According to most of the experts out there as well as the vast majority of the baby sleep research available, your baby’s naps have a significant impact on how she sleeps at night. There is an important link between how your baby sleeps at night and the quality as well as the length of your baby’s naps. The relationship goes both ways, with nighttime sleep also having an impact on how your baby’s naps will go as well.
One of the most important factors in baby sleep has to do with when your baby naps. A nap that takes place too late in the day will have a potentially negative impact on your baby’s nighttime sleep. There are some periods during the day that are most conducive to napping, based on your baby’s biological clock. Understanding those times is key if you’re going to help maximize your baby’s sleep patterns.
Here are some general rules of thumb for determining when the best time during the day is for your baby to take a nap:
- If your baby takes three naps each day, one should be during the mid-morning, another during the early afternoon, and another during the early evening hours.
- If your baby takes two naps each day, one should be during the mid-morning and the other should be during the early afternoon.
- If your baby only takes one nap each day, that nap should take place during the early afternoon.
It’s important to watch for your baby’s sleep signals. When your baby shows some signs of being tired, it’s time to lay her down for a nap. If you wait too long, there is the risk that she will become too tired, which can then interfere with her ability to fall asleep.
Signs that your baby is tired may include things like a decrease in activity levels, losing interest in playing with toys or interacting with people, rubbing his eyes, becoming fussy, yawning and of course laying down. When your baby does these things, he’s telling you that he needs a break, sooner rather than later.