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Helping Infants Nap

Struggling to get your infant to nap? Questions about infants napping in child care? I’m a fan of Elizabeth Pantley’s books and methods for helping infants nap. It can be even more difficult when you’re caring for the infant in your child care. How do you get the baby to sleep in a crib when they’re used to being held a lot or napping in a baby seat, swing or carrier? It can be really difficult!

Helping Infants Nap The No-Cry Nap Solution by Elizabeth Pantley[xyz-ihs snippet=”Thank-you-for-reading-“]
Here is some information on a new book by The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems (Pantley) including excerpts. I am a big believer in naps mostly because of the difference I see in Brett when he naps (he still does most of the time on the days he’s not in school). We had a hard time when he was a baby getting him to sleep at night but I think it was mostly due to his breathing problem. He had large adenoids, constant runny nose and sleep apnea. His adenoids were removed at 18 months. He slept much better after that and I believe he has had quality sleep since. He has always slept in his own bed (after transitioning to a regular bed) and rarely wakes up in the night. He never gets out of bed once he’s in. That may have more to do with discipline but he loves his bed and going to sleep at night!

I also feel very strongly about sleep training. Basically, teaching a child to go down calmly and go to sleep ON THEIR OWN. All my child care children nap at the same time. No one throws a fit and rarely fools around. They just go to sleep and the older ones get up when they wake up. If it’s not long enough, I send them back in! I haven’t had that happen in a long time. I know the older ones don’t need as much sleep but they can rest quietly otherwise they just wake everyone else up.

Usually, the smaller ones wait until I come & get them. By 18 months they are sleeping on nap mats and sleeping bags. That’s the expectation and it does work. Parents are amazed but I think it’s about a routine, consistency and just having the expectation that it’s going to be this way! I have had to insist that Brett naps but just keeping on it makes the difference. Now that he’s older, like in the summer, he doesn’t nap every day but he can have quiet time in his room and rest. *I* need that time too! I don’t know any parent that doesn’t need it and I don’t think it’s punishing the child. I have some child care children that *refuse* (according to the parents) to nap at home. Personally, I think it’s just that they are allowed not too and mom and dad give in.

I will have a new infant in the fall that I will have to train. I’m already not looking forward to it but I feel confident about it. The biggest challenge is that things are done differently at home so it’s confusing for the infant, but they soon figure it out!

**I like Supernanny’s Stay in Bed technique & many of her other ones. I also have read Good Night, Sleep Tight (and own it for reference) and used the Sleep Lady’s advice to help kids fall asleep on their own.
Will your child only nap in your arms, in a swing, or after elaborate rituals? Does your child take cat naps — or none at all? Let world-renowned, trusted parenting author Elizabeth Pantley help you. She’ll guide you with the same sensitive expertise and gentle approach used in her other No-Cry bestsellers about sleep, discipline, and potty training.

Research proves that daily naps improve health, mood, growth, intelligence and well-being. Yet children often resist the naps they need and parents don’t know how to make them happen. The results are fussy, crying babies and cranky, grouchy kids who also have trouble sleeping at night!
In The No-Cry Nap Solution Pantley explains to parents of children ages newborn to kindergarten the importance of napping to both behavior during the day and sleeping during (and through!) the night. She then shares her gentle, loving child-friendly techniques–tested on families of all sizes and circumstances–and shows you how you can customize her solutions for your own family.

Pantley addresses issues such as children who resist naps, dealing with schedule changes, turning short naps into longer ones, helping a child go from needing motion for sleep to “stationery” sleep, nursing at naptime, daycare-related napping problems, newborn “in-arms” or “in-sling” napping issues, and much more.

(Excerpts below)


I thought I knew everything there was to know about naps, since I’ve written two other books and countless articles about children and sleep, but I was shocked and amazed at the new information I discovered while writing this book.

I set out on this venture knowing that parents struggle getting their children to nap. Everyone knows that children need naps, but the biological reasons behind this will convince you, without a doubt, that you should do everything you can to provide your baby or young child with daily nap time. It is common knowledge that when a child misses a nap he gets cranky, but you will be intrigued to learn the actual reasons why this happens.

