Where Should Newborns Nap? A Guide

Where Should Newborns Nap? A Guide

As parents of a new baby, taking naps on a routine sounds fantastic. You probably have an enormous sleep debt that you would like to make a dent in repaying. 

Napping during the day is necessary for your newborn to meet their sleep needs. Newborns need a lot of sleep to help them grow and develop. With your baby doubling their birth weight by around five months and tripling it by the time they are a year old, sleep is an essential factor that ensures that your baby grows adequately

You may ask where your newborn should nap during the day. Let’s look at your newborn’s sleep needs and where they can slumber away during the day.

Newborn Sleep Needs

As with any baby, their needs and development will be unique, so your baby may not follow this schedule to the very letter, and that’s okay! On average, newborns should get around 14 to 17 hours of sleep a day. Some newborns may even sleep more.

Since your baby didn’t have a light in the womb, they are born not knowing the difference between night and day. During this stage, your baby is a sleeping machine, waking up to feed and for a diaper change, and then drifting off back to sleep. 

Trying to create a schedule will need to wait as your newborn gets used to this new world they were born into. You’ll also start to learn your baby’s schedule and cues for when they are hungry or sleepy. 

Even when your baby is sleeping during the day, you can let some natural light into the room to enforce a light part of the day. Then during nighttime, keep as many lights off as possible to enforce that there is a dark part of the day. 

With some luck, your baby will gradually start to have more sleeping hours during the night and more awake hours during the day. 

Don’t try to keep your baby away during the day for more nighttime slumber hours, though. Keeping your baby awake when they want to sleep can make them irritable and make falling asleep more difficult. 

Newborn Sleep Safety

Sleep safety is an important topic that you are probably already well-versed in. Some of these points are definitely worth repeating.

When your baby is sleeping, they should be on their back. Your baby won’t be able to roll over by themselves until they are well out of their infant stage, but still, keep a watchful eye as our babies do develop at different rates. 

Sometimes our newborns may be fussy and can be calmed down with a position change, but as soon as they are asleep, place them on their back to continue resting.

Sleep spaces should be free of soft objects, like extra blankets or stuffed animals. Although a cute bunny or bear looks so sweet when nestled next to your baby, they do not need comfort objects just yet and they should be removed whenever your baby is snoozing. 

Your baby’s sleep space should be quite minimalistic, with just a fitted sheet covering the sleep surface. Your baby can be swaddled, but there should not be any loose blankets in the crib or bassinet with your newborn. 

Where Should Newborns Nap?

When it comes to the location of your baby’s nap, you have plenty of options. As long as the space is a safe sleep space, your newborn can nap away.

The best option is to nap at home, and in a consistent spot. This helps your baby make associations with certain places in the home as a cue that it is time to go to sleep. Of course, we can't always be at home when it is our newborn’s nap time. In that case, as long as the sleep space is safe and your baby is comfortable, commence to dreamland!

Bassinets/Pack n’ Plays

Many newborns sleep in bassinets for the first few months of life. Bassinets can be easily put into parent’s rooms for ease of the multiple night feedings that occur in the early days. As long as your bassinet is easily movable, anywhere in the home is fair game when it comes to naptime. 

This is especially useful whenever you are doing things around the house and want to keep a watchful eye over your baby. Although the saying goes, “nap when baby naps”, there are things that we need to accomplish during the day (eyeing that huge pile of laundry). Having a portable bassinet lets you keep your baby close by, while also the added bonus of getting your baby used to normal daytime household sounds.

Pack n’ plays are just as useful when you are not able to move your baby’s bassinet or are traveling. Pack n’ plays are super versatile and many come with a bassinet insert for easy travels or nap times around the house. Once your baby grows a little bigger, the bassinet insert can be stowed away, and your baby can use the pack n’ play as a contained place to play.

If your pack n’ play does not come with a bassinet insert, it may be tempting to add a mattress pad to the pack n’ play for extra comfort and support. However, you’ll want to avoid doing so unless the manufacturer specifically creates one. 

Adding a mattress pad can make the pack n’ play unsafe for unsupervised sleeping. 

There are numerous builds of pack n’ plays. Some are made for primarily home use, and some lightweight versions for outdoor use. No matter what type of pack n’ play you have, the most important thing is to ensure that they are clear of any objects when your baby is napping in them.

Free The Crib

For many parents, having a crib but using a bassinet during the night is a convenience factor. Your newborn is going to be waking up multiple times a night for feeds, so having the bassinet in the room allows for easy access to your baby during the night. As your baby grows out the bassinet and sleeps longer during the night, you can make the transition to full-time crib sleeping. 

You can make this transition potentially easier by placing your baby in their crib to nap during the day even if they are still sleeping in a bassinet at night. This will help your baby associate their crib with sleeping, and they will already be used to the environment when you make the permanent switch from bassinet to crib. 

Just like the bassinet and pack n’ play, keep the crib free of any soft objects or toys. It may be tempting to purchase the pretty crib sets, but a fitted sheet over the crib mattress should be the only thing in the crib with your baby. 

Car Seat, Stroller, & Swing

Babies love motion to help calm down. We see this when we gently sway our fussy baby from side to side and when we take our little one on car rides and know that they’ll be out within minutes. Some of us may not have grown out of a good car nap when we aren’t driving, of course!

