Once I learned how to master the swaddle on a real, live baby and not stuffed animals, I was not about to give up that sleep secret until my babies were ready. So, I would swaddle baby for naps every time until each of my daughters showed signs they had outgrown swaddling.
When you swaddle the baby for daytime naps, it’s added assurance that she will sleep snuggly and well. Babies need nap time, and while they will nap for shorter stretches and less often the bigger they get, this time of daytime rest is so important for their development.
Plus, if you’ve been having trouble getting the baby to nap during the day, a swaddle can help bridge that gap, letting her rest peacefully until the next activity. And that means you can get a quick nap in yourself. Believe me, in the beginning, do it. That laundry and those dishes can wait.
Should I swaddle my baby for naps?
Absolutely! Just make sure you’re swaddling the right way. You can check out my recent how-to on swaddling and safety tips. Swaddling is best for newborns and young babies that can’t yet roll over. Putting her in a bassinet or cradle would prevent further rolling.
When you swaddle your baby for daytime naps, it’s the same technique of wrapping your baby. Don’t forget that swaddled or not, naptime or bedtime; babies should always be placed on their backs as per the AAP.
When should I stop swaddling my baby for naps?
Swaddling should end for naps and nighttime sleep when your baby can roll over. There are other factors too that I’ve covered recently, but the most important sign is rolling over. If your baby can’t stop swaddling cold turkey, you can swaddle with her arms up or arms out to make it safer while she transitions from this stage. My eldest was a cold turkey baby, while my youngest clung to the end of swaddling.
Tips for Naptime Swaddling
So, what else do you need to know about your swaddle baby for naps?
- Don’t keep baby swaddled ALL day long
Swaddling your baby in the newborn and young baby stages before she rolls over when she’s sleeping is perfectly fine. But when she’s awake, keep her unswaddled and let her move freely. Babies have to exercise their gross motor skills. They need tummy time and the chance to grow.
- Keep a naptime routine
In addition to swaddling, keep a routine for naps as you do with bedtime. In the beginning, this will be hard since newborns are tricky customers. But eventually, a pattern will emerge, so stick to it as best you can.
- Move baby to a safe sleeping spot
Not always will you be able to stay on schedule, though. Perhaps you’ve met a friend for a walk in the park with her baby, and now they’re sound asleep in their strollers. It’s fine if they sleep like this, especially under your watchful eye. However, it’s best for babies to sleep in a crib or bassinet.
If your baby has fallen asleep in a car seat or stroller, don’t leave them there for long periods. Move her gently, and if she starts fussing before it’s time for her nap to end, you can swaddle her.
- Pay attention to the signs of sleepiness
You should always prep baby for naptime when you see her rubbing her eyes or she seems cranky. Ideally, the subtle clues beforehand can help you avoid the cranky stage. Grab your swaddle blanket if the baby is yawning, starting to fuss, has droopy eyes, or is rubbing them a lot.
- Watch the temperature
The environment your baby naps in is also important. Make sure to keep the temperature so it’s not too hot or too cold. Between 68F and 72F is ideal. Don’t worry about her being cold. That’s what the swaddle is for. A muslin baby blanket can absolutely help keep the temperature regulated for your baby so she’s cozy no matter what.
- Give baby a reason to nap
Babies are not all that exciting in the newborn stage, but that doesn’t mean they need to be inactive. Keep your baby engaged between naps by talking to her, singing, and showing her things. Tummy time is important, too, to strengthen the neck muscles and help your baby hit those milestones. By doing so, your baby will definitely be ready when it’s time for napping. In case, she doesn’t like tummy time, here are some crucial tips for you.
And remember the golden rule…
Skipping naps will NOT make your baby sleep better at night. In fact, the opposite is true. You will have a cranky baby that will drive you insane. I speak from experience on this, and every single one of my mama friends has had this happen to them.
Let that swaddle help you get your baby to take a nice nap. Make sure you’ve got it nice and tight but not too tight (see my post on swaddling too tightly), and you’ll be good to go!
Leslie Berry lives with her husband and two young daughters in Los Altos, California, where she loves helping other moms get comfortable with motherhood and embracing the insanity with facts peppered with laughs.
She loves eating too much sushi, exercising, and jamming out on her Fender. Read more about Leslie here.