Baby Won’t Nap? Here Are 7 Reasons Why (#7 Is Surprising!)

Baby Wont Nap

Baby Won’t Nap? Nap time is, without a doubt, a tired parent’s favorite time of day. Baby goes down for a much-need snooze, leaving mom and dad time to have some much-needed “me time”.

But of course, in order for your baby’s nap time to be a favorite time of day, your baby has to actually, you know, TAKE A NAP. And therein lies the problem, for many parents!

So many of you have written to us over the years, letting us know that your baby won’t nap, and you are at a loss as to why. Baby is tired? Check. Baby is settled in the crib after nap time routine? Check. Baby not sleeping? ACK – check!

But why? Why is it that your baby won’t sleep, especially when you’ve tried everything? Odds are, your baby won’t nap for one of the 7 reasons listed below.

Baby Won’t Nap? Here Are 7 Possible Reasons Why:

  1. Under-tired
  2. Over-tired
  3. Lack of Routine
  4. Environment
  5. Developmental
  6. Hungry
  7. Sleep Associations

More Details On These Reasons Why Baby Won’t Sleep at Nap Time…

  1. Your baby may not be tired enough to nap (or under-tired).

    Well, this one just makes sense, right? Even if you think it’s nap time if your baby is feeling wide-awake and energized, then she may not agree with you! So why might your baby not be tired enough to take a restorative nap? Take a close look at your baby’s sleep and feeding schedule. Is nap time coming too close to your baby’s morning wake-up time, or too close to the last nap time? As your baby grows, she will need more and more awake time between periods of sleep.

  2. Baby may be too tired to nap (or over-tired).

    I know, I know…how can ‘too tired’ be a problem? Well, it’s true – a baby who is overly-tired actually has a harder time falling asleep and staying asleep than a baby who is well-rested. If your baby recently missed a nap, for example, or had lots of interrupted night sleep, or a too-late bedtime the night before, or was up way too early this morning, it may very well be that your baby is overly tired, and that’s why he’s not napping well. The key to preventing over-tiredness is a great schedule – be sure your daily schedule isn’t stretching your baby’s awake time past what he’s capable of.

  3. Your baby doesn’t know it’s time to nap.

    Your baby can’t really consult her watch, after all ;). And really, just like you need to know that it’s time to sleep in order to settle into bed and begin getting drowsy, your baby does, too. So how can you signal to your baby that it’s time to settle down and nap? By creating and then consistently doing a pre-nap routine! Similar to a bedtime routine, a nap time routine signals to your baby that nap time is approaching. A nap routine should be shorter than a bedtime routine. And, it should be soothing and calming enough to wind down even the most spirited baby. Just be sure that whatever you do for your nap time routine, you do it consistently at every nap – that’s how it will become routine for your baby, and consequently, that’s how it will begin to help your baby settle down and nap when she is supposed to.

  4. Your baby isn’t in a “sleepy” environment.

    Where is your baby not napping, exactly? Is it in a darkened room, with some gentle white noise in the background? Or is it in the backseat of your brightly-lit car? Or in the stroller, in the middle of a crowded store? Or in your arms, in a noisy room? While newborns may be able to conk out and sleep just about anywhere, in any position, older babies and toddlers need a sleep-inducing environment that’s fairly quiet, dim, and calm, in order to sleep well.

  5. Your baby is in the midst of a nap transition or developmental leap.

    Take comfort – this one has nothing to do with you! And this may very well be why some of you who know you are doing everything “right” are still struggling with naps. One common sign that a nap transition is approaching is that your baby will start to skip a nap off and on (usually the last nap of the day). And when your baby does take that nap, it may be more of a catnap than a long, restful nap. Similarly, your baby may be in the midst of a sleep regression (like the 4 month sleep regression, or the 8/9/10 month regression), and that may be the cause of the nap issues.

  6. Your baby is too hungry to nap.

    Many of us who are “sleep-obsessed” (and hey, that describes all of us who work at The Baby Sleep Site®) immediately jump to schedule and sleep-habit reasons when we are faced with sleep problems. But guess what? Sleep issues are often caused by a hungry tummy! Check your baby’s nap schedule, and then see how it’s lining up with her feeding schedule. Is your baby’s nap falling in the middle of what should be a feeding? Most of the time, it’s a good idea to feed your baby shortly before a nap (although not right before – you want a little time to burp your baby and let the food digest, particularly if your baby is prone to reflux).

