Research has shown that the quality and length of your baby’s naps affects his nighttime sleep. If he naps too late in the day, it will most certainly affect his nighttime sleeping. It’s important to tune into your baby’s biological clock and learn when his natural naptime is so his nighttime sleeping schedule is on the right track as well. It’s also imperative to get your baby down for a nap as soon as you see his “sleepy signals.” He will become overtired if you wait too long, and unable to go to sleep as a result.
Consistency is the key. Know when to get him down for a nap, and then get him down for a nap each and every time you see the signals. Those signals might include quieting down, losing interest in people and toys, rubbing eyes, fussing, yawning, or decreasing activity. Waiting too long might find your baby getting his ‘second wind’ and making it difficult if not impossible for him to lay down for his nap. When you respond to the signals right away, you not only eliminate the later possibility of having an increasingly crabby child later in the day or evening, but you eliminate the frustration for yourself of having to deal with such a fussy child. Once you’ve studied your child’s biological clock and watched for the signals carefully and consistently for a week or so, it should be a breeze to develop a solid napping schedule that will be easy for you both to follow.
Developing a consistent nap routine is equally important. Just as you have a routine prior to bedtime, you should also have one for naptime. This routine should be different from your nighttime routine though, although it can have similar elements, such as quiet music. Follow the routine faithfully every day, unless your child has been especially active such as a family outing or another activity outside the daily routine. And once your baby learns the nap routine, he’ll learn the cues that tell him when naptime is nearing, making naptime easier on you as well.