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Dealing With a Non-Napper

Mar11

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Hi Amalah,

I love your column, and reading it was what convinced my husband and I to try cloth diapers, and well, that I could handle a baby in the first place. But my question isn’t about diapers, it’s about sleep. I have a beautiful 7 month old daughter who is a good night time sleeper but not such a great napper. The problem is that even though we’re consistent in what time we put her down for a nap, and the nap time routine, her naps are anything but consistent. One day she’ll take a 2 hour morning nap but not afternoon nap. The next day the morning nap is non-existent but she’ll sleep for an hour in the afternoon. The next day she won’t take any naps at all! The other problem is that she will only fall asleep in our arms. No matter how hard I’ve tried to put her down “sleepy but awake” it doesn’t happen. Either I miss the drowsy stage and she’s completely asleep by the time I get her into her crib, or as soon as I put her down her eyes fly open, she starts crying and the nap is officially over no matter how much I try to get her back to sleep. I’ve read a few books, but they all seem to deal with bad night time sleepers, not bad nappers, and my baby is a great night time sleeper! She typically wakes up once at night, we change her diaper, I nurse her, and she’s back to sleep, sleeping a total of about 12 hours.

Another part of the problem is that now she will only fall asleep for me nursing. I used to be able to rock her to sleep, but lately when I try she’ll scream for 20 minutes and I give in and nurse her and she’ll fall asleep. It’s just easier to get her to sleep nursing her, but that doesn’t seem like such a good long term solution. Am I just going to regret that down the road? It’s like she knows a nap is coming, and she doesn’t want to nap, so she gets herself worked up by screaming and can’t calm down until I nurse her, even if she’s not hungry. On the weekends my husband can get her to fall asleep in his arms, but during the week, it’s just me.

We’ve got a consistent pre-nap routine, we’ve got a lovie, we use a sound machine, we’ve even covered the windows so it’s darker in her room. I feel like we’ve tried everything. I know that my baby needs naps. I can see it in her eyes and her behavior. And I need her to nap too. But lately I just dread nap time. I feel so defeated, like I’m spending all of my time trying to get a baby down for a nap that’s not going to happen.

Help!

Gaaahhhh naps. Naps! Funny story: If you’d submitted this question before I had Ike, I guarantee that I would have made an idiot out of myself because “blah de blah, just do X, Y and Z and ta-da! Problem solved!” Because Noah and Ezra were both good nappers.

And then: Baby Ike. The more children I had the more I realized that I really don’t know nothing about raising no babies.

Noah’s daycare taught us the 2-3-4 nap schedule. He was 12 weeks old at the time and we had zero schedule at home — naps, bedtime, feedings…all of it was still just kind of happening when it happened. The daycare ladies weren’t going to have any of that nonsense, however. Every day I arrived at daycare and wrote down what time Noah woke up that morning. They put him down for his first nap exactly two hours after that — even if it was within 15 minutes of his arrival. I can’t say for sure that his first naps really included much sleeping at first, but his schedule was usually marked that his morning nap was about 30 or 40 minutes long.  No longer than an hour. Three hours after he woke from the first nap, he went down for his afternoon nap. That nap was a long one — at least two or three hours. Four hours after that waking, we’d put him to bed. We mimicked the daycare’s nap schedule at home the first weekend after I started work and BAM. Magic. Black nap magic.

A real-time sample day would look like this: Awake at 7:30 am. First nap at 9:30. Up around 10:00. Second nap at 1:00 pm. Up at 3:00 pm. Bedtime at 8:00 pm for a good 11 – 12 hour stretch (with a quick waking around 2 am or so for milk, maybe a second around 5 am).

We used the 2-3-4 sleep schedule until Noah was a year old, when the morning nap disappeared. But by then (I think) his good napping habits were established enough that he made the transition fairly painlessly.

