Have a Happy Napper

Create a Sleep Sanctuary

Even with three kids, I rarely abandoned my ideal scenario, which was a nap in the crib. Many mothers I knew were more easygoing about naptime, happy to have their child nap in a stroller, a car seat, or a baby carrier on the go. So is it better to have a baby get used to falling asleep somewhere other than her own crib or bed?

Several sleep experts say no. "The best environment is cool, dark, and quiet," says Dr. Kass, who suggests trying to achieve that whenever possible, rather than having the baby sleep in a bouncy seat while you're vacuuming nearby or in the car when you're en route to an older child's soccer practice. The sleep sanctuary, however, doesn't always have to be the crib in your baby's room. It can be a portable crib in another room or another house. The idea is simply to keep the environment similar.

Once you have a cool spot, try light-blocking shades to make the room dark enough. To achieve that elusive silence, a white-noise machine can go a long way, as does heading off potentially loud events. Does the dog go crazy when the mail is delivered at 1 p.m.? Put the dog out back or in a room where he won't hear the mail carrier. Do friends or neighbors sometimes drop by without calling? I used to place a note on my doorbell that read: "Baby napping 1 to 4. Love to see you when she wakes up." If you want visitors while your baby is napping, arrange for your guest to call you on your cell phone (set it to "vibrate," of course) when she arrives.

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