20 answers

Can't Get My 4.5 Month Old to Sleep Longer than 20-45 Minute Naps

My baby has had a hard time sleeping since birth. She was colicky, but now is much better. I have let her cry it out for naps for 3 weeks and she still won't sleep longer than 45 minutes in her crib. For a while she would take an hour nap in the morning...but now the nap is becoming later than it use too and shorter. I notice her tired signs at 2 hours of wakefullness. She use to show me sleepy signs at 1.5 hours, such as rubbing eyes and yawning, but now only shows me fussiness. She will take up to three naps in a day, but all very short ones, never quite an hour. She does sleep wonderful in her crib at night though, starting inbetween 8pm-9pm and lasting usually 7 hours for a quick feed and then back down till 8am. She is very hungry at her night feeds and I will never stop feeding at night if she is hungry. She is also exclusively breastfed, extremely gassy (tummy gurgles a lot), I do not eat dairy in my diet, and she has been teething for a while now, won't take a bottle (but I do offer some water by dropper and a bottle of water daily to see if she'd eventually take it). She is constantly asking for the breast...and I know I make more than enough milk...most times she isn't even finishing the breast. She always seems to take different amounts from my breast at each feeding too, sometimes she is on for a long time, others it is just short (5 minutes). I am afraid to give her rice/breatmilk at the very thin consistency because I have done it twice and she has become very constipated. The doc says to try oatmeal and breastmilk at the very thin consistency, but I think I may just wait till 6 months. She did like eating the rice/breatmilk though, even though it didn't agree with her. She is though a very happy baby since colic ended and constantly has a smile on her face even despite the lack of naps and gas. She is a cutie patootie. Anyone have any suggestions?

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Well my baby girl got her dreaded 4 month shots a week ago and her naps and bedtime have ever since been broken up again. She is now getting better, and I've been wearing her in a body baby wrap and it has helped to get her to sleep for naps before I need to transition her to her crib. 20-45 minute naps I found aren't the worst things in the world, as long as I keep getting her to take them..in in more frequency throughout the day if possible. The convential wake, eat, play, and sleep formula doesn't typically work for my daughter. Everyday is so different than the one before it...yet I love her and cherish every smiley and giggly moment we have together...and yes even thecrying/fussing while mommy is tired moments too. Kudos to moms everywhere who love their children enough to help them to take naps! (Boy it isn't easy!)

More Answers

she sounds just like my son. It's ok to take sort nap. It u force her to sleep more she will get upset.mY son is the same age. He will sleep for 20-45 mins. He doesn't like the rice cereal. This week I tried sweet potatoes. Huge fan. He is only breast feed as well.Hates the bottle. Just let her guide you. She will tell you what she wants and needs when they need it. As far as gas mailcon works best. she will start passin gas in 10 mins. hope all works out well. you can email me if you have more question. sorry my son is waiting to type.fjjlk x ,f mjknnnbbbbbbbbbbbbbbbb

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
I found with my daughter that her naps did not lengthen until she was about 7-8 months old. Until then it was just a quick 30 minute or so nap a three times a day (like you said, she was up for 1.5 to 2 hours and then would take a cat nap). Once she reached about 7 months we were able to transition to a 9am and 1 pm nap that last anywhere from 1-2 hours each. If her naps were short she would sometimes take a third late afternoon nap, but has since phased it out. During growth spurts she will sleep longer, other times naps are shorter. I think you need to go with her schedule a little bit. Don't worry about lengthening her naps yet, she will do this on her own once she is a bit older. I also breast fed exclusively and did not give my daughter any cereals until 6 months. They get all they need from BM and the cereals can be rough on their tummies.
Best of Luck with your little girl!


1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,

My little man doesn't like to miss a beat, and his naps have gone from 4 (AM, Noon, PM, evening, then sleeping at night) to maybe 1 nap.

My nap extenders are:
I sometimes lay next to him when he is tired, and just rubbing his back, and letting my eyes close - and letting him see it. Sometimes he drops off. Sometimes he just rests quietly, and I get a few moments of rest, if not sleep.

Other times, he naps in the swing, and when he stirs, I rock it and shush him, and he goes back to sleep.

Other times, when he wakes fussing, but his eyes are still closed, I'll shush him and nurse him, and he'll drop off again.

I would stop the water - if you're breastfeeding, she doesn't need it, and yes, she will eventually take it (*Maybe not as much as you'd like but she will, honest!) Not knowing if you are using tap, boiled or bottled, it's one factor you can eliminate safely.

Not sure what your diet is, but my DS (until roughly 7.5 months) had a VERY STRONG reaction to my eating garlic, or any other of the other no-nos for breastfeeding (cruciferous, onions, nuts are the other things I avoid). The gas would tie him up in knots. Caffeine is out - and chocolate. (I thought I'd go nuts with those two! but you can do it!)