It took me a little longer to get Ezra on the 2-3-4 schedule, mostly because our days couldn’t revolve solely around his naps. He’d doze off in the car while I drove Noah to and from preschool, for example, and even a five-minute catnap would screw the entire schedule up. I kept with it, though, and stuck with it as many days as I could. When he was little I would mimic our bedtime routine at naptime — nursing, rocking, extra-tight swaddle. Once the swaddle went away (six months) we focused on some mild sleep training (mini-fuss-it-out, basically) and eventually I could just put him in his crib awake at bedtime and naptime and he’d figure the whole “lie down and sleep” thing himself.

And then: Baby Ike.

For Ike’s first year of life, I couldn’t even DEAL with his nap schedule — I was too busy trying to survive nighttime, when he would wake up over and over and over again and require all sorts of nonsense to get back to sleep. He refused to nap during the day other than the occasional 10 -15 minute catnap. I knew his bedtime issues were coming from him being SOOOOO overtired, but the 2-3-4 schedule just plain didn’t work. His naps were so short that the prescribed bedtime would’ve been 5 pm at the latest. I even TRIED an insanely, ridiculously early bedtime for a week or two, but 1) it put a huge burden on the rest of family, since we couldn’t go anywhere or do anything, and 2) eventually the 5/6 pm “bedtime” turned into more of a super-late nap, and Ike would wake up at 11 pm and then be COMPLETELY AWAKE FOR HOURS. Fail.

And like you, I turned to every book and expert out there and came up mostly empty on solid nap advice. Even Ferber admits that you just can’t get some kids to nap “properly” and you might need to readjust your expectations: They fall asleep in the car or in a heap in front of the TV? Great. TAKE IT. Then try to move up bedtime as much as you can and make sure they’re getting as much sleep as possible then.

So. Advice? I barely even dare give “advice.” At seven months old, it might not be too late to have a go at 2-3-4 sleep routine. Follow the clock instead of your daughter’s cues for a week, or so. (That “sleepy but not overtired” window is miniscule and SO EASY to miss.) Keep mimicking the bedtime routine at naptime, even with the nursing.

(Because seriously: Pick ONE battle at a time. Yeah, the nursing-to-sleep isn’t the best long-term solution but it’s also not really the worst when she’s this little. Put a pin in that concern for now and focus on getting naps in order. Mess with the bedtime routine later, once you feel things are otherwise going okay.)

If she cries the second she’s in her crib, try a timed interval approach: Three minutes, five, 10, etc. Go in and pat her and turn on a crib mobile or something. If the morning nap is a complete bust, pretend she took a 20-30 minute nap anyway, and aim for the second nap to still be three hours after that. (Just so you’re not coming up with a schedule that puts bedtime at 4 pm or something.) Try very, very hard to avoid catnaps in the car or stroller during this first week: They take the edge off and ruin everything, I swear.

Ike now takes a long afternoon nap. Three or four hours, and I usually end up going in there and waking him up in order to save our bedtime. He sleeps 12 solid hours at night and only wakes up once in a blue moon. (He’s at the age where dreams/nightmares can start interrupting sleep, and other nights we’re too liberal with cups of milk and his diaper leaks.) But none of this really came together for us until he was a year old, I’m sorry to say.

Nighttime sleep improved a couple months before 12 months (thanks to Ferber), but I could NEVER count on a daily nap until he was old enough to ditch the morning nap. (Which I would NOT recommend for a seven month old. Though if you have a closer-to-12-months-old toddler who is still a crap napper, you could trying powering through the morning without a nap and see what happens by 11/11:30 am. Perhaps an early lunch and then a long nap is in order?) So the 2-3-4 nap schedule is really the only trick in my bag that I can offer, even though it only worked in two of three babies surveyed.

Looking back now, though: Some of it was consistency problems on our part. Our nanny took care of Ike in the mornings and she liked to take him out and would miss the two-hour-after-waking mark, or let him fall asleep in the stroller or car at non-2-3-4-approved times. And I usually had to go shuttle an older child somewhere in the middle of the afternoon nap, or his brothers would be making noise and wake him up, etc. If you can avoid stuff like that, you might have a better chance of success, even with a seriously nap-resistant child.

Photo source: Photodisc/Thinkstock

About the author

Amalah

http://www.amalah.com
Amalah is a pseudonym of Amy Corbett Storch. She is the author of the Advice Smackdown and Bounce Back. You can follow Amy's daily mothering adventures at Amalah. Also, it's pronounced AIM-ah-lah.

If there is a question you would like answered on the Advice Smackdown, please submit it to amyadvice@gmail.com.

Amy also documented her second pregnancy (with Ezra) in our wildly popular Weekly Pregnancy Calendar, Zero to Forty.

Amy is mother to rising first-grader Noah, preschooler Ezra, and toddler Ike.


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35 Responses to “Dealing With a Non-Napper”

  1. Lindsay Mar 11 at 1:53 pm Reply Reply

    We are dealing with a similar situation with our 6 month old daughter. We finally got her on the 2-3-4 schedule at home and it works great, but at daycare its a-whole-nother story.

    I think the problem is that she falls asleep in the car on the way to daycare most days (a 30 minute drive) and then her whole day is thrown off. Any suggestions? Do we start 2-3-4 from when she wakes up from that car nap or just pretend it didn’t happen and go from when she woke up in the morning?

    • Trish Mar 11 at 3:28 pm Reply Reply

      I’d be more inclined to call that car nap the first nap of the day and try to pick up from there. But my first rarely napped more than 30 minutes until he went to one nap a day. 

    • Emily Mar 12 at 9:40 pm Reply Reply

      That’s tough. We were in the same situation, and we ultimately ended up moving him to an in-home daycare less than 5 mins away from our house. Since then, he’s adopted a solid three naps/day schedule, which are usually 1 hr, 1 hr and then 45 mins.

      I think keeping her awake in the car will help – I realize now that my guy was sleeping just enough in the car to take the edge off, then would get extremely stimulated as soon as we walked in the door and he saw all the other kids. Thus, he wouldn’t go down for his first nap until he was way, way over-stimulated, and usually only sleep about 30 mins.

      Now, unlike Amalah’s daycare, my daycare workers didn’t do a dang thing to help him get on a schedule, and despite my best efforts, they seemed to pretty much disregard any suggestions I gave about scheduling, which was one of the main reasons we left that facility. If you can keep her awake during the drive, and your daycare is willing to help you, you are in a much better situation than we were. Good luck!

      • Emily Mar 12 at 9:48 pm Reply Reply

        Oh, my guy spent months 4 and 5 at the daycare, and has been at the in-home daycare for the last two months. He had an adjustment period of about two weeks (changing caregivers during the height of separation anxiety was tough on him), but he then settled into an awesome napping routine and seems much happier.

  2. Karen Mar 11 at 2:03 pm Reply Reply

    My daughter – solid 2-3-4 napper and 12 hrs at night. Two naps until 15 months, still one nap at preschool at 3.5. Bam. Done.

    My son – slept wonderfully at night, nursed in his sleep for months and then nice stretches in his crib at night. Barely napped. Even as an infant (3-4 months old) would take a couple 30 min naps a day. Now he is 13 months and might take an hour nap once. He’s not tired, not cranky, grows well. Pleasant personality. He just doesn’t need the sleep.

    He also nurses to sleep. Every night. And for nap. If he had been my first I would have written a letter exactly like yours, tearing my hair out about what to do. But he’s my second so we just roll with it. It will be over in the blink of an eye.

    Personally I think it’s really not worth the effort to swim against the tide with a kid like this as things will eventually fall into place like they did with Ike. Is your daughter happy and healthy? Great. So she nurses to sleep. Won’t go on forever. And a bit of a first world problem compared to people who have Real Problems.

    Some people might prefer a more aggressive approach but I found readjusting my expectations and reminding myself of all the positives of your current situation (i dearly enjoy nursing my son and rocking with him asleep, and it’s great to be able to get out more without running home for nap three times a day) helped tremendously.

