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:
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.
Click here to watch more on how you CANNOT spoil a newborn on Instagram.
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.
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!)
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.
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!
Click here to watch a tutorial on Instagram.
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)
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.
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.
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!