Most three to six month-old babies sleep around 15 hours a day including regular naps throughout. Parenting expert Kathryn Mewes, answers one reader’s question about her three month old son…
Q) How can I help my three-month old take a nap on his own? He sleeps in his crib all night 8pm to 8am but during the day he won’t go down for a nap
A) Firstly, I would like to say how lucky you are to have a baby so young sleeping through the night solidly. During the day your baby ideally needs three sleeps totalling no more than five hours. The key to children sleeping during the day is for us as parents to notice when they are tired.
With a young baby I suggest you lay them on their play mat to play and sit and chat to them for a while and then let them be stimulated by toys hanging above them.
Signs your baby is ready for a nap
- You will start to see your baby ‘cycling’ their legs. This is the first sign of them becoming tired.
- Next, they will start to clasp their hands and try to rub their faces.
- They will then start to get vocal and begin to ‘moan and groan’.
- Finally they will start to shout.
The key is to notice these signals and to take them to their Moses basket or cot to sleep at the stage when they start to moan a little. Don’t wait until they are shouting as this is when he will be over-tired.
Take them to a designated place to sleep – their nursery or a quiet room. Ensure it is dark. This is a signal to the baby that sleep is needed.
I truly believe that to swaddle a baby allows them to rest and relax without their hands attacking their faces. They do like the comfort of being ‘wrapped’ up. It gives them a sense of security but this a personal choice.
Place them in their cot (after a nappy change if needed) and then leave them to settle to sleep. If your son is settling himself to sleep at 8pm he is able to do it during the day.
You might find that he moans and groans and even shouts for a short period of time but he will then go to sleep.
The key is that you notice the ‘window of tiredness’. These tend to be 90 minutes after first waking in the morning. 30-60 minutes after the ‘lunch time’ feed. 4-5pm in the afternoon.