  7. Your baby doesn’t know how to fall asleep (and stay asleep) at nap time.

    So this one may catch you by surprise – it seems odd that a baby might not know how to fall asleep, right? Isn’t falling asleep just something that happens? Well, no, not really – knowing how to lie down, become drowsy, and fall asleep in a sleep space is actually a learned skill. If you want your baby to nap independently, in his own sleep space, then your baby will need to know how to do that. And if your baby is heavily reliant on YOU to fall asleep, because he has sleep associations that involve things like breastfeeding, or being rocked and held by you, then you may need to help your baby learn how to fall asleep with less help. And this, parents, is where Mastering Naps comes into play.

Nap questions or tips? We love hearing from you! Scroll down to ask questions, to share your story, and to hear from other parents just like you!

The Baby Sleep Site® is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program and other product affiliate programs. If you click on a product link and make a purchase, The Baby Sleep Site® may (but not always) receive a small commission from the company selling the product, but will not affect your purchase price. We only recommend products that we believe are quality products and are good for our readers.

Holistic Sleep Solutions from The Baby Sleep Site®

e-Book bundles

Do-It-Yourself: Just getting started with your research but you want to stop Googling? Choose from any of our e-Book bundles for practical advice you can put to use TODAY!  

Become a VIP Member

Do-It-Mostly-Yourself: Would you like to continue learning with the option of chatting with a sleep consultant? We have a perfect solution! Become a VIP Member for access to all of our premium content, “ask the author,” audio courses, live weekly chat, and more!

Get a Personalized Sleep Plan

Work With a Sleep Expert: Tap into over a decade of experience with thousands of families before you! Get a Personalized Sleep Plan® just for your unique situation, get guidance and answers to all your “what if?” questions while you work through your plan, and benefit from expert support along the way. We can’t tell you how many times we’ve heard “I wish I had done this sooner!” Not sure? Read these stories from well-rested parents.

Don’t lose another wink of sleep — GET STARTED TODAY with our gentler, kinder approach to healthy sleep!

Since starting in 2008, we’ve gained over 10,000 comments on our blog!

At this time, we’ve turned the comment sections off. We would, of course, love to hear from you! For help with your specific sleep problems, please learn more about our DIY resources or our sleep consultation services. Or, consider emailing us for a fast and helpful response!

12 thoughts on “Baby Won’t Nap? Here Are 7 Reasons Why (#7 Is Surprising!)”

  1. My 6 mo old is all of a sudden fighting his first nap of the day. He sleeps through the night (at least I think he does cause he doesn’t wake us up from 7:30 pm – 6/7 am) and usually his morning naps would be anywhere from an hour to 2.5. I don’t think he’s ready to drop it because when he does go down, he naps for a long while, it’s just getting him there that’s been so difficult lately. He does have two teeth coming in but they’re halfway along so I don’t think they’re the reason? Any idea? Thank you!

    • Hi Joyce,
      Thank you so much for your comment on The Baby Sleep Site! I’m sorry to hear you’re struggling with your baby’s naps. This is a time of a lot of transition, so it may be temporary. You can also review our sample 6 month-old schedules, in case he may just need a schedule adjustment:
      If you continue to have trouble once those teeth are in, this is definitely something one of our sleep consultants can review for you! I hope this helps, and please hang in there!

  2. Hi
    I have a 3 month old who sleeps from 7pm – 6am/7am. She goes down at night on her own or with a dummy. Come Day time her naps are all 30 minute cat naps, she just won’t do any longer unless I pick her up and cuddle her. She has the same bed time routine except the end of day bottle for her naps to her bedtime routine. She has a wake window of 1-1.5hrs dependant on her tiredness. She’s well fed, I know this cause she’s on formula so I know she’s getting plenty of food.
    What else could I do to help this change or is this just what she does because she’s getting so much sleep at night? If so when will this change ?

    • Hi @Tiffany –
      Thank you for writing, and I would be happy to give you some resources to help with your daughter’s sleep. 🙂 I hope that it will help.
      Short naps are common at this age! This article may help:
      Short naps often lengthen at around 6 months, so if they remain short after another 2-3 months, you may want to consider working on lengthening them at that time. For some really helpful info that will grown with your baby, please consider our VIP Member’s Area.
      Our Members Area gives you access to all of our ebooks as well as all teleseminar recordings, case studies, and do-it-yourself tutorials, including a workbook to create your own sleep plan. My favorite feature is the access to a “members only” live “chat” where an expert sleep consultant will answer your specific questions!
      You can read more about the VIP Member’s Area here:
      Good luck Tiffany!

  3. I have a five month old who used to nap for about a half hour in his cot, now he will only nap in my arms, as soon as I put him down in the cot he’s awake. I try and keep the morning nap around the same time each day but it does depend on when he wakes up, which can then knock the afternoon nap out, plus if am going for to be out I will be out in the afternoon. He will go down into his cot at night after a feed and a cuddle and sleeps really well generally overnight. What can I do to get nap time in his cot.

