16 answers

4 Month Old with Short Naps

I have a four month old little girl who is having trouble taking naps longer than about 30 minutes. I have tried to get her to go back to sleep after waking, but it usually ends up being an hour of crying and trying to settle her back to sleep. Do I stick it out until she sleeps or do I get her up? If I get her up she tend to be cranky most of the day. I know she should be sleeping at least an hour a couple times a day. I am also torn between letting her cry for a couple of minutes and then go back in to reassure her and staying in to comfort her until she falls asleep. Since she was younger she always napped in her swing but now I am getting ready to go back to work and want her to sleep in a pack and play at the sitters house. She goes to bed in the crib fine in the evenings until about 1 and then sleeps in our bed (still nursing and is more convenient) the rest of the night. If anyone has used any methods i.e. Ferber, Baby Whisperer or has any advice I would love suggestions.
Right now goes to bed at 7:30- up at 7. Put down for a nap at 9:30 and 12:30 and short nap in afternoon.--or at least this is what we try to do.

What can I do next?

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All I know is that 4 months would have been way too early for me to try to establish ANY schedule for my two girls (now 6 and 4) Not because I didn't want it - trust me, I did - it's just that trying to make a schedule just didn't work. Neither one of my kids took regular naps until about 8 months. Until then, they slept in swings, in my arms, in the stroller, wherever. Not the greatest for me, but I had tried everything but nothing worked. So, I guess my advice is this - some kids just can't get on a schedule until they're a little older. Oh, and I did do the Ferber method at night (can't remember how old they were, maybe 7 or 8 months?)? And it totally worked. If everything you're trying just doesn't work, you might have to wait it out a little. Good luck!!

My youngest at around 5ish months would take 3 - 40 minute naps per day. NOT COOL. It didn't last long though and eventually he got on 2 - 90+ minute naps.

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I believe in letting the child determine when they sleep. If you are putting her down at 7 pm & she is basically sleeping ALL night, I'd assume getting up somewhere around 6, that's almost 12 hours of sleep/rest. She might not be tired enough to take long naps.

I'm wondering if you're missing the "window" over when your child is tired enough to go down for a good nap?

My daughter wakes up around 6:30-7am and is usually ready for her first nap an hour later! Then she's ready for a nap every 2 hours after that. She's 6 months old, but has been like this since 3 months. Her actual nap times vary, sometimes they're only 30-40 minutes, but most are 1-2 hours.

Maybe you should try to pay more attention to her sleepy cues (like crankiness, eye-rubbing, yawning) than the clock.

Good luck!

Dear J.~
I too had a child with frustrating sleep habits. I found out I was doing a couple things that frustrated sleep with the help of a great book. Marc Weissbluth has a book, "Healthy sleep habits, Healthy Child". It's really a great reference even through the teen years. I think he said at that age, no more than 2 hours of activity and then down for a nap. I got on a pretty good 3 hour schedule that way, so did my baby and he was much better rested. Good luck.

Find out if your sitter has a swing. If the sitter does then there is no reason to change what you are doing. I have a 19 month old son and we have probably cycled through 19 different sleep cycles. I have always just gone with his pattern of sleepiness. And now he pretty much takes a nap around 12:30 and goes to bed around 8:30. It took us 17 months to get where we are now, and I am expecting that there will be more changes as we go along. There are so many changes that the baby goes through in the first year and so many of these changes, (growing, teething, hitting physical milestones) can affect sleep. Good luck.

The first few months of an infants life are interesting. They are still changing their schedules and as a mom you just have to listen to her.
I used to put a speaker under my daughters crib and play white noise while she slept (you can also use a humidifier or air filter) I found that she slept longer with the noise.
As well, I got really thick curtains for her room so it was dark.
Do you feed her rice cereal yet? If you do -
you can give her some before her nap. When my daughter was about 6 months she stopped sleeping through the night: the pediatrician told me to feed her a little cereal before bed: afterwards she slept great again.
Make sure she is comfortable, does she still like being bundled in a blanker or not?
Did you just start trying for her naps out of the rocker? If so just keep trying, they will eventually adjust, I went through the same thing. I actually had my husband put her to bed in her crib while I went out because I could not stand to hear her cry and he could deal with it better. It is ok to let them cry for a little while, just dont let them get too overheated.

My youngest at around 5ish months would take 3 - 40 minute naps per day. NOT COOL. It didn't last long though and eventually he got on 2 - 90+ minute naps.

I think your 4 month old is over the morning nap. Just do one nap after lunch. This is normal.

My youngest gave up her naps (yes all of them) at 9 months. That was the same week my oldest gave up his afternoon nap at 3yrs. Needless to say, they ended up with 1 hour of quiet time in their rooms every afternoon.

YMMV
LBC

You can't force a child to sleep. My oldest never really took npas. She slept 12 hours at night but maybe dozed a little, but no npas really. I just try to make sure that if nothing else thier bedtime routine is the same every ngiht and that they sleep pretty wella t night. If that goes well, I don't worry about naps to much. Oh, my daughter was done wiht naps at about 6 weeks

OK,
This advice goes against all medical advice currently. But when our little ones stopped the long naps, I flipped them onto their bellies for napping. I could check them frequently and they went to 2-3 hours naps. Every single one! (we have 3). I think babies are more secure on their tummies. We make sure there aren't any blankets or stuffed toys in with them and until they can roll over, we do this only for naps. At night it is "back to sleep". For whatever reason, this has worked for us and several of our friends as well.
Best of lucktoyouand congratulations
A.

