While many sleep experts encourage parents to teach their babies to fall asleep independently, contact napping is a practice widely used around the world by new moms as a way to soothe and comfort their little ones, promote healthy sleeping habits and build strong parent-child bonds. After spending nine months in mommy’s warm, cozy and safe belly, babies often find it difficult to adjust to life outside the womb and may need extra comfort during daytime naps.
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In addition to promoting a sense of security, research shows that babies who are held while they benefits of contact napping have better overall health outcomes than those who are put down in a crib. These include improved digestion, lower risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) and stronger immune systems. Newborns also struggle to regulate their body temperature, and their parent’s skin to skin contact helps them stay warm during a nap.
However, accidental nodding off during a contact nap is a risk for both baby and caregiver. In fact, a 2022 study found that 36% to 66% of all neonatal falls in hospitals involved a caregiver nodding off while holding their baby! To avoid this, enlisting another adult to keep watch is an important step for new moms who choose to contact nap during the daytime.
If you’re able to safely contact nap with your baby and it works for your family, go for it! But if you aren’t able to successfully contact nap, or want to try and work towards it further down the road, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that either.