Are Contact Naps Bad? The Pros and Cons

Are Contact Naps Bad? The Pros and Cons

Have you ever heard of contact napping? It’s a term used to describe when a baby or young child takes a nap while being held by an adult. While some parents swear by it, others believe it’s a bad habit that should be avoided. So, are contact naps bad?

Before we answer that question, let’s define what contact napping is and take a brief look at its history. Contact napping has existed for centuries and is common in many cultures worldwide. It involves placing a sleeping baby on an adult’s chest or lap while they nap.

Despite its prevalence, there are still misconceptions about the practice that needs to be addressed. That’s why it’s essential to discuss the benefits and potential drawbacks of contact napping.

What are contact naps?

Contact naps, or co-sleeping or bed-sharing, are when a parent or caregiver sleeps close to a baby or young child. This can be on the same bed or in the same room.

Reasons for their popularity

Contact napping is popular among parents for various reasons:

  1. It can make breastfeeding easier during the night.
  2. It allows parents to monitor their child’s breathing and movements while they sleep.
  3. It helps babies feel secure and comforted by having someone close by.

Cultural differences in approach to contact napping

The approach to contact napping varies across cultures. Co-sleeping is the norm in some countries, such as Japan and India.

However, in Western countries like the United States and the United Kingdom, more emphasis is placed on independent sleeping arrangements for children.

Scientific studies on the topic

Studies have shown both positive and negative effects of contact napping. On the one hand, it has been linked with increased bonding between parent and child as well as improved sleep quality for both parties involved.

On the other hand, there is an increased risk of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) associated with co-sleeping.

It’s important to note that safe sleeping practices should always be followed when engaging in contact napping.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that infants sleep on their backs on a firm surface without any soft objects or loose bedding.

Benefits of Contact Napping for Newborn Babies

Promotes Bonding Between Parent and Child

Contact napping or skin-to-skin napping, is a practice where a parent lays their newborn baby on their chest while they nap.

This practice promotes bonding between the parent and child by creating an intimate and warm environment.

Close contact allows the baby to feel safe and secure, which can help reduce stress levels in both the parent and child.

Positive Impact on Baby’s Sleep Patterns

Newborns require around 16-17 hours of sleep daily but often have trouble staying asleep for long periods.

Contact napping can help improve a baby’s sleep patterns by regulating their circadian rhythm.

The warmth from the parent’s body can also help soothe the baby, making it easier for them to fall asleep and stay asleep longer.

Regulates Baby’s Body Temperature and Breathing Rate

Newborns cannot regulate their body temperature and rely on external sources like clothing or blankets to keep them warm.

However, contact napping offers a more effective way of controlling a baby’s body temperature.

The parent’s body heat helps keep the baby warm while regulating their breathing rate.

Reduces Stress Levels in Both Parent and Child

Parenting can be stressful, especially when dealing with a fussy or colicky newborn. Contact napping has been shown to reduce stress levels in both parents and babies by promoting relaxation through skin-to-skin contact.

This practice has been found to decrease cortisol levels (the hormone associated with stress) in both parents and babies.

Tips for Safe and Effective Contact Napping

Importance of Supervision During Contact Naps

Contact napping, co-sleeping, or bed-sharing is a common practice among parents. While contact napping has many benefits, it is essential to remember that it can be dangerous if not done correctly.

One of the most important things to keep in mind when contact napping with your baby is supervision.

Always ensure that you or another responsible adult is present while your baby sleeps. This will ensure you can always monitor your baby’s breathing and movements.

It’s also a good idea to avoid contact napping if you are overly tired or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Safe Positions for Holding a Baby During a Nap

There are several safe positions to consider. The most common position is “the football hold,” where your baby lies on their side with their head resting in the crook of your arm.

Another popular position is “the cradle hold,” where your baby lies on their back with their head resting on your chest.

It’s important to note that no matter what position you choose for your newborn’s sleep, always ensure your baby’s face is visible and unobstructed at all times.

You should also avoid using soft bedding materials such as pillows or blankets, as these can increase the risk of suffocation.

Newborn contact is crucial for their development, so consider incorporating a power or contact nap during the day.

Ways to Ensure Comfort for Both Parent and Child

Contact napping can be incredibly comfortable for both parent and child to rest together. To ensure maximum comfort, consider investing in a comfortable mattress and bedding set designed explicitly for contact napping.

You may also want to experiment with different positions until you find one that works best for you and your baby. Remember, contact napping should be enjoyable and relaxing for everyone involved!

Balancing Your Baby’s Needs with Your Own: Finding a Balance That Works

The Importance of Self-Care as a Caregiver

As a new parent, it can be easy to get caught up in caring for your little one and forget your own needs.

However, it’s important to prioritize self-care to be the best caregiver possible for your child. This means making time for activities that bring you joy and relaxation, such as exercise, reading, or spending time with friends.

Ways to Balance Caring for Your Baby While Taking Care of Yourself

Finding a balance between caring for your baby and yourself can be a struggle, but it’s essential for your and your child’s well-being. Here are some ways to achieve this balance:

  • Create a safe space for your baby to play independently while you take care of household chores or work.
  • Practice attachment parenting by wearing your baby in a carrier or wrap while doing daily tasks.
  • Prioritize sleep by taking contact naps with your newborn during the day when possible.
  • Ask for help from family members or hire a babysitter for some alone time.

