How and When to Nap (Sleep) Train Your Baby or Toddler

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How and When to Work on Naps

If there’s one thing we’ve written A LOT about here at the Baby Sleep Site®, it’s sleep training. Dare we say we’re sleep training experts? ;)

And usually, when we talk about sleep training, we’re talking about sleep in general — both nap time sleep and nighttime sleep.

Today, however, we’re going to consider the two separately. We’ll compare nap training and night training, and we’ll explore when it’s best for nap training to happen.

In Some Ways, Nap Sleep Training Is Different Than Nighttime Sleep Training

Why? Because nap time sleep is different than nighttime sleep. Remember, according to Dr. Weissbluth, nap sleep and nighttime sleep are actually controlled by different parts of the brain.

Some families find that naps are easier, but many of the families we work with testify to just the opposite: that naps are HARD. And that’s understandable. Naps tend to be less predictable and routine than nighttime sleep. That’s especially true if you’re an on-the-go parent who doesn’t spend loads of time at home. And of course, your baby or toddler’s naptime environment is far different than his nighttime environment. Nights tend to be dark and quiet — days not so much!

Something else to factor in: nap time sleep needs change and shift more than nighttime sleep needs. Your child will go through a handful of nap transitions in the first few years of life, because as he gets older, he needs progressively less daytime sleep.

So what does this mean for your sleep training plans? It means that training your baby or toddler for naps may present different challenges than training her for nights. So don’t be surprised if certain sleep training techniques work well at bedtime but not at nap time (and vice versa).

It also means that you may have to be more persistent in your nap time training. This isn’t true for every family, of course, but it might be true for yours. Don’t be surprised if your baby or toddler gets nighttime sleep figured out but still struggles with naps.

In Other Ways, Nap Sleep Training and Nighttime Sleep Training Are Very Similar

Training your baby or toddler to nap well may be a little more challenging than training her to sleep well at night. And you might find that you have to use different sleep training techniques at nap time.

But overall, nap training and night training follow the same basic principles, and they’re based on the same premise. Remember, sleep training is simply the practice of helping your baby or toddler overcome his bad sleep habits and learn new, healthy ones. That applies to both naps and nighttime sleep.

One of the biggest goals of sleep training is to help a baby or toddler overcome sleep associations. And sleep associations usually apply to both nap time sleep and nighttime sleep. For instance, a baby who has to be rocked to sleep at night will probably insist on being rocked to sleep for naps, too. A toddler who needs mom in his room in order to fall asleep at night will probably need her there at naptime as well. So in this way, sleep training for naps and sleep training for nights are similar.

Another overarching purpose of sleep training is to create some predictability and routine in a baby’s or toddler’s schedule.The level of scheduling depends on the family, of course; some parents want concrete, down-to-the-minute schedules while others simply want to establish some general times for meals and sleep. Regardless of the type of schedule desired, however, the “predictability and routine” aspect of sleep training affects both naps and nights. You’ll need to establish a timeframe for naps and for bedtime, and you’ll need to build some routines that will help ease your baby or toddler into both nap time and bedtime. Again, in this way, sleep training for naps and for nights tend to be the same.

When Should Nap Training Happen?

In terms of when to nap train your baby or toddler, you have three options:

  1. Do nap training and night training together: Some families opt to tackle naps and nights together, and to sleep train for both at the same time. This is kind of a “rip the band-aid off all at once” approach — it can be painful while it’s happening, but it’s over fairly quickly. Some parents also prefer this method because they feel it helps maintain consistency and eliminate confusion. If you’re nursing your baby to sleep for naps but not at night, that can be confusing for your little one, and it can cause setbacks.
  2. Do nap training first: Other families prefer to deal with naps first, and leave night training for later. For some parents, it feels less stressful to deal with crying and fussing during the day, as opposed to dealing with it a 3 a.m. And parents who take this approach sometimes report that when their baby or toddler starts napping consistently, it actually helps their nighttime sleep, since they’re not getting overtired during the day. This approach may make more sense for those babies or toddlers whose nights aren’t terrible, but whose naps are.
  3. Do night training first: Of course, some babies and toddlers nap pretty well but are up all night. In those cases, it could make more sense to focus on nighttime sleep training first. Some families prefer this approach because they feel that if they can finally get the rest they need at night, they’ll be more equipped to deal with any nap time drama that might happen during the day.

