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The Unorthodox Nap Schedule That Works

The Unorthodox Nap Schedule That Works

By Amalah

Amyyyyy,

I need your help! Or maybe I just need someone to pat me on the head and tell me my baby is totally just doing the normal-baby-jerkiness thing….

Here’s the deal. Our baby girl is a week shy of 3 months (too early for the 4 month sleep regression, no?) and has been a magical unicorn sleeper. Slept through the night at 4 weeks and napped like a champ.

Then we hit that 6 week growth spurt while Daddy was out of town and Mama just wanted to sleep and survive so the schedule got all wonky. I figured once she stopped eating every 15 minutes we’d go back to normal.

Wrong.

It’s been weeks now and our day looks something like this: Baby gets up with Daddy at 6, eats and goes down for a nap at 7. Baby gets up with Mama at 9 and eats. Mama tries to put Baby down for a nap at 10. Baby says “haha, no”. Mama tries again at 11. Baby says “yeah, right lady”. Mama tries again at 12. Baby refuses. Mama gives up at 1 and says “screw it”. Baby crashes hard at 1:30 and sleeps until 6 despite Mama trying to feed, tickling feet, stripping her naked, giving her a bath, etc. Baby wakes at 6, eats and plays with Daddy until 8 when we do a bedtime routine and she goes straight to sleep again until 6 AM.

(Side note: all attempts at nap time follow our bedtime routine- blackout curtains, noise machine, a story, a rock, a kiss and into the crib but we have tried swing naps, naps on Mama, naps on the floor in moments of desperation but all have been met with the same refusal.)

Our pediatrician was all “I dunno, babies are weird” and my SIL who has a 3 year old and a 5 week old and has been my baby encyclopedia was like “gurrrrl please, I’d kill for a baby who sleeps through the night, count your blessings”. But can you see my problem?

I guess she’s probably getting enough sleep, and it’s waaaay too early for any kind of sleep training. But man. I just miss getting stuff done instead of spending all day attempting a nap only to end up cramming chores and errands into a chunk of time in the afternoon.

Help!

You are going to be so mad at me. SO MAD.

This schedule…is really not that bad. I’d say for just shy of three months old you’ve still got what a lot of moms (like your sister) would still consider this a magical unicorn sleeper.

I mean, she’s taking two naps a day, which is what her schedule will be (more or less) for the first year of her life. All of us basically end up cramming chores and errands in and around those naps, which sometimes are only an hour or two! She’s sleeping though the night, letting YOU sleep all night. And do I have this right that you don’t need to wake up with her until 9??

Guuuuurrrrrllll.

I say, stop fighting the slightly unorthodox schedule and embrace it. Stop pushing for the second morning nap that obviously ain’t happening, and instead use the morning for getting up and out of the house after her 9 a.m. feeding. Do your errands. Sign up for some Mommy & Me junk. Walks outside, whatever. Then let her conk out all afternoon while you do chores, dinner prep, whatever you need to do around the house. Stop trying to interfere and wake her up. She’s fine.

It’d be one thing if bedtime was a nightmare because of the long nap, but…doesn’t sound like it! My babies were also allllll about really long afternoon naps, often from right after lunch until dinner. This didn’t happen until they were much older, granted, but I personally LOVED it, since that’s when I got work done and slipped in a little down time of my own. I was always amazed when they’d go back to sleep for the night just a few hours later, but sometimes…you just gotta stop questioning things and roll with it.

I admit her first nap is definitely on the early side…I usually recommend moving towards the 2-3-4 sleep schedule around this age, which would move her first nap back to 8 a.m. That might not work for you guys if Dad is handling the 6 a.m. feeding and needs to get out the door for work…and that schedule STILL only nets you two naps a day — one short morning nap and one longer one in the afternoon.  So you’d still drop any attempts at a third nap, and after doing some quick hypothetical math in my head…I really don’t see your day shaping up to be all that different. Maybe an hour shift here or there.

Frankly, I mostly recommend the 2-3-4 schedule to parents who are trying to fix nighttime sleep issues, or are dealing with a miserable overtired crank allllll day. Which you are not! It’s not some magical “right” way to schedule your baby…just a somewhat helpful framework. And lots of babies settle into different variations. (You’ve got a 1/4/2 schedule, basically, and she is getting plenty of sleep.) So again…I’d stop trying to fix things and learn to adapt around the schedule she’s established. Sure, it’s maybe a bit weird, but it really ain’t that bad. Try to enjoy your mornings with her while she’s awake, and your long chunk of time in the afternoon while she sleeps.

(I should also add the caveat that the four-month sleep regression is just around the corner. Probably right in time for you to grow to appreciate the current solid blocks of sleep she’s giving you, only to have it all go brutally haywire all over again. WHY BABIES WHYYYYY.)

Amalah
About the Author

Amy Corbett Storch

Amalah

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 Ama...

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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Comments

  • Rachel

    Yep, I agree with Amy’s advice.  Embrace her schedule.  It will probably change soon enough anyways!  Can you run errands during that long afternoon nap, assuming she stays asleep when taking her in and out of the carseat?  

    • Rachel

      Forgot to add that in my experience, at that age my son generally had no problems falling asleep when he was tired.  So if your daughter is staying awake in the mornings and not cranky, then she’s probably fine and doesn’t need a nap.  

  • Yeah, I was thinking… that actually sounds like a pretty great schedule. I think a lot of new parents get hung up on the idea that they have to do sleep training (I was one of them) when actually, sleep training is for babies with sleep problems. If she’s sleeping all night in a way that lets you sleep all night, and getting naps in a way that leaves her happy and cheerful instead of a tired crankypants… congratulations! Your baby is a great sleeper!

    And personally, I loved moving from multiple naps per day to just one. SO much easier to get out of the house and accomplish things, and then have some quiet time in the afternoon. The long afternoon nap is the best nap, IMO.

  • Alison

    I don’t generally like to pooh pooh anyone’s problems because we’re all different and fighting our own battles. But man. This sound like a pretty sweet schedule, unorthodox or no. Sleeping through the night. Opportunity to sleep late. Nice block of time in the late morning to get out and about then a nice long afternoon nap. Embrace it – seriously. I’d stop trying to force the nap and enjoy the morning with your baby.

  • Anna

    …end up cramming chores and errands into a chunk of time in the afternoon – a chunk of more than 4 hours?!
    A 3 months old that sleeps more than 16 hrs in 24 hrs, isn’t that above average? Did you expect more? I guess there is no such baby that sleeps both all day and all night… Often those babies who seem to be sleeping all day are actually bad night time sleepers, as far as I have seen. I think you are really lucky.

  • Felicity Marie

    Congratulations, you won the baby sleep lottery!

    Seriously. If your baby sleeps all the way through the night at 3 months, and takes two solid naps during the day, that’s about as good as it gets. Enjoy! I consider my older baby (10 months) a good sleeper, and she takes two solid naps during the day (about 1.5 to 2 hours each nap), and wakes up once during the night to eat, and maybe once again and just needs me to resettle her. 

  • Elli

    I love your Dr’s response. “Babies are weird.”  
    Our nap schedule is so wonky too! Its all I can do to get my baby to stay awake passed 6:30pm to avoid her waking up at 5:30 the next morning! If someone told me a year ago that babies nap at 7:30am I would have laughed and rolled my eyes. Nap at 7:30?! I had never been out of bed before 7 in my life before I got knocked up. Anyways, I love reading about babies who don’t follow a perfect sleep schedule because it reminds me that there is no such thing as normal. BABIES ARE WEIRD. 🙂