If you don’t already know, I have the baby from nightmare-land when it comes to napping. She fights naps. FIGHTS. There have been days I spend seven hours trying to get her to sleep. My friend calls it the “infinite cycle of chasing naps.”
Yes, that has been us since months 5-8. A wholesome nightmare when you have a toddler, who while thankfully is in daycare most days, renders your own day useless. Laundry? Forget it. Cleaning? Forget it. Drinking coffee? Bahahaha, no. Making dinner for everyone? Uhhh, it’s a quesadilla night for 3,546th time!
You know the feel of despair, no amount of cuddling, nursing, bouncing, swaddling, walking helped. Every time you think you figured out how to get baby to sleep, she changed the rules on you. Pretty soon her 25 minute power nap turns into snack time, turns into playing and crying, turns into lunch, turns into more playing and crying, another 25 minute nap, dinner, more crying, and then finally falling asleep. And sleeping through the night? Well…maybe. Does two night nursing sessions count as sleeping through the night?
I am here to tell you there is still hope. Real hope. I have ready every baby sleep article on the internet, my husband have followed plenty of advice and we still couldn’t get baby to sleep past the 25 minute mark.
Why do babies take short naps?
When babies fall asleep, they are in a state of light sleep. When they go into deep sleep, they are changing sleep cycles. From about six months of age onwards, babies are more aware these sleep cycle changes and they can have a difficult time adjusting to the sleep cycle changes. This light to deep cycle change happens 20-40 minutes after falling asleep. For us, this is right on target.
To amplify the situation, babies who are unable to transition from the light to deep sleep will create a habit of waking up and not falling back to sleep at all.
And we all know what a baby is when they don’t sleep well. Mini monsters hellbent on making both you and herself cry all day long.
Our baby decided she wasn’t doing anything half-baked, if she was going to take these short, power naps, then she was going to make a habit of them too!
The 2-3-4 hour awake and sleep “rule” for babies:
Baby wakes up in morning for 2 hours
Naps for 1 hour approximately
Baby wakes up for 3 hours
Naps for 1-2 hours
Baby is awake for 4 hours
Goes to sleep for the night
Of course your mileage may vary. My baby tends to like the 2-3-3 on good days and well, 4-4-1 on meltdown days.
This is where the experimenting came in. We know that our baby, like most babies, would sleep in the stroller or the car, but that didn’t always happen either. Her habit was so strong, I could walk three hours, only to have her sleep 30 minutes. Her will to full wake up in that sleep cycle transition trumped everything else. The only way to get her to fall asleep again was to actively nurse her, and continue nursing her. Not an ideal situation.
Three Solutions to get nap resistant baby to take long naps:
NO eye contact and disengage – at this moment, you are not here to play, interact or otherwise look at baby. Don’t look into their eyes.
Hold tight If she fights you, hold her. don’t let her go. She is fighting you because she knows at some point you will give up and put her down on the ground. She wins, she gets to play and become hyperactive overtired, and you lose.
Use the comfort object – If baby likes a blanket or toy, give it to baby. Or even if baby likes a pacifier, use it, this isn’t the time to wean baby off the pacifier AND try to get them to nap.
I’ll be sharing my adventures of napping an overtired, sleep resistant baby. If you’re facing the same issues, know that you are not the only parent dealing with sleep struggles.