28 answers

My 11 Week Old Won't Nap!

I am really struggling with getting my 11 week old to nap. I have been struggling with this since she was 4 weeks old. I have a whole routine down, and no matter what I do, nothing helps. 7 weeks of trying to get a little one to nap is making me absolutely crazy. Not only is my poor little one sleep deprived, I am frustrated and get NOTHING done.
She refuses a pacifier, but she is swaddled (it is worse when she is not swaddled), there is white noise in her room, and I have made it pitch black. She will sleep a good 7-8 hour stretch at night (knock on wood), but she resists naps like they are plague!
I can see that she is tired - yawning, rubbing her eyes, getting fussy, so I put her down for a nap. Fat Chance! And by time 5:00 pm comes she is so tired, she has a complete meltdown often crying for an hour or so. It breaks my heart!
I will swaddle her, and do the forbidden rocking her to sleep. Once she is just about asleep, I put her in her crib, and then talk to her until she falls asleep. I do the "shushing" as well. This process takes about 20 minutes, and then a few minutes into her nap she wakes up crying. I have tried to let her cry, but I can't take it because she screams and wails beyond crying, I can't ignore it.
So I start the whole process over again, taking another 20 minutes only for her to sleep about 30 minutes.
UGH. Any advice would be welcomed. I am ripping my hair out!

What can I do next?

So What Happened?™

Thanks to everyone who responded! I really appreciate your time and advice.
I wish I could say my daughters naps are getting better, but now at 13 weeks of age they seem to be getting WORSE. She is now napping only 30 minutes 3 times a day instead of 45.
I have tried EVERYTHING - nursing her to sleep, bouncing, rocking, swaddling, using the swing, bouncy seat, and she won't even sleep well in the CAR!
Yes, I have tried to let her sleep on me, and I have tried using a sling and the baby bjorn - and she hates them both.
I am exasperated. She will sleep a good stretch at night (Thank God), but she only sleeps about 11 hours per day (including night sleep) and I know babies her age are supposed to get 15-16.
I have tried to let her cry, and that did not work either, and I am not into letting my baby cry for long periods of time anyways.
I don't know what else to do, but I am going CRAZY - I get NOTHING done, I have no time for myself and I am so, so, so concerned about her. I am calling my pediatrician next! Anyone else have advice, please feel free to send it my way.

Featured Answers

Yikes! Have you tried putting her in the bouncy seat or swing to get her to nap? I know it's not ideal, but it sounds like you have been struggling to get the poor little thing some sleep. Perhaps when she is in a routine of sleeping, you can slowly wean her off the swing or bouncy or car ride - whatever it is that helps.

Hi G.! I had the same problem with my 3rd baby, only she also wouldn't sleep well at night. I hated to do it but the only way I got her to sleep for any decent length of time was to put her in her swing. If I tried to lay her down her eyes would pop right open & it would be all over. SO- you may feel like a bad mother but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do!! Eventually she did nap like a normal baby but it was several months of using the swing. I also had to use it to get her down at night too for awhile. Good luck, there's nothing worse than feeling so sleep deprived !!

G.,

This is just a thought, but I would buy a snuggly for her. A snuggly is like a nap sack that the baby sits in facing you or facing out away from you. I used one with my oldest son. He did not sleep much either until I used the snuggly. What would happen is that as I carried him close to me (snuggled to my chest) he would get lulled to sleep. Then a few minutes after he fell asleep, I would gently unsnap him and put him in his bed with the cloth seat part still around him. (Some are made out of quilt material that wrap around a baby like swaddling, except the legs are usually free.) He usually would sleep about 45 minutes that way. I also found that the snuggly helped out when I needed to do chores or things around the house when he was fussy and didn't want to nap. It used to take about 20 minutes of him trying not to sleep, but in the end he always got a good nap out of it. That snuggly was one of the best things any one gave me for my shower! It really kept my sanity, and gave me the ability to get some things done while bonding with my son. I used it until he was about 6 months old. After that, he was able to sleep on his own for his naps. Good luck to you!

