18 answers

Taking Naps During the Day

Hi ladies! We have a wonderful 3 month old little boy who is the light of our life. This is our first child, so we are still getting used to parenthood! Our son is a great sleeper! He has been sleeping through the night since 6 weeks and goes down every night with no issues. He is swaddled at night and loves it! However, he really struggles taking naps during the day. He sleeps rather easily in his car seat, swing, or bouncer but does not like being put into his crib for nap time. We are trying to establish a schedule for the day time and am struggling to get him to go down for regular naps. He does sleep during the day, but it is very irregular. Any ideas on establishing a schedule or getting him down for naps? We've considered swaddling him during naps, but are concerned about confusing him with bedtime, since that is the only time he is swaddled. Also, any recommendations on good blinds or that "black out" product to reduce light in the room? I think that might also be an issue. Thanks!

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Wow — I had the exact same thing with my daughter!
It was around the three month old-mark that she really started showing interest in her Baby Einstein play mat. I put it in her crib and she would kick, giggle and play. As soon as she would get tired, I would pull the mat out of her crib, swaddle her up, lay her in her crib and put on some soothing music. She would go down for a longer nap when she was swaddled. Plus, I think the play time helped to wear her out. We quickly established a daytime "routine" — sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play ... She is 6 months now and although the lengths of time for nap time and playtime are longer, the routine is still roughly the same. Best of luck!

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Wow — I had the exact same thing with my daughter!
It was around the three month old-mark that she really started showing interest in her Baby Einstein play mat. I put it in her crib and she would kick, giggle and play. As soon as she would get tired, I would pull the mat out of her crib, swaddle her up, lay her in her crib and put on some soothing music. She would go down for a longer nap when she was swaddled. Plus, I think the play time helped to wear her out. We quickly established a daytime "routine" — sleep, eat, play, sleep, eat, play ... She is 6 months now and although the lengths of time for nap time and playtime are longer, the routine is still roughly the same. Best of luck!

By all means I think you should swaddle him during naps. I don't think there would be any confusion-the swaddle is his signal to sleep and you want him to sleep! You should consider, though, that a good nap schedule might disrupt his nighttime schedule, but I think the odds of this happening are rare. Little ones need so much sleep after all! Good luck. I hope you can establish a good nap schedule. As much as we love our kids, we mamas need those naptime breaks!

If swaddling at night is working well, I'd try it for naps. We did it with DS #2 with no confusion, just great sleep. It's now working with our DD very well. We've found once they get used to sleeping a certain way, it's better to be consistent. DD is having to adjust to not being swaddled now due to being on Bili lights, and even at 7 days, the adjustment has been hard. If you have something that's working, stick to it. You'll find he'll eventually outgrow the need to be swaddled. It was around 6 months for our DS. He wasn't delayed physically or anything for having been swaddled so long. GL!

I've read in Parent magazines to put the kids down for a nap in a different place then where they go to bed so they know the difference. We put up dark blankets on our windows to keep the light out

Hi Kim,

I have a 9 month old and remember when she was about 3 months she didn't seem to sleep much during the day either. My daughter was born at home, and is a "natural baby", meaning we aren't big fans of anything that is pretty much just natural. I breast feed her (still) and have just started her on only a few solids. This information is important only in that it helps to understand the environment our daughter exists in.

Over the last 9 months her sleep schedule has changed many, many times. She too slept through a good few hours at a time early on (just a few weeks old) and seemed to set a schedule for herself right away.. then abandoned it and left me wondering and not knowing what to expect from one day to the next.

I know a lot of people will tell you, along with docs, books, etc., that babies need something like 14 to 18 hours of sleep a day (at that young age), but mine didn't. And because I had the luxury of staying at home with her (and am still) I didn't push her to a schedule.

I would suggest just watching for your little one's cues. Is he rubbing his eyes yet? My daughter's eyebrows become pink/red when she's tired. Your son will let you know when he needs to sleep and as he grows, you'll start to see a pattern, but watch out, because often it seems the moment you think you've got his new sched figured out, he'll change it.

Trust your instinct and don't worry too much (this early) about establishing a routine for him that you can count on. He has a sort of routine that suits him, and it is constantly modifying to match his changing needs, and he will increasingly let you know what he needs.

And soon, you will see him very obviously recognizing his surroundings, if he doesn't already, and that will comfort him which will encourage him to rest when he needs to. You mentioned swaddling/blinds, etc.. One thing I did notice, especially when mine was very young, was she did not want to sleep if I was busy with something, even work on my laptop. I had to all but stop everything and just calmly sit with her until she fell asleep and then I could get up and work.

My best suggestion is to just "roll with it", meaning whatever and whichever direction your son leads, follow. As he grows, you'll be able to encourage a schedule of some sort based on his habits, but chances are it won't be the sort of schedule you might expect.
Example of my daughter's schedules:
0 to 2 months (or so) - she would sleep 1 - 3 hours at a time. She co-slept with us and breastfed throughout the night and day; I could sometimes get a 4 hour chunk at night of sleep at a time.

3 to 5 months - Bedtime was no later than 8pm, for all of us. We'd get up around 7am and by 11am she was out of it for most of the afternoon.. She would wake up to nurse, but for the most part she would dose until 4pm, then go back to sleep about 6 to 7, then by 8 or 8:30 she was ready to retire to our bedroom.

6 - 8 months - She preferred to be in bed by dark. She would get up around 7, go back to sleep an hour or so later, sleep for an hour and be up til 1 or 2pm, then sleep for another hour, and then be awake until bedtime. (Teething totally threw that sched off... teething causes her to nurse constantly and sleep as much as possible.)