Nicole’s Note:
“Every family will be a little different. We do offer newborn-friendly nap strategies, including sample sleep-inducing routines for newborns in our e-book, Essential Keys To Your Newborn’s Sleep, as well as special Personalized Sleep Plans™ specifically crafted to guide your newborn baby to better naps in a gentle, safe way. If you still haven’t nap trained and your baby is now and older infant, or a toddler, it’s never too late. Of course, the closer he is to the age of transitioning away from naps (3-4 years old), the harder it will likely be (not to mention how persistence only increases!) We generally start with nights and follow with naps soon thereafter, but again, every family’s needs are a little different, so we keep an open mind. We do not have a ‘one-size-fits-all’ type of mindset around here.”

When you nap train is up to you, of course, and will depend on a lot of unique factors (your parenting preferences, your family’s schedule, your baby’s temperament, etc.) But as you work to create a nap training plan, keep this in mind: your goals in nap training will probably be the same as those in night training. But the training itself may look a little different, or progress differently, since nap sleep is different than night sleep.

And remember: if you need a little extra help in your nap training, we’re here for you!

How To Nap Train Your Baby or Toddler, and Improve Nap Sleep

bss_ebook_7napmistakes_left-transShort or non-existent baby naps can be so frustrating – but you don’t have to suffer through them! We have a ton of nap resources – and one of those nap resources is our free guide, 7 Common Napping Mistakes. Are you making any of these common nap mistakes? If so, they may be the cause of your baby’s non-napping. So download your free guide today, and start putting the tips to use as early as your baby’s next nap!
 

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Special Members-Only Nap Resources

bss_ebook_masteringnaps_left Mastering Naps & Schedules — For starters, all Baby Sleep Site® members receive unlimited access to all our e-Books. That’s right – for the price of your membership, you can read all our e-Books at no additional cost! That includes Mastering Naps & Schedules. With over 45 sample schedules (all available for you to view in the Members Area), Mastering Naps & Schedules is THE e-Book for tired parents of non-napping kiddos! We tackle all your top napping issues, including how to get your baby or toddler to take longer naps, how to get your child’s naps to be more consistent and predictable, how to manage nap transitions, how to encourage good napping while traveling – and yes, EXACTLY how to nap train! Become a member today, and access the e-Book instantly – no download necessary!
 
Tele-seminarNap Tele-Seminars — Another great members-only resource? Our tele-seminars. Hosted by Nicole herself, these 30 – 45-minute tele-seminars offer you insider-information and our trademark sleep coaching methods and techniques. We have several awesome nap-focused tele-seminars, including one on managing nap transitions, and one on lengthening short naps! Listening to these seminars is like getting a coaching session from Nicole! She’ll walk you through the basics of dealing with common nap problems and give you tried-and-true strategies you can implement at home.

Members-Only Nap Articles — And now, we’ve recently added a special members-only article on the hot topic of nap transitions: 5 Practical, Hands-On Tips For Managing Common Nap Transitions. Learn our 5 top secrets for how to gently and painlessly navigate nap transitions, and help them happen in a way that preserves your child’s sleep while also preserving your own sanity! ;-)

For more details about all our member benefits (including weekly chats with a trained sleep consultant and 20% off ALL sleep consulting packages), visit our membership page, and consider becoming a member today!
 
 
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While our Members Area is great for DIY moms who prefer to tackle sleep challenges on their own, we know that other moms much prefer to go straight to one-on-one help. Well, good news – we offer that, and you can start getting the personal help you need TODAY! You can teach your baby a new way to nap – and we can help. We have helped thousands of families around the world with their babies’ nap trouble, and we can help you, too! Take a look at our consultation packages, and see which one looks like a good fit for you.

Click here to see all our personalized consultation packages.

Once you purchase, you will immediately receive access to the Helpdesk, and you can set up your account, fill out your Family Sleep History form, submit it to a consultant, and get started on the journey to better sleep!

Want more information about how personalized help works? Check out our FAQ page here, and get answers. You can also take a tour of the Helpdesk.

How did your baby’s or toddler’s nap training compare to night training? Did you sleep train for naps and nights at the same time, or did you break them up? Any tips for parents who are nap training right now? Chime in; we love hearing from you!

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Comments

  1. Maryl says

    I haven’t tried any type of sleep training yet, neither day nor night. I’ve just been trying to help my little guy get the sleep he needs, however we can get it. He’s four months old… tricky business. He’s been refusing his first nap of the day. Today is the fourth day in a row. I start trying to help him sleep 1 h or so after he wakes and will keep trying for 45 m. We do everything that usually puts him to sleep, but he doesn’t come close to dozing off. So after giving up, I try again for a nap an hour later. Maybe I should stop trying for that first nap? Anybody?