More Answers

Hi G.! I had the same problem with my 3rd baby, only she also wouldn't sleep well at night. I hated to do it but the only way I got her to sleep for any decent length of time was to put her in her swing. If I tried to lay her down her eyes would pop right open & it would be all over. SO- you may feel like a bad mother but sometimes ya gotta do what ya gotta do!! Eventually she did nap like a normal baby but it was several months of using the swing. I also had to use it to get her down at night too for awhile. Good luck, there's nothing worse than feeling so sleep deprived !!

have you tried co sleeping at nap time yet? perhaps your little one needs to get in sync with your bio-rhythms more and is too anxious to sleep. more info at mothering magazine with lots of great links, articles and help on their wed site.. some babies just need to be close to mom.

Hi G., my first one did not sleep during the day as an infant at all either. maybe 10 minute cat nap here or there but always woke up quickly and fussed. I found that the only way he actually slept at times was to drive around, I would hit a dunkin donuts and drive for about 45 minutes, and then sometimes hit another dunkin donuts and drive for 45 minutes more! he would still wake up when we got home but for that 1.5 to 2 hours, I listened to what I wanted to in the car and sipped my coffee etc, it was a brief time out for me! The good thing about it was that he usually was asleep for the evening by 5:30 or 6:00, and would sleep well until he needed to be fed and then go back to sleep. At that time, I had a bassinett downstairs in the living room that I would put him in at 5:30 or so, and then when my husband and I would go up to bed we would feed him and then put him in the other bassinett in our room for the night time. Maybe the tv and activity in the living room was comforting to him? I am not sure but eventually by maybe 9 months to a year he did settle down into regular nap times. I think that maybe all babies have their own way, and yours seems to be like mine in the up all day but sleeps well at night. I guess only the very lucky ones have it both ways (i.e., naps wonderfully regularly and wow, sleeps through the night! Doubt it!) Good luck! L.

I can sympathize
Try this, when baby is really full after a feeding,swaddle tightly, rock gently. My daughter had Acid reflux (still does) and only slept in a rocker chair. It was when we layed her flat that she would wake up. Something to think about. Good Luck and hang in there- this will pass. And trust me it gets better and better. I also learned not to be so hard on myself about getting things done- your a new Mom. My Isabella is now 6 months, 5 months ago I too was in your perdicament and didn't believe how challenging this was.
Be thankful that she sleeps through the night, that is unusual.
Best,
D.

If she is yawning and rubbing her eyes, you may be waiting too long to put her down. An overtired baby will not sleep well.

Try putting her down for her naps before she looks tired and see if that helps.

I agree, however, that she is still a newborn, and there is nothing wrong with holding her and rocking her. I used to have to hold my oldest for her entire nap. She is 4 and turned out just fine! :)

So here is something that works for my 11 week old son- I know this is a really old post but it may help someone else. I lay in my bed with my son and I put a waterproof pad under him. We lay belly to belly with him under the covers and I nurse him to sleep, it usually takes a couple minutes or so. I let him sleep there, usually on his side. I'm sure many will say this is awful, dangerous or whatever- but it works! I put the video monitor right in front of him for when when I'm around the house and I look in on him every little bit as well. He sometimes sleeps 2 hours this way! I leave the tv on low in the room as well as the ceiling fan and we have an air purifier that runs in there because we have allergies. This is the only way I have been get him to sleep during the day- without the swaddle, which I don't like to use too much since we use it all night long.

Have you tried 'wearing' her in a sling or a baby bjorn carrier? If she's sleeping so great at night, it's maybe not as big of a deal that she doesn't sleep in the crib during the day. When my little guy was that young, he slept for 3 hrs at a time in the sling and I could still get stuff done around the house, or even go for a long walk. I got my sling on karmababy.com. He would konk out in about 3 minutes after I put him in the sling... it was amazing! :)

Yikes! Have you tried putting her in the bouncy seat or swing to get her to nap? I know it's not ideal, but it sounds like you have been struggling to get the poor little thing some sleep. Perhaps when she is in a routine of sleeping, you can slowly wean her off the swing or bouncy or car ride - whatever it is that helps.

