New mothers and fathers naturally want to be as close to their babies as possible, leading to parents undertaking contact napping with their newborns during the day. But what is contact napping? And is it good for your baby?
Contact napping refers to having your newborn sleep on your chest, in your arms, or with skin contact. Contact naps can be beneficial for your baby and help them fall asleep easier and stay asleep for longer. However, contact napping should only be practiced when the parent is awake.
Contact napping may be beneficial for babies who struggle to fall asleep or can’t stay asleep for as long as they need to. Our article on contact napping has everything you need to know about this practice, including its benefits and safety precautions.
Is Contact Napping Good For Your Baby?
Contact napping means letting your baby sleep in your arms or with some part of their body in contact with yours. For new parents, contact napping may seem like a bad idea. Many first-time parents worry about the same thing: creating an overly-dependent baby or fussy sleeper.
If you’re worried about the same thing, you may be surprised to learn about a few key contact nap benefits.
Contact naps make your baby feel more secure. This feeling of security can also lead to deeper sleep and make your baby much easier to put down. In fact, your baby may fall asleep all independently when they are in your arms.
When your baby is sleeping close to you, they benefit from the warmth of your skin, the security of having you near, and your body’s familiar scent. These factors help make your baby feel more secure, and they will be more likely to fall asleep. Skin-to-skin contact also has a ton of benefits.
Similarly, the rhythmic sound of your heartbeat and your breathing will help to lull your baby to sleep. It will also help to keep your baby asleep for longer.
How To Stop Contact Napping
While it may seem like a romantic notion to allow your baby to sleep in your arms, most modern parents are overwhelmed with a fast-paced work and home environment. You may have chores to complete, or – if you work from home – you may have a work deadline to meet.
Many different reasons may stop you from being able to have contact naps with your newborn. Of course, if your baby only seems to nap well in your arms and fusses when you’re not around during nap time, you may want to look into how to stop contact naps altogether.
While there is no official guide on stopping contact naps, there are a few things that you can do (and practice) until your baby is comfortable enough to sleep on their own in their bassinet or crib.
The first thing you need to do is ease your baby into the transition from sleeping in your arms to sleeping in their crib. You can do this by rocking them in your arms until they are almost asleep. It’s essential that your baby does not fall asleep in your arms during this time, as this can cause unwanted disturbances in their sleep.
Once your little one is drifting off, you can place them into their crib and allow them to fall asleep by themselves. You should make sure that the bed is warm to create a more relaxing environment for them, and you can also use a white noise machine to mimic the sounds of your breathing and heartbeat.
At first, you can stay in the room with them until they fall asleep. You may need to reach your hand into the crib and place it gently on their skin to help settle them. After a bit of practice, you should be able to put your baby down in their crib when they are tired and let them drift off on their own.
How To Stay Productive During Contact Napping
Some babies don’t sleep well in a crib or bassinet. But when you have things to do, you may feel that nap times become restrictive and unproductive for you as a new parent. In that case, instead of weaning your baby from contact napping altogether, you may want to find an alternative solution.
One of the best ways to keep up with your busy schedule while also allowing your little one to nap soundly is to use a sling or carrier. These handy products will allow you to free up your arms while still keeping your little one close to your chest or body.
Alternatively, it may be helpful to try and be as productive as possible during your baby’s awake time. You can place your baby into a play yard or lounger while attending to your housework. It’s essential to remember that you should always keep your baby in your line of sight, and your baby should not be left unsupervised.
By being as productive as you can before nap time, you can take some time out to rest during your baby’s contact naps.
Is Contact Napping Safe?
Contact napping is entirely safe for your baby, as long as you are awake. Contact napping should never replace nightly sleeping routines, as your baby will need to be supervised during these naps.
Some parents often confuse contact napping with co-sleeping. Co-sleeping refers to when babies and parents sleep on the same surface. Whether it’s the bed or on your baby’s mattress, co-sleeping means sleeping next to one another.
This is an entirely different practice to contact napping, which refers to when your baby is asleep in your arms, on your body, or with some part of their skin touching yours.
While your baby is asleep, they can quickly suffocate themselves or be injured if they tumble off of you. For this reason, contact naps should only be done when the parent is awake.
Contact napping is an excellent bonding experience for both mom and baby. It can even be beneficial to your baby’s sleep patterns. However, suppose your child’s napping habits have become challenging to manage. In that case, there are ways to wean your baby from contact napping altogether.