22 answers

Five Month-old Baby Not Sleeping During the Day

I'm worried that my baby is not getting enough sleep during the day. She sleeps from about 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. with the occasional 15-minute wake up during the night. She is in daycare 4 days a week, though, and she just doesn't seem to want to nap. About once a week or so she comes home and has only slept about 40 minutes. Sometimes we end up cutting out one of her feedings because she is too tired to get two in before sleeping for the night. Do you think there is anything more I can request of the daycare? Do you think I should make other childcare arrangements? I'm just afraid that this may affect her in the long-term. Any suggestions?

Based on the responses I received, I should probably add that I am constrained by my work schedule. My daughter eats every three hours and I don't get home early enough to feed her twice and put her to bed before 8:30/8:45. She can get naps in when I am home with her on Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. Daycare is really the concern that I am having.

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Hi A.~

I was relieved when I read your posting. I too have a baby who is about 5 mo. old. I have been having a terrible time getting him to take his afternoon nap. He will take a decent morning nap but the afternoon nap will either not happen at all or it is very short.

I am at home with him and I am very consitant with his daily routine, but am still having trouble. We start his bedtime routine about 7 and he sleeps until about 5:45-6:00. Occasionally he will wake in the night but after about a 1/2hour puts himself back to sleep.

I have done some reading on this and what I have read says, sometimes this will happen when they are getting ready to hit a milestone, such as rolling over. Or they are just becoming aware of their surroundings and don't want to miss out on anything. I have noticed when my son has a lot of activity, generally on playgroup days he is harder to get to nap.

I hope that this helps or at least gives you a little relief as it did me, that you are not alone.

My daughter was right where your's was at. She was a cat napper and fussed a lot from 4-9pm. We kept her up since we were feeding her every three hours, and we didn't think she would be able to last the night without the 9pm feeding, but she did great when we introduced the earlier bedtime. She immediately took to her 6pm bedtime, even with the daylight savings time. She kept her original wake up time at 6am, so then I felt guilty that I wasn't giving her enough sleep! Sleep does beget sleep. Here's a thought: I wonder if your care provider gets her at her first stirring. I know my nanny does, whereas I'm happy to let her hang out for a bit after she wakes up--sometimes she'll go right back over if you let her alone for a few minutes. Otherwise, it may be the lights, noise, or just her natural curiousity to observe everything around her in a larger care facility. One final question--is it a large or home-based small care facility? That could make a big difference if she is able to rest by herself in a room vs. having all 12 babies resting at the same time. When I looked at care facilities there was a tremendous range of sleeping environments. Some were really noisy, bright places where sleeping was taking place in the same room as playing.

Get a new daycare!

You said "baby" but how old is she? 9 hours at night is alright depending on age. Daycare may have too many children and therefor yours may be too alert to what others are doing. Where do you live? Maybe I can suggest someone for you.

Hi A.,
Have you possibly explored the possibility of having a babysitter come to your home, sometimes it is cheaper than day care & your child gets undivided attention. Not napping probably will not affect her in the long-term but for right now, she needs both naps. It also could be that there is too much activity around her in daycare, thus, keeping her stimulated & not napping. Good luck to you, I have been there & I totally know what you are experiencing. In home daycare was the best decision I made plus, I got a new friend too!

I'm having similar issues w/ my 8 month old. She started daycare 2 months ago (was with my in-laws prior to that) and never sleeps for more than 45 minutes there. I've done some things to work with the daycare to make it a better environment for her sleeping (even got them to let her sleep in carseat a couple times) but I know it's still not all the sleep she needs. I would put her to sleep as early as possible when you are home. If she wakes up in the night starving because she didn't eat enough before she went to bed you can quickly feed her in the dark and she can go right back to sleep. That's better for her than trying to get her to stay up so you can get in another feeding. Tougher for you of course. I feel your pain!

Hi A.,

I share your pain. My now 7-month old has done the same thing since day one. I was lucky if he'd sleep for 30 minutes (the norm was 20-30 minutes) at a time for naps. His napping improved slightly at daycare when I returned to work, but at home he'd stick stubbornly to those quicky naps. And up until recently, this was how we spent the past 7 months. I asked the doctor about it, and he said as long as he's healthy, happy, and gaining weight and height accordingly, there should be no concern about it. Some babies just don't nap that well, and in all actuality, that phrase 'sleep like a baby' doesn't apply to all babies. . .as we exhaustingly found out. My boy sleeps great at night, it's just that daytime napping that I dreaded. (I asked around finally, and was shocked to learn how many babies DON'T nap that well during the day).