I had the exact same experience (and she had colic), and my daughter is now 10 and still has sleep issues (struggles to settle down into sleep at night)! The only thing I can say is... surrender. I used to get so frustrated because every day I would have hope that "today is the day" it will all work. But it never did! On the days I just let it go and did what worked for her, I felt better (though nothing got done!). Believe me, you will never regret those moments of holding your infant for an hour on the couch just so she can sleep! I learned to do a lot with one hand on the couch while she was with me (or right next to me so she could feel me). Do you try to put her in the car seat to sleep? Sometimes they just need to be upright a little. Also... white noise... get a machine...they are about $40 online. That has helped us a lot!
I feel for you because it is SO exhausting. And I know the frustration of the 25 minute napper (that took an hour to get down in the first place!). But just let it be what it is, and learn to work around it. This too shall pass. :)

Hi G.,

First off, she's just only a newborn still. Holding her and rocking her are what she needs no matter what the books or the experts say. I have a 4 year old who needed me to nurse her to sleep as an infant because I mistakenly put her in a crib when she really wanted to sleep with me. Hindsight being 20/20 I now co-sleep with my 6 month old son and it's been a HUGE difference.
Trust your instinct and yourself. You know your daughter is tired. If you can rock her to sleep then that will be ok for her and for you. If you can nurse then better.
You're doing a great job by asking for help but the biggest thing I can tell you is to trust yourself. You are a stay at home mom who has the opportunity to give your child the very best gift, you. So take the extra time, rock her to sleep, nurse her to sleep, if that's what she needs. She's just a wee one and it won't last long, so enjoy!

E. P.

When I had my first child six years ago he was the same way. He hated the pacifier and naps were not an option. He would sleep about 15 min per nap. so what I started to do was take a nap with him on my couch or bed and lay there with him for a couple of hours. WE did that until he was 6 mos old. Then he took 3 hour naps in his crib all by himself. Most newborns do not get into a routine until about 4 or 5 mos old. I also breast fed him. I stopped at 6 mos old as well and I think that might of helped. IF you feel you realy want to put her down to nap, I feel its ok to rock her and make sure she is asleep at least 5 min before putting her down. Also she is very warm while you are holding her and if you put her down make sure she is either swaddled or with enough blankets because temperature change can wake her up too.

Wow, do I feel your pain! My daughter is two years old, and I went through the same thing. My daughter would only nap if she fell asleep in the (moving) car. I tried letting her cry it out, which broke my heart, but always had to abandon that idea after more than half an hour of her crying. I got every sleep book I could find and tried everything, but nothing helped. She didn't start napping until I put her in daycare at 13 months.

I'm 9 months pregnant now, and I'm worried about how I'll deal with this situation this time around.

G.,

This is just a thought, but I would buy a snuggly for her. A snuggly is like a nap sack that the baby sits in facing you or facing out away from you. I used one with my oldest son. He did not sleep much either until I used the snuggly. What would happen is that as I carried him close to me (snuggled to my chest) he would get lulled to sleep. Then a few minutes after he fell asleep, I would gently unsnap him and put him in his bed with the cloth seat part still around him. (Some are made out of quilt material that wrap around a baby like swaddling, except the legs are usually free.) He usually would sleep about 45 minutes that way. I also found that the snuggly helped out when I needed to do chores or things around the house when he was fussy and didn't want to nap. It used to take about 20 minutes of him trying not to sleep, but in the end he always got a good nap out of it. That snuggly was one of the best things any one gave me for my shower! It really kept my sanity, and gave me the ability to get some things done while bonding with my son. I used it until he was about 6 months old. After that, he was able to sleep on his own for his naps. Good luck to you!

Will she fall asleep in a sling or front carrier? That is what I did with my grand daughter who is also "against" sleeping. I would end up rocking her to sleep and holding her for 1-2 hours in the recliner. It was a peaceful time and I would read a book or watch a movie. Sometimes, it is just the way it is!!

Hi,
Sounds like you are doing the right things. Unfortunately, some babies are bad nappers : (
There is one thing that comes to mind, however, that I remember reading about. Does she nap anywhere else well? If she sleeps in the car, or in your arms, swing, etc. then have her sleep there at the same times every day. This will establish a routine and set her body clock. It might take a couple of weeks. Then, try the crib. Good luck!