You are SO blessed she will sleep through the night. My DS stopped that about a week after Christmas. He is looking to eat sometimes 2-4 times a night. (I don't count last night - he slept through 6 hours - it is certainly not the norm!)

Good luck!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.,
My daugther is 8 months and she started staying up longer after she woke up at about 3 months. She is also only breastfed but at 4 months I went back to work so she take a bottle with breast milk. You should try to keep giving her a bottle because you will want to get out sometime alone with a girlfriend or even your husband. We have a sleep sheep which makes ocean sounds it helps her sleep for an hour or 2. But 45 mins is okay as long as she is not tired when she wakes up. You can get the sleep sheep online at babycenter.com. Also try a swing my daughter slept there for 6 months at nap time. Good luck it gets easier.

1 mom found this helpful

I would try feeding her just 5 minutes on one breast then switching to the other breast as they get the most milk during the first 5 minutes. Maybe she will be more satisfied in the day and sleep better for her naps.

Also, she could still be a little colicky -- I breast fed exclusively for 6 months my 3 daughters and one was restless until passed 5 months and then like a miracle it went away over the course of about a week.... hang in, she will be fine!!

1 mom found this helpful

Hi M.

I exclusively breastfed all 4 of my kids- great job on doing that for your baby too, she is gettin the best.

The only thing I could recommend to you right now is to just wait it out - she's 4.5 months old, sometimes kids are not long nappers. I have many friends who have kids that nap 1 hour here or there.. I can tell you that it will get better sweetie, so keep up the great work.. :)

All my best,

L. A.

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Going green while working from home

1 mom found this helpful

Just wanted to correct some advice below - babies get mostly water in the first few minutes at the breast. The hindmilk comes after, so nursing longer means more fatty milk and a fuller baby. Also, research is showing that filling a baby up with cereal or rice does NOT make them sleep better/longer - especially if it causes constipation or gas as it sounds like it's doing to your little girl. This is a huge myth to try to dispel in the mothering community. All the best - enjoy the short naps she takes and follow her lead.

1 mom found this helpful

a 40 minute sleep cycle is VERY NORMAL for this age! And sleep cycles are regulated by the maturity of a person's nervous system, not their stomach! So you are doing fine. Also, know that when the teeth start coming, the pain can often make sleeping soundly difficult.

1 mom found this helpful

M., I agree, I would not rush to give her cereal since you make more than enough breast milk to feed her. Just play with her and take her outside for fresh air (that tends to tire them out). Get her back on a routine and that might help to readjust her nap schedule. Also, this just might be a phase that she is going through. Don't sweat the small stuff and enjoy your cutie patootie. If you tell yourself that you are happy to enjoy every waking moment with her, you WILL enjoy every waking moment with her. IT is truly mind over matter.

1 mom found this helpful

my first daughter slept 20-45 mins only till she was about 10 months. as you say, she slept pretty good at night. all children are different. im not sure if you realize, but your daughter sleeping at night that amount of time only waking once to eat is not the norm! you are extremely lucky. realize that babies need a total amount of sleep in a 24 hours period. your daughter is favoring sleeping at night, and therefore sleeps less in the day. my daughter was exactly the same whereas her cousin would sleep 3 hour naps but wake at 5am. is she happy or extremely cranky when she wakes? if she is happy, she is getting plenty of sleep. my daughter took 3 hours less of sleep than all the "averages" in books, she just wasnt a napper.
i dont agree with letting a baby cry it out, esp for naps. crying takes in a huge amount of air, and is probaly giving her additional gas. it also releases certain serotones in the brain that are not benenficial. esp, you are saying you have done this for 3 weeks, well then it isnt working. even ferber himself will atest that it doesnt work for all babies. she is making herself exhausted by crying and is probaly passing out from exhaustion vs falling asleep. then when she is in the light sleep stage, she is waking up because of the stress, whereas other babies just drift back into sleep for another 45 mins.
she is getting older, and its normal for her to be going longer stretches without sleep. you cannot compare this month to last month as she will be sleeping less and less, then she may start to sleep more once she crawls or walks.
im not sure what you meant about feeding her at night, but do not listen to anyone saying she doesnt need to eat at night. children take in a certain amount of calories a day and if she wakes hungry and takes a real feeding at night(vs sucks 5 times and falls alseep) she is hungry and needs the food.
as for water, you should not give babies water, im not sure why you would. if your baby is thirsty, you feed them more breastmilk(or even formula) but your baby does not need water at that age.
the american academy of pediatrics suggests breastfeeding exclusively for the first 6 months of life. wait on the solids, esp if you feel she may have a sensitive stomach. delaying solids also lowers the risk of developing allergies.
i would try and make sure you are only feeding her when hungry. maybe she just is bored instead at the 5 min feedings?(but my daughter eats 10 min feedings all the time). i agree with the other poster about hindmilk and foremilk. try and switch breast less. if she only eats 5 mins and is hungry again the next hour, use the same breast to start. dont switch until after 20 mins if its a long feeding, and make sure to not let her off until you are sure she is full. babies bf different ways, my niece eats for 45 mins a feeding but my daughter 8-20. yours sounds like a "snacker" who just eats enough to stop the hunger but not keep her satisfied for long. she will outgrow that though. good luck and dont worry about sleep. as you probaly realize, its harder on you than her.

