Contact Naps: Everything You Need to Know!

Ahh contact naps…they can be so awesome and so overwhelming at the same time! Whether it’s the occasional contact nap or it seems like the only thing to get your baby to sleep, you’re in the right place!

 

In this blog, I’m going to go over:

 

Will contact naps “spoil” my newborn?

 

Are contact naps going to ruin my older baby’s sleep?

 

What if my baby sleeps great at night but only contact naps during the day?

 

Help! What do I do if my baby won’t sleep unless they’re being held?

 

Let’s get right into it!

 

Will contact naps “spoil” my newborn?

 

You cannot spoil a newborn. One more time, so that I can get the message across… YOU CANNOT SPOIL A NEWBORN. 

 

The first three months are often referred to as the “fourth trimester”. During this time, do NOT worry about nursing your newborn to sleep, too much baby-wearing, and even all the contact naps. 

 

Before four months, babies have very little self-soothing capability. This means that you can give your newborn all the snuggles, rocking, holding, and contact naps that they (or YOU!) want. All while knowing that you are NOT creating “bad habits” or “ruining their future sleep” or “spoiling” them. 

 

You Cannot Spoil a Newborn | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch more on how you CANNOT spoil a newborn on Instagram.

 

If you haven’t already, download my FREE newborn sleep guide. It’ll give you a good rundown on establishing good sleep for your newborn that you can print and keep with you! Download for free here đź’¤

 

Are contact naps going to ruin my older baby’s sleep?

 

If your baby is older than 4 months and has learned the skills of independent sleep, then a contact nap here or there will not throw them off, or undo any of their independent sleep skills.

 

Fun Fact About Contact Naps | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch more about contact naps on Instagram. 

 

Here are some examples of when older babies may benefit from a contact nap:

 

  • During a sleep regression
  • During the process of dropping a nap when your baby is adjusting to the new wake windows and you want to prevent overtiredness
  • When your little one is sick or teething
  • If you know your little one could use the extra snuggles (or YOU could!)

 

Contact Naps | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to read more about contact naps on Instagram.

 

Of course, if you do them more often than not, a habit will likely form and it will be harder to get your baby to sleep independently. 

 

What if my baby sleeps great at night but only contact naps during the day?

 

Here’s the good news…good night sleep means that overall good sleep is on the horizon.

 

It’s very common for babies to sleep ok at night but only contact nap during the day. I recommend finding that balance between preventing overtiredness/keeping their sleep tank full and practicing sleep in their own sleep space. 

 

This can look like transferring them to their own sleep space for the first sleep cycles of the nap, and then once they pop awake, helping them extend the nap with a contact nap. 

 

Does your baby only do contact naps during the day | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch a video about contact napping during the day on Instagram. 

 

Let’s talk about transferring your little one to their own sleep space. It can be SO frustrating after you put so much effort into getting your newborn baby to sleep, only to have them wake up when you transfer them to the crib. 

 

I get it, we’ve all been there! It used to send me over the edge until I learned this amazing trick! Try putting your baby down on their side before gently rolling them to their back. This really helps with preventing their startle reflex from walking them back up!

 

Laying Baby Down Without Waking Them Up | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch a tutorial on Instagram.

 

If you haven’t already, download my FREE newborn sleep guide. It’ll give you a good rundown on establishing good sleep for your newborn that you can print and keep with you! Download for free here đź’¤

 

Help! What do I do if my baby won’t sleep unless they’re being held?

 

When your little one won’t sleep unless they’re in your arms, it can feel SO overwhelming. Let’s get one thing straight…contact naps CAN be the best – that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing to feel overwhelmed by them. I promise this phase doesn’t last forever!

 

Here are eight things you can troubleshoot to help get your baby down for a nap while giving you your arms back:

 

1. Swaddle snug

Having a nice, snug swaddle helps mitigate the Moro reflex. This is what causes our little babies to jerk and squirm, which often results in them waking themselves up after we put them down.

 

2. Put them down in a side position

Lay them on their side before rolling them to their backs, which will help with waking immediately when they are put down…just like I described in the above tutorial!

 

3. Prevent overtiredness

I’ve got an entire blog post all about overtiredness and how to prevent it. Click here to check it out!

 

4. Treat reflux (if needed)

Reflux and tummy troubles can often make it uncomfortable for our babies to sleep flat on their backs, which could be the reason your little one prefers contact naps.

 

5. Keep practicing

As I mentioned earlier, try transferring baby to their own sleep space for the first sleep cycles of the nap and then extending their nap with a contact nap if they need.

 

When Your Newborn Won't Sleep Unless They're Being Held | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to watch another video about contact naps on Instagram.

 

6. Utilize other people’s arms

Everyone loves newborns! Invite a friend over to hang out and see if they’ll snuggle your sleeping baby while you relax and get your arms back!

 

7. Use a wrap or carrier

It’s often the best of both worlds so you can still be hands-free and mobile but can get a great contact nap.

 

8. Get creative with positioning

For example, try having your baby take their nap on your knees so you can get in the contact nap without feeling tied down.

 

Arms Numb From Rocking Baby | The Peaceful Sleeper

Click here to see one of my favorite contact nap positions!

 

Recap on Contact Naps

 

Whether you have a newborn or an older baby, contact naps can be awesome (and sometimes necessary!) for a number of reasons. If you want to talk to a sleep expert about your baby’s specific sleep situation, click here to grab a consultation. It is the BEST having an expert in your corner to support and troubleshoot with you.

 

In my 0-4 Months Content Library, I walk you through everything you’ll need to know to optimize your newborn’s sleep and prepare for the sleep learning process at 4 months. And if you haven’t already, download our FREE Newborn Sleep Guide. It’s a great place to start your journey to establishing good sleep for your newborn!

Chrissy Lawler

Chrissy Lawler

LMFT, Certified Pediatric Sleep Consultant

Hi! I’m so glad you’re here! I’m a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, practicing for over 13 years.  I’ve set out to do ALL of the research and I created a method to optimize baby sleep that is tuned in, empowering and WORKS. There absolutely should be joy in motherhood, and I have learned that every baby CAN get better sleep!

Read more about my team here.

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