Your baby is used to the motion. After all, mom carried them in her womb for nine months. In that time, she moved around constantly, and your baby was used to feeling their mother’s movements as she went about her day. 

When we have our babies in carriers like a car seat, stroller, or swing, they are likely to conk out in no time. The last thing we want to do is wake a sleeping baby, especially if they are fussy to begin with. 

When it comes to a car seat, the safest bet is to take your baby out of the car seat once you reach your destination. Of course, a sleeping baby is okay while you are driving. If you know your baby will soon wake up and they are in their car seat, keep a close watch on them. 

You may want to make your baby more comfortable and loosen the straps, but leave the straps as they are keeping your baby from slouching in their car seat. 

Car seats are designed for safe travel and not as sleep space, so if your baby is in for a long-haul nap, they’ll need to be relocated to a flat surface. If your baby falls asleep during a walk, as long as their stroller lays flat, your baby can nap as long as you keep a restful eye on them. If the stroller has an incline, the same rules apply to a car seat. 

We don’t want babies to sleep on an incline, so once you get home from your walk, gently place your baby in a flat, firm spot for safe sleeping.

Although your baby may love their swing, it is not designed for sleep. If your baby does start to drift off, gently relocate them to a flat spot. You can continue the rocking motion until they are sound asleep or place them while they are still drowsy and lulling off. 

Nap Tips

When your baby is napping during the day, make sure that their environment is comfortable. If you encourage your baby to sleep more during the night, you can place your baby in a naturally lit room. 

Avoid placing your baby near direct sunlight, as your baby may get overheated or even sunburnt. Windows also may let in cool drafts, so keep your newborn in an area that has a stable temperature. 

You probably want to avoid playing loud music throughout the house, but don’t limit normal household noises. This will help get your baby used to sleeping through the normal activities of the day and prevent you from having to tiptoe around when the baby is asleep. 

A huge nap tip is to place your baby in their sleeping spot while they are drowsy but haven’t fallen asleep yet. This can be done gradually, but is a proactive way of getting your baby to start the self-soothing process later down the road when they won’t need as many nighttime feedings. 

If your newborn does become fussy after laying them down though, be sure to pick them up and comfort them. They are not quite ready for any self-soothing techniques, but it is helpful in preparing for the future.

Swaddling

While your baby is a newborn, swaddling is a great way to help your baby feel snug and safe. Swaddling can also help calm babies and promote restful sleep, for both naptime and when tucked in for the night. 

To quickly review how to swaddle, fold a corner of a blanket down and place your baby on the blanket. You’ll want to align their shoulders right where you made the fold. Then you’ll grab either the left or right corner of the blanket and wrap it across your baby’s body, tucking it in between the opposite arm and their side. 

Wrap the other side of the blanket across their body, and you successfully swaddled your baby! It may take a few times to get the swaddle just right, and your baby will appreciate the snug feeling you have provided. 

Be careful not to swaddle too tight. 

You want to be able to fit a few fingers comfortably between the blanket and your baby. Match the fabric to the seasons to keep your baby at a comfortable temperature. Summer swaddles should be thinner, and winter swaddles can be thicker, making sure that your baby doesn’t get too overheated.

Bedtime Routine

One of the best ways to ensure that your baby gets the quality sleep they need is to establish a consistent bedtime routine. Of course, during these early newborn days, you may just be going through the motions. You will be creating a routine that will become a habit for you, and your newborn will grow up not knowing anything else. 

Bedtime routines create consistency, which children appreciate. They like predicting what is coming and enjoy spending time with their parents every evening.

This is the time to unwind and relax for a restful night’s sleep, and who better to spend it with?

During the newborn stage, your bedtime routine may just be to sing a lullaby while rocking and giving that last feed before settling in for a (hopefully!) long stretch of sleep. As your baby grows older, you will constantly evolve the routine to meet their needs. 

After all, bedtime routines do not have to be productive as your newborn grows. 

At Little Yawn Collective, we have you covered in the bedtime routine department. Our products are melatonin-free and are effective at helping your little ones fall asleep and stay asleep longer. Our products include our Soothing Shampoo & Body Wash with Calendula, Nourishing Body Lotion with Oat & Shea Butter, Relaxing Pillow and Linen Spray, and our Calming Probiotic & Organic Chamomile Sleep Drops.

Each product has been formulated with natural ingredients and approved by pediatricians. 

Make Little Yawn Collective a Part of Your Bedtime Routine

Enjoy these early newborn days. They may be tough with the multiple nightly wake-ups and trying to play catch up with housework and other tasks during the day. Soon enough, your newborn will be grown, and you’ll miss the days when you could just rock them and enjoy every little feature. 

Little Yawn Collective knows that bedtime can be challenging no matter our parenting differences. We’re here for you through nap times and bedtimes, and we will be cheering you on (well, maybe… quietly cheering). 

Rest easy parents, you got this!


Sources:

Infant growth: What's normal? | Mayo Clinic

Sleep and Your Newborn (for Parents) | Nemours KidsHealth

The Neuroscience of Calming a Baby | Psychology Today

Is It Okay for Babies to Sleep in Car Seats? | Consumer Reports

Swaddling: Is it Safe? | HealthyChildren.org

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