    • Jimmy Mar 12 at 8:10 am Reply Reply

      “If he had been my first, I would have written a letter just like yours…”  

      This.  So much this.  It will be over so soon.  I don’t know if this can be appreciated the first time around.  Any sleep problems we’re having now with our second baby (8 months), doesn’t get us worked up and terrified like our first.  We know it will be over soon enough, so we can just roll with it.  

  3. Autumn Mar 11 at 2:10 pm Reply Reply

    Wow, that was me a year ago!  Like exactly me and my boob fiend of a daughter who would only nurse to sleep for naps, bed time.  This might not be feasible for you, but some how a week in St Thomas with the in laws (who did no hands on child related cares and amazingly minimal assvice) made her nap schedule click.  Maybe it was the tropical breezes or something but that trip  got us on a predicable schedule.  

    On the nursing to sleep, she nursed to sleep for me until 14 months.  It worked soooooo super well 98% of the time that I was willing to keep it up.  Then we had a bad week with the Mr away for work, and it was time for sleep training.  We were done nursing completely by 18 months.  If we have another, I won’t let it go that long, but if I were you, if you can get your baby taking regular naps via the magic boob now, take the small victory.  

  4. MR Mar 11 at 2:16 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, definitely skip the nursing to sleep issue for now. I personally found with both my kids that that issue resolved itself naturally.
    Since you are having issues with her sleepy cues being so short and sometimes missing them, it sounds like you have a routine baby on your hands. You can’t go by her cues for it, you have to have a routine – so Amy’s 2, 3, 4 might work really well for you. It can suck to have to stick rigidly to a routine, but baby routine babies will be MUCH happier for it, and as they grow, you get more flexibility in the timing and location (meaning baby will get the cues from the routine that it is nap time, even if you are in a hotel away from home). My oldest was a routine baby, and is now a routine almost 5 yr old. She is very flexible as long as she is told what to expect and as long as we don’t try to shortcut the routines for bedtime. We always go potty, flush the toilet, wash hands, brush teeth, get dressed, and read two books. For quite a while there was a very specific order those had to follow, but she knows the steps and now we can do those in all sorts of orders. But, if I try to skip reading books or brushing teeth, all heck breaks loose. The routine saves both our sanity. She understands what to expect, and I don’t have to deal with as many meltdowns.

    I hope you can easily find the routine that works for you both! Oh, and if she is waking when you transfer her to her bed, try putting a heating pad in the crib on low, then remove it with one hand right before you put her down with the other. It helps them make the transfer from warm mommy to otherwise cold bed.

  5. Autumn Mar 11 at 2:17 pm Reply Reply

    I forgot to add, we did “the sleep lady shuffle” and it had a section on nap training.  Not as detailed as the sleep part, but it’s a start.  We checked it out from our library so we wouldn’t be out the cash if it didn’t work.  Our biggest nap training problem was we were trying to nap train when she was going down to one nap at 14 months.  Once we got that part figured out, life was better.  

  6. Anne Mar 11 at 2:25 pm Reply Reply

    We had this problem, too, at 7 months, except my kid wouldn’t even cry in the crib at naptime. She would just stay awake. Forever. (Eventually she would get bored and cry.) She was sleep trained about 6 months, and a month later, it was clearly time to nap train her.

    At first, we allowed her to continue morning napping in the stroller or car at the appropriate, prescribed time (~9:00 or 9:30?) for about 45 minutes, just so she wouldn’t get overtired.  Then, in the afternoon around 1, I would do a mini nighttime routine and put her down in the crib. The first couple days, she didn’t sleep. On the third day, she finally took that blessed 2 hour nap. Once that was established, I alternated between allowing her to take a stroller nap while I ran in the morning and taking a proper crib nap. She gave up the morning nap suddenly 2 days after her first birthday.

    Another note: at this age, we were putting her to bed at 6:00, and she would sleep until 7 (with one nightfeeding at 2 or so). Try an earlier bedtime. It might help napping.

  7. Belinda Mar 11 at 3:00 pm Reply Reply

    OMG thank you for this post.  3-month old babe with a new mom who had NO IDEA how to get this routine thing happening.  I just love this blog.  

