When Baby Won’t Nap

Baby Won't NapNaps can be challenging to get from your baby and sometimes it seems like he just won’t nap. Part of the reason your baby won’t nap is because day and night sleep are handled by two different parts of the brain. What your baby knows how to do at night doesn’t necessarily mean he will do the same thing during the day. Depending on how perceptive he is, the sunlight can keep him up or just playing with the smallest piece of lint in the crib. There is a whole lot of fun to miss during the day!

Another reason why your baby won’t nap is because the drive for your baby’s body to sleep at night is strongest. Our internal clocks strongly push us to sleep at night, but during the day, while our babies are sleepy and they do need to nap, the drive to sleep is not strong enough to make it easy for all babies. This is when it gets frustrating. You might try 45 minutes to get a 30 minute nap. And, you might do this 3 times a day!

When your baby won’t nap it’s most frustrating when she’s cranky because of the non-napping or when she refuses to sleep through the night because she’s so overtired come bedtime that she wakes up often at night, unable to settle. Though there are a few babies who appear to do fine without enough napping, naps are a key component of good night sleep, happy babies, and happy parents.

Most of the time, if your baby won’t nap, it can be solved by avoiding some mistakes that many parents make. Today, I begin offering a new free e-Book called 7 Common Napping Mistakes that discusses the 7 most common napping mistakes and what you can do about them. Just like my other free e-Book, 5 Ways to Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night, this e-Book is completely free, with no obligation. To get your free copy, sign up here.


  1. Jennifer says

    I don’t know what I am doing wrong. My second child is 8 months and is not sleeping well at all. She goes down well at 6:45pm but then at 11:00pm starts getting up every hr. I nurse or soother and walk away only to return in 1 hr. Her naps are at 9:00 and 1:00 which tend to be 45 mins long – although I leave her there for the full hr. This isn’t improving.

    HELP I am sooo tired…

  2. Karen says

    Jennifer, you may find the info at askmoxie.org helpful. Search for sleep regression. To summarize, at certain developmental phases, baby will start waking up several times a night and not napping well – when baby learns to roll over, sit up, walk for example. They will practice at night or their little brain will be on overdrive until they get it right. It’s hard to know as growth spurts often happen around 4 months and 8 months also.. and then there’s teething. Hope the website helps! It gave me some comfort to know that lots of babies go through this at the same time (mine is 4 months) but my baby has been sleeping poorly for about a month, not a few days or couple weeks, so I’m not sure what’s going on with mine.. :(

  3. Jennifer says

    Thanks for the reply I will check out the website for further information.
    Sorry to hear about your little ones sleeping issues. Mine has one good night every 2 weeks. Rough, she is very very active. You are correct she crawls but now is trying to stand so this could be the issue.
    Once again, Thanks
    Good Luck :)

  4. says

    Like Jennifer’s baby my 1month old son is a little nocturnal. He’s very active between 6pm till around midnight. Lately I discovered that he sleeps easily when I let him lay down on my chest (burping position). I guess he just feels a little insecure without a constant human contact.

  5. says

    @Jennifer I can only imagine how tired you are getting up every hour! One thing to keep in mind is that it’s no better for your daughter. You might want to read about sleep associations here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/sleep-training/sleep-association The key is to help your daughter learn to sleep on her own without nursing or the soother. Good luck!

  6. says

    @Karen Thank you for commenting and sharing! You are correct that developmental milestones can disrupt sleep, but in general, if sleep is poor for weeks and months, there is usually something that can be done to improve the situation. In Jennifer’s case, her daughter needs to fall asleep without nursing and without a soother, so she can go BACK to sleep throughout the night and at nap time. At 4 months, for your baby, sleep does change, so I can imagine the same might be true for you, too. Have you read the article about 4 month sleep? http://www.babysleepsite.com/how-we-sleep/4-month-baby-sleep/ Good luck!