    • @Abigail – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us! How frustrating it must be for this change in behavior to happen! When babies won’t nap in their designated sleeping spaces, it often does take a dedicated effort on our parts to get them sleeping where we’d like them sleeping. We give a few tips on how to achieve that here, if you’d like to read over them: Let us know if we can be of any further help. Hang in there, Abigail!

  4. Hi there. My baby boy is 2.5 months and we’re having major issues with nap time. He’ll be extremely sleepy and he’ll be rubbing his eyes and just won’t sleep when I put him down even when he falls asleep in my arms

  5. Hi!! My name is Mackenzie. My daughter is 13 months. She just started transitioning to 1 nap instead of 2 and for some reason since the transition last week, she will only sleep if she is being held or nurses. Especially with me, it’s extremely difficult to get her down. She will fall asleep in our arms but as soon as I set her down she wakes up and screams with her arms up for me to hold her. With everyone else she will stay asleep.
    Some people are telling me to wean her off breastfeeding. I was hoping to get some advice.
    Thank you.l!!

    • @Mackenzie – Thank you for reading and for sharing with us. The transition to one nap can be pretty long and exhausting, for sure – we feel your pain! It’s very common for babies to sleep one way for mama and very differently for other caregivers. But we don’t have enough details to give you a firm suggestion as many things could be causing her to do this – associations, schedule, feedings, how she falls asleep, etc., but you can consider working directly with one of our sleep consultants to help you work through these details to zero in on the issue and create a schedule and plan that works for your family. You can read more about our lovely ladies here: and our services here: Hang in there, Mackenzie!

  6. Hi, I have a 7 month old (born 3 weeks early). She has always been a great nighttime sleeper. Since 3.5 months old, she slept through the night (9 hours) without any coaching – I would breastfeed her to sleep. For naps, we would rock her to sleep, or give her my pinky finger to suck on (in lieu of a pacifier), but would only sleep for 30 minutes on the dot, sometimes crying, sometimes just staring into space! I set my clock to it!

    At 6 months, she discovered her thumb after we un-swaddled her, and used it well during some timed CIO and has been able to self-soothe since (as long as she is calm. I sometimes have to calm her by shushing her in her crib or if that fails, scooping her up and snuggling for a few minutes, and then she’s able to be laid back down and go to sleep while sucking her thumb.).

    Shortly after sleep coaching, she started extending her morning naps to 1 hour. However, her next 2 naps were 20 minutes on the dot! (Goodbye, 30!) She wakes up VERY energetic and rolling around, but not crying. I feel like she’s still tired. And she refuses to take her 4th/last nap. So by the time bedtime comes, she’s exhausted. Because of this I’ve resorted to starting her bedtime routine at 6pm (bath, changing, breastfeeding + 2.0oz formula (takes 30 mins), cuddles/rocking, in crib by 6:50pm – asleep by 7:00/7:10pm). She wakes around 5:30am for roughly an hour, again VERY energetic, rolling around, but not crying. She’ll then finally start sucking her thumb after about 30 minutes, and fall asleep another 10-30 minutes later, then will sleep the last hour til I wake her at 7am.

    So, (sorry for the long narrative leading up to my question), although she knows how to self-soothe, why is she taking short naps? How can I extend her naps without creating a sleep association by rocking, etc.? (She will sometimes take a longer nap (either the 1st or 2nd) if she was woke up at 5am and didn’t fall back asleep.) I feel like it’s affecting her night time and causing her to wake early. Thoughts?

    As an aside, my schedule is more of a routine – wake, breastfeed, activity, solids, short activity, take her into her room for naptime routine about 10-15 minutes before I want her to be asleep (or if she’s giving me major tired cues, I’ll take her in earlier), e.g. 8:45am routine, 9:00 she’s asleep.

    Thank you in advance for your insight! Also, I love your website and use it often for tips, tricks and advice. As well as refer you to my friends with new babies.

    Thanks, again!

    • @Christine V. Thank you for writing to us. I am sorry you have been experiencing short naps with your daughter! I went through a similar thing with both of my kids so I totally understand how you’re feeling! Here is a link to an article with some tips that may help determine what is causing them and how to help: If you still need more help, we have an ebook all about Naps & Schedules that you may be interested in. You can view the options on the ebook here:
      Thank you for using the Baby Sleep Site as a resource and sending us along to your new mom friends as well! We love to hear our site has been beneficial to you. 🙂 I hope you get longer naps soon!

Comments are closed.

FREE Guide: Five Ways To Help Your Child Sleep Through the Night

Join over 450,000 parents around the world & sign up today to receive the guide and our Baby Sleep Newsletter absolutely FREE!