17 answers

4 Month Old Has Stopped Napping!

My beautiful, sparky, stubborn daughter of 17 weeks is mixing it up again. As a newborn she was mildly fussy - not a great sleeper but not really colicy. (I exclusively breast feed). Around 2 months she started sleeping 3 - 5 hours at night without a feeding and I thought we were home free. (She slept in a co-sleeper attached to our bed). Then about a week before her 3 month bday she started waking every hour - hour and a half - I brought her into our bed out of desperation and bought "No-Cry Sleep Solution" and "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Baby". She started napping reliably a couple of hours after she woke up but only in her swing. She would sleep 2 or 3 hours. Two days ago I finished Healthy Sleep Habits and she stopped napping altogether.

So, my current situation - my 4 month old, who once napped a couple hours a day in her swing, now refuses to nap at all; sleeps in our bed and will only go to sleep if I sleep with her - so she's going to sleep at 1am, sleeping till 11am. I know she's tired but she actively fights sleep. I am going back to work in a few weeks and need to transition her into her crib and she needs to nap. I have read a ton (the books plus the internet) and I am completely confused. In my confusion, I think I'm confusing her. I don't know what to do, but I feel like now is the time to do something. help!

PS - sorry for the repetitive request - looks like I'm not alone.

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thank you all so much for your advice. As soon as I relaxed, she started napping again - albeit on a slightly different schedule that hasn't quite set itself. I also decided not to try and transition her to her crib - it made a lot of sense not to make her lose mommy both days and nights. Instead, we both go to bed around 8, I nurse her to sleep, and I just bring work to bed and do it next to her while she sleeps. She wakes around 9am with a few wakings during the night to nurse. Her nap schedule varies (several short naps, 2 medium naps or one long nap - either in the swing or in the stroller) but at least she does not seem to be getting overly tired. For the time being we are all getting all the sleep we need and my husband and I love the time with her. We are planning a week long trip to Grandma and Grandpa's in about a month and maybe after that we'll try the crib? Thank you all so so much - it was wonderful not to feel alone.

Featured Answers

I got the sleep book healthy sleep habits for the happier child...it worked wonders...Also try the happiest baby books and videos.

More Answers

HI K.,

My baby did the samething, and she is 6 months now. She naps now. There are days when she doesn't, but not so many now. I would try to still put her in the swing, get a moment to yourself. I also would try a car ride, that does the trick or a stroller ride. Also, this is probably a growth spurt, and may need to eat more for a few days, then will get back to normal. I have read all the books, and nothing has worked for us. Be patient get a break from a friend or family, that really helps, ask someone to spend the night and get some sleep. We are going through it right with you. Take care A.

I am also a new mom of a four month old. My son has recently started protesting his naps as well, and I can definitely tell that he's overtired. He sleeps well at night. We put him in his crib from day one per some advice I got from other mommies who went through the struggle of transitioning from co-sleepers to the crib. I've been very consistent about our nighttime ritual, and I do feel like I'm reaping the benefits (he'll sleep 10 hours. I'm a lucky woman, I know!!)

But, we have not been as consistent with his daytime naps because I'm back at work part-time, we've had a lot of upheaval with different nannies and my mother-in-law recently passed away, which threw our entire schedule right out the door. I'm just now trying to put a daytime routine back together in hopes that he'll start napping better. He will rarely nap in his crib though. Always the swing or bouncer seat. Although I do have that Fisher-Price jungle mobile in his crib and he loves it. He'll sit peacefully in his crib for 20 minutes staring at it. My husband and I always joke that it was the best $40 we ever spent!

Just try to develop a routine, and be consisent. Children need structure and respond well to it. Although always easier said than done. Also, like the other moms have said, read her cues, and be persistent. If she's overtired, she will fight you, but keep at it, and she will "hopefully" fall asleep. Hang in there and good luck!!!

Get Dr.Marc Weissbluth's book called Healthy Sleep habits, happy child. It saved our family and now our son sleeps 12 hours a night!!!! 7pm to 7am of course he is older, but you will get there!

Focus on your baby and give her lots of TLC. Do what feels right for you - reading everyone else's books can be confusing but you need to take whatever tips sound good to you and be consistent.

I have a 6 month old girl and (and a 3 yo girl) and both were not big nappers, but sleep good at night. Routines are important, not strict schedules/time. Just know approximately when your daughter tends to be sleepy daily and be consistent.

I work full time, so my routine is: wake her up about 630am, feed her at 715am, naps about 9 or 10am, eats...(I don't know because I'm at work), 1-2pm, then feed her about 515pm, 6pm (food), 645pm, 8pm, 10pm since I'm still nursing...
As long as your baby isn't crabby, I would think she is getting enough sleep...

I like how Dr. Sears says - you need to parent your baby to sleep - create a warm comfortable environment for your baby to feel confident/comfortable to sleep...

Hope that helps..

maybe try changing the pattern you were using in your baby's nap time. Your baby may need a time of just listening to soft music or just to lay next toyou on a bed, never to early to read stories, I did this with my dauighter from the age of 1 month, very easy books like soft or squeaky are a good start, even a warm bath to calm down your little one is also good.
Sincerely, F.

