We all love that time of day when our little ones stretch, yawn, and close their eyes for a daytime nap. Maybe you have naps down to a scheduled routine, or maybe (like most of us) your baby simply naps when she’s ready to. Either way, it gives baby some much needed rest, and parents a much needed opportunity to focus on something other than the baby for a couple hours.
One thing you don’t want, though, if you ever want your baby to sleep through the night, is to let her naps run too long. It can seem unusual to wake babies up in an effort to help them sleep better, and generally you don’t have to.
One of the best way to limit babies’ nap times, if you want to help them sleep longer at night, is to allow them to go ahead and nap in a well lit area. Babies who sleep in the light generally won’t sleep for as long, which can help them sleep longer during the night time. This also keeps you from having to actually wake your baby up, even though the end result is the same: a shorter nap.
This doesn’t mean that your baby won’t wake up at night. Babies need to wake up during the night time for a variety of reasons. Most often, they need to eat. Sometimes, they need a diaper changed or are simply too warm or cold. Shorter naps won’t stop your baby from waking up at night, but usually it will cause his wakeful times at night to be shorter, because he’ll be more tired.
Conversely, when your baby wakes up during the night time, make sure that things stay relatively dark. It’s all right to use a dim night light if you need to, but don’t turn all the house lights on for night time feedings. Most babies would much rather be awake when there’s plenty of light and they’re able to look around.
The general idea is to make things fairly stimulating during the daytime and fairly boring during the night time. While it doesn’t work with all babies, most babies will go back to sleep much faster at night (once their tummies are full anyhow) if there isn’t anything interesting to look at.