  8. Katie Mar 11 at 3:21 pm Reply Reply

    We recently went through this with our 5 month old who would not sleep and if he did, it was after rocking, walking, and shhhhing him for 30 minutes and the nap would only last 30 minutes! 
    This may be complete assvice since no two kids are the same (dang you children!) but I read The 90-Minute Sleep Program by Polly Moore and, kid you not, by the next week naptime made sense to all of us. It helped me figure out what he does to show he is sleepy as well as giving my some sort of structure. 
    We’ve been traveling for the last 2 weeks and I was even able to get him to sleep while walking through Disney World and in other louder and unfamiliar environments.
    Then we hit a sleep regression and nighttime sleep has gone to hell in a handbasket! You win some, you loose some!

  9. Kat Mar 11 at 4:22 pm Reply Reply

    I remember this! Like it was yesterday. We had a really poor napper until about 8 months, and I remember thinking at 6 or 7 months “isn’t this supposed to be easier by now?!”. We did the Sleep Easy Solution (which tackles nighttime and nap issues at the same time). The most important part for us: mini bedtime routine and not missing his sleep cues. For our baby, if he’s rubbing his eyes he is actually TOO tired for the easy nap. We try to catch him before that, when he starts to “zone out” and not make eye contact. When I can catch him then (doesn’t always happen) it is the easiest thing in the world. I put him down completely awake, and he babbles himself to sleep. No tears, nothing. When we miss it, it’s usually less than 5 minutes of drama (and half hearted at that), and he’s out. Seriously, Sleep Easy Solution.

  10. Jeannie Mar 11 at 5:49 pm Reply Reply

    This might not help but … I had a non-napper. For … Like, ever. He never napped consistently and always nursed to sleep — and yet slept great at night. 

    I gave in. I nursed him to sleep, because it was the only way I could get him to sleep. And everyone warned me that I shouldn’t and he needed a schedule and I couldn’t nurse him forever and he’d never sleep etc etc.

    And eventually, things got better. When he was one, it was possible for someone else to get him to sleep, and by 2.5 he stopped nursing and was able to sleep on his own. He stopped napping then too.

    He’s now 7 and a champion sleeper. So … even if the issues don’t resolve now, it doesn’t mean — like everyone told me — that he will never sleep. He did, and he does, and it’s fine.  So no good advice — just don’t panic. 

  11. -k- Mar 11 at 7:32 pm Reply Reply

    1. FWIW (maybe not much beyond describing yet another possibility), my 6 month old goes down an hour after she wakes up for the day and generally naps for 20-40 minutes every 1.5-2 hours (after the previous wakeup) throughout the day, right on up through bedtime. That’s just what she does; 2-3-4 isn’t her style, at least not now. With napping, as with most things, it takes all kinds. If you suspect you have one of these, or some variation, you might try putting her down for naps earlier than you normally would, just to see what happens.

    2. ‘Drowsy but awake’ doesn’t really exist for some babies. You might have one.

    3. Yes, a thousand times yes, to nursing to sleep. This is one of those things that’s only really a problem if it’s really a problem for you. We nurse on my bed and I roll away once she’s down, thus (mostly) avoiding the dreaded wide-awake-as-soon-as-contact-is-made-with-crib-mattress phenomenon.

    4. Grab a copy of The Wonder Weeks (or an internet crib sheet) and check to see if developmental leaps might be screwing with her sleep.

    Good luck!

    • Anne Mar 11 at 10:08 pm Reply Reply

      I agree 100% with Number 2. Drowsy yet awake does not exist for my daughter. She will not get sleepy if we are in the room. We can’t even take her to our bed at 5 AM or she will wake up immediately.

    • Jay Mar 12 at 11:04 pm Reply Reply

      Another mom here with a baby who takes several naps each day, roughly every 1.5 to 2 hrs apart. I’m a first time mom and he’s only 3 months old, so maybe this is just a newborn thing. Either way, I plan to ride it out as long as I can – the more rest he gets the happier he seems to be.