  2. Sheetal Gandhi says

    Hi Nicole,
    Thanks for publishing this article. It is much informative.
    But I need to know one more thing.
    Would you please tell me what is the best time to start nap training?
    My 14 months son is night sleep trained pretty well since he was 7 months old but its getting difficult to nap train him. I tried many a times but finally gave up. He needs me next to him during nap times. He takes 10 hours of night sleep and 2 naps of 1.5 hours each.
    I am wondering when to nap train him.

  3. Lisa says

    @Maryl – we had a really rough time helping our little guy get enough sleep too at first, especially around the four month mark. What I found was that as he got older, his sleep needs changed. He started taking his first nap between 1 1/2 – 2 hours after waking up. Sounds like your son may be changing his sleep needs. Does he seem like he’s tired an hour after waking up? If he’s not yawning, rubbing his eyes, extra fussy when not hungry or wet, etc… then you might want to wait a bit before trying to get him down for a nap. Our pediatrician told us that every baby is slightly different, so watch your son for ques to see if he’s overtired or not tired enough as you adjust his nap times. By the way, lengthening the amount of time before the first nap can sometimes help if your baby is waking up too early. Also, if you don’t have a bedtime/nap time routine yet, you might consider it. It really helped our son go to bed at a more consistent time at night. Best of luck to you!

  4. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Maryl — I think what you’re experiencing is quite normal. It’s likely your baby is going through the 4 month sleep regression (http://www.babysleepsite.com/how-we-sleep/4-month-old-sleep-regression/), so that’s probably some of what you’re experiencing.

    As for what to do about that first nap — hard to say for sure. You’re right to stop trying after an hour. But I’d wait on giving up that nap completely. It could be that this is a stage your baby will pass right through, and that she’ll pick up that nap again. And you do want to guard against overtiredness.

    Have you read through our free nap guide yet? You can access it here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/ That might give yo some starting points on how to encourage more regular naps. Of course, since your baby is still so young, she won’t be ready for a really regular schedule for awhile yet. But this will give you a good starting point. :)

    Thanks for commenting, Maryl! Good luck to you and to your little one.

  5. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Sheetal Gandhi — There’s no reason you couldn’t start working on his naps today, if you wanted. He’s certainly old enough. Have you checked out our free nap guide? You can find it here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/ That would be a good starting point for you, if you’re just beginning with nap training.

    Keep in mind that nap training may be challenging, since your son is a toddler now. But if you stay consistent, you should be able to get him napping more regularly (and without needing you in the room!)

    Thanks for commenting, Sheetal! :)

  6. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lisa — this is excellent, wise advice! Thanks for offering it to @ Maryl. I LOVE it when moms reach out and help one another! :)

  7. says

    We tackled naps and nights at the same time, once my daughter turned 6 mo. It was probably more tough than starting with one, then later tackling the other, but it made sense for us. I didn’t want to rock her to sleep for naps and then expect her to fall asleep on her own at night sans rocking. We also put into place a nice & easy bedtime routine, which we did not have in place prior. Ours is bath, books, bottle, bed. Done!

    @Maryl – At 4 months our daughter was able to stay awake a tad longer from wake to first nap. Of course every baby is different but maybe try stretching his first nap to start 1.5-2 hours after waking? Just a thought. His sleep needs might be changing and thus he might not be totally ready for a nap just an hour after he wakes in the morning. Good luck!!

  8. Emily DeJeu says

    @ brittnie — good feedback! I took a similar approach with all 3 of my kids. You’re right; I think this might be a tougher way to do it (at least, initially), but then the sleep training was over quickly for us, which I was happy about :)

    Thanks for sharing some insights with @Maryl, too — much appreciated!

    (Also — I clicked on over to your blog, and it’s lovely! You have an inspiring story. :) )

  9. Lorrie says

    I have been nap and sleep training my 19 week old for about a month now and we are having some success! He is now only waking once at night to feed and has moved from the dreaded 30 minute nap to napping for over 1 hour at a time! Thanks for all the helpful information you share on this site. It has been a huge source of info and support for me!

    My question is, now the we are having some success in establishing a routine, i’m being told by some family and friends that I am training my son to be inflexible. Any ideas on how to deal with these folks?? I’m so excited that my son has started sleeping well and they are raining in my parade!

  10. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lorrie — Congrats on your nap-training success! So glad to hear your little guy is sleeping so much better at night, and is finally getting some good, restorative naps.

