As a mother with babies that are highly sleep dependent, the Anchor Nap is one of my favorite tools. As a Certified Pediatric Sleep Expert, the Anchor Nap is my favorite place to start when nailing down a schedule for younger babies. Not only does the Anchor Nap allow for greater flexibility during the day for babies on multiple naps, it provides consistency as we work to train the extension of naps and connection of nap cycles.
So… what’s an Anchor Nap? The Anchor Nap is one nap each day that I ask my parents to be able to be home for. When you have a child on multiple naps (2+), it can feel like you are always putting baby back to sleep… particularly if your child is stuck in a cat nap cycle! I understand that life doesn’t always allow for crib-only napping, so instead of trying to put baby down for each and every nap in her crib we pick one that we can commit to being home for 80% of the time. This nap becomes our Anchor Nap. It is the nap that anchors our day and we expand and contract it like an accordion to keep the rest of our day on schedule. For most babies, the best timing for the Anchor Nap is the middle of the day.
The Anchor Nap is a training nap
Once you have chosen one nap you can commit to, this then becomes your training nap. Committing to having this nap at home in their crib means that your baby becomes reasonably accustomed to this nap as part of their routine. We know that babies thrive on routine, so this one nap becomes where we set our child up for success for things like independent sleep initiation, sleep cycle connecting and nap extension.
The Anchor Nap becomes the time of the day where we focus on helping our little one learn to achieve long and restful sleep. By ensuring that our environment is set for great sleep (dark room, white noise, cool temperature, snug clothing), we can then help our little one learn to sleep independently — Hello, “set down drowsy but awake!”. Ultimately our goal is to use this nap to teach your baby how to fall asleep independently, and stay asleep for longer.
The Anchor Nap is.. An Anchor
If you’ve had a baby for more than 10 minutes, you know that there is no such thing as a plan. You can set schedules to your heart’s content, but it is only on very rare occasions that you plans actually run on schedule. As someone who thrives on a plan, the Anchor Nap provides for a reset. It’s a middle of the day time to recharge, rest and get the rest of the day back on track. When you commit to having this particular nap at home, it means that even when the morning is haywire, the afternoon and bedtime can still be a reasonably smooth experience.
As babies age, the anchor nap becomes the long nap on a 2 nap schedule and eventually becomes the long middle of the day nap on a 1 nap schedule. So by starting early on your Anchor Nap, you are setting up for long term success with an extended middle of the day sleep.
But, is the Anchor Nap for everyone?
The honest answer to this is no! I do find however, that it does work for most people. Sometimes with varying school pickups, daycare or shifting work schedules an Anchor Nap just isn’t possible, and that’s okay. There are always other methods to help your little learn to nap in their crib. In my experience, when it is possible it works beautifully! As with all things baby sleep, the key is to find out what works for your family. Setting sleep foundations and routines only work if you can stick with it.
If you need help getting your little one sleeping soundly, send me a message to book a free discovery call. I’d love to help!