      Everyone keeps telling me that I shouldn’t let him sleep so long because he won’t sleep at night but I’ve found the exact opposite to be true. When he is well rested, bedtime is a snap. When he’s exhausted, trying to nurse, rock, walk, bounce or whatever else him to sleep is simply a godawful nightmare.  

      I nurse him to sleep probably half the time. We also have a swing. And sometimes we luck on the magic nap where we lay him down and he just…drifts off. I try not to sweat it too much but I could have probably written the OPs letter. It’s tough as a first time mom to figure out what battles are worth fighting and what are the things I’ll look back on and wonder what I was so worried about. 

      Right now I’m terrified about transitioning the baby out of our bedroom and into his own room soon. Right now we room share and sometimes cosleep and it just works so well that I hate to screw with it…

      • Amie Mar 13 at 10:37 am Reply Reply

        We moved our baby out of the co-sleeper and into her own room/crib at 5 months. We just did it one night, and (to our surprise) it was fine! Try not to worry about it too much in advance. It might not go well, but then again, it could be easy.

  12. Irish Cream Mar 11 at 8:42 pm Reply Reply

    No magical advice that hasn’t already been given here, but hopefuly some reassurance by adding another voice to say that nursing to sleep isn’t always a bad thing. It can be a problem, sure, if your baby can’t put themselves back to sleep without the boob, and so they’re waking up every two hours to nurse, but since your little one is such a good night sleeper it doesn’t sound like that is an issue. If it’s the easiest and most reliable way to help her fall asleep for naps or at bedtime, then lord yes, stick with it!
    Further reassurance…odds are that in two months, things will be way better no matter what you do or don’t do, and in six months you’ll barely be able to remember when she went through that bad napping period.

  13. Jo Mar 12 at 12:08 am Reply Reply

    I completely agree that it’s worth a shot to watch the clock instead of the baby. My kid never, ever had reliable “sleep cues”, so there was just no point trying to wait for her to somehow demonstrate she was tired. From about 6 weeks to 14 weeks she was a very erratic napper and often took 3-4 ‘tries’ to get down, even though she was doing all the supposedly classic ‘tired signs’ things.

    Then I read something on I think a Dr Sears page about most babies under 12 months needing sleep again after two hours… and it was magical. We started up with the 2 hours between all her sleeps when she was really little, which gradually evolved into the 2-3-4 system after she dropped the third nap (around 6-7 months for us). You’d put her in her bed completely awake 2 hours after she got up for the day – smiling, kicking, not appearing in the LEAST tired – leave the room, and five minutes later she was fast asleep.

  14. Jimmy Mar 12 at 8:26 am Reply Reply

    “but that doesn’t seem like such a good long term solution”

    With babies this little, don’t waste your energy on seeking long-term solutions.  They change.  Often.  We read books and then next week everything clicks and we think “ah-ha! that book was brilliant” but really, babies just change, and that may have been the difference. 

    Like others have mentioned, I didn’t appreciate how fast everything happens, and how fleeting every phase is, until we had our second baby. She’s 8 months now, and everything is so much less dramatic for us than it was our first time around.  We’re right in the thick of night time sleep regression, just like our first did around this age, and instead of freaking out and fighting with each other over it, my wife and I are just rolling with the punches, knowing that sooner or later (but probably sooner) it will pass. 

    Still, try everything until you find the right combination.  You won’t know what helps until it does.  But also try not to beat yourself up about it.  I know that is very difficult, especially when all your friends love to talk about how their babies nap all the time without any help.  More likely than not, this will pass, and you’ll be on to the next battle.  Good luck!  

  15. Amie Mar 12 at 10:53 am Reply Reply

    Like some of the other commenters, 2-3-4 never worked for us. My daughter is almost 14 months and she still can’t stay up more than 3-3.5 hours between naps. We can push it to 4 hours, but it usually means worse sleep at night. It might be worth it to try shorter between-nap times, even in the absence of sleepy signs. I’m not a big fan of Weissbluth (I just can’t do extinction), but he has some info about how long you can expect baby to be able to stay awake, and we found it to be pretty accurate.

