How Contact Naps Improved My Productivity


The Truth About Contact Naps

If you’re not yet a parent, “contact napping” is simply letting your baby nap on top of you. In the early days, new parents are thrilled, just wanting to sit quietly and marvel at their baby.

But at some point, you realize you are always busy when they are awake, so you have to get stuff done during their nap. Nap time becomes precious if your baby enjoys sleeping in their crib. Ours never has. 

During the first six months of my daughter’s life, I struggled against contact naps. But after a recent shift, they have become some of my day’s most productive, enjoyable hours. I now choose them over crib naps.

How contact naps improved my productivity
How contact naps improved my productivity

Crib Nap Struggles

Crib naps can be tough. If your baby falls asleep alone or stays asleep every time you put them down, that’s awesome! But please don’t brag. 

My daughter Maggie has never been much of a sleeper. For naps, she starts wailing the moment we pull out the sleep sack, close the curtains, or turn on the sound machine.

Putting her down becomes an ordeal. Rocking her for fifteen minutes, I slowly stand and ease her into the crib, praying she won’t wake. Still, 40% of the time, she does. 

Even if I succeed, the obstacles to productivity continue. Sometimes, she will wake up at ten minutes crying, and she never connects her sleep cycles without being held. So, when I grab a glass of water and sit at the computer, I’m lucky to have 15 minutes of free time. I spend those minutes anxiously glancing at the baby monitor.

Working when she sleeps in her crib is laughable for babies like mine. Nap time is stressful.

Embracing Contact Naps

I’m embarrassed to say that it took me six months to realize that contact napping is great for two things – reading and typing. Maggie is sound asleep on my chest as I write this. It is a minor-sounding revolution, yet it changed my days entirely. I now look forward to contact naps. If I’m tired, I pick up a book. If I’m motivated, I cuddle up with Maggie and my laptop.

Pro tip – pick an activity that feels exciting, not tiresome. Ideally, something that you can do on your computer or in a notebook. I enjoy writing, so for me, this usually means crafting an email newsletter or blog post for my family photography audience.

Distraction-Free, Guilt-Free Time

All that stuff I was saying about how crib naps can be hard – the delicate put-downs and the anxious monitor-watching…all gone with contact naps. The magic is that, at this moment, I know Maggie is still asleep because her face is six inches from mine. And I’m also quite confident that she will stay asleep for a full sleep cycle, sometimes two. When else am I guaranteed 45-90 minutes of quiet?

And I’m not just talking about a quiet baby but also a quiet space. The room is calm, and no one expects me to put the laundry in the dryer or, do the dishes or answer questions about whether I think the breast milk on the counter is still ok after three hours out of the fridge. Because I’m napping our baby, and that’s sacred.

Supercharged Creativity

Also, the hormones make me more creative. If this is true for a father, I can’t imagine how powerful it might be for mothers. I have produced some of my most inspired and creative work during contact naps. Whether brainstorming for an upcoming photo session, crafting emails, or journaling, I find myself flowing through work in a rare way.

Is the oxytocin kick from hearing, feeling, seeing, and smelling my little Maggie sleeping on my chest making me more creative? I’m not a doctor, but I think so. And I have heard plenty of other creatives say the same. If you feel this productive energy, lean into contact naps to make the most of it.


Parents with infants need more time. For those with babies who refuse to nap alone, leaning into contact naps increases work-from-home-parent productivity immensely. Focus on what you can do, avoid tasks that feel like drudgery, and have a book or a project you’re excited about handy. Contact naps can be something you look forward to every single day!


More about SF Bay Area Dad David Enloe:

David is the creator and owner of The Enloe Creative, a photography service in the Bay Area. His focus is families and telling the story of their connection to home or environment. David’s parents moved to the Caribbean before he was born, and his earliest memories are of the ocean and life on a small island. Now living in the Outer Sunset of San Francisco, he brings this easygoing sense of adventure to his photo sessions and the pictures he makes. Learn more at David’s family photography website.


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