During Spring Break just two weeks ago, my boy started sleeping for 45 minutes to an hour, with the longest stretch going 1 1/2 hours. Going through what you're currently experiencing, I thought something was wrong - he's NEVER slept that long during the day! But he was just tired, I guess. He's also rolling around and commando-crawling around a lot more now, so part of me thinks that since he's more active, he's more tired, and sleeps better for naps. It doesn't happen every day, but more often than not, and now his daytime naps are averaging about 30-60 minutes. . .which, compared to 20-30 minutes, it's a Godsend.

Going through this myself, I don't know if daycare is the culprit, as I said, he's been doing this since day one, before we even started daycare. But he's happy and healthy at daycare, so as long as he seems happy and content there, I wouldn't worry too much about it. . .hopefully your little one will start growing out of it soon.

Go with your gut and take it one day at a time. I know it's hard, but hang in there!


I really wouldn't worry to much. I have three kids and ALL of them were different when it came to napping. It also goes along with their personalities....even early on. You get a glimpse of how they will be as they grow up. My youngest child...WOULD NOT SLEEP! She was the lightest sleeper and did not want to miss out on anything going on. Her older sisters weren't even home during the day, making noise, so it was like she was an only child...and she still didn't sleep. Not only were her naps no longer than 45 minutes, but she also DID NOT sleep during the night very well. It was a nightmare every day and every night to get her to sleep. She is 7 now, and still the same. Light sleeper and VERY active. She is non stop and doesn't want to miss a beat. She walked at 9 months, and hasn't stopped.

I would suggest however, putting her to sleep earlier. I would find that when my daughter was overly tired, it was even harder to get her to sleep. That is why I was so neurotic about getting her to sleep all the time, because it would be worse if she didn't.

If your daughter is a light sleeper, day care setting might not be the best situation either. How about a in home caretaker that has less kids and more time for her? Maybe even a private sitter that takes care of only her?

hang in there.

Maybe your baby can not get settled down with all the other things that are going around at daycare. Since there are other children in the room, she might be too interested in what they are doing. It probably is not the daycare's fault but you might consider at home daycare.

I was at my wits end when my daughter was 9 months old and still not sleeping through the night, as well as only taking 30-40 minute naps, when I finally sought help.

Read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weisbluth. He is a sleep expert, particulary with babies. I swear, on the first day we put into practice what he was saying, she slept through the night and has been the best sleeper/napper ever since then. The big thing we learned is that sleep begets sleep. That means that both naps and bedtime have to be enough time. The first change we made immediately was to put her to bed an hour and a half earlier than we had been, and it worked! Good luck!

Ask your daycare what their schedule and policy is. Not all of them are rigid. Mine had a rough schedule of "short nap in the morning, long nap in the afternoon" for the under 1 year age group, and the older kids napped in the afternoon only. She kept the place quiet during those times so the kids could sleep or not but were at least resting.

The long night does not sound wonderful to me; it sounds like a long sleep for a baby that young. Sleeping through the night is overrated; getting up once to nurse is no big deal in my opinion and I did it for many years. I think she'd sleep better during the day if she were up during the night, which does not mean I think you should wake her up, just that she shouldn't be encouraged or manipulated into sleeping for so long.

I would try putting her down for the night at least an hour earlier--9PM seems late when she has to get up at 6AM. When my kids were overtired it was actually harder to get them down for naps. Good luck!

Daycare is not the same as being in your own bed. But if the baby is being stimulated to much prior to nap time it is hard to unwind. Have you considered child care in your home?
Do you have a regular schedule of sleep on the weekends?
Babies need consistency and at 5 months should have a sleep pattern formed. S. K.

There may be nothing wrong, except your baby doesn't like sleeping somewhere else, there may be too much noise or silence, the crib isn't comfortable, belly isn't getting full before sleeping, diaper may not be getting changed before laying down, etc. etc. Like I said, it could be nothing or it could be something you don't approve of. My advice as a mother of 3, in the medical field, having previously used in-home childcare & centers, but choosing to have my own in-home daycare, plus I work for the school district, I'm just saying that I have seen alot of things & I believe you have already answered your own question, change daycares or change your schedule so you can make sure you child is being cared for by you the way you want. Good Morning America had a legitimate home-based business on the program - check it out at liveops.com. It's not easy being a mom, but don't second guess yourself. You know your child & you know what's best so don't give your child any less. God bless!

