Welcome to the ProSquad! Every week we'll be checking in with our crack team of experts to find answers to parenting's trickiest dilemmas and hottest issues. This week we hear from our sleep expert about toddler naps, and our infant expert weighs in on co-sleeping with your baby.
My baby only naps for 45 minutes at a time. Is there anything I can do to get her to sleep longer?
You're not alone. Legions of new parents find that they can't even squeeze in a load of dishes — forget about a shower or a cup of tea — during their baby's brief siestas. Factors that contribute to shorter-than-ideal naps are development, timing, and temperament. First, consider your child's age. Short naps are highly common in the first few months of life. Longer naps often develop around 4-6 months of age as sleeping patterns begin to mature. Second, take a look at nap timing. Short naps may signal that your baby is ready to be awake for longer stretches during the day. Increase the interval of wakefulness before the nap by 10 minutes per day until nap length improves. The final factor is temperament: some babies are simply short nappers (though most will begin snoozing for longer stretches before age 2). If your 45-minute napper seems relatively happy during the day and sleeps well at night, stop fretting over nap length. Instead, help ensure that short naps are restorative by maintaining consistent nap times and a cool, dark, quiet sleeping space. A short nap is better than no nap: research has shown that naps improve learning and help babies retain new information.
Malia Jacobson is a sleep expert, writer, and the mom of two exceptionally well-rested kids. She has moderated a global sleep website, where she helped parents around the world resolve their children's sleep problems. Her articles about sleep and health topics appear regularly in over 30 parenting publications. She aims to illuminate the murky, misunderstood world of sleep for tired parents everywhere, empowering them with clear, evidence-based solutions and sound advice.
With all the worry over crib accessories endangering babies, is co-sleeping really the best option?
The unfair thing about parenting is that there are way too many decisions like this… decisions that don't have clear cut answers. New parents (all parents, actually) tend to be worriers, especially in regard to safety. Just hearing the word "safety" sends chills down our spine. Crib sleeping and co-sleeping both present some risks (as does driving down the block). What's a parent to do? Be aware. Pay attention. Know yourself. Take every precaution. Don't accessorize the crib. Infants don't need pillows and fluffy bumpers and are plenty stimulated by looking around a simple room. Don't co-sleep if you drink or smoke.
Ultimately, these are personal lifestyle choices, and since parents and babies need healthy sleep, they should be based on whichever arrangement provides the most sleep for everyone.
Janet Lansbury is an RIE (Resources for Infant Educarers) instructor who teaches Magda Gerber's revolutionary infant care philosophy. She is an RIE Associate, a certified Parent/Infant Guidance Class instructor, and serves on the RIE Board of Directors. Janet also volunteers as coordinator for the several weekly Parent/Infant Guidance classes at the RIE Center in Los Angeles. During the last decade, she have made presentations at Early Childhood conferences, written articles and found what she loves most is teaching parents.
Our ProSquad is standing by! Please leave questions in the comments, or send them to us at editor AT ParentingSquad DOT com. Get to know all our experts here: Meet the ProSquad.