Sometimes, nap time feels more like a battle than the beginning of the peaceful slumber that it’s supposed to be. The transition from newborn sleep habits to, well, normal sleep habits came as a surprise to us. During the first few months of Bastian’s life, we adopted a form of attachment parenting. We cuddled and held him during the majority of his naps. Looking back, I don’t know if we’d change that. I cherish that fleeting period of his life. Once his sleep habits began to change, it was time for his nap time routine to change, as well.
What we found to be the most helpful, was the implementation of an actual nap time routine. Prior to this, we would just hold and bounce Bastian, walking around the living room or whatever room we happened to be in, until he fell asleep. He’s almost 8 months old now, and heavy. There’s no way that habit could have continued. When he was 4 months old, we moved him into his own room, and started implementing a nap time routine(we use a similar routine for bed time, too!).
Babies learn through association. I think the biggest key to a smooth nap time, is having clear things they can associate with sleep. The first thing we do for nap time, is give him his pacifier. It took us a few months to find one that Bastian really liked, and every baby is different. So don’t be afraid to try about a million different kinds. Pacifiers reduce the risk of SIDS, which is the biggest reason we encouraged him to use a pacifier.
We use a sound machine(and we set it pretty loud), that I turn on as soon as we’re in his room, and Bastian immediately burrows into my shoulder when I turn it on. He knows that when we turn on his Hatch Baby, it’s time to sleep. After a diaper change, I put some lavender essential oil in his diffuser. If I don’t really feel like going through the hassle of that, I have a lavender linen spray that I’ll use on his sheets before laying him down.
I hold him and give him cuddles for a minute, before laying him down, and then I leave the room. If he doesn’t fall asleep on his own or gets distressed, I come back in and pat his back until he calms down. For us, we’ve found that he sleeps best if he falls asleep while in his crib. So we try to encourage that whenever possible.
We’re not perfect, and his naps don’t always go smoothly. We’ve traveled a lot this last month, and it’s honestly threw a wrench into his sleep schedule. Sticking with his routine is the key to getting him back on schedule, though, every single time.