Naptime at our house used to be a recurring mystery: When would Lucy go down today? I’d be on the lookout for clues and remain suspicious through dim lights, books, and droopy eyelids. When I could no longer stand the suspense, I’d plop her in her car seat, where she’d anticlimactically drift off like it was no big deal. I knew Lucy should be napping in her crib, but she hated to, so I was willing to do whatever worked. Thank-fully, sleep experts say this isn’t all that bad. “There’s no one way to get your baby to nap, so you have to try lots of different things,” says Mary Ann LoFrumento, M.D., a pediatrician in Morristown, New Jersey, and the author of Simply Parenting. If you’ve ever experienced naptime drama, read on for mom and expert help.
“How can I get my baby on a nap schedule without being housebound?”
“A nap schedule isn’t a rigid, inflexible plan,” says Kim West, a clinical social worker and the author of Good Night, Sleep Tight. It’s just a framework based on when your baby gets tired during the day. Generally, infants between 4 and 15 months nap for one to two hours in the morning about two hours after waking up, and again in the afternoon for one to two hours. Some babies also take a late-afternoon nap, which most drop by 9 months.
Sounds doable, until you remember you need to run an errand or meet a friend. “Parents often feel chained to their house by their child’s nap schedule,” says West. But if you plan ahead, you can get beyond your driveway. “I’d pack my daughters’ food to take along so that we could run out during their awake windows. If I didn’t, then the hours would quickly fill up with meals and diaper changes before we could leave the house.”
“My baby fights her afternoon nap — it ends up being such a struggle. Help!”
In the wise words of my friend Samantha’s pediatrician, “When your child needs to sleep, she will…
Read more: Mindy Berry Walker, Parenting