Naps take only a few hours of time, but naps – or lack of naps – shape all twenty-four hours of your child’s day. The quality and quantity of your child’s naps influence his mood, behavior, health, and brain development. Naps can affect how happy your child is when she wakes up in the morning and how easily she’ll go to bed at night. An appropriate nap schedule is a vital component for your child’s healthy, happy life. When you consider all of this, you’ll also understand that your child’s naps – or lack of naps – can affect all 24 hours of your day, as well as your child’s.

While all experts agree that naps are important, and while they all know that nap problems can be a challenge to parents, what’s often missing are gentle, sensitive, loving solutions. Every idea I present is kind and respectful of the needs of both children and parents. In addition, I know that all children and parents are different, and cookie-cutter solutions are not what parents seek, so I include many options that can be customized to your own needs.

I have included two excerpts for you below. For a complete set of excerpts please visit my website here:

~ Hugs,


Why Short Cat-Naps Are Not Good Enough
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Nap Solution

If your child’s naps are shorter than an hour and a half in length, you may have wondered if these brief naps provide enough rest for your little one. You might suspect that these catnaps aren’t meeting your child’s sleep needs – and you would be right. The science of sleep explains why a short nap takes the edge off, but doesn’t offer the same physical and mental nourishment that a longer nap provides.

It takes between 90 and 120 minutes for your child to move through one entire sleep cycle, resulting in a Perfect Nap. It has been discovered that each stage of sleep brings a different benefit to the sleeper. Imagine, if you will, magic gifts that are awarded at each new stage of sleep:

Stage 1 – Very light sleep
Lasts 5 to 15 minutes
The gifts:
Prepares body for sleep
Reduces feelings of sleepiness

Stage 2 – Light to moderate sleep
Lasts up 15 minutes

The gifts:
Increases alertness
Improves motor skills
Stabilizes mood
Slightly reduces homeostatic sleep pressure (The biological process that creates fatigue and irritability.)

Stage 3 – Deep sleep
Lasts up to 15 minutes
The gifts:

Strengthens memory
Release of growth hormone
Repair of bones, tissues and muscles
Fortification of immune system
Regulates appetite
Releases bottled up stress
Restores energy

Reduces homeostatic sleep pressure
Stage 4 – Deepest sleep
Lasts up to 15 minutes

The gifts:
Same benefits as Stage 3, but enhanced
Next Stage – Dreaming
Lasts up to 9 to 30 minutes

The gifts:
Transfers short-term memory into long-term memory
Organizes thoughts
Secures new learning
Enhances brain connections
Sharpens visual and perceptual skills
Processes emotions

Relieves stress
Inspires creativity
Boosts energy
Reduces homeostatic sleep pressure
Longer naps
For as long as your child sleeps

The gifts:
Repeat all of the above stages in cycles

In order for your child to receive all of these wonderful gifts he must sleep long enough to pass at least once through each stage of sleep. Longer naps will encompass additional sleep cycles and provide a continuous presentation of gifts.

Newborn babies have unique cycles that slowly mature over time. A newborn sleep cycle is about 40 to 60 minutes long, and an infant enters dream sleep quickly, skipping several sleep stages. Infants need several sleep cycles to receive their full allotment of gifts. If your infant is sleeping only 40-60 minutes at naptime it is an indication that your baby is waking between cycles instead of returning to sleep on his own. We’ll cover a plethora of ideas to help your baby learn to go back to sleep without your intervention.

Now you can clearly see why a short nap doesn’t provide your baby or young child the best benefits of napping. You can also see why a mini-nap can fool you into thinking it is enough – since the very first five to fifteen minutes reduce feelings of sleepiness and bring that whoosh of second-wind energy that dissipates quickly, resulting is fussiness, crying, crankiness, tantrums and whining.

This is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, December 2008).

You may reproduce this on your website or in your work. Please include my name and book title. More excerpts (available for reprint) are posted on my website.

