Around the time of your baby’s three-month birthday, you and she will have likely begun to develop something of a parent-baby schedule: nursing sessions, tummy time, diaper changes, and of course, naps! Since three-month-old babies grow so fast, they need 14 to 17 hours of sleep each day: that means a good night’s rest plus several daylight siestas. But coaxing your baby to bed at certain hours of the day can be easier in theory than in practice. So when it comes time to schedule regular naps, give these pro-slumber guidelines a try.
Watching your baby with the eyes of a hawk and the mind of a scientist will help you identify some telltale signs of sleepiness. For instance, if she gets blissed-out and carefree after breastfeeding, then you might want to designate that post-mealtime hour as a potential nap window. Take note of when she yawns or rubs her eyes and face. These are signs that she is getting sleepy, and the perfect window of napping time might have arrived.
The key to creating a nap schedule for this early part of your baby's life that truly works is sticking to that schedule as closely as the two of you can. The more you put your baby down for a nap at the same time of day every day, the easier it will be for her to drop off at that time. Random and erratic nap schedules can be stressful for parents and disruptive for babies who need their rest.
As much as we strive for neatness in our daily schedules, life gets messy. Imagine you’re just lowering your baby into the crib when your cell phone lights up with a panicked text from a visiting friend. They’ve missed their flight back home and could use an emergency lift to the train station. This would mean delaying your baby’s nap by an hour or so, but as long as she is sleeping on a mostly consistent schedule, it’s fine to occasionally shuffle things around. Really. You’ll be happier for it.
As always, even if your baby gets grumpy about being put down to sleep on her back, back-sleeping is an important part of keeping her safe.