The Case Of The Missing Nap

Getting a child to sleep is often a difficult task. Kate Kelly, Managing Editor of American Baby.com, discusses the best ways to get your son or daughter on a sleep schedule.

Sometimes the problem isn't getting your child to sleep, it's keeping them asleep. Many children fall asleep in their car seat, but wake up when you try to move them and won't go back to their nap. "Unfortunately, the best way to avoid that is to rearrange your schedule so that you're not running errands during their nap time," says Kelly. She suggests staying consistent. If your child does nod off in the car, try moving the car seat, not the child. Take the whole car seat inside - child and all - and rest the seat on the floor until the child wakes up naturally. Or, bring a good book along. "Stay in the car and read," says Kelly.

Some children will go down for their naps, but then wake up too early. Many children wake up after 15-20 minutes of napping because they don't get enough sleep in general. "An over-stimulated child isn't going to sleep well," says Kelly. Another trigger could be that you've scheduled your child's nap too late in the day. "A good rule of thumb is two hours after they woke up in the morning, they're ready for their first nap," says Kelly.

Traveling not only throw nap schedules off, they can throw a child's night sleeping pattern off too. There are many unfamiliar sounds and sights in a hotel room that can keep both children and adults awake at night.

Kelly suggests keeping your normal nightly routine as much as possible. This can ease the stress on your little ones. If you usually read a book after your child's nightly bath, be sure to bring a few favorites along on the trip. A white noise machine can help muffle unfamiliar sounds. If your child is used to sleeping in his or her own room, try blocking your bed from view by moving furniture around. Or, if possible, get a suite instead of a regular hotel room.

After a year, most babies are ready to cut back to just one nap a day.
"Follow your baby's lead," says Kelly. "When he starts waking up or refusing to go down, you might want to try to move the morning nap later and consolidate it into one longer nap."

For more on getting your child to sleep, as well as other parenting advice, click here.

By Erin Petrun