What You Can Do When Your Baby’s Not Napping

things you can do when your baby's not napping

Naps are amazing. I know – it’s stating a very, very obvious fact. However, it’s also something that some kids just don’t seem to get on their own. At least, not without some serious nap training. So, what can you do to get your baby to go from baby not napping to an all-star nap pro?

Well, let’s do some serious sleep training evaluation, planning, and implementation to see what we can do about it.

Is your baby not napping?

First off, we need to look at what kinds of naps your baby is (or isn’t) taking. Are they taking one nap? Two or three each day? Or are they taking short naps throughout the day? Are the naps restful enough?

If the answers to any of those are along the lines of “my baby is cranky and needs better sleep”… then odds are your baby isn’t napping well enough. And therefore, something ought to be done. Because a baby not napping doesn’t end well for them – or mom’s mental health, either.

Sleep is how we restore our minds and bodies – and if we aren’t getting enough sleep, that’s a problem.

Thankfully, there are some great tips for helping your nap-resistant baby to get the daytime rest and recovery that they need.

Ideas for when baby won’t nap unless being held

Some babies won’t nap unless being held – whether in a baby carrier or in a swing. And, depending on their age, this can be a totally normal thing.

During the “4th trimester” especially, as your baby’s still growing and developing at impressive speeds, they need the extra comfort of being carried. After all, this development happens in the womb for most other species – just not humans.

So if your infant needs to be carried, held, or rocked for a nap or two (or all of them) each day, don’t feel bad. Remind yourself that it’s been a necessary thing for many families throughout time – and it’s okay.

Just be sure to baby wear responsibly and safely – and know that your newborn will grow out of it. Even if they may need some help later on. It’s okay.

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That being said, here are some more ideas to help transition your baby to sleeping without being held:

  • Create a sleep schedule or routine where you “give in” and hold your baby for set naps – and you use the crib for one of the naps.
  • Make use of swaddling (as appropriate) to help your baby feel snug and secure while napping in a crib.
  • Make napping similar to nighttime sleeping – with the use of white noise machines and blackout curtains to help reinforce “sleep” conditions.
  • Use your customized sleep training plan to teach your baby to sleep well – and then carry that over into nap training your baby.

What to do when your baby will not nap

Now, sometimes your baby won’t nap at all. It’s important to look at the reason – so that you can go from there.

For example – if you’re in the middle of sleep training at naps, and your baby just cried for their whole nap? Well, if that happens most days, then the odds are that sleep training method (even if it worked well at nights for you) may not be the appropriate method for naps for your child. It may be time to choose a gentler sleep training method.

On the other hand, if your baby is resisting that last afternoon nap, it could be worth looking at their age. At around 7-8 months (just as they’ve learned object permanence), babies can be ready to nap transition from 3 daily naps to two. This is especially true if they’ve got a nice, early bedtime schedule that is helping them to get great rest at night.

Sometimes this can manifest as a baby waking up too early, too. So if your baby is getting up crazy early, see how they’ll do switching out that last nap of the day for an earlier bedtime.

And what can you do if your baby’s resisting the first or second naps of the day? Well, look and see what else is going on. They could be teething, having a growth spurt (where they need more cuddling and feedings), or they could just be having an off day due to sickness.

If that’s the case, give yourself some grace, friends. It’s okay to hold them for that extra nap – or to let them cuddle and catnap while in a baby carrier. While not ideal, it’s better than no nap at all.

Because, really. Naps are amazing. It can just take some time for your baby to realize that. And that’s totally normal.

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Kimberly C. Starr

I'm a ginger who loves reading, eating, being a nurse, spending time with my family, and writing about it all. I believe humor is the best medicine, followed very closely by chocolate and tacos. To read more about me, click here.

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