    As for how to deal with your nay-sayers: the best way I’ve found to deal with people like this is simply to smile and nod, thank them for their input, and then promptly forget it. You could try to change their minds, of course, and to bring them around to your point of view. But that can be a lot of work, and in some families, it causes conflict. So if you don’t feel burdened to “educate” your friends and family about the benefits of what you’re doing, you could politely ignore their input and go on with what you’re doing. Because after all, if you and your son are satisfied with the sleeping arrangements, and with the schedule, then that’s all that really matters. :)

    Thanks for commenting, Lorrie, and for sharing your nap training victory story with us!

  11. Maryl says

    Thanks, everybody, for the advice! I was starting the soothing process after only one hour of wake time because he was fighting the naps so hard. I was thinking it couldn’t hurt to get a head start on winding down. For example: he wakes at 6:30, and then we start out in the stroller at 7:30 for a long walk, assuming that he would fall asleep eventually. He didn’t! He just cried! Well these days, I think he’s over the “sleep regression” thing. It’s gotten easier. Thanks again!

  12. Jamie says

    Hi! My baby just turned 5 months old and, sadly, I have to return back to work in 3 days (hardest thing I will ever have to do in my life!). Unfortunately, my baby has a strong sleep association with nursing. The only way he will go to sleep for naps or night is to nurse! He sleeps in a bassinet next to my bed and he wakes about every 1 1/2 hours at night give or take a half hour, but he usually goes right back to sleep when I nurse and tends to get around 10 or 11 hours of sleep by morning. For naps, I lay with him in bed and nurse till he is asleep and sometimes I can then get up, other times he falls asleep after nursing, in my arms on the couch and I check my email, read, etc while he naps. He naps anywhere from 45min to 2 1/2 hours this way. I have been mulling over what to do….should I sleep train? should I start with naps or nights? My husband is going to be handling our babies transition from me going back to work for the next 3 weeks and I just don’t know what he is going to do about naps, since the only way he goes to sleep is by nursing! So, I feel it would be more important for me to have my husband start sleep training for naps at this point, since I won’t be there to nurse anyway. I recently subscribed to the baby sleep site member webpage and have read the mastering naps portion so far, but I still just don’t know the best way to have my husband go about this. I don’t won’t my baby to suffer any more than he already will be with me going back to work…any advice or tips would be great! Thank you!

  13. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Maryl — glad to hear it’s gotten easier! Thanks for checking in, and for updating us. :)

    @ Jamie — Sounds like you’ll have a lot on your plate these next few weeks! I know how anxious you must be about this transition, and that’s totally normal. I think a lot of moms feel this way about heading back to work.

    As for what to do about sleep training — I think this would be a great time to start sleep training. Your baby’s old enough (at 5 months), and the timing makes sense (since your baby’s daily routine will be changing once you’re back at work.

    In terms of how to do it — I can’t offer a ton of specific, tailored advice, since I don’t know your unique situation well, and since I’m not a trained sleep consultant. I’d suggest reading though the resources available via the member’s area (and there’s a ton there, as you’ve probably discovered) and using some of those general pointers to get you started. You can start that way and see what works (and what doesn’t.) Then, you can gradually adjust your sleep training techniques to suit your baby.

    Thanks for commenting, Jamie, and for sharing about your upcoming transition. It’s not easy, going back to work — my hear goes out to you! Best of luck to you and your husband, as you start sleep training. Keep us posted on how it goes. :)

  14. Michelle says

    My nearly six month old WAS a great sleeper – slept through from about 10/11pm until 7/8am at two months, and took short-ish but fairly consistent naps during the day. I was elated!! This lasted until he was four months, when things took a turn for the worse. Since then, he’s woken up at least once, usually two or three times a night, and he’s had weeks where he’s woken up four, five, six, seven times a night. I’ve searched your site looking for some suggestions but everything I can find connected with four month sleep regression assumes the baby has some sleep association e.g. Bottle, breast, pacifier, etc. – and my son doesn’t. I’ve put him down FULLY awake since he was very young and he’s put himself to sleep, with very little to no crying every time. With no sleep association to ‘break’, I have no idea what to do, since all the advice here seems to say that, once baby can put himself to sleep, he’ll be able to settle himself during the night as well.

    He’s an awesome kid – my neighbours call him ‘the smiley baby’ and are amazed at how happy and non-crying he is. He’s really good tempered and, since he was born, has only ever really cried when he’s been hungry or sick. But he’s definitely even more good-natured when we’ve had a ‘good’ night and some decent day naps. I know I don’t have a lot to complain about, compared to a lot of people here, but I’m so confused because (a) he WAS sleeping so well, and now isn’t; and (b) he has no (known) sleep associations.

