Did you know that a pre-sleep nap routine is just as important as a pre-sleep bedtime routine?
We often hear about such wonderful pre-bed (night) routines but often times, people do not realize that a pre-sleep nap routine is also very beneficial.
- It helps your child relax and decompress
- It lets them know what to expect. Children cannot tell time so they rely on the sequence of events that happens before transitions to let them know what is happening next in their day.
- It is a wonderful time to cuddle and connect on an emotional level before they settle in for sleep.
You can start a short pre-nap routine as early as 2-2.5 months but since they still fall asleep at random times, at this young age it will be something that you just introduce and not necessarily do for every sleep period since they may fall asleep in the carrier or car seat, etc. It would be impossible to do the nap routine for every nap that young. You will really want to start implementing this at age 3-4 months as you move to attempting more and more naps in their sleep space vs always on the go.
The nap routine does not need to be a long one. 5-15 minutes is plenty of time. The bedtime (night) routine can be a little more lengthy with a book and a massage or bath (if you choose.) The idea for the nap routine is that it is just long enough to tell them what is happening. We all need a few minutes of decompression/relaxation time before we go to bed!
Here is a picture of an idea for a pre-nap routine.
Not sure if your child should be napping in a dark room or brightly lit room? If they are young, start to work on some of those naps being in a dark room now. Perhaps start with nap 1 and 2. The other nap(s) can be done on the go or as usual. So during awake times, being in a bright room is great but then go to their sleep space for naps. You can start to do a short pre-sleep nap routine as listed above in the photo and then stay in that dark sleep environment and get baby to sleep however you usually do. This will start to teach the internal clock that it is time to sleep. Start with 1 or two naps and go from there. By 4 to 4.5 months you want most naps to be done in a dark and consistent sleep environment.
TIP: If your child has a very strong feed to sleep association and you are trying to work on that, we recommend that you separate feeding and sleeping by about 15-20 minutes. This means that the feed can be done in another room and then they go into their sleep space for the turning on the sound machine, turning off the light and cuddle. If feeding right before bed works for you, don’t change a thing!