Nap training may be a new phrase for you, but it is not a new concept. Babies need to be well-rested to develop and grow on a typical curve. All children need naps, and while some will need more continuous sleep and fewer naps, all babies will do better with the appropriate amount of sleep.
What is Nap Training?
Nap training means helping your child get the proper amount of rest each day while taking naps on schedule. While you may have some things that change your schedule from time to time, a regular schedule will help your child take better naps. Nap Training is more than just a schedule of times for naps, though. You also need to keep a routine for each nap. Part of the routine is what you do between naps and where they nap. You can use shortened versions of your regular nighttime sleep routines for the most benefit.
Why Does Sleep Training Matter?
Children learn and grow even if they never nap, so why does sleep training matter. Sure, babies grow and learn with or without sleep, but the brain makes better connections with appropriate rest times. Synapses are the connections that the brain makes when learning. These are the wires and connections within the brain. As the brain rests, it is able to secure these synapses. Better connections mean stronger long-term memory and brain development.
How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need?
Newborns sleep the most. They may need up to 20 hours of sleep per day. As they grow, they will need fewer hours of sleep. Infants will need up to fifteen hours of sleep per day and may take three naps in addition to their overnight sleep. When they reach the toddler stage, they will often take two naps per day for a while, but they are usually only taking one nap per day by the end of this stage. They will generally sleep up to thirteen or fourteen hours, depending on your child. Preschoolers will sleep the least at about ten to twelve hours a day with just one nap. Once they begin school, those naps may simply be a short rest time at school.
What is the Best Routine?
The best routine will vary depending on your family and child. Some things, though, are generally good practices. Make sure that your child is comfortable to sleep. If you have been out and the baby has on pants, sweaters, or other bulky clothing, remove those and consider putting your youngest baby in a sleeper or sleep sack. Cool rooms, soothing music, and low lights will also help your child get better rest.
To foster the most brain development, make sure that your child is getting the proper amount of sleep, and that nap and sleep routines are predictable. You may have some days that do not work as efficiently as others, but children should know what to expect and what is expected of them.