Hi A.,

I am a mother of 4 that also worked and used daycare full-time. I used Kindercare and felt very comfortable with them. Feel free to drop by unexpectedly and observe what is going on in order to make sure that it is the environment that you want for you child. How does your daughter sleep on the weekend? Does she take daily morning naps? Some kids do, some don't. I don't know how old she was when you started the daycare - it may be a bit more stimulating than she is used to at home. If you are comfortable with the staff and environment at kindercare, I would just say that I think she will adjust. I wouldn't worry about it, your daughter will sleep when she is tired enough. I breast fed my kids and they ate frequently, but never on a schedule, just when hungry. She may not need to eat twice before going to bed . . . good luck!

You should look for a person to take care of her in their home or yours. That way she can nap on her own schedule. I worked in 2 different daycares for 5 years and they are on a strict schedule. I always felt sorry for the kids who were really tired and had a hard time falling asleep. They were always awakened before they really had a full nap. All the workers in our daycare said we were going to try and stay home with our kids if not that then have them cared for in someone else's home. Daycare is too scheduled for kids under 3. This is my opinion and I worked in some excellent daycares.

Hi A.,

I nanny in your area, and I have two children, one grown and one 5-year-old.

Most babies will nap no matter where they are and what is going on around them, so I would look at the child care situation. It might be too noisy for her, some children are very sensitive to sound, or she just might not be comfortable there for some reason. You really don't expect a napping problem until kids get to be around 2 or 3.

Hi A.,
I do not have too much advice here. My daughter was/is the same way. She is now 9 months but has never been a napper. She can go all day with a half-hour nap. She is not affected by the lack of naps (I sometimes am!!). She has been a great sleeper at night. So, maybe your baby just does not need the naps. I know everyone says they need so much sleep but every baby is different. Maybe you can suggest to the daycare that they try to rock your baby a bit before trying to put her down.

Having worked with children, in large daycare centers and owning my own at home daycare, my experience is that most children such as your daughter, really need naps during the day. Sometimes it is very hard to get them into the routine of letting their bodies rest, because they want to go, go, go. Is the daycare getting her out of bed as soon as she wakes up? I know that when I was in corporate day care, we had to take a child out of the crib once they woke up. In my current situation in my home, I let the children babble and talk to themselves after they have woken up. In terms of the night sleeping, it sounds like she is doing great. I agree with what one of the other ladies said-when children are over tired it is harder to get them to go down for sleep.

Working moms worry because they don't have as much control. I was there too. I have a 3rd and 1st grader so I am through the difficult period you are describing (on to other challenges). Your baby is sleeping through the night and not waking up hungry. If your doctor is not telling you she's underweight, where is the problem? I think your're fighting with an idea of what a baby should do when your baby by your description seems content. Relax. You are a concerned and attentive mom who wants the best for her child. That is the best prognosis for a good future.

I have raised 5 children and have a day care, where I take infants and care for them thhrough school age. It is in my home and so I am able to put each sleeping infant in a separate bedroom so that they do not wake each other up. Is your day care at a center? Then the problem might be that the other infants' crying is keeping her awake. How easy is it to talk to your daycare provider? do you feel intimidated by her? she should be sharing in your concerns for your daughter's sleep habits and not concerned about herself being criticized. If your daughter is the baby who is crying, then she is wearing on the daycare person, the other children and you would all benefit from her sleeping. As far as I am concerned, sleep time is essential for the kids and me, I need that time to recoup and they need it to grow and maintain the health of their bodies and disposition. That is why I have found the 5-10-15 minute system essential in my day-care, it just is not possible to focus on only one child who is demanding a lot of attention. If your gut is telling you that your daycare situation is not good for your child, then listen to it, your instincts are one of the safeguards your child has. Ideally, look for a home day care where the operator is easy going yet firm and you find her easy to talk to about your concerns, and where she sleeps the children in separate rooms. The system I mentioned above is a way to train an infant to be self-soothing by lettin g them cry, while popping in your head first after 5 min, then 10 then 15 but not talking or trying to soothe them. If you cannot find one, look for a group situation where the napping is under control. Good luck, you are a good mother.

Oh my gosh what are you upset about? You have a dream child. I haven't slept in 23 years. The daycare usually wants them to nap so they get a break and it is required by law. But when I worked in daycares there was nothing wrong with someone sitting by the child while she got rest even if it wasn't actual sleep. There are so many parents who have children who are up all night long, back and forth, working full time jobs with their eyes half open, I just don't understand what you are worried about. Did the doctor say that this is very bad for your child's health? I never heard of anyone having a problem where their child sleeps all night and they are worried about it. It's usually the other way around. Oh what I would have given to have been you a time or two!

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