    • Kate Mar 12 at 12:28 pm Reply Reply

      I agree that 2-3-4 wasn’t the magic bullet for my babies, although it’s certainly worth a shot. Both my babies seemed to have a magic number of hours they could stay awake at a time. It was a moving target, of course, but around 7 months I think I recall it being around 2.5 hours. And that was consistent throughout the day. So, up for the day and back down 2.5 hours later. Then awake for another 2.5 hours and back to sleep for afternoon nap. Then bedtime 2.5 hours after waking from that nap. I also agree that the first couple of chapters of Weissbluth are really enlightening, but I couldn’t do the extinction either.

  16. julie w Mar 12 at 11:11 am Reply Reply

    I’m going to vote in the opposite direction. Once we stopped nursing to sleep…we had naps! and uninterrupted nighttime sleep too! Sometimes it is all interconnected.

    • autumn Mar 12 at 4:17 pm Reply Reply

      My hubby was better at getting the baby to sleep cause he couldn’t fall back on the magic boob.  

  17. Michele Mar 12 at 2:55 pm Reply Reply

    Check out these free webinars. One of them looks like it addresses your issue: http://www.isisparenting.com/page/webinarssleep (“Helping Babies Nap in the Crib”)

    Isis also offers personalized sleep consults over the phone. http://www.isisparenting.com/product/ISSVV_SSC/

    Their VP of clinical content has an amazing Twitter feed: https://twitter.com/nancyholtzman

    (No affiliation; I’m just a happy customer!)

  18. Kim Mar 12 at 5:32 pm Reply Reply

    And some babies are crap nappers.  My first never was any good at it. We spent a miserable couple of months when she was 3mos old – she didn’t fall asleep in the daytime without riding in the car again until she was 5mos old, and then it was in the sling.  She’s always slept well at night, though.I let her sleep on me when I could, I took long drives, and some days she just didn’t sleep.  I stopped worrying about it at 15 mos, and by 2 she was done completely. My second kid naps, but at 3 is lousy at getting through the night in her won bed.  Go figure.

  19. Whozat Mar 13 at 12:09 am Reply Reply

    I agree that if nursing to sleep isn’t a problem for you then it isn’t a problem. There’s no need to follow anyone’s “rules” about these things. 

    My daughter is almost 4 1/2 and hasn’t napped for a couple of years, but she still nurses to sleep, and that bedtime cuddle is one of the best parts of my day. 

  20. Erin@TheWellGirl Mar 13 at 5:15 pm Reply Reply

    Yes, Ferber really emphasized that nursing to sleep was a huge problem because it would cause the baby to cry to nurse when it naturally woke during the night. But if your baby sleeps fine through the night there doesn’t seem to be a problem with that.

    Naps are really tough to figure out – even for one kid they’re always changing as the kid develops. As soon as you’ve got it figured out they drop a nap or start teething or get sick, or DAYLIGHT SAVINGS TIME (ugghhh). So don’t beat yourself up….this will be over before you know it. :)

  21. Eden Mar 16 at 6:24 pm Reply Reply

    I think you can try as much as you want to force a schedule of sleeping with baby but ultimately its not going to work unless baby is ready anyway. I agree with the commenter’s about not worrying about nursing to sleep or the “habit” of. When baby is old enough he or she will learn other ways of falling asleep especially with other people. Usually if moms around, baby is smart enough to know the real thing is there and that’s what they want!

  22. Marissa Mar 17 at 11:19 am Reply Reply

    The trouble with 2-3-4 is that being able to stay awake for 4 hours is going to be the exception, not the norm, for babies under a year (see http://www.mybabysleepguide.com/2009/02/wake-time.html or http://www.babywisemom.com/2008/07/optimal-waketime-lengths.html).’ I think you’re pretty much stuck with going by cues, for the most part.

    One of the many reasons I love our swing is that if we suspect Baby Boy is tired, we can put him in it and see what happens. If he’s genuinely not tired, he’ll stay calm but awake in it for a while. If he’s sleepy, he’ll doze off. As opposed to the crib, where he’ll scream regardless.