Cat-Naps — Making Short Naps Longer
By Elizabeth Pantley, Author of The No-Cry Nap Solution

Is your child a cat-napper? Does your baby fall asleep being fed, while in a car seat, sling, rocker, or someone’s arms? When transferred to bed, does your baby then sleep 30 to 50 minutes? That’s the exact length of one sleep cycle. These factors combined define the main cause of mini-naps: an inability to fall asleep or stay asleep without aid – your baby wakes fully at the end of the first sleep cycle, resulting in a too-short nap. I refer to this problem as One-Cycle Sleep Syndrome (OCSS). This leads us to understand the reason that many babies are cat-nappers and also directs us to potential solutions.

Cycle-Blender Naps
One way to help your baby sleep longer is to put him for a nap in a setting that will lull him back to sleep when he wakes between sleep cycles. Cycle-Blender naps occur in slings, cradle-swings, rocking cradles, or baby hammocks. Any of these can help cat-nappers extend their sleep time because when Baby begins to awaken the rhythmic motion can lull him back to sleep.

You can also create a Cycle-Blender nap in a stroller. Take a daily walk outside (it’s good for both of you!) or bring your stroller in the house. Walk your baby until she falls asleep, and then park the stroller near you. If she starts to move about, resume walking or give her a bit of a bounce and jiggle.

Once your baby gets used to taking a longer nap in the stroller, you can make a transition to bed naps. Start by reducing the movement, rolling slower and for less time. After your baby is asleep, park the stroller, using the jiggle if she wakes mid-nap. Over time, let your baby fall asleep in the stationary stroller parked next to his crib, and when the nap habit is in place, change to naps in the crib.

Create a Sleep-Inducing Bedroom
Light, noise or an absence of noise can all cause a cycle-shifting napper to wake up fully instead of falling back to sleep. To encourage longer naps, keep the sleeping room dark so that bright light doesn’t keep him alert between sleep cycles. To soothe your child through sleep cycle changes, use white noise (a recording of nature sounds), or relaxing music. Keep this turned on all through naptime. It will mask the noises that can wake a child who is shifting through sleep cycles. This also creates a powerful sleep cue, and if it is portable — like a CD or travel sound alarm – can be taken with you for away-from-home naps.

Build a Better Bed
To entice your baby to have a longer nap, recreate the crib into a cozier nest. Use softer sheets, such as flannel, plus a thicker, softer crib mattress pad. You can also warm the bed surface before naptime with a towel fresh from the dryer (remove this and test the surface before laying your baby down.)

Make the Bed a Familiar Place
Let your baby have several play sessions in his crib during waking hours. Stay with him, engage his interest and introduce a few new toys. Let him see you as a part of the crib experience so that he gets a happy feeling being there. This way, when he is put in his crib for naptime and wakes up mid-nap it won’t be a lonely, foreign place, but one that carries familiar memories of fun times with you. This can help him accept it as a safe place for sleep and allow him to fall back into slumber after that first sleep cycle.

Interpret Signs of Tiredness
If you put your child for a nap before he is tired, or when he is overtired he won’t sleep as well as when you hit that ideal just-tired moment. Observe your child for signs of tiredness, such as losing interest in toys, looking glazed, becoming cranky, or slumping in his seat. Put your child for a nap the moment you see any sign of fatigue. If you take note of the time that this occurs over a week you should see a pattern emerge. This can help you set up a daily nap schedule that suits your child’s tired times perfectly.

Gauge time spans between naps
In addition to signs of tiredness also watch to see how long your child has been awake. Children can only stay happily awake for a certain period of time until they receive a biological pull towards a nap. Once that “pull” begins your child becomes fatigued and his cheerful mood begins to deteriorate. Each child has unique sleep needs, but this chart shows the typical span of time a child can stay happily awake:

Awake time span

1 – 2 hours

6 month old
2 – 3 hours

12 month old
3 – 4 hours

18 month old
4 – 6 hours

2 year old
5 – 7 hours

3 year old
6 – 8 hours

4 year old
6 – 12 hours

Keep in mind children grow and change and their nap schedule should change with them. What’s perfect today may be different than what is perfect next month. Keep your eye on your child and on the clock.

This is a copyrighted excerpt from The No-Cry Nap Solution: Guaranteed Gentle Ways to Solve All Your Naptime Problems by Elizabeth Pantley. (McGraw-Hill, December 2008).

You may reproduce this on your website or in your work. Please include my name and book title. More excerpts (available for reprint) are posted on my website.