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How I got my newborn to take an actual nap.

Being the mother of five means Kowalli Mom Stefanie gets asked a lot of baby-related questions. Most of the questions are the easy kind, like “Which stroller should I buy?” (A: something you can fit into your car while it’s still open in case you forget how it folds. True story.) Then there are the tough ones, such as “How do I get my baby to take an actual nap?” This one’s a little tricky, as baby’s nap habits depend on 1) their age, 2) their personality and 3) your family’s lifestyle.

1) Newborn babies have very tiny stomachs, about the size of a walnut. This means that they process food lightning-fast and need to re-nourish every hour or so. By 3-6 months he or she is likely to stay awake for longer periods during the day and can be expected to sleep for longer stretches at night. So when your newborn is waking up on the hour, every hour, remember that this phase doesn’t last forever. It’s a matter of survival!

2) Personality is another clue to your baby’s sleep habits. We all know a mum who has given birth to a dream baby that sleeps on command for endless amounts of time. I was definitely not that mom, and my first daughter’s fussy personality was anything but dreamy. Jillian refused to take regular naps in her crib as a newborn. However she would sleep peacefully for hours in a baby carrier. Did this mean that she never slept in a crib? Yes, for the first few months anyways. Honestly, I read every book on the subject and even attempted a cry-it-out session. Let’s just say your mother’s instincts are there for a reason. It was terrible. Fortunately for me it was just about this time that I discovered La Leche League. It turns out that feeling like a kangaroo is natural. Babies need human contact, as much as they can get. And they won’t be spoiled. My daughter is 11 now and a highly independant and caring individual. She’s outgrown the carrier but hasn’t grown tired of snuggling with mom :o)

3) Your family’s lifestyle will also dictate your newborn’s nap habits. My younger kids became car sleepers, since we were always on the go for one thing or another. It became typical to schedule an outing before the baby’s usual naptime in order that we could simply take the infant seat into the house at the end of our errands. While my youngest is now 2 and nap time has been reduced to a mere 20-30 minutes, we’ve been known to drive her around the block and transfer her to her toddler bed, (or sit with her in the car for a much-needed magazine break.) Of course there is always the need for someone other than Mom or Dad to be able to put baby down for a nap. In this case the rocking chair is a great option, a stroller works just a well. Baby carriers are also adjustable if you can convince your caregiver to use it! (They come in camo prints for guys too.)

Naptime can be a battle, but it doesn’t always have to be done by the book. Follow your instincts and find ways that work for you and your baby.

How do you make naptime happen? Comment below!

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