My little one has an inconsistent schedule during the day because of work and childcare schedules. What are some things that I can do to keep her naps consistent?
If you are able to keep your child’s naptime within an hour each day, she may be able to adjust to these differences fairly easily. For example, if she naps at 11:30 a.m. some days and by 12:30 p.m. other days, you might find that you can keep the same bedtime and morning wake time without any problems. If the differences between naptimes are even larger, you can try small adjustments to either bedtime or morning wake time to help you stay on track. For example, on days that she needs to take an earlier nap, you could wake her earlier in the morning. Another alternative is to try and wake her from her nap around the same time each day (for instance, 4:00 p.m.), so that she gets less sleep on late nap days (and may be crankier!) but is still able to fall asleep at a consistent bedtime each night. There is often some trial and error to figure out how to best structure a variable sleep schedule for your child and family.
Regardless of which strategy you choose, consider adding a consistent naptime routine that includes components of the bedtime routine (for example, diaper change, stories, singing). A naptime routine can be an important cue for your child to help prepare her for sleep.
About Dr. Sarah Honaker