1 mom found this helpful

my daughter used to take short day naps and wake up and still seem tired. I fixed that by making her night time shorter by one hour and keeping her up longer between naps. she slept too much at night and did not have enough sleep drive durring the day. I also found the 2 longer naps were better than 3 short naps. At your daughters age i would keep her up for 2 hours in the morning before her first nap and then 3 hours btween her first and second nap. She used to sleep 12 hours at night and now sleeps between 10.5-11 hours at night and 3-4 hours durring the day. This is what worked for me but every baby is so different.

My daughter is also only breastfed and goes to sleep at 8:30pm gets hungry at 5:00 am and goes back to sleep for 2 hours. she is 8 months but she seems really hungry and i feel she will grow out of this habit when she is ready (I hope).

About feeding her frequently... My lactation consultant said if you feed your child too frequently that they get too much fore-milk which has alot of lactose in it and can make your baby gassy. she told me to wait for at least 2.5 hours before feeding. My daughter had the worst colic and was very gassy. I have been having a really hard time feeding her solids that dont give her a very bad stomach ach. When you are ready to feed solids I suggest starting with pears it is easy to digest and has fiber to help them poop. My daughter cannot tolerate any milk products in my diet and if I sneak a peice of chocolate it gives her stomach problems.

good luck hope this helps

1 mom found this helpful

we moved right to oatmeal as well because of the constipation and it worked much better for us. as for the naps, are you sure you're getting her down when she's tired and not over tired? That would actually shorten her nap. There is also a method Baby Whisperer teaches called Wake to Sleep. You'd have to buy the book or look it up for more specifics, but the idea is to change the sleeping cycle. Babies at her age have a 45 min sleeping cycle. She might not have learned how to put herself back to sleep when she goes into a light sleeping cycle. So, you can go into her room and about 10 minutes before she'd wake, you jostle her awake just a little bit (not to full wakefulness), and then let her fall back asleep. She should go back into the deep part of the sleep, which is the first part of the sleep cycle and sleep for another 30-45 minutes. I've never done it. But, she says as crazy as it sounds, it works!

Your instincts are right about feeding her cereal. My son did not even want cereal until he was over 6 months old, and feeding her oatmeal can create more gas. You might look into some of the types of foods you are eating. Sometimes if you eat a lot of cabbage, brocolli, or those types of gassy foods, the enzymes pass through your milk and can create gas with the baby.

Maybe your daughter is getting enough sleep with the naps she takes since she sleeps so well at night. Maybe crying to sleep is not calming enough to let her really relax and sleep longer. Have you tried gentler methods like stroller rides, drives or nursing her to sleep. I think 4.5 months is way too early to try the "cry it out method". I actually am of the belief that all your baby learns when they cry themselves to sleep is that their needs are not important and that no matter how much they ask they are not significant enough to be heard. They may be tiny but they learn these lessons in a very primal way.
You sound like a good mother with a normal 4.5 month old and you sound very sensitive to your babies needs. She is still very young and should be allowed to nurse as much as she needs to nurse. Be patient with her and yourself. Things get much easier as time goes on.
good luck

As far as the naps go, it doesn't sound out of the ordinary. My nine month old son was the same way taking 4 20-40 minute naps a day from the time he was 1 month old until he was about 7 or 8 months old. He was the same as your little girl, slept great at night, just not as much during the day. When he was 7 or 8 months old, he switched over to 2 naps that were much longer in length. They still add up to about 3 hours during the day and 12 hours at night give or take, which is what all the books say is normal at this age.
I know it is tough because there is so much fussing and fighting. But I bet as she gets older, she will fall into a similar pattern.
Good luck and congrats!!

Oh, please, please don't let your sweet baby CIO! She obviously needs you for something, whether it be your nearness or the comfort of suckling at your breast, even if she isn't actually nursing.

The gasiness could be a food allergy. My baby is allergic to corn, garlic, and chocolate, and they each effect her differently. Her chocolate allergy acts a lot like your baby's gas & fussiness. Before I eliminated my DD's allergens from my diet, she fed in a manner consistent w/what you describe your baby doing. You may want to start keeping a food journal listing what you eat (be sure to check the food labels...I discovered the DD was still having tummy troubles b/c my whole wheat bread contained corn syrup!) and your DD's reactions afterward. My DD's sleep patterns took care of themselves after I was able to eliminate her food triggers.