    His daytime feeds still vary a bit but they’re generally every 2.5-3 hours or so. Sometimes at night he goes 4-5 hours, but other times he’s up every hour. I started him on solids but he was completely uninterested. Any suggestions?

  15. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Michelle — you ask a really good question! And honestly, you’re right; most of the sleep training info we provide on the blog assumes that the baby in question has a sleep association or two. It’s rare that we come across a mom who’s been putting her infant down awake for naps and nights; most moms have done at least some nursing/rocking to sleep.

    It sounds like you’ve already read about the 4 month sleep regression, which is good. Arming yourself with information is key. ;) Truly, though, I don’t know that I have any real solutions to this problem. It sounds like you’re doing everything right, and it may just be that your son needs some time to adjust to his new sleeping patterns. I realize, of course, that it’s way easier for me to say that than it is for you to actually do it, and that this probably doesn’t bring you any comfort!

    As for how to get through this season; you can utilize any kind of sleep training technique you feel comfortable. You’re not necessarily sleep training in the same way that you would be if your son had a sleep association, but the methods still apply here. You might want to try a “check and console” approach — lay your son down awake, and then go into his room at intervals to console him, if he’s still crying.

    We have a series on the blog that outlines 6 different sleep training methods: part 1 of that series is here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-training-from-no-cry-to-cry-series-part-1/. You can read through that to get an overview of the different techniques you can use to get through this rough patch.

    Hope this helps a little, Michelle! I wish I had more clear-cut answers for you. Hang in there, mama — you can do it! And so can your little guy. :)

  16. Lianne says

    Hi! After lots of ups and downs during the 1st year, my 18-month old finally WAS a great napper (twice a day, 2 hours each) until he figured out how to stand up in his crib at about 13 months. Since then, I dread nap times. Now he just stands and screams when it’s time for a nap, and mostly will only fall asleep in our arms. The strange thing is, he does NOT have this problem at daycare (4 days per week) apparently, and even says “night night” when it’s nap time. He can usually put himself to sleep at bedtime with no problem (although lately he has tried the standing and screaming technique on some nights too, but that’s not the norm) and then typically sleeps 11-12 hours straight. But naps are still the nightmare now. He has dropped his morning nap but still needs his afternoon nap, but it’s not going well. Any advice? Thanks!

  17. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lianne — quick question: are you still trying to put your 18 month old down twice a day for naps? Or have you already transitioned to one nap a day?

  18. Lianne says

    We have transitioned to one nap already. He decided he was having nothing to do with the morning nap anymore in January.

  19. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lianne — okay. So I’m assuming that he’s really resisting his afternoon nap still? Is that right?

  20. Emily says

    im just curious to know – how many days did it take for you to be able to have your bub sleeping well with sleep training?

    right from the beginning my son hasn’t been a good sleeper, even with routine in place. all my friends have used some form of cry it out from an early age and their bubs have slept with no drama both naps and night. we have tried it and it is not for us. so for a long time i have been aiding my son to sleep in forms of rocking, singing, patting, etc. and it can vary from less than 5min – over an hour of me being in the room trying to put him to sleep. he’ll still wake up at least once during the night either sitting/standing/looking for his dummy and may need to be re-settled. now that he’s 11.5mo i want him to need less of me to go to sleep… it’s causing trouble when im not around for bed time, especially cos i have recently returned to work, and he is a very active child who finds it hard to wind down and definitely needs to have his naps. ive tried the put down technique from Baby Whisperer but it only makes him more worked up, so i end up picking him back up again. i just feel like im already defeated and no amount of sleep training is going to work. i feel as though my son is like no-body else’s child (which is a good thing, but maybe not in this case when it comes to sleep) and no mum i know really understands how it feels to not have a good sleeping baby.

  21. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Emily (lovely name, by the way! ;) ) — I’m so sorry to hear you’re struggling with sleep training. But rest assured, you’re NOT alone in this! We’ve worked with many families whose babies didn’t respond well to CIO, and who just don’t seem to sleep well, regardless of what mom and dad try. The good news is that your baby can sleep well; the harder news is that it may take you awhile to figure out what works (and it may take your baby awhile to learn new sleeping habits and patterns.)

    Have you looked into our personalized consultations at all? (https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/) They’re great options for parents who’ve already tried sleep training on their own, but who haven’t had much success. The consultations usually prove to be lifesavers for parents of “stubborn sleepers”. :)

    Hope this provides you with a good starting place for seeking some help, Emily! And thanks for commenting, and for reaching out. Keep us posted on what you end up doing, and let us know how it’s going!

