Crib Hour Explained
I feel like in the past few years, as more information is being thrown on the internet, the term “crib hour” is also bring thrown around so much that it is losing its meaning. Today, I want to tell you what crib hour is so that you can use it to help your baby take longer naps.
Before I jump into it, please note that crib hour only works for those who already have independent sleeping skills. That means that your child is falling asleep independently at bedtime and that they can put themselves back to sleep throughout the night. (Watch: Bassinet to Crib Transition)
What is Crib Hour?
“Crib hour” is when you leave your baby in the crib for one full hour, from the minute he or she falls asleep. So, for example, if you put your baby in the crib at 8:45am for their first nap and they fall asleep at 9:00am, you do not get them out of the crib at 9:45am but at 10:00am instead. What that means is, yes, your baby is in the crib for one hour and 15 minutes.
The purpose of this is that your baby is being left in the optimum sleep environment in order to learn how to connect their sleep cycles at nap time. This is why your child needs to have independent sleeping skills at night before you try this at nap time.
How to Use it in Nap Training
Many people often do night training and nap training at the same time. But if you are dealing with a major sleep debt or a very overtired child, I highly recommend only doing night first. And then, once their night sleep has consolidated by jumping into naps next.
On average, a baby’s sleep cycle is 30 to 45 minutes. So, when your child is taking a short nap, it means that they are sleeping for one sleep cycle only, and can’t get themselves back to sleep after waking up. They simply don’t know how to connect one sleep cycle to the next.
What I always recommend is not to intervene during crib hour. So, even if your child only sleeps for 30 minutes, leave your child in the crib for an additional 30 minutes. They need to be in the perfect sleep environment in order to fall back asleep and connect the sleep cycles. We want them to learn how to do this independently and take a solid nap.
Ideally, every single day, your child will take at least two one-hour naps. I would love a 90-minute nap, but I understand that not every baby is capable of doing that.
Biologically, naps are not regulated until six months old. This is why crib hour is only used for those who are six months or older. There’s just no possible way that using crib hour is going to be productive when your baby is too young.
Wake Window FAQs!
Q: When does my baby’s wake window begin?
A: The wake window begins when your child is OOC (out of crib). So, using the example above: if your baby is in the crib at 8:45am, and you take them out at 10am, then his or her wake window begins after that. It doesn’t matter when they wake up during the crib hour. They may have woken up at 9:30am, but their wake window begins when your child is OOC.
Q: Isn’t this going to make my child’s wake window a half-hour longer than it should be? Aren’t they going to be overtired?
A: Yes, it’s technically a wake window as they have been awake for a while in the crib. But what we are hoping for here is that, by leaving them there for that extra half hour or so, they will eventually learn how to connect that cycle and fall back asleep. They are being left in the optimum sleep environment. They are not being stimulated. So yes, their wake window is now longer, but no, they are not exerting energy so they won’t be overtired.
Practice makes progress!
We have to deal with some discomfort during sleep or nap training for your child to make strides towards better slumber. It’s very important that you do not expect everything to be perfect all the time. If your baby is crying before the crib hour is up, it’s okay. Observe them for a few more minutes before rushing to them and scooping them up. If they are crying hysterically and you absolutely can’t take it, then go get your kid and try again the next day.
This process is not always easy, but I promise you, implementing “crib hour” is going to help your child connect their sleep cycles during nap time, thus helping to take longer naps. Remember that progress is not linear. You’re going to have ups and downs. And you have to put the work into it.
Want more help? Click on the link here and put in your info so that I can send a “Guide to naps” to your inbox. You will get a chart that is going to describe everything that you can expect for naps at that age. Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message if you have any questions. Oh, and I cannot wait to hear your success stories.