What Should I Do if My Baby Refuses to Nap?
Life is like a gigantic storm and you have no clue where it’s going. This increases tenfold when you welcome a baby into your life. Your perspectives, daily tasks, and the way you live is altered drastically. Almost like a snap of a finger, every single moment is now filled with being alert, feeding, changing, taking care of them, snuggling, burping, and the list goes on and on. It’s still a wonderful and beautiful period in our lives but it’s also probably the busiest that we’ve ever been. It’s a constant effort that requires our undivided attention for. That is, until it’s nap time. Naptime is the only break parents get from their newborns. It gives a chance for us to breathe, take a break, and get some well-deserved rest that a newborn brings to us.
You know, I’m sure we all thought that when our babies were born that they’d be able to follow normal nap schedules and be a relatively normal baby as well. But for me personally, I was well off the mark. My daughter did not follow the typical aspects of being a baby – especially naptime. Most days she would fight against the tide and not nap at all. On some days, she would seemingly have no problems at all with taking a nap. However, she was such a gentle sleeper and woke up for just about anything. I swear, a pin drop would wake her up some days. I was never able to understand why until I dug deeper and tried to find out what could possibly be wrong and why she wasn’t napping.
How exactly do we solve this issue? Why do some babies nap more and others don’t? Why do our children nap perfectly fine some days, while on other days, they’ll be extremely uncooperative despite everything that we try to get them to sleep? How can we address this and solve this extremely riddling puzzle?
Why Won’t My Baby Take A Nap During the Day?
Babies spend the majority of their time sleeping during the first few months of their life. At this point, it’s also not worth establishing a nap or sleeping schedule because they are too early in that phase of life for any of that to be effective. Trying to establish a sleep schedule throughout all of the pooping, eating, and hectic sleeping is going to be immensely difficult. At this stage in life, their sleeping, eating, and general habits are going to be especially difficult to be controlled. I’m going to say something that a lot of parents might not be happy to hear: now is the time for your baby to be in charge! I’m only telling you parents this because of a simple fact of the matter: your baby is too young to be sleep trained. You’ll simply waste your time and not see progress; I’m trying to save you some time and energy that I wasted. Let them be in charge for this point of their lives. It’ll be quite a while again before this happens again, so let them savor it!
Because every infant is different, some might sleep for really long periods of time, while others might constantly sleep and wake up for short lengths. There is no set rule that every infant should be following. Both are fairly normal. Don’t be too hard on them, they are fairly new to this world and are still adjusting. Each day they are still learning.
Your baby’s sleeping pattern will begin to slowly change into a more regular/steady one at the 3 to 6 month mark. This would be the best time to begin a daily routine as well as beginning a consistent nap schedule for them. Keep things as consistent as you can and you and your baby will both benefit greatly. Just because your baby is giving you a hard time with sleeping doesn’t mean you should call it quits and assume that nothing is going to work. If nothing works or you aren’t sure what to do, at least try quiet time in the event you can’t get them to nap. Sometimes thinking outside of the box is the secret. Sometimes it isn’t though and your little one will just give you a difficult time regardless. Either/or is okay, because remember: we’re still learning too.
Don’t Wait Too Long to Put Them to Sleep!
A common mistake that I see a lot of parents making that I also made, was waiting until their infant was beyond exhausted before they put them to sleep. We have to try look at them as different from adults. Just because if we get exhausted and it makes it easier for us to sleep, the same is not true for babies. I know your intentions are good, but what you’ll end up doing is much more counterintuitive than you imagine. Overtired babies struggle to calm themselves and get to sleep and stay asleep much more than we do. Most babies in this age group are ripe for a nap after about 2 to 3 hours once they wake up in the mornings. Try to pay close attention for any signs of tiredness such as being fussy, rubbing their eyes, yawning, or any other signs that generally point towards being tired. If you start to notice a general trend of your baby being tired at roughly 10 in the morning each day, try to put them to sleep 15 minutes earlier the following day and take note of how they respond. Keep looking out for signs of sleepiness, and keep adjusting the time you put them to sleep until you find the sweet spot where they are willing to calm down, relax, and get a little ZZZ’s.
Get Some Fresh Air and Go Outside
Sometimes, the easiest solutions are right in front of us the entire time. I find that going outside for a few minutes is great for making my daughter feel sleepy. I’m also fortunate enough to live near a nice little park, which is perfect for toddlers and children alike. If you have an older child, it’s a great opportunity to let them spend their energy and tire themselves out! Plus, it’s all done in a wonderful environment that’s good for them. Obviously not everyone lives near parks, but even just sitting outside on the porch could be extremely beneficial. Most of the time, a quick stroll around outside is enough to make my daughter sleepy enough for can get her to sleep with ease most of the time. Not only is a nice outdoor stroll good for them, but it’s also good for you too. It’s a great way for you to get some exercise while sharing bits and pieces of the world with your little one!
