Nap Time for Babies

White Noise & Baby Development

Types of White Noise

White noise is available in many forms, from mobile crib attachments that play ocean sounds or wind noises to portable sound machines. The latter comes in a range of prices and options. The low-end choices provide a simple fan sound with multiple noise levels, while the higher-end machines offer a variety of background noises, such as waterfalls, heartbeats or "summer nights." If you are looking for a trial before making an investment, try a white noise CD or an online white noise station.

Benefits

Infants experience more shallow sleep cycles than adults, so background noise can help them achieve a more restful sleep. White noise is also calming for many babies, which is believed to be due to its similarity to the sounds they hear in the womb. Using a noise machine can be especially beneficial if your baby is easily disturbed or wakened, or if you share a bedroom. Vigilant new mothers know the "light sleeper syndrome" of waking up every 15 minutes to the sound of baby’s unconscious sighs. The truth is, a well-rested mommy makes for a happier home. You and your baby will both have more energy and be more pleasant during the day if you have a good night's sleep.

Concerns

Some white noise machines pose a safety issue if they operate at a higher decibel level than is safe for your baby. Normal conversation stays in the 60-decibel range, so the ideal level for a white noise machine would be half that -- enough to block out small noises but not loud enough to prevent you from hearing when your baby wakes. From a behavioral standpoint, consider that babies with constant white noise exposure can grow to rely on external sources to calm down or fall asleep, rather than developing an internal calming ability. When weaned from a sound machine, your baby may become overly sensitive to typical nighttime noise, creating an unwanted ordeal for you.

Study Results

A 2003 study conducted by the University of California suggests that continuous exposure to white noise may postpone language and hearing development in infants. In the lab tests performed on rats, the study directors discovered that once the subjects were no longer exposed to white noise, their brains’ hearing centers eventually escalated to a normal level of growth. Edward Chang, the study coordinator, did suggest that constant white noise may have lasting implication, but occasional white noise exposure should not have a significant impact.

How to Make Nap Time Easier for Toddlers

Establish a nap time that works for your toddler and then keep that nap time consistent. This will make nap time easier for your toddler in the long run because he will begin to expect it.

Schedule a quiet activity to complete just before nap time. This gives toddlers a chance to slow down. You could read a book, put together a puzzle or even sing a song.

Set up some type of white noise in your toddler's room. White noise is soothing and can come in the form of a small fan, vaporizer or even a white noise machine.

Turn off all of the lights in your toddler's bedroom. If your toddler is afraid of the dark, install a nightlight.

Remove sneakers, watches or anything else that may be uncomfortable when lying down, to get your toddler ready for bed.

Sing her a lullaby or rub her back to increase the feeling of relaxation. This will make it easier for your toddler to fall asleep after you leave the room.

Things You Will Need

  • Book
  • Puzzle
  • Fan
  • Vaporizer
  • White noise machine
  • Nightlight

Tip

Scheduling some time for active play in the morning can help wear your child out so that he'll sleep better when it comes time for his nap.

Warning

Do not allow your toddler to sleep with more than one or two toys. Beds that are filled with toys encourage play. Your goal is to make sleep easier.

Never use nap time as a punishment. Time-outs are appropriate for toddlers if you need to enforce discipline. Nap time is a time to relax and rejuvenate, and should be promoted in a positive light.

Refrain from giving your toddler any soda or caffeinated beverages before nap time.

How to Get Babies to Sleep at a Daycare

Create the Environment

Dedicate a specific a room in the daycare for sleeping, if possible. If not, partition off a quiet section of the main facility.

Place pack and plays or cribs on one side of the room or allotted space and seperate them appropriately. Refer to state regulations and specific requirements. Lay out sleeping mats on the other side of the room for older toddlers.

Load a music player with white noise CDs or MP3s. Ocean sounds, chirping crickets and other soothing nature sounds work well.

Create a stock of backup blankets, sheets, soft toys and sterilized pacifiers. These items come in handy when a parent leaves their baby's regular ones at home.

Cater to Individual Needs

Meet with the family of a new baby and thoroughly discuss the child's schedule, sleep habits and general disposition. Approach the topic gently, be a good listener and take notes.

Encourage families to bring a familiar blanket or toy from home. Place this in the baby's crib at nap time or let the item become part of the child's day as he becomes familiar with the new setting.

Follow each baby's nap time routine carefully. This may involve reading a book, feeding them a bottle or wearing them in a sling before you put them down.

Jot down notes documenting each child's sleep times and any potential issues. Communicate these with parents at pick up.

Work through any problems with sleep or the routine by addressing them first with parents. Then, adapt and implement various solutions until the situation remedies.

Things You Will Need

  • Separate sleeping room
  • Pack and Plays or cribs
  • Mats
  • Blankets
  • Retractable blinds
  • CD or MP3 player

Tip

A baby used to sleeping in an active environment may sleep better in a crib placed in the corner of the playroom.

Breastfed babies whose sleep routine involves nursing may need comforting from their mother at first. Encourage nursing mothers to take their work break at nap time and visit the daycare to nurse their baby down. Eventually, have the mother bottle feed. Once the bottle feeding is firmly accepted by the baby, you should be able to get the baby down on your own.