  22. Adriana says

    Hi! My baby is 5 months and a half. He sleeps from 7 PM to 6:30 AM (usually) with one feeding at night. During the day he takes 4 naps of half an hour each, which does not seem enough to me. I nap trained him to sleep on his own, so he is put awake in the crib. I don’t know how to make his naps longer, I have tried the wake to sleep method but it’s just too much work and I’ve seen you don’t recommend it. When are naps going to become longer? I am worried he is not getting enough sleep, although he seems happy. At night I have sleep trained him but I wonder sometimes if my routine is OK because once we start the routine he gets impatient and seems to want to get over it fast, is this normal? My routine is the usual, massage, pjs, song, breastfeeding, a bit of rocking and bed (awake). Do I need to train him in another way? Thanks for your help!

  23. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Adriana — honestly, it sounds like you’re doing things perfectly! Your routine sounds great (although if he seems to want to race through it, then you could cut parts of it out, or at least shorten them.)

    As for his naps being too short — by my math, it sounds like your son is getting about 13.5 hours of sleep total. And babies this age need between 13-15 total hours of sleep, so I’d say your son is likely getting the sleep he needs (especially if, as you say, he seems happy and content when he’s awake.) It doesn’t matter so much how the sleep is divided up during the day and at night — as long as his sleep totals are between 13-15 hours, all is well.

    Congrats on having such a great sleeping routine in place, Adriana! And thanks for commenting. :)

  24. Kate B says

    I’m trying to nap train my 3 month old. I know that seems young, but I’ve seen some evidence that he can self-soothe. The reason I’m trying to train him to nap on his own this: when he’s tired (assuming that I’m interpreting his cues correctly!), he cries whenever I go to put him down for naps (we’ve tried a routine of diaper change, wrap in a blanket [one arm out for comfort], and a story). He cries if I hold him, he cries if I put him down, and he just cries, cries, cries! So last Friday I let him cry himself to sleep–it worked at least 3 times that day, and he did it in less than 7 minutes each time! But it’s gotten worse since then, and he has been soooo cranky the last two days.

    So I guess my question is should I keep trying? Or should I give it another month? Should I try another method, even though I don’t seem to be able to comfort him without nursing? Right now, my fallback is bouncing him in his carseat carrier, but I don’t have the strength to do that forever! Help!

  25. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Kate B — I’d definitely recommend waiting another month or so. We don’t advocate any form of CIO before 4 months. I’d say for now, do what’s easiest for both of you, then, in another month, start with some gentle CIO (if that’s the method you want to try.) Other options for helping him sleep could include a short nap in the swing, or maybe wearing him in the baby carrier at naptime. None of those is ideal, of course, and they’re not things you’ll want to do long-term, but they’d make good short-term solutions, to help you get through the next month.

    Thanks for commenting, Kate! Be sure to check in in the next few months and let us know how it’s going. :)

  26. Lianne says

    Yes, he is still resisting his afternoon nap, most days, but only at home. I put him down and he stands up and screams until I come back in. We had some success the other day though… read him a story and put him down on his stomach (like they do at daycare)– he gave out one wail as I left the room but stayed down and then slept for 2.5 hours! He must have been really tired. But then yesterday we had to fight with the screaming and standing again… after giving him a bottle and multiple tries, he finally stayed down and slept for 1.5 hours. He still needs the nap, but doesn’t seem to want to go down for it.

  27. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Lianne — this must be so frustrating for you. :( I don’t have any magic solutions, of course; I’d simply recommend sticking to your guns, and continuing on with trying to put him down awake. You can take the CIO element as far as you’re comfortable, of course; going in to console him from time to time is perfectly fine. But it he can nap well at daycare, then he can definitely nap well at home; it’s probably just a matter of helping him realize that.

    Wish I had a more definitive solution for you, Lianne! But it sounds to me like you’re doing everything well. Hope this passes for you soon.

  28. Adriana says

    @Emily
    Thanks! He is not happy 100% of the time though, and it’s frustrating that his naps are this short. When do naps become longer? I have read that longer naps are better for babies. Thanks for your reply!

  29. Kate B says

    Thanks Emily! I had some success bouncing him back to sleep for a longer nap this morning and he was definitely a happier baby for the next hour or so. And I have to say, he’s a good night sleeper so I can’t complain too much!

  30. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Adriana — Within the next two months or so, you should start to notice those four shorter naps narrowing down to three naps, and then to two. As they do, they’ll become longer. The fact that they’re short now, actually, could be an indication that a three-nap-a-day routine is on the horizon.

