To nap schedule, or not to nap schedule? That is the question...!
A question that is often asked by parents. Should they introduce a nap schedule or follow the lead of their little one?!
Establishing a nap routine can be worrying for some parents, as they often think that this will mean their days are dictated by a nap structure. And honestly, who wants their life to revolve around naps and be at home ALL THE TIME just to get a routine established.
No-one, that's who! Including me. So that is why my routines are flexible.
In all honesty, you don't actually need to follow a nap routine if your baby is sleeping well. If your child is happy, calm, well-rested and naps well, then there really isn't a need for a structure. And in fact, some children just naturally fall into a pattern that reflect their body clock function.
However, there are a large number of children who don't nap well. Their body clock is out of rhythm and they have no idea when they should be awake and when they should be asleep. These are the children who are likely to need more routine, more structure and more predictability.
In these situations, it is beneficial for your child if you consider establishing a nap routine. Most babies and children thrive on routine and it is entirely possible to notice big improvements in your child's overall sleep if you introduce a nap routine.
Do keep in mind that a nap routine doesn't mean that you are now controlled by the clock. Whilst a set nap routine can require a lot of consistency, persistence and predictability to establish, it really only takes a few weeks for your child's body clock to internalise the pattern that you are setting. Once your child has adjusted to the routine, it takes 3-5 days to make a shift in their pattern, so having a day or two here and there out of routine is not going to cause any issues for your progress!
But what routine should you follow? There are a variety of routines that are possible but I find the most beneficial routine is the short-long-short or the short-long nap routine. As a basic explanation, the short morning nap discourages early morning waking and promotes a long middle of the day nap. And the purpose of the longer midday nap is to build enough consolidated and restorative sleep to keep your child's overtired hormones at bay. If your child is still on three naps a day, the third nap just gets them through to bedtime without the over tiredness kicking in.
If you're looking for more of a routine to follow, then consider downloading yourself a copy of my age appropriate Nap Schedules - available in my Facebook group: Raising Happy Kids Facebook Group. Just send a request to join the group and then you will gain access to my files.
If you’d like some one on one support to improve your child’s naps and establish a routine, then reach out to me to discuss your package options.
My name is Shereen Nielsen and I am a certified infant and child sleep coach and Birth and Postpartum Doula. I am also a lecturer and mentor for students on their journey towards becoming a Sleep Consultant, through my on-line internationally recognised sleep consultants course.
If you would like more information about my services please contact me: