For older babies and toddlers, the most restorative sleep is non-motion sleep away from the distractions of the day.
Most babies younger than 4 months can nap anywhere. Your bright living room, a crowded cafe or 2 hours in the baby carrier doesn’t seem to affect their ability to nap well.
But around 4 months old, your baby goes through a big developmental phase. And part of this development results in a change in sleep patterns. (My 4 month sleep regression guide explains this more.)
Suddenly your baby becomes pickier about where and how she’ll fall asleep. She may wake up early from naps, fight naps or seem restless in general. So if you’ve found yourself wondering “Why does my baby suddenly take short naps or fight naps?” here’s what to do.
This is the classic sign that it’s time to make her daytime sleep space similar to her nighttime sleep space in order to help her nap well. All of the elements that help her sleep at night will help her nap better as well (like white noise, darkened bedroom, and the familiarity of her crib and sleep sack.)
Offer your child a nap-friendly space for every nap. This will (eventually) help her nap better and longer, because it provides the best quality and most restorative sleep.
If baby needs to nap in the stroller or car sometimes, that’s ok too. Try to minimize distractions (turn down the radio, for example.) Some babies nap better with motion, so this is a good option if your baby is stuck in a short napping pattern.