or erratic nap patterns, don’t worry our Sleep Expert, Richelle Franklin can help.

How to sleep train a baby

Don't skip daytime naps

Missed naps lead to overtiredness and overtiredness can lead to more night wakings. It is important to let your little one nap consistently each day. Wherever possible, allow them to nap in their cot for as many naps as possible.

Baby sleep cues

Yawning, rubbing eyes, and vacant stares are all cues that it’s probably time for a nap. If your baby is fussing, they are probably already overtired. If you find this is a frequent occurrence with your little one, watch their cues more closely and aim to put them down for a nap a little earlier than you have been.

TV and sleep don’t mix

Avoid using the TV as a pre-nap tool to calm your child. Keep your little one’s TV or screen time to a minimum and ensure it happens well before or after nap time.

Baby Sleep Schedule

Naps need to be spaced around feed times, but you also need to ensure nap time isn’t happening too close to morning wake-up or bedtime. Monitoring awake times for age is the best way to set a nap schedule that is age appropriate for your little one.

Naptime consistency

You don’t necessarily need to be to the minute, but remember that naps on the go are not as restful as naps at home in a cot. If you have a busy schedule, try to ensure that at least the first nap of the day is at home. Dark sleep environment

Make your little one’s sleep sanctuary as dark as possible for nap times. If there is outside noise, white noise will often help to block out any external noise and help your little one sleep longer. For other tips for creating a comfortable sleep space for your baby, visit our blog.

Baby refusing to sleep

If your baby refuses to nap, take a break and try again shortly. If your baby is fighting a nap, try for one hour, then take a break. Take them out of their room for 20 minutes and try again.

Baby sleep routine

It need only be a short routine, but it will help your baby to know that nap time is coming. A story, a cuddle before bed, and repeating your phrase, “It’s sleepy time now”, or “It's time for the night night soon”, will help cue your little one that it is almost nap time. Keep it short, but make sure it’s cozy and relaxing.

Baby Nap transition

If your little one was napping fine but is now suddenly taking longer to fall asleep, it may be time to adjust their length of awake time. Or, if your little one is not napping at all, they may be ready to drop a nap. Be wary of this, though! These nap issues may coincide with developmental stages. I would only suggest dropping a nap if your little one does not fall asleep for their nap for at least 5 out of 7 days for at least two weeks.

Sleep training timing

If you’re sleep training your little one and working on teaching your baby to fall asleep independently, keep in mind that nap training is tougher than night training. I would recommend you begin sleep training at bedtime. Once you’ve conquered falling asleep at bedtime, nap times will follow.

Many parents think that sleep consultants only work at solving nighttime issues. Day and night sleep are intrinsically linked, and more often than not, it is the nap schedule that needs adjusting to ensure better quality sleep for both day and night.

Richelle Franklin is the Parents You've Got This Sleep Expert and presents at our Starting Solids and Infant Sleep Masterclass. Secure your spot at our masterclass today!

Baby sleep training


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