Warning

Always place young babies on their backs to sleep. Tummy sleeping has been linked to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).

How to Get My Toddler to Nap More Than 30 Minutes

When your little one won't sleep for more than 30 minutes, it can turn you into a grump just as easily as it can turn him into a grump. At 3 years old, some kids are ready to give up their nap, but most will still need it. Work with your child to help him get the sleep he needs so everyone is happier.

A quiet environment encourages napping.
A quiet environment encourages napping.

Sleeping Conditions

The conditions of the room where your child is napping might be the problem. Her bedroom might be too bright or the sounds from outside too loud. You might have to recreate nighttime sleeping conditions. On the other hand, your little one might get antsy thinking about what you're doing in the other room and might nap just fine on the couch. Some children might get a kick out of taking a nap in an unusual place, such as in a fort under the table or in a nook behind the couch. Experiment to find what works best.

Changing the Timing

Nap time might be coming at a time when your child isn't sleepy. He might fall asleep for a while, but soon will be awake and ready to play. Something else might be waking him up, such as the need to go to the bathroom. Try pushing the timing of his nap back 30 to 60 minutes and see whether he sleeps longer.

Relaxing Together

Sometimes, when a child wakes up, she can't fall back asleep because she's too curious about what you're doing or thinks that you might be feeling just as lonely as she is. If you curl up next to her, she might be more likely to extend her nap. You won't be able to get anything done while she's napping, but you will get a well-deserved break of your own.

Quiet Time

In some cases, it's not so much that your child needs the sleep -- it's more about you needing the break from parenting. Try starting a "quiet time," when your child must stay in his room playing quietly until you say it's OK to come out. Because he has some control over his conditions, he might be more likely to sleep when he needs it.

How to Balance Housework and Taking Care of a Toddler

Create a schedule. While you could probably squeeze housework into all your extra minutes of the day before children, your toddler is probably occupying most of those free minutes. To maximize your cleaning efficiency and make sure you're getting the most important stuff done first, write out a list of what needs to be done and make a schedule of cleaning activities for the week.

Make a visual schedule of each day's events to help your toddler understand that you'll be busy during your scheduled cleaning times. Use stickers or colorful drawings to fill in the time blocks of the schedule. For example, use stickers of toys for times that are designated play times and food stickers for mealtimes. During the short blocks of time that you'll be busy with housework, use stickers of vacuums, mops, dishes or a washing machine to show your toddler what's going on. It will also help her to see that the time you are busy with housework is very small in comparison to the times you are available for learning and play activities.

Involve your child in the housework to keep her from fussing when it's time to get chores done. While she's not ready to scrub out the oven or wash Dad's socks, she can help you dust, put toys away in the toy box or sweep with a miniature broom. While it might take a little longer, she'll be content to work with you and proud of her accomplishments when the two of you are done. Housework can even be an educational task for your child. You can have her help you separate laundry to introduce colors and stack bath towels, hand towels and facecloths according to size.

Lower your expectations and don't worry about passing the white glove test. Focus on the stuff that needs to be done -- like the dirt ring in the bathtub or the sink full of dirty dishes -- and put chores, such as dusting the ceiling fixtures and keeping the windows squeaky clean lower on the priority list. Remember that there's no reason to cry over spilled milk -- it will still be there for you to clean up tomorrow.

Things You Will Need

  • Stickers of toys, food and cleaning supplies
  • Miniature broom

How to Establish Quiet Time with Children Not Napping

Setting Expectations

It's important to let your child know what to expect during quiet time. For example, you may want her to stay in her room or you may not care where in the house she is, as long as she's quiet. Initially, you'll have to set some boundaries, such as how long quiet time lasts, what type of activities are acceptable and where she should be. Your child may push back on some of the rules, but you'll have to stand your ground.

Getting Started

You may want an hour of quiet time, but this might not be realistic when getting started. Instead, stick with a shorter time period, like 15 or 30 minutes. Set a timer and tell your child that he has to stay in his room quietly until the timer goes off. Initially, you may have to spend some of the quiet time with your child if he's not used to being by himself. Gradually, though, you'll be able to leave him alone for longer periods of time.

Independent Activities

Having activities that your child can do independently is the key to successful quiet time. Reading books is a quiet activity that children can enjoy even if they aren't yet able to really read the words. Many children enjoy working with art supplies, such as coloring pictures or painting. Quiet time can also give older children a chance to do homework or practice fine motor skills like writing and cutting paper into shapes. Creating activity boxes that contain things like blocks, letter-matching cards or clay can give your child the opportunity to choose which activities to do.

Quiet Time Together

Though it's nice to get a break, it's also beneficial to have some quiet time together with your child. You might read stories together or play board games. You can also do more complex crafts, such as teaching skills like sewing or knitting, that your child may later be able to do independently. Quiet time is also a good opportunity to work on intellectual skills like math and reading. Baking is also a productive, fun and educational way to use quiet time together.