When Do Babies Outgrow Contact Naps

Understanding Contact Naps

In the wonderful, yet challenging, journey of parenting, one of the most treasured moments is the precious bond formed during contact naps. Looking at the face of the perfect baby you created is mind-altering. The thought of those sweet chunky cheeks, little fingers, and fluttering comfortably sleeping in your arms seems to put the whole world at ease. Skin-to-skin contact may be some of the first memories you have with your baby, and skin-to-skin not only provides comfort and security, but also fosters a deep connection between you and your baby. Those memories are priceless.

While contact naps offer many benefits, they may not always be the most practical for ensuring babies get the sleep they need or that you can be a productive adult. While we would all much rather cuddle a sweet baby, life beckons. Today, we delve into the question: When do babies outgrow contact naps?

when do babies outgrow contact naps

When Do Babies Outgrow Contact Naps

Contact naps are simple, and sound exactly as they are. Babies are sleeping while being held. They are a common occurrence during the early weeks of life. As babies grow and get older, they may naturally transition to independent naps in their sleep space. For some infants, it is not as easy. The comfort of having someone hold them is not as easily replicated by a swaddle or sleep sack. Those babies seem to relish contact naps. 

Contact naps are different from co-sleeping. Co-sleeping can occur without any actual skin to skin contact. Unlike co-sleeping, parents should definitely be awake for contact napping, since they are holding their child. 

Moving away from contact naps can help your child foster their ability to self-soothe and sleep independently. Experts recommend considering the transition around the age of four months to one year, but every baby is different and all babies’ sleep needs are different. It is essential to pay attention to their cues.

when do babies outgrow contact naps

How To Wean Baby Off Contact Naps:

Setting Up the Sleep Space for Success:

Creating a conducive environment for independent sleep is crucial. Ensure the sleep space is safe, comfortable, and free from distractions. Even as an adult, light can disrupt our sleep. Use blackout shades to ensure that your child’s room remains dark. Even a little bit of light can disrupt sleep. Use a white noise for naps and nighttime! PRO TIP: If you have an Apple Watch, use the Noise app (Ear Icon) while in your child’s room to get an indication of whether the decibel levels are appropriate or not. The Noise app will indicate whether you are in a normal/Ok range or not. Finally, make sure the room is adjusted to an appropriate temperature for sleep: 68 – 72 degrees. 

Gradually Reducing the Duration of Contact Naps:

Start by gradually reducing the length of contact naps while gradually increasing the time spent in the crib or bassinet. Start with your child’s first nap of the day and implement your chosen sleep training method. This gradual transition helps babies adjust to longer periods of independent sleep while minimizing disruption to their sleep routine. Consistency in the sleep training method you choose for this transition will also be key. Any time that your child sleeps in their bassinet or crib is a win! 

Prioritizing Safety:

Safety and safe sleep should always be a top priority when it comes to sleep. Place babies on their backs to sleep to reduce the risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS). Avoid soft bedding, pillows, and stuffed animals in the sleep space, and ensure there are no hazards that could pose a danger during sleep.

Encouraging Independent Sleep Skills:

Teaching babies to fall asleep independently is a valuable skill that will serve them well as they grow. While it may be tempting to intervene at the first sign of fussiness, allowing babies the opportunity to self-soothe can help them learn to fall asleep without relying on contact with a caregiver. Watching for age appropriate wake windows will help ensure that your baby is not under or over tired going into their nap. If a baby’s wake window is too short, they may not be tired enough to fall asleep. If a baby’s wake window is too long, they may be too tired to fall asleep. Either way, you could have a very upset, overstimulated, and crying baby.  If you are struggling to remain consistent and choose an appropriate approach to help your child learn to self-soothe, we are always here to help

when do babies outgrow contact naps

Consistency is Key:

Consistency is crucial when it comes to sleep training. Stick to a consistent bedtime routine and approach to sleep training to help babies adjust to their new sleep habits. It can be confusing for childs of all ages when parents start with one approach, and pivot to another. Remaining consistent and responding in the same way over time yields results. While it may take time and patience, consistency will ultimately lead to success.

By implementing these strategies, you can help your baby transition from contact naps to independent sleep, which will create healthy sleep habits now, into toddlerhood, and beyond. Regardless of whether you have a baby or toddler, contact napping may still be a struggle in your daily life. Toddlers can become very reliant on contact napping and contact sleeping, just like an infant can, but the transition for toddler sleep looks much different. For more tips on how to stop contact naps, check out our How to Stop Contact Naps Blog. 

There should always be space in our hearts and homes for contact naps, but flexibility is key. Knowing when and how to transition our child to independent sleep is essential for both the child and the parent. Contact naps all day are great if we want to binge watch shows or catch up on a book on our Kindle, but realistically, we can not afford to do that every single day. By understanding the signs of readiness, implementing changes, prioritizing safety and consistency, you can support your baby in developing healthy sleep habits that promote safe and restful sleep now and for years to come.

Sleep Shore Sleep Consulting

Ready to work with expert sleep consultants to get your baby sleeping in their own sleep space? Want to get your newborninfanttoddler, or school-age child sleeping in until a normal time? Maybe your goal is to get your child to sleep through the night. Whatever it is, Sleep Shore is here to end the exhaustion and help your whole family sleep better! 

Click here to learn more about my sleep coaching programs and which sleep training program is right for you. It’s time to get the sleep you deserve to finally feel well-rested in the morning (yes, it’s possible). See what this mama had to say about our sleep coaching: 

“Life has changed so much for us since sleep training. My husband and I had tried everything and our methods of helping our little girl sleep weren’t working anymore. Our whole household was affected. Our days centered around trying to get her enough sleep. We started sleep training with Sleep Coach Molly and I was shocked the first time she initiated sleep without having to be fed or held to sleep. During our journey, we had to break some sleep association habits and it was challenging but Molly was there to give us advice and encouragement. Our little girl Ella is so much happier now. I feel like I can be a better mom because I’m not constantly running on fumes from sleep deprivation. Sleep training has positively impacted our whole family and we are ever so grateful to Molly and the Sleep plan she curated just for our daughter!”


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