Support Systems That Can Help You Find Balance

It’s essential to build a support system as a new parent. This includes finding other parents who understand what you’re going through and contacting them when needed.

Consider joining online parenting groups or attending local mom-and-baby classes.

Consider seeking professional help if you’re struggling with postpartum depression or anxiety. A therapist or counselor can provide valuable support and guidance during this challenging time.

Potential Challenges Caregivers May Face When Trying to Find Balance

Balancing the needs of multiple babies, work responsibilities, housework, and personal needs can be overwhelming for many parents.

It’s essential to recognize that finding balance is an ongoing process that requires patience and flexibility.

Exploring Alternative Methods for Soothing Your Baby

As a new parent, it’s natural to want to do everything possible to soothe your newborn baby. While contact naps may seem like the best solution, there are alternative methods that can also be effective in helping your baby sleep.


Swaddling is a great way to help newborn babies feel secure and calm. It involves wrapping your baby snugly in a blanket or cloth so that they feel safe and warm.

Swaddling can help prevent your baby from being disturbed by their startle reflex, which can often wake them up during sleep.


  • It can help soothe fussy babies
  • Reduces risk of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS)
  • It helps regulate body temperature


  • It can cause overheating if done improperly
  • It may not work for all babies
  • It can interfere with breastfeeding if done too tightly

White Noise

White noise is an excellent tool for soothing babies because it mimics the sounds they hear in the womb. This type of noise can be created using a white noise machine or an app on your phone.


  • It can help mask outside noises that may disturb your baby’s sleep
  • Creates a calming environment that promotes relaxation
  • Helps establish a consistent bedtime routine


  • May become too reliant on white noise to fall asleep
  • Loud volumes may damage hearing over time
  • Some babies may not respond well to white noise and prefer silence instead


Pacifiers are another alternative method for soothing babies. They provide comfort by satisfying the sucking reflex, which can help calm fussy infants.

Transitioning Out of Contact Napping: A Step-by-step Guide

Signs that Indicate Readiness to Transition Out of Contact Naps

Contact napping, or letting your baby sleep on you, can be a great way to bond and soothe your little one.

However, there comes a time when it’s necessary to transition out of contact napping. Some signs that your baby might be ready for this transition include:

  • Your baby is getting too big or heavy for you to hold them comfortably for extended periods.
  • Your baby is waking up frequently during naps and not getting enough rest.
  • You need more flexibility in your schedule and cannot always accommodate the time required for contact naps.

Gradual Steps Parents Can Take to Transition Their Baby Out of Contact Naps

Transitioning out of contact napping can take some time and patience. Here are some gradual steps parents can take:

  1. Start with shorter contact naps: Gradually reduce the time spent in contact naps each day. For example, if your baby typically takes two-hour-long contact naps, try shortening them by 15 minutes every few days.

  1. Introduce power nap alternatives: Power naps are quick 20-30 minute snoozes that help babies get the rest they need without relying on lengthy contact naps. Try introducing power nap alternatives like a swing or crib during the day.

  1. Establish a consistent nap routine: A consistent nap routine can help your baby feel secure and comfortable during naptime, even without being held. Stick to a regular schedule as much as possible so your baby knows what to expect.

  1. Encourage self-soothing techniques: Help your baby learn how to self-soothe by encouraging techniques like sucking on their fingers or using a pacifier during naptime.

Potential Challenges Parents May Face During the Transition

Transitioning out of contact napping can be challenging for both parents and babies.

Making Informed Decisions About Contact Napping

In conclusion, contact napping can be a safe and effective way to soothe your newborn. Understanding what contact napping is and its benefits can help you decide whether it’s right for you and your baby.

Remember to prioritize safety by following tips such as ensuring a firm surface, avoiding loose bedding or clothing, and monitoring your baby while they nap.

It’s also essential to balance meeting your baby’s needs for comfort and sleep while caring for yourself.

If contact napping doesn’t work for you or your baby, there are alternative methods for soothing, such as using a pacifier or white noise machine.

And when the time comes to transition out of contact napping, take it step-by-step and be patient with the process.

Ultimately, every family is different; what works best for one may not work for another. Trusting your instincts as a parent and seeking guidance from healthcare professionals can help you make the best decision for you and your little one.


Is contact napping safe?

When done correctly, contact napping can be safe. Follow guidelines such as ensuring a firm surface, avoiding loose bedding or clothing, and monitoring your baby while they nap.

What are the benefits of contact napping?

Contact napping can help babies feel secure, reduce crying, regulate body temperature, promote bonding between parent and child, and improve sleep quality.

How do I know if my baby can transition out of contact napping?

Signs that your baby may be ready to transition out of contact napping include falling asleep independently without being held or rocking continuously.

Are there alternative methods for soothing my baby besides contact napping?

Yes! Some alternatives include using a pacifier or white noise machine, swaddling, or a baby swing.

Can contact napping interfere with breastfeeding?

Contact napping can promote successful breastfeeding by allowing for frequent skin-to-skin contact and promoting milk production. However, ensuring your baby is latching correctly and getting enough milk during feedings is essential.

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