3 Useful Tips For Parents On How To Get Baby To Nap Without Being Held

How To Get Baby To Nap Without Being Held

Getting a baby to fall asleep and take a restful nap is sometimes much easier said than done. 

You may be falling asleep on your feet with exhaustion, but for babies, nap time is simply not on their to-do lists.

Or perhaps your baby will only achieve a peaceful sleep when held. This is when your baby falls asleep in your arms just fine but won’t sleep anywhere else.

The search for a good nap routine and nighttime sleep consumes your every thought until it is achieved. This article will explore what to do about this common issue that plagues parents. 

How to get baby to nap without being held

A nap routine can be challenging to come up with especially for busy parents. 

However, baby naps best when there is a routine involved.

Good sleep habits will give your little one the best chance for good rest and developmental growth. It will also allow you to recharge, regroup, and take a rest.

One of the most significant detriments adults face when trying to train or change their children’s sleep habits is patience. A lack of it will make the work much harder. 

Understanding that your little one is learning to do something they have never had to do and will have some trouble adjusting is key to your success.

Don’t give up. There are many different tactics you can try. 

No two infants are the same; what works for one family may not work for yours. Feel free to take advice from others, but keep in mind that your situation is not the same as everyone else’s. 

Don’t be afraid to try several different things or tweak some of the suggestions shared here to make them fit your family’s needs better.

Nap time vs night time sleep

When a baby falls asleep for the night, it’s a different sort of sleep than a baby taking a nap. 

Newborns may be the only exception to this rule because they can’t tell the difference between night and day. They simply sleep when they’re tired.

Nap time is typically when your baby will fall asleep, but in a much lighter slumber than what they experience at night. So if you let your baby fall asleep in your arms, any slight movements, noises, light changes, etc., can startle your baby into waking up.

At night, deep sleep comes quickly. A sleeping infant who is down for the night has deeper and longer sleep cycles. This is why, depending on the baby’s age, you can sometimes get a sleeping infant out of the car, into the house, and onto the crib mattress without disturbing their slumber. 

A child’s sleep is always deeper at night.

How to get baby to sleep on their own

Whether you let your baby sleep in a bassinet or a crib, there are ways to help your baby get used to being put in bed awake so that it will fall asleep on its own. 

The following are some parenting tips: if you want to sleep better, train your little one to fall asleep in a crib.

How To Get Baby To Nap Without Being Held

1. Create a comfortable sleep environment

The sleep environment makes a big difference in a baby’s ability to have longer and deeper sleep cycles. 

Putting a baby to sleep in their own room or their own bed and expecting them to go to sleep may seem like an unrealistic pipe dream right now, but creating that environment will get you those results faster.

Think about it. You may be tired, but it’s still going to be challenging to get any real rest in a room that is not properly set up for you to fall asleep and stay that way.

White noise machine

The womb is not a quiet place. Baby hears your heartbeat, a lot of liquid swooshing around, muffled voices, the music you play, and other noises. 

If you have heard the saying “Silence is deafening,” know that for most babies, that is true.

Having white noise, soft music, or a fan in the room with the baby will help them feel more comfortable in their bed so that that morning nap is less of a battle.

A dark room

Believe it or not, your infant will not be terrified of the dark the way a toddler may be. 

The only fears newborns have are falling and loud noises. 

As they get older, around six months or so, separation anxiety and fear of strangers develop. But not a fear of the dark.

You don’t need a nightlight or to draw the curtain to let some light in. The dark is soothing and a great sleep association for your little one.

The right temperature

For daytime sleep, primarily, ensure the room is not overly warm. 

If your little one needs to nap in the early afternoon when the sun has had all day to warm your home and the room your child sleeps in, then you need to make the sleep environment cool and comfortable. 

Many parents figure a baby will sleep better in a warm room. However, a cool room will solicit a more nap-ready baby.

2. Remove sleep associations

A sleep association object will prepare your baby for a nap when it is seen or felt. 

Removing these association objects slowly may make your baby stay awake for a few minutes longer at first, but in the end, the payoff is worth it.

If your baby is used to naps preceded by a pacifier, baby bottle, rocking chair, or glider, then removing these and putting a drowsy but awake little one in their bed can get your baby in the habit of going to bed awake.  

Removing other objects or routines, such as holding them until they sleep, will help your baby begin to self-soothe and start associating bedtime with the crib.

Sleep experts agree that babies do best when bed means sleep and not other soothing objects.

A car ride is just a band-aid

You’ll get more tips from well-meaning people about how to get babies to sleep better than you’ll be able to count. 

However, remember that not all advice is good, even if it works in getting your little one to nap. Naps should take place in a bed or sleep environment. 

A ride in the car makes babies sleepy because of the movement, vibrations, and white noise that comes from the road and tires. 

In the early days of sleep training, you may be tempted to give up, put the baby in the car, and just start driving, but this doesn’t mean that your little one won’t wake up when you stop the car.

How To Get Baby To Nap Without Being Held

3. Sleep training

A newborn is too little for sleep training to work effectively. 

However, going through the motions of sleep training can give new parents the tools they need in life to get successful crib napping after those first two months with their child.

Don’t feel guilty

Babies tend to put up quite a fight when you decide that sleep training needs to happen. 

Rather than a nap in their crib and wake up well rested, they spend their time crying and carrying on as though they need the entire neighborhood to know that mom or dad is a big meanie.

Worrying that you’re damaging your child or causing irreparable harm at bedtime or during scheduled naps to try sleep training is an easy trap to fall into. 

However, sleeping is necessary for good health for anyone, and usually, your child is only screaming because they aren’t getting what they want.

How sleep training works

Sleep training works for napping or overnight sleep. It involves the parent putting the baby in the crib for either sleep or a nap while drowsy but still awake, and then walking away from the crib and leaving the baby to sleep on their own.

You will most likely be resisted, and the worst part is having to wait for your little one to calm down enough to take naps to begin with. The trick is not to pick up the baby or hold them and allow them to sleep in your arms.

Distract yourself after ensuring that baby is safe and not in actual distress. 

Check your e-mail, listen to some music, call a friend. Do something to keep you from checking on your infant every few seconds to see if they are falling asleep or awake. 

Even a sleeping baby wakes up if you check on them compulsively.

Cry it out is a myth

Sleep training gets a bad reputation due to some people referring to it as “cry it out” training. 

Despite what you may have been told, you don’t leave a child to fall asleep on their own for hours on end. 

Instead, you monitor and encourage your little one to nap independently and wake refreshed on their own so that they develop good habits.

Your child can fall asleep alone

From your arms to their own bed can be a reality. 

Of course, it won’t happen all at once, and you may be destined for hours of trying and failing. Just trust that your little one can’t possibly spend their entire life refusing to sleep alone.

It will happen eventually.

Patience and lots of grace come into play, as well as using the tools and tips in this article to get your baby on track. Eventually, you will also get your well-deserved rest.

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