    @ Kate B — glad this afternoon was successful! And glad to hear you have a good nighttime sleeper on your hands :) That does make a world of difference, doesn’t it?

  31. Kate B says

    Emily (and others reading this article!), I have another question: Should I bother to try to extend my son’s naps?

    He’s three months old and usually naps for 35 minutes. Sometimes he wakes up cheerful, and sometimes not so much! I’ve tried bouncing/rocking him back to sleep, but it rarely works and even when it does, he usually only gets another five minutes or so. But sometimes he looks so tired!

    Thoughts?

  32. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Kate B — good question! Since your son’s still so young, I wouldn’t recommend trying to extend the naps using any kind of sleep training method. You’ll want to wait a bit longer before jumping in to sleep training.

    The methods you’re trying (rocking, etc.) are fine, although it sounds like they’re not working particularly well for you!

    Here’s something you could try: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/wake-to-sleep-help-baby-short-naps/ Some parents have success using the ‘wake to sleep’ method to extend their babies’ short-ish naps. Doesn’t work for everyone, and it can be a bit of work for mom or dad, so you may not like it. But something to consider, at least.

    Thanks for asking, Kate! And if you use this method, let us know how it works out for you. :)

  33. Leila Laws says

    Hello!

    My 14 week old son hardly naps at all. He gets perhaps 1 hour total ALL DAY, and never sleep longer than 30 mins. He tends to wake after 30 mins and cannot get back to sleep. I leave him to try to get him to ‘self settle’ but he gets worked up and when he sees me he gets even more worked up and never, ever goes back to sleep. I think this is happening because he can’t transition from light to deep sleep and so is habitually waking after the same amount of time each time… However, he doesn’t have this problem at night. He is very overtired and cranky and his nightime sleep is pretty disturbed because of this (I think).

    Can anyone help? I know he’s young and I wouldn’t worry about this other than the fact he does get overtired and he gets such little sleep.

    Thanks x

  34. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Leila Laws — this definitely sounds like a problem; no wonder you’re worried!

    Have you checked out our free napping guide yet? You can access it here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/ That would be an excellent place to start; it offers some good, hands-on tips for extending short naps.

    If you needs more help, or if you’d prefer to have someone walk you through the nap training process, you could try a sleep consultation: https://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-toddler-sleep-consulting-services/

    Hope these options prove useful to you, Leila! Thanks for commenting. And do check in to let us know how it’s going.

    Best of luck to you! :)

  35. Kate B says

    Leila, I feel your pain!

    Like Emily said, I would definitely check out the nap guide. I actually joined the site and read the naps and schedules book, too.

    I’m still working on naps with my little guy (who’s only about a week older than your baby), and we’re having some success. This is great, especially because he sounds like your son: short naps and I am a HUGE distraction for him at naptime.

    The success that we’ve had has come from starting his nap routine about an hour after he got up from his last nap, which means that he’s averaging about an hour and 15 minutes between naps. He does cry for a few minutes after I put him in his crib, but he cries way longer and harder if I stick around or if I go in to try to help (believe me, I have tried a lot of things!). If he doesn’t sleep after 20 minutes (or if he’s screaming!), we skip the nap and try again in another 30 minutes. So far, it has always worked the second time around.

    Of course, every baby is different, but maybe there’s something in our experience that could help you. The short wake time seems important, even though it means he sometimes takes 6 (!) naps a day.

  36. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Kate B — fabulous, fabulous advice! I love this. Thanks so much for reaching out to Leila, and for sharing these practical, tried-and-true tips with her. I love it when moms reach out to each other and help one another via the blog comments!

    Thanks for extending your sympathy and suggestions to Leila, Kate. Its moms like you who help make this site the excellent resource that it is! :)

  37. says

    Sorry to post this on this slightly unrelated article, but I’m trying to fine tune my 12 month old’s schedule – he currently goes to sleep by 7pm, naps twice a day and is up between 5am-6.30am. I’m trying to get it back to where it used to be, which was a constant 6.30am. 7am would be better but I’ll take 6.30am if I have to ;)

    Anyway, my question is how many milk feeds should my son be having at 12 months old? The 11 month old schedule lists 4 milk feeds, whereas the 12 month schedule doesn’t specify between solid food and milk. I’m pondering this because he doesn’t eat much solid food and I’m wondering if he’s having too much milk – if there is such a thing.

    Currently, he’s having a bottle when he wakes, BM before his nap at 9am [time dependant on when he woke - but usually 3 hours after waking], a bottle before his 2pm nap and BM at bedtime.