I think her lack of napping is causing you stress, because that is more then likely the time of day when you can acomplish things. Babies seem to pick up on that. The more stresses Mommy is the more agitates they become. Think about it, if you are stressed your body and muscles are more tense then when you are relaxed. When you are just cuddling she will sleep better, because you are more relaxed.Therfore she sleeps better at night when you are there.

As to how to cure this, I have no clue. You are going to have to wait for another Mom to come to the rescue. Been too long for me. :( Good luck

One of my most horrible moments as a mom was when we decided to solve a similar problem with our second daughter by letting her cry herself to sleep. We went in every 5 minutes to reassure her that we loved her and that she was alright, then left again. The first night was horrible (my husband had to talk me down from going in to pick her up and hold me on the couch for each five minute period), the second only half as terrible and by the third I asked myself why we had not done it earlier. She went from a sleep-battler to a child who can to this day put herself to sleep anytime and anywhere. And I went from a sleep-deprived, cranky mother to a fairly well rested more patient mom. It is very, very hard, but it worked for me. You might want to give it a try. Once she understands that she can put herself to sleep without your assistance, she will be able to find her ideal sleep patterns more easily.

Hey K., I feel ya! My six month old still gets up every two hours at night and it's tiring. Sometimes he cries for 15-20 minutes in my arms before he falls asleep for naps or at night, seems he can't fall asleep without crying - maybe your daughter is similar? Not much advice here, just some commiseration. Sleep patterns of babies change from month to month, try not to stress too much about going back to work as you'll deal with it when that day comes. Some of the tips in No Cry Sleep Solution worked for us, at least made putting baby to bed easier (putting him down when he's sleepy, picking him up when he cries even if it's right away, repeat, repeat until he's really asleep). But in the end I decided not to fight him and to just go with the flow for as long as I can. I may not get to sleep all night through, but our household is peaceful.

I don't have any great tricks to share. Just that you need to try different things until you find what works. Be consistent with each method for at least a week before trying the next thing. Best wishes.

I got the sleep book healthy sleep habits for the happier child...it worked wonders...Also try the happiest baby books and videos.

Hi K.,

I am also a first time mom of a 20 week old happy baby boy.
He has never been a great napper either, but it's getting
better. He sleesp really well at night, but naps have
been a struggle.

He started daycare in the mornings at 12 weeks so I could
go back to work part time, and the napping situation
went from bad to worse. I'm not trying to discourage
you, because it has gotten so much better. But be assured,
daycare is going to change things!

I read the Baby Whisperer and thought her approach to listening to what your baby needs makes a lot of sense.

I noticed at daycare he was only taking very short naps.
Now I've realized my son wants to take about 4 short naps
a day. It's not a nap schedule that the books says is
usual, and it's not the nap schedule that I would have
chosen, but it works for him.

We have one of those rainforest soothers in his crib both at daycare and at home. He also naps with a "lovey" (a
little 14x14" blanket with elephant stuffed animal head)
and we got one for daycare and one for at home.
After about a month of the nap struggle, I can now put
him into his crib when I start to see "sleep cues",
he watches the rainforest thing, and falls asleep. And
just as I've started to get something done on the
computer, he's up again!

Good luck. You'll find a schedule that works for you.

Don't worry, this to shall pass...at 4 months she may need more than breast/bottle...have you started solids? She won't sleep if she's hungry. Also, check inside her mouth...most babies don't start teething til around six months(or older) but her teeth could be shifting and causing discomfort. Lastly, start the schedule you want to be on now...and be consistent...don't sleep in because you're tired because it will confuse her and when you go back to work you won't be able too...nap when she naps(not with her)...this sounds crazy when you are having trouble getting her to nap but I promise you if you get up everyday at the same time and do the same things (the most important rule in motherhood is routine!) she will catch on. Wake up, eat, get dressed and go do something (walk, errands, whatever) come home eat lunch and put her in a dark quite place (or play soft music if it calms her) and I promise within a few days to a week you will be on schedule...and for the adjustment period sleep when she sleeps and after she is on a schedule you can worry about catching up on chores. Remember you can't do everything so decide what is most important, what your spouse can do and what can slide...before kids(I have 5) if there was dust or a dish in the sink I would freak...now I empty the dishwasher at breakfast and load it at dinner...and my four year old and I dust together. I don't know where you live but as for feeling in over your heads...there are Mommy&ME groups, MOPS, and check out your local library and hospital for parenting groups and classes...it can feel a little overwhelming when you don't have anyone else to talk too and those are great places to meet people doing what you're doing. If you ever need to bounce ideas or questions just ask! Take care!