Daily Routines with Your Baby
More often than not, the simple solution to getting your baby to nap is usually solved by ensuring that you have a consistent daily routine in your house. You can start by creating and following a eat-play-sleep schedule. By keeping consistent and following a schedule, your baby will begin to adjust and get used to it. They’ll actually start to become aware of what’s happening. By associating certain things with your schedule and incorporating sleep into it, they’ll know when it’s coming and be better equipped to follow it. Here’s an example: make breakfast at 7:50 AM for example, then play with them afterwards, and when they’re done playing, then it’s nap time. Nap time itself can have its own routine too. Maybe try to change their diaper, snuggle with them in a dimly lit room, read a story to them, and then try putting them in their crib for a nap.
Songs or stories for naps are especially great for older babies. You’ll look back on these moments with fondness. You’ll only have one opportunity for these memories, so it’s best to make them count. Routines are great for bonding. Plus, they serve as a great queue for your baby to begin preparing to sleep and start to settle down. Make sure your routines are as consistent as you can make them.
I know how tempting it can be to let your baby create the flow of the day, and to just go with whatever they want to do. However, in the long run, this will be a huge mistake that you’ll very likely regret. Following schedules and being consistent is obviously impossible to do every time, due to them growing up and changing their patterns throughout the day. The best you can do is just try to be as consistent as you can, and try to adjust accordingly. The best part about creating a pattern is that it lets your baby know what’s coming and can essentially give them some safety and security knowing what’s going to happen next.
When creating a routine, you should try to focus on creating an environment that’s ideal for your baby to nap in. This means ensuring that the room has optimal lighting and isn’t too bright when you’re trying to let them nap. It’s also important to make sure the room is well lit during the day when you don’t want them to nap. By differentiating the two, your baby will learn to associate noticeable differences between them, which will help them sleep during the appropriate times and conditions. I invested in a bunch of the double-blind shades for my bedroom because my house gets a lot of sunlight. It was definitely worth it because not only does it allow me to sleep better, but it helps my daughter sleep better too.
Don’t Rock Your Baby to Sleep!
Rocking your baby to sleep is a mistake. Not the actual method of doing so or the emotion behind it, but rather the association that you’re creating for your baby. I’m not saying that you can’t rock your baby, quite the contrary actually. Rock them as much as you like for as long as you like, but don’t rock them until they are actually sleeping. As soon as you notice that your baby starts to get drowsy, lie them down in their crib. By doing this each time, you’ll teach your baby that they can fall sleep on their own without your help 100% of the time. If you keep rocking them to sleep, they’ll start associating you rocking them with sleep and will be unable to fall sleep on their own. This will cause you so much headaches later! Another benefit of rocking them to sleep until they are tired is that it will help them get back to sleep all by themselves in the event that they do wake up (which they will). What you can do is stay near them and pat them and try to talk to them in a low and calm voice. Basically, you’re good to be supervising them and helping them get to sleep with a little bit of their own effort.
Ensure That Your Environment Is Nap Friendly!
A Few Ways You Can Help Create an Environment That’s Ideal for Your Baby to Fall Sleep In:
You wouldn’t want to fall sleep in a loud, bright, too hot/too cold environment, either…would you? The same applies to your little one.
If All Else Fails, Don’t Sweat It If You Can’t Get Your Baby to Sleep!
I know how hard this step must be, but it’s okay to call it quits sometimes if nothing works. Babies can feel your distress and react to it negatively. Don’t get upset that they aren’t sleeping, just try to accept it and get through the day as best as you can. Keep calm, take some deep breaths, and remember that this will eventually pass and you will most likely look back on these memories as fond, regardless of how you’re feeling right now in the present.
Practice, Practice, Practice!
I’m going to stress the most important and last thing to keep in mind: patience. Changes don’t happen overnight and there is no magic button for making everything in life work the way you wanted to. The same applies to napping. Every single baby is unique and will nap differently than others. However, if you are persistent and don’t give up, you will minimize your stress and maximize your sleep while ensuring that your baby does the same. Eventually, you’ll reach peace and tranquility, but it won’t happen instantaneously. You’ve got this! Parents, this is not an easy road, but at the end is a lifetime full of reward and enjoyment that your own child can only provide you with!
Hi everyone, I'm Elizabeth. My beautiful daughter Alice keeps me awake occasionally...but when I'm busy and can't sleep, I post parenting tips and different ways you can get your baby to sleep soundly through the night, and even naps!
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