Hey J.! Your daughter sounds just like mine at that age! In fact, up until 6 months, my daughter didn't sleep longer than 40 minutes. So I made sure she took about 4-5 mini naps a day but felt like EVERY other baby was taking 2 big naps. So I emailed Mamasource (search my name to find the post and see the great responses I got) and basically got reassurance that my baby was just one of those kind of nappers and that one day she would just change and take longer naps. And lo and behold, at 8 months she did.

BUT, we were worn out from FOUR months of bouncing/rocking/comforting/sneaking out of her room at EVERY sleep opportunity, and I wish that I had been more proactive at 4 months about getting her to self-sooth to sleep. My favorite book is Weissbluth's book. You should check it out yourself (Healthy Sleep Habits, happy babies), but I bet he'd say that your baby needs 3 naps a day right now, not 2, and that you should try putting your daughter down for a nap at the very first signs of sleepiness, not letting more than 2 hours go between naps. Since you're co-sleeping (as I did, until my daughter was 10 months), you might also want to look into the No Cry Sleep solution book. It might help you gradually change her associations from swinging to sleep, or nursing back to sleep, to sleeping on her own.

That said, all babies defy these books at some point or for some behavior, and so I would say read the books, read your baby, and come to some sort of compromise.

Hi, actually it sounds like things are going great overall, congratulations! My 3-month old is doing the same thing, although she is sleeping over an hour for her morning nap. The rest of the day is catnaps.

I think it is because during the day there is light and noise and activity and they just aren't as peaceful or secure. It is also an issue of maturity. I would invest in an inexpensive bouncer or swing for your sitter to use. Just let let your child do what is working - try the crib everyday, but if she is getting really overtired and frustrated, the swing/biouncer should be okay. You could also try a swaddle during the day since there is someone to keep a close eye on her - it might make the crib feel more secure. I bet in a month she will be more mature and this won't even be an issue.

And I hate to say it, but any sitter who is any good, probably will have more luck than you. Babies tend to do things for others they won't do at nome. Good luck.

All I know is that 4 months would have been way too early for me to try to establish ANY schedule for my two girls (now 6 and 4) Not because I didn't want it - trust me, I did - it's just that trying to make a schedule just didn't work. Neither one of my kids took regular naps until about 8 months. Until then, they slept in swings, in my arms, in the stroller, wherever. Not the greatest for me, but I had tried everything but nothing worked. So, I guess my advice is this - some kids just can't get on a schedule until they're a little older. Oh, and I did do the Ferber method at night (can't remember how old they were, maybe 7 or 8 months?)? And it totally worked. If everything you're trying just doesn't work, you might have to wait it out a little. Good luck!!

Best book ever.... Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Marc Weissbluth

I think it is great that you are nursing. Keep up with it. Babies are very unique creatures. I have 6 kids and no 2 are alike. They do not act like most books says. I highly recommend you avoid any book or system that tells you to let your baby"cry it out" She will stop crying but she will also learn that that you will not respond to her. Some babies sleep more than others. She will make her own schedule and it will fit with yours. There is a lot of give and take. At this age she does not have wants she only has needs. If you would like some good books to read on parenting and sleep I would suggest anything by Dr. Sears along with "Goodnights" by Dr. Gordon and "Sweet Dreams" by Dr. Fleiss. They all have a very gentle approach to parenting and respect the uniqueness of each child and parent.

My child was a problem sleeper from the word go and the Baby Bjorn saved my life. I just kept him on my chest all the time--when I did laundry, dishes, walked the dog, you name it. He slept a lot when he was on my chest--the movement and closeness helped, especially since he was used to sleeping with us in bed too. He wouldn't stay down for naps either but in the Bjorn he got enough sleep throughout the day and was content to just hang out there and watch the world go by the rest of the time. That worked up until he got too heavy for the Bjorn at about 7 months and by then was sleeping for longer stretches on his own. All babies are different so don't get too hung up on how yours differs from everyone else's. My son has slept with us since he was born and I don't regret it. They are only this little once. I got frustrated and threw away any books that gave sleep advice for babies. They are all advocating variations of the "cry it out" method which wasn't for me. So we suffered through and after about 18 months he settled into a great routine and sleeps through the night every night. Follow your instincts. No one knows your child better than you do.

Hi J.,

I would suggest increasing the calcium in her milk. When a person wakes from sleeping like that (even a baby) their body is often asking for calcium. Our bodies develop bone while we are sleeping. You can't develop bone unless you have calcium. When the bones "realize" there is no caclium in the blood, they send a signal to wake the person (baby) up to put in more calcium.

I have seen this consistently for 16 years. Increase the calcium and they sleep like a baby! I recently increased the calcium in a baby's milk and she slept all day and then all that night also. On the next day her sleep cycle was quite normal and will remain so as long as she gets the calcium she needs.

The calcium has to be from a vegetable source. I recommend Herbal Healer's Vegetable Calcium that I sell in my office or New Sun's Coral Calcium that you can call to order. You may be able to find other brands that you like but I have tried many and they just don't seem to work as well.

Let me know if I may be of further assistance.

T.
Office #: ###-###-####

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