Young infants want and need to be held. This is totally normal and how we've survived as a species. This may be what Leela Jane is trying to tell you! Your instincts are right on...it's great to rock your baby. Try an Ergo -- the best baby carrier made, expensive but worth it-- or an infant sling (she may be too young yet for an ergo, but it's great for your back) and wear her at naptime....bounce her a bit, dance a bit. She'll fall alseep and you can get things done: housecleaning, shopping, walking. Wearing my babies made motherhood manageable practically and more sweet and fun.

She's still so little. Hold her and take a nap with her... let her fall alseep on your chest or snuggled next to you. I did this with both my girls and they are healthy and strong and sleep in their own beds now. You will not "spoil" your baby by holding, sleeping near or wearing her. You are giving her the comfort she needs to relax and know you are there.

My newborn is now ten months in a blink. It goes so very fast. Surrender, take the time to just be with her and help her find her best ways to rest.

As a pre-school assistant teacher I had to get a room of 15 three year olds to sleep. The best advice I was given was to KNOW that they WILL and CAN sleep. It sounded hoakey, but I did find that when I was centered and I knew that the children would fall alseep, they would. When I was distracted or impatient, they wouldn't so easily. Babies absorb everything. Our energy, too.


Last thing, don't be afraid to lay her down on her tummy. Both of my girls slept better that way as infants.

I feel for you. It'll get better.

Please look into 'attachment'parenting. Your little one
just wants to feel your body and be close to you. Most natural
thing in the world. Get yourself a cloth and start wearing your
baby. She'll take a nap...like a baby.
Good luck.

Hi G.!

I have 4 kids and ALL of them were the same way :)
What saves my life is the sling. I seriously don't know what I'd do without it. my littlest one (just a few weeks older than Leela) loves to fall asleep snuggled against me in an upright position. The bonus is I have two free hands and can walk around getting stuff done while he's napping AND getting the benefit of close-to-mama time.

I've got an "ultimate baby wrap" that's really comfortable.
and a "maya wrap" sling that I practically live in.

The first baby is the hardest because you just long to have your own body to yourself for half an hour at least right? I remember battling that so intensely and wanting her to sleep on her own sooooo badly. Surrender really is the key. really.
Babyhood seems like an eternity while you're in it but it's the blink of an eye when it's passed. Give in to it. Relish it if you can :)

May you be well in all ways,
Annie

I used this GREAT book called Baby Wise with my second child. He has been on a schedule since 3 weeks. If is focused on breast feeding, however just ignore the brest feeding if you bottle feed, it still works! Good luck!

Hi! I found with both of my children that following their cues was the best way to put them into a good nap routine....my youngest is 6 months and just switched to 2 naps (10a and 2p) but still on occasion needs to be held in his sling to fall asleep. Whatever works! I make slings and find them to be the best things to have with young children!!! They are babies for such a short time - enjoy cuddling and holding them if they need it - they won't want it forever! :)
My website if you are interested - great benefits to you and your baby! www.ellabellaslings.com
Good Luck!

There's nothing wrong with rocking or holding your baby until they fall asleep. I did it with my daughter until she was about 9 months old. It was the most peaceful, rewarding time of my day. I started to get afraid that she would depend on me to get her to sleep FOREVER, but one night she just started fussing in my arms, and I put her in her crib and she went out all by herself. I hafta say, I miss the times where she would lay in my arms and sleep. Now she's turning 2 in 10 days! Good luck. Eventually she will form her own sleeping patterns.

11 weeks seems a little earlier for a "nap routine." I know this b/c I did the exact same thing you did and after two months of "nap training" I gave up for the sake of my own sanity. And guess what? One day she decided to start napping on her own! It happened a couple of weeks ago at about 16 weeks. My husbnad just put her in her crib in the dark and left the room and poof! She went to slepp on her own with no fussing! Now I'm able to put her in her crib at around the same reliable time every morning and she might cry for five minutes but then she goes to sleep. She might not stay asleep long and sometimes she has no interest in sleeping but will lie there for a little while. According to the sleep book I'm reading, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child," these are the first steps to a reliable mid-morning nap. I highly reccomend this book. I've been following its directives and my baby ahs been sleeping through the night and now is starting to nap. I know it's not for everyone, but if you're desperate you might want to at least check it out! Good luck!