  7. says

    @Rechelle This is very normal at one month old. They like the comfort of mommy. You can also try swaddling and a white noise machine. Keep up the human contact, though, because it’s essential for proper growth and development. :)

  8. Amber says

    My son is 10.5 months and has always been a poor napper. He is now on 2 naps a day. I thought that his naps might lengthen after going from 3 to 2 naps, but that hasn’t happened. He is still taking 30-45 minute naps. Once in a while he will sleep 1 hr. or longer, but this is rare. I log all of his naps and I don’t see any pattern when he does nap well. When he wakes early he is usually in a good mood (temporarily). He sleeps well at night. He has no problem falling asleep. In fact, he falls asleep quite quickly on his own. He can get fussy when he doesn’t nap well, but isn’t any fussier than his twin sister, who is a pretty good napper. For short naps, I’ve already tried …

    -Letting him cry when he wakes up (he doesn’t go back to sleep)
    -Rushing to him when I first hear him and trying to soothe him back to sleep
    -Increasing and decreasing wake time before naps
    -I stopped nursing him to sleep, thinking maybe he didn’t know how to fall back asleep on his own.
    -He sleeps with white noise and in a dark room.
    -I’ve read and use strategies from HSHHC and The No Cry Sleep Solution.

    Nothing works! Nicole, do you have any ideas? I’ve read your article about “Common Napping Mistakes.” Do I just have a child who sleeps well at night but will always be a poor napper? Might he sleep better on one nap a day?

  9. says

    @Amber At this age, short naps are usually due to not enough wake-time. Anything you try, make sure you give it at least 5-7 days to see if it’s working or not. I’d probably recommend bumping awake time in 15-minute increments to see if it has an effect. But, in general, he needs so much sleep in 24 hours. If he gets most at night, he just might not need any more than he’s getting. It sounds like you’re doing alot of the right things, so I’d probably do some trial and error, but in general, give him time to go back to sleep, but try not to stress about it if he doesn’t as long as he’s happy and healthy. Good luck!

  10. Denise says

    My son is 12 months. He used to get 2 naps a day (between 9-10am and between 1-2pm). Naps could last 1 to 2.5 hours each and he was getting 9-10 hours sleep at night. He was a problem napper when he was 7 months old but we created a routine and he became a good napper. During the last month he started refusing the nap in the afternoon if he naps longer than 11 am in the morning. Even if he naps until 10:30 the afternoon nap is a big fight. I have tried shortening the morning nap, but he gets very fussy. Also I do not feel confortable waking him up. Have also tried for him not to nap in the morning and he looks too tiered by noon. The problem is that by 5 he is very tiered and he started waking up during the night crying and difficult to confort. Will apprecaite any advise you could provide. Thanks!!

  11. Kimberly says

    Hi Denise,
    Have you checked out this post on Toddler schedules? http://www.babysleepsite.com/tag/12-month-schedule/ Nicole covers both a two nap and one nap schedule. A general two nap recommendation is at 10 and 2 for about an hour, which it does sound like he still needs two naps and probably isn’t ready to transition to just one nap yet. If you haven’t already you can get a copy of Nicole’s Free Baby and Toddler Nap guide here: http://www.babysleepsite.com/free-baby-nap-guide/ and a third option would be to consider purchasing a copy of her e-book Mastering Naps which will cover how to slowly shift his schedule forward or backward during the day to accommodate a better nap schedule. You can find that here: http://www.babynapswell.com/

  12. Denise says


    Thank you so much for the information!! Thanks.

  13. Veronica says

    My baby just turned two months, and literally the same day he got his sots he hasn’t napped well since. He used to take 3 good names a day for me and has been sleeping for a 9 to 10hr stretch at night. He’s still sleeping good at night but wakes up after about 10 min during his naps and cries and cries even while I’m walking him around or rocking him in the chair. Then he will fall asleep again just to wake up. He’s been very cranky because of this. HELP!!