    Any thoughts anyone has would be warmly received.

    :))

  38. Susan says

    Hi there,

    Is it possible to be nap trained but not night trained?

    We sleep trained our baby at 5.5 months, and I believe it was successful as our baby can now soothe himself to sleep (for the most part). He is now just over 6 months and sleeps straight through from 7:30-8pm til 6-7 am with no wakings. However, I am very confused because he goes down great for his first two naps (the first is about 1.5 hrs after waking up in the morning, and the second is about 1.5-2 hrs after waking from the first nap), but absolutely REFUSES to go down for his third nap. Sometimes I can get him to sleep 30 minutes, which is great. However, it is always a battle to get him to sleep for the night. I do a whole routine (bath, bottle, etc) but he will scream bloody murder for anywhere from 20-45 minutes before going to bed at night. I know that he is able to self-soothe because he does it for naps, and I see him doing it in the middle of the night when he briefly wakes. I suspect that he is overtired b/c of either the missed third nap or the fact that the third nap is usually 3 hrs after his second nap (b/c he resists it so much. On days when he misses his third nap, I try to put him down early (5:30-6 pm), but then he will only sleep for 30 minutes (essentially, it just becomes his third nap), and then he will wake up and go to bed extra late on those nights.

    I thought that nap training was harder than night training, but I’m having the opposite problem! Can you help??? It is so hard to hear him scream when I know he is fully capable of going to bed + he is clearly tired + I need to make dinner/am generally pooped by the end of the day!

    Thanks in advance!!

  39. Susan says

    Hi again, I tried to edit my above comment but I guess it didn’t go through. I was just wondering– do you think he is resisting his third nap because his first two naps are too long? They usually total 3.5-4 hrs. I am wondering if he essentially has “run out” of nap sleep early on, and therefore resists the third nap, which causes him to be overtired by nighttime? Thank you!!

  40. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Susan — first, let me say that it sounds like your 6 month old is a champion sleeper in a lot of ways! So that’s good; whatever you’ve been doing has clearly worked. :)

    In terms of why he’s resisting that third nap, I suspect you’re right in your observation that the first two naps are on the long side, and that might be messing with the 3rd nap. If you look at our sample 6 month schedule (http://www.babysleepsite.com/tag/6-month-old-feeding-schedule/) you’ll see that we outline 3 or 4 naps that total about 3 hours. So essentially, your son’s just napping really efficiently; he’s cramming his naptime sleep into two long naps.

    Here’s something you could try: put him down a bit later for his first and second nap, trying to stretch that second nap so that it happens a bit later in the day, closer to bedtime. Getting the spacing just right will be a little tricky and may require some trial and error. But the idea would be that if you space those two naps differently, the second nap could end close enough to bedtime that you wouldn’t need to squeeze in a third nap. Make sense?

    Hope this is helpful, Susan! Keep us posted. And thanks for reaching out! :)

  41. Susan says

    Thank you, Emily. He has such a hard time staying up longer than 1.5 hours before he gets super fussy and overtired, but I will try to space out his naps a little longer.

    Also, even on days where he has had 3 naps, it is still very difficult to get him down for the night. He often screams and cries for awhile. Is there something about night sleep that is different from nap sleep? If so, what can I do to address it? I’m wondering if I should just stick to one bedtime (like 7:30) and put him in his crib no matter what? I always worry that I’ve put him down too late or too early depending on when he last woke up.

    Thanks again!

  42. Emily DeJeu says

    @ Susan — we do have an article on how night sleep is different than nap sleep; you can read that here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/baby-naps-2/why-baby-and-naps-different-than-night-sleep/ That may have some insights for you.

    In terms of sticking to one bedtime: it may be a better idea to flex bedtime a bit, depending on his tiredness cues (and depending on how naps have gone.) Obviously, you don’t want to put him to bed way early, but shifting bedtime to 7:00 or so likely won’t hurt, if you think that he needs to go down earlier.

    In terms of how to address the crying: do what feels most natural for you. You can do a check-and-console kind of thing, where you go in periodically and comfort him for a few minutes. Or you can allow him to cry it out, if that’s something you’re comfortable with. How you deal with this fussiness is totally up to you. I’d recommend reading through the different types of sleep training methods that are out there: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-training-from-no-cry-to-cry-series-part-1/ (this is part one of a 6 part series).

    Hope these resources help you, Susan! And thanks so much for reaching out, and for commenting. :) Feel free to ask any other questions you might have!