Have you tried putting her in a swing? My twins would NOT sleep in anything but the travel Fisher Price swings. Even at night. I'm embarrassed to say that they slept naps and at night side by side in the swings until they were 7 months old! Then we transitioned them into their cribs slowly. Anything to get them to sleep since we had a 20 month old when they were born! Good luck!

That must be so frustrating... we need them to nap so we can recharge a bit and get something done! They need the naps too! She might like the movement of a baby swing and fall asleep in that, since it seems like she doesn't like to be still during the day (good thing she sleeps at night, that is a HUGE plus!!). You might also just pack her in her car seat when she is getting sleepy, go on some errands, and see if she sleeps then. Unfortunately, you'd be out of the house so you wouldn't be able to get work done at home, but you could accomplish your errands, etc. and hope she stays asleep for a little bit once you get home. My second daughter was like that as a newborn and she always fell asleep in the car and when we were out. Good luck, and don't worry, because as she gets older she will be so much more tired from all the crawling and exploring she'll be doing that she will have to nap!

I had the SAME problem with my son when he was a baby. he is almost 7 years old now...but...

my friends that have babies have tried putting their babies to sleep on their tummies. Now I KNOW there is a big "back to sleep" campaign; meaning put babies on their backs...but my friends w/ super fussy babies that won't nap during the day got desperate and tried putting their babies on their bellies and they slept much better. FOR HOURS straight.

if this makes you nervous; maybe run it by your ped to see what he or she says. but try it to see what happens...my friend that just tried this kept checking her baby every 10 mins but he slept for THREE HOURS during the day! for the first time ever! be sure there are no stuffed animals or blankets up around your baby's face...but maybe try this.

again, this may not be a popular answer...but it has worked for my friends w/ fussy babies. they SWEAR that once they tried putting the baby on his/her tummy, he/she started napping much better. I wish I had tried this when my son was a baby; he took 20 min naps and it took me 20-45 minutes to get him to fall asleep in the first place! :-(

edited to add: I wanted to say I read the other responses and agree that you need to really watch her and her cues and put her down before she gets TOO tired. I finally learned that my son would fuss & cry for 5-10 mins, then put himself to sleep. phew!! Even if I rocked him, he needed that period of fussing before sleep. I hated to hear him cry but it was always so short and he just needed to cry & fuss a bit to put him to sleep. if I picked him up b/c he was fussing he'd just fuss MORE and MORE. after rocking him and cuddling till he got nice & sleepy, I put him down,let him fuss a bit, and then he went to sleep.

My daughter was the same way! The ONLY thing that worked for us was a swing. I know that its not the same thing as taking a real nap, but I would just put her in her swing and lay on the couch, she would be content anyways, and usually fall asleep for HOURS... and luckily still sleep for 7-8 hours at night. and that way I could just nap on the couch. good luck, and hope things get better.

Let your baby cry.....it is all about learned behavior....the crying will be a bit much, but it all boils down to a battle of wills....you need to be the winner!

Hi
I went through this with my son, and didn't go through it with my daughter... here's why. I just gave up, and it was the most unbelievably liberating thing. Your daughter is SOOO young right now. Find a sling that you love, or a baby bjorn, or something she can sleep in while you do dishes, take a walk, or read on the couch. For the next two months, just let her sleep on your body. When my daughter was around 4 months old, I finally started to put her down because she had been sleeping long enough on me that she had definite sleep/wake patterns and so then I would know the times that it was okay to take her out(swaddled tightly, so she wouldn't notice) of the sling and slip her into bed.
The other thing I would advise, and my kids are now almost 2 and almost 4 and both great sleepers, is not to worry about "forbidden" activities like rocking, nursing, etc. The only thing you should forbid are things that don't work for you. All kids can learn to have good sleeping skills, but it takes work on both parts. Lots of newborns need more holding. Think of a mother monkey. She would never leave her baby in a tree to sleep while she went off to hang out somewhere else. Your baby is a primate, and she just wants to cling onto you. So let her, and give yourself the freedom to just let her sleep on you without worrying, and it will all work itself out eventually if you want her to sleep independently. Each day just do what works for you so you don't go crazy. If it works for you to hold her more, and rock her, do it. In 10 years she will barely let you hug her so just go with it :)
Best wishes.
Carol M.

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