What if my baby sounds fussy after I put him or her down?

It's common for babies to cry when put down for sleep, but most will quiet themselves if left alone for a few minutes. If the crying lasts longer than a few minutes, comfort your baby and then give him or her time to settle again.

If your baby wakes shortly after you put him or her down for a nap and isn't wet, hungry or ill, try to be patient and encourage self-settling.

Also, keep in mind that babies are often active during sleep — twitching their arms and legs, smiling, sucking, and generally appearing restless. It's easy to mistake a baby's stirrings as a sign that he or she is waking up or needs to eat. Instead of picking up your baby right away, wait a few minutes to see if your baby falls back to sleep.

Should I limit the length of my baby's naps?

It depends on how well your baby is sleeping at night.

Some babies confuse their days and nights — sleeping more during the day than at night. One way to set your baby straight is to limit daytime naps — especially those in the late afternoon — to no more than three or four hours each. If your baby is napping for too long at the end of the day, it can make it harder for him or her to fall asleep at bedtime.

What should I do if my baby suddenly resists napping?

Some babies and older children go through periods during which they refuse to nap — even though they still need the rest. If this happens, try adjusting your baby's bedtime. Making bedtime a little earlier or later can sometimes help a baby nap better during the day.

Helping your baby get the right amount of daytime sleep isn't always easy. Don't feel bad if some days are more challenging than others. Remember to look and listen for the signs that your baby is tired and try to keep his or her nap routine consistent.

If you have questions or concerns about your baby's napping schedule, talk to his or her doctor.

Jul. 20, 2012 See more In-depth