Saturday, April 25, 2015

Highly Effective Strategies for Ending, or Extending, Your Child's Nap

It would be nice to just let a baby figure out his or her sleep schedule, but we all know that's not always practical. Therefore, it is wise to familiarize yourself with strategies that will either end, or extend, your child’s nap when necessary. Moms usually discover their own successful methods fairly quickly, but for you newbies out there, here are some surefire techniques to get you started.

Strategies for Ending a Child's Nap:

  • Step into the shower. This strategy is especially effective when you first spend 10 minutes debating whether the baby would sleep long enough for you to complete said shower. You must be wet, and to be safe, lather up your hair nice and sudsy.
  • Make a nice hot cup of coffee. The aroma cues your cutie that it's wake-up time.
  • Get into your bed. Every new mom learns that the oft-quoted advice, “Sleep while the baby sleeps,” is really code for, "Let's get that baby up and at ‘em!" As soon as you get cozy in your bed, she will want out of hers. A word of caution: you may find that this strategy actually extends the nap if you suffer from momsomnia. Lying awake worrying about your kids, all the mistakes you’ve made, and/or what you need to do actually prolongs your child’s nap. If you find yourself in this situation, your best bet for ending the nap is to get up with the intent of doing something relaxing and/or productive. That should do the trick.
  • Start cooking something on the stove. You know, something that will burn if left unattended but not come out right if you stop the process midway. Risotto, anyone?
  • If you have more than one child, get them all asleep at the same time. As soon as you realize that you have a moment to yourself, someone will wake up. Easy peasy.
  • If all else fails, try thinking to yourself, “Wow, I’m surprised [insert child’s name] is asleep." Boom. Naptime is over.

Strategies for Extending a Child's Nap:

  • Watch as the clock ticks closer to the time you need to leave the house to go to an appointment, get the older kiddos from school, or go wherever you need to go when no one is around to babysit. In these circumstances children can be counted on to sleep as if there is nothing else in the world to do, and they will not transfer to their car seat without waking up. And screaming. And wanting to eat.
  • Read email and check Facebook. These activities feel just enough like wastes of time that the sleep gods will extend the nap long enough for you to feel suitably guilty for not making better use of that time. Be careful: as noted above, once you make an attempt to be productive, the nap will end.
  • During your kiddo's most inconsistent naptime, have somebody else watch him. He'll sleep.
  • This one requires a sacrifice, but if you are breastfeeding, you'll be able to extend a nap whenever you need to leave your babe and want her to wake up so that you don't have to deal with the hassle of pumping. She will snooze her way right through the whole process (but be forewarned that she will likely wake as soon as you squeeze out that last drop). Note: this strategy is usually even more successful when the pump parts require washing first.
  • If your child falls asleep in your arms and you want to do something else--anything else--he will continue to sleep and you won't have the heart to wake him, nor the courage to try to put him down in his crib. This is a particularly effective strategy if you are hoping to engage in any of the activities listed above as effective strategies for ending a nap. So what do you do in a circumstance like this? Forget the other stuff. Enjoy the moment. Those snuggles are heaven-sent and don't last forever, so soak them in while you can.
What "works" for you? Share your no-fail methods of ending, or extending, your child's nap in the comments section.

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