1. Watch out for micro-sleeps! It’s really important to make sure your little one isn’t taking opportunities in their awake period to doze, lull or wind down. The reason is that this can absolutely cause them to gain a second wind and resist sleep time ahead. So if your little one is getting even remotely drowsy or really lulling on a feed, it’s likely that once they finish that they are likely to ‘reboot’, and this means that achieving a nap shortly thereafter can be hard work.
2. Don’t wait for really obvious tired signs. By the time your little one is red-eyed, whinging, frustrated and pulling at their ears, this can indicate they are overtired. I always tell my clients that if you don’t jump at the first tired sign things can fail miserably. This is especially the case for babies that are sleep deprived and show tired signs through their awake time. So around 15 minutes before your little one is typically due to go down (towards the end of their awake period), I recommend looking for signs of zoning out, losing interest or going quiet. I call it the calm before the storm.
3. I recommend dark rooms for naps. By 6 weeks your little one’s circadian cycle typically would have matured to the correct pattern, so there’s no need to worry about them mixing up their days and nights. Dark rooms are a great way to minimise distraction and encourage deeper sleep cycles.
4. If your little one is above 4 months of age and still only taking short naps, I recommend three basic changes (if they aren’t already in place):
- Run a feed, play and sleep pattern.
- Make sure he/she isn’t getting drowsy on feeds if their sleep is problematic.
- Teach your little one to fall asleep in the space that they will wake up in. This will give them a great sense of reassurance, knowing that where they fall asleep is where they will wake up. With an ability to self-settle, your babe has a much greater chance to conquer the re-settles in between cycles.