I’m a nationally published sleep expert, journalist, and the mom of three young kids. I’ve been helping tired families sleep since 2007 (more about me here). Subscribe to The Well Rested Family for fresh news and tips on keeping your bunch happy and healthy. Thanks for stopping by!

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Friday
May182012

Ask Malia: The Portable, Napless Secondborn

I never had a problem with my first daughter’s naps. But I’m finding it much harder with baby two. At least a few days a week, my 8-month-old son barely naps, because we’re on the go all day long. I volunteer one morning a week at his sister’s co-op preschool, and two afternoons a week she has gymnastics. We like to try and make library storytimes and other morning activities when we can, too, and those aren’t exactly nap-friendly for him—he’ll catch a few minutes in the stroller or carrier, but nothing like a real nap. I know he should be napping during these times, but it’s hard for us to stay home. Of course, on those “no nap” days, he sleeps restlessly at night, wakes up a few times, and is grumpy the next morning. What’s your advice?

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Unlike firstborns, second or third babies don’t always get the luxury of having a daily routine designed around them. It can be tough to stay home for naps, but (you know I’m going to say this, right?) proper naps are every bit as important to your son as storytime is to your daughter. More, even. Naps are his chance to rest and process new information, and research shows that siestas aid in learning and memory retention. And his nighttime sleeping problems are telling you that he’s missing his lost naps in a big way.

Sounds like some schedule rearranging might be in order. Your newest family member is a little person with real needs, just like your older child, and having a family means juggling everyone’s needs. That doesn’t mean everyone’s needs are met in the same way, every day, all the time, but one person’s needs shouldn’t be shoved aside on a consistent basis. His physiological need for rest should be prioritized alongside his sister’s activities—not placed at a distant second.

But obviously, you can’t drop each and every activity, and you can’t stay home all day long. On days when his naps aren’t up to par, move his bedtime earlier by 45 minutes to an hour; a bit of extra nighttime sleep won’t totally make up for lost naps, but hitting the sack earlier can help him sleep more deeply with fewer awakenings during the night. Good luck!

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