I agree w/your decision to wait on the cereal. There's no need to start it now, especially since your DD has a confirmed dairy allergy. It's entirely possible she may have an allergy to rice or oats, too. Oh, and when you do start your baby on cereal, barley is the gentlest grain on their little tummies and fewer babies have developed allergies to barley than with either oats or rice.

You sound like you're doing a great job. If you want more mommy advice, feel free to check out www.gentlechristianmothers.com. It's an AP site with a lot of bf-ing mamas who've dealt w/their babies' food allegies and sleep issues, and they'd love to help!

I think this is very normal at this age. It can be frustrating, especially when she still seems tired when she wakes up. My son was like this. As he got a bit older he started to go a bit longer. Just got to wait it out. Good luck!


Your daughter has the 45 min sleep intuder. It's normal. It is a sleep related problem that is common. Both of my children had it and their sleep patterns mimick your daughters. (Especially my oldest). In fact. He started to get sleepier at this time, closer to only an hour of wakefulness. He just needed more sleep. (3 full naps a day plus a long night.) You are doing great things about food. Be careful to think this is related to her eating. I can almost guarantee it is sleep habit related.

All of us have sleep cycles which go from REM to a deeper sleep then back to REM. We do it all night long. Around 4 months old your daughter is maturing socially and hormonally. Studies show that a typical sleep cycle lasts very close to 45 min. That's why it's called the 45 min inturder. Though it can vary day to day, it is generally around 30-45 min. What is happening is that your daughter is simply having a hard time putting herself back to sleep after a sleep cycle. You will know when your daughter is getting enough sleep when she wakes up happy (cooing talking etc...) A good nap lasts at least 2 sleep cycles sometimes 3.

So even though this is very annoying, it is normal. There are a couple of ways to cope. Though, honestly the best thing for me was to just tell myself, she's not done with her nap, and she needs to learn to put herself back to sleep. So I let my children cry it out. It only took a couple of days of regular scheduling to make it work permenantly. And my son--who had the most sleep needs is my best sleeper of all!!!

But my best advice is for you to get a hold of the book "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child"! This book will save you on sleep habits. Look under the section for 4 month olds. And check the index for the 45 min intruder--you may find it under the section for sleep problems. The researches who wrote the book also suggest that babies will just grow out of it, but they also say it may take a while to do that. I think you will be inspired to know what your daughter needs concerning this.

Again, you are doing a great job. I empathize completely with you on how frustrating those too short naps can be. It's aweful. But there is help. She is healthy and doing well and so are you. It may just be time to help her learn some good sleep habits. Let me know how this works out.

All my best,


Congrats on your baby girl! I am a mother of two boys, ages 4 and 2 and I breastfed both of them, but only for three months each. Your daughter's sleeping habits don't sound abnormal. Some babies cat nap all day long while others take regular naps starting at an early age. My oldest took short naps up until about 6 months old and, unlike your daughter, still woke a few times to feed at night. He would sometimes take 3 to 4 naps a day. I wouldn't fight the naps. If she wakes up, than go with it. SHe sounds like she is getting plenty of sleep at night. By now she only needs about 15 hours of sleep a day (an again that is a general amount according to most articles/books I've read). If she is getting close to 12 hours at night, a few short naps may be enough for her. I know it's hard because sometimes we look forward to getting something done while they nap, but she'll start napping regularly soon enough. Also, I wouldn't try and figure any napping schedule out yet because once you think she's napping consistently, her patterns will change.

As for the feeding issues, I can only tell you what worked for me. My youngest was extremely gassy and it turned out he had a dairy allergy. After I cut dairy out from my diet he was still gassy, so I slowly introduced a hypoallergenic formula and eventually stopped nursing because it made a huge difference. I cried many times because I didn't want to stop nursing (I had planned with my second to go for sixth months), but it became much easier for me because he was a happier baby with the dairy free formula. As for the cereal, I skipped the rice with my second and introduced oatmeal at about 4 months. I mixed it with a little formula (not in the bottle) and he would just take a little each day. I don't think it ever affected his sleep, but it gave me something else to enjoy and do with him (he loved to eat!!!! and smile!!).

Good luck with everything...just do what works for you and don't get hung up on too many time frames as long as she is happy and healthy. My pediatrician always told me that babies really don't start developing any "habits" until around 6 months. So if you need to nap her in the carseat or the stroller or on your chest, just go with her cues!

Hi M., I am happy to hear that your baby sleeps so well at night. I agree with your Doctor about the oatmeal. I raised my children in a day when we gave cereal at 3 mos. and the rice always bound them up. I cant eat white rice for the same reason. If she wakes up hungry then she needs this to sleep longer. Hug her, hold her and sing to her. Enjoy this time, it does not last too long. My best, Grandma Mary

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