remember this always- as soon as you think you have everything figured out, she will completely change it all up. babies like to keep you on your toes:) so just make sure you are prepared for all the changes she will be going thru.
babies are all different, both my sisters children are good nappers- 3 hours! my first daughter even as a newborn only slept 20-45 minutes(i would wonder how other moms got so much done- BECAUSE THEIR BABIES ACTUALLY SLEPT!!!). the new baby a little longer sometimes, but not much. both my children are insanely alert, everywhere i go people comment it. this of course makes them very hard to turn it off to go to sleep as they dont want to miss anything. it also means if they get woken a little by a noise, they wake right up wide-eyed. all children. so basically, all babies are so different and you may have a baby that is less inclined to sleep and she may always sleep on the minimun end of sleep averages.
figure out how many hours she actually sleeps, and look at averages of what she should be sleeping at her age. that way you can figure out exactly how off she really is(my first was about 2 hours less then the minimum listed everywhere) and figure out when to incorporate the extra sleep, and its probaly not as much as you think.
2nd, make sure she is getting enought to eat. she may be a more relaxed baby, but she might still be a little hungry, which will make her not be able to sleep. my baby eats, and then plays. if i miss the window, she wont go to sleep because its a half hour away from her feeding time so her stomach is too empty to sleep, but she shouldnt be hungry yet, does that make sense? so it ends up, she missed that whole nap.
if she slept only in the swing, remember that it will be difficult to get her to sleep without the movement and position as she is used to it so be prepared.
for her night, as well as your own time, she really shouldnt be going to bed that late. white noise, pacifiers, swaddling all worked for us. we cosleep but i put her in the cosleeper at her bedtime and then leave. shes 2 1/2 months and used to go to bed 8 but now will wake up a few times for an hour so she seems better going 9:30. we go in around 11 and she sleeps till 4:30 or 5:30 to eat and then goes back to sleep till around 7:30. you really need to get up much earlier with her or else she will be stuck in the cycle- even if you want to sleep late. i am sure once you get her sleeping the normal times and get her up earlier, she will be taking a morning nap, as she is sleeping the morning naptime right now(till 11). then if you get her up earlier, she will be tired earlier, and go in for the night earlier. you just need a schedule.
my children were fighters and my daughter now 3 can easily stay up till 1 am and wake up first thing next morning. everyone is different. if your daughter is at all cranky, you really need to fix the problem. if not, dont stress as it probaly is a temporary thing and she will readjust in a week. but i would say, get her to bed earlier. i am sure her whole schedule will change, and she will sleep much better.
as someone else said, i dont know why you are set up ending the cosleeping just because of work? we did it with our first till she was 3 and now she sleeps in her own bed. we are doing it with the new baby. it has so many positive benefits, and your both will sleep so much better. and as the other poster said, since you will be working, it can give you some extra time. its a personal choice, but im just saying working doesnt need to be the reason to stop. children grow up so fast and are only babies for a short time so make sure to enjoy it. there are lots of different opinions about parenting so make sure you investigate ALL sides. i see so many moms pick up one book, read it, and do it. but they dont realize its just one's persons opinion, and it doesnt mean its right. me personally love dr sears approach, and disagree with dr ferber completely. you are going to find so many different ideas about everything for your daughter, jsut do what feels the best inside.
if you ever need to ask a question, feel free to contact e. im not an expert but i know lots of great sites that have helped me. good luck, you are doing great.

Hey K.,
Sounds to me like she's really overtired. Babies will fight sleep when they are really overtired. I read both those books too. I also read Baby Whisperer and Baby Whisperer solves all your problems. well, not really, but close! LOL I liked her books because she gave you some guidelines, but says you have to watch your own child for the cues and follow those. I feel like only 1 nap a day isn't enough. I think, as a general rule, a 4 month old is awake 3.5-4 hours before another nap. At 4 months my daughter was taking 2 naps a day for 1.5-2 hours each and going to bed at 7:30. I think if you get her over her overtired phase and taking a couple good naps, you'll do better at night. I'd highly recommend picking up Baby Whisperer solves all your problems book. It is easy to read and has very clear strategies for problem solving. You can go right to the sleep chapter and dig in :)

Sounds like your baby didnt read those books! :)

Don't stress. The easiest solution is to follow her lead and not try to schedule her because its easier for your schedule. I know its tough and I know things could run smoother and be less stressful, and you'd be more well rested, etc... but it sounds like she's just trying to find her own natural rhythm. Try to encourage her and allow her body and mind to work the kinks out. She knows what she needs and the best thing is to follow her lead. Trying to force her to sleep when you want her to (though ideal) will only stress you out more and stress her out more. I PROMISE her sleeping patterns will not go on like this forever. Hang in there momma!

try bumper bowling. it might be fun and then you are not at your house

I certainly don't have any miracles about getting your child to sleep, but I do have a question. Why do you need to transition her to her own crib at the same time that you are going back to work? Going back to work is a big change for her and simultaneously putting her in her own crib may feel like too huge of a loss for her (loosing the contact with you day-time AND night-time). One at a time seems more sane to me.

Also, you may be surprised that she sleeps (naps) better with a baby-sitter. I wouldn't worry so much about schedules if the child was happy. I myself addressed these sorts of issues when either the child (or my husband) was unhappy (cranky). One of my children needed a surprisingly little amount of sleep. He was cheerful (we were less so). In the end, it turns out that he's super bright and somehow didn't need as much sleep as a baby.

Good luck.

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