  23. Karen Mar 19 at 8:14 pm Reply Reply

    My son is 7 months old and we’ve been having sleep issues since the dreaded 4 month sleep regression. He had always nursed himself to sleep for night and naps (sometimes I could rock him to sleep but not so much for the last couple of months). At first I didn’t mind nursing him to sleep because he was sleeping fairly well but then 4 months hit and he started waking up all night, couldn’t be put down even if he was sound asleep, and suddenly hated his crib. We decided to change up our bedtime routine and stop nursing to sleep. We now do bath (every other day), lotion, PJs & sleep sack, nurse, read a couple books, sing some songs while rocking and then in the crib awake but very sleepy. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t fun at all. He cried for almost an hour the first night and still fusses for a good 20 minutes most nights (we started at 6 months but then he got 2 colds back to back so we regressed back to nursing to sleep and are just now starting up again with the new routine so we’ll see if it gets better). Anyway, before we did this his day time naps were ALWAYS 27 minutes and he napped every 2 hours. Now he takes a 30-40 minute nap after he’s been up 2 hours in the morning and then takes a 1-2 hour nap 2 hours after that and then another 30ish minute nap 2 hours after that and then bedtime about 3 hours after the last wake-up. He now typically only wakes up once at night for a quick diaper change and to eat and then he’s back in the crib (I let him nurse to sleep at this time). I still nurse to sleep for naps because, eh, it works and I want to get nighttime sleep taken care of first. Anyway, I know it’s not a lot of help but that’s what worked for us!

  24. AmyRenee Mar 20 at 2:49 am Reply Reply

    When does she usually first want to nurse or eat after waking up? The first time she starts fussing to nurse, just take her to her room, nurse there and then put her in her bed. Don’t make an elaborate bedtime ritual out of it, just a quick diaper change, nursing session & cuddle, then in the crib she goes. If you can nurse her before she really starts to get upset, maybe you can get her relaxed enough to at least cat-nap.
    Or another thought – you said your husband can cuddle her to sleep? Do you have any friends or family who could come over for a few days and see if they could cuddle her to sleep after nursing? Maybe if you can have a couple of good days you can start to establish some kind of routine. Good luck, and don’t worry – as soon as you think you have it figured out, she’ll hit a growth spurt/ teething/ sleep regression and the whole routine will be off again.

  25. Heidi Mar 25 at 11:21 am Reply Reply

    I have had two kids who loved to nurse to get to sleep (boys, now 8 and 4.5), and I cannot TELL you of the angst I endured with the first one, thinking I was doing something wrong and that he wasn’t “supposed” to be doing this, and I should get tough and MAKE him go to sleep without the boob. Veteran moms at my breastfeeding group often gave me the don’t-sweat-it-enjoy-it-they’re-only-babies-for-a-little-while thing, and I did not listen. Finally, with many tears and much familial stress, got #1 Son to sleep at night without nursing, but it ultimately was the only way to get him to nap (barring stroller and car rides) until he gave up napping at 2.5.

    And what of #2 Son? He is still napping most afternoons, at the ripe old age of 4.5, and I am still nursing him to sleep, though only at naptime. I realize that I am a freak, and I am also very lucky that I’m home with him so we can do this, but I am now of the “whatever works” school.

  26. Lyndsay Mar 27 at 7:49 am Reply Reply

    Our almost 4 year old son has just dropped his naps. Actually I stopped them because on the rare occasion he did fall asleep, he’d be up until 9/10 at night! The issue now is, he’ll fall asleep around 7/7:30 pm but wake up at 5am!! I’ve tried late, earlier bedtime, threatening, star chart, go downstairs on your own and play, spanking, come I to bed with me, and a “it’s okay to wake clock.” Nothing is working! He’ll come into our room all sweet and when I tell him go back to your room or crawl into bed with us, he SCREAMS and tantrums terribly!! It takes about 5-10 minutes every morning until he gives in and comes in our bed with us. When my alarm goes off (6am), we can go downstairs. He is not allowed tv until the “sun comes up (7am).

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