9 months to current - She can stay up til 9 but if we don't "put her to bed", like, in her crib and follow bedtime routine, she gets beyond tired and then it's 11 before I finally get her calm and asleep, and it invariably requires nursing and Daddy walks... But, if I get her to bed by 9, she will nurse about 2am, then again at 5 or 6am and sleep through to 9 or 9:30am if I let her... then she sleeps all afternoon (1 to 4ish). She is crawling and walking now, however, and has three teeth, and seems to sleep more now than she did at 3 months.

Hope some of our experience helps in your situation.

My advice is to establish a routine similar to night time. Let's say if nighttime consists of bath, lotion, jammies, read a book or sing a lullaby and then swaddle him, just eliminate bath and changing of clothes. It helps them associate that reading a book and getting swaddled are what's to come before going to bed. Hope this helps!

I. L

I vote for swaddling. If it's working at night, it should work in the daytime, too. It will not confuse him as it is a "sleep time" signal, and you want him to sleep, right?

Don't get blackout curtains for the daytime. My pediatrician specifically told me to make sure my daughter (almost 2 mos) was in a room with sunlight for daytime naps because it helps set their internal clocks and learn about day vs night. It has worked VERY well with her. She sleeps much better at night than my son did, and when she wakes it is just to eat and go right back to sleep. If you get blackout curtains, use them to block the light from the early morning so the sun isn't waking him too early (sometimes being overtired can interfere with getting to sleep well). I don't have any advice regarding swaddling since neither of my babies would tolerate it.


Try swaddling him for naps and night. But use a white noise machine at night only. Homedics (spelling?) has some great sound machines for under 40$.

Hang in there!

check out onestepahead.com for the blackout shades. you hang them behind your regular curtains. For blackout shades, they were pretty reasonably priced. I think it was $39.95 for the set. Or, a much cheaper (although not as good looking) option is to just hang a blanket over the top of the curtain rod during nap time to darken the room. We used to live in Alaska and did this the first summer until I got used to the practically 24 hours of daylight! It wasn't pretty, but it worked, and we just took the blanket down during the day when we didn't need it. Good luck!

I had the EXACT same problem! I finally just had my daughter sleep wherever I could (bouncer, swing, carseat...) and she eventually grew out of it. I want to say that at about 5 or 6 months she really grew into a good schedule. The hard part is that parents always try to put babies on their schedules when in reality we're the ones that need to change! You do what you feel is best, and he'll be just fine. Remember it's only been three months. I know you're tired, but he's still very small.

I read that babies establish there morning nap first. Once that is established then afternoon nap may become more regular say around 4-7 months. I had to swaddle my bg for a few weeks during naps even though I don't swaddle her at night just because she is so active and likes to flip a lot. It worked well.

He is still very young. I think morning nap for us was 9:30-12 as we woke around 6 am. then again like 2-4 or so with bed time at 7 pm. Often, I was busy in the am and that nap maybe in a car seat. But no matter what, I was home around 1/2 to start the nap in the afternoon. We set a routine of reading, music, calm exercise (my first was cholicy so we did a lot of "bicycing her legs and rubbing her tummy" Then I put her down in her crib after nursing. I made it like bed time but different. this paid off as when each of mine were 12-18 months, they went to one nap 1-3 pm. That was easy as I moved the afternoon up by 15 minutes until it was one. We are still always home for quiet time even if they don't sleep. this makes it so much easier for them to slep at night. And, I get down time to clean the house or take a nap myself since I stay up really late working. sokeep working on it..I believe in schedules and predictablitity. It really is sort of like training a puppy at this age.

I wouldn't worry about him confusing day and night just because he's swaddled. I would just go ahead and do it. It just provides that extra bit of comfort. The best advice I can give you is to get "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I and several of my friends use it as a sleeping bible. It has great advice on how to get your baby on a schedule. I think it would suggest that your baby is taking at least three naps during the day - one around 9:00, one around 1:00 and one around 5:00. Is he anywhere close to that? My daughter slept around 8:00 and noon and 5, but really, their little bodies are pretty set normally to somewhere around that schedule. Oddly, sleeping better during the day will help your baby sleep better at night. And one good nap leads to another. If you're worried your baby is sleeping too much during the day (because he's swaddled) will lead to him not sleeping at night, don't. Like I said, sleeping better during the day will lead to even better sleep at night - so swaddle away. I think you'll find the swaddle just means "sleep" to him, and not specifically "nighttime sleep".

Good luck!

He won't get "night time" sleep down for a few more months. He needs to be swaddled to relax and feel secure so swaddle him at naptimes too, he won't get confused.
Babies just need to learn that when you put them down in their crib, however they are comfortable it is a cue to relax and rest. Having a bedtime routine is great, however he won't truly won't get confused. Just if he sleeps too long during the naps in the day you will have to wake him up so he stays on schedule. With both of my kids at 3 mos I just let them sleep when they were sleep, would feed them, change them, love them and then lay them down. A three mos old typically isn't bothered by light to stay awake it is good to have a darker room but don't feel you have to make it pitch black during the day either as that can cause confusion, make sure you lay your son down when he is awake to teach him now how to get to sleep himself, try not to use crutches like nursing him to sleep or pacifiers. Just lay him down after you know he has been up a hour or two and feed him, change him, cuddle him then swaddle him and lay him down. At three mos three naps isn't uncommon but if you want him to have a schedule lay him down a few hours after he gets up in the morning and a few hours in the after noon. I can honestly say I never had nap issues with my kids because I just laid them down around 9am and again around 1pm every day after they were six mos. When they were infants I just knew them to be sleepy after playing a bit, cuddling, eating and changing and would lay them down.
Good luck, you will find out what works for your son.

We bought black out material from JoAnn Fabrics Store and sewed it to our son's curtains. He has napped better since then and his room has stayed much cooler. Some light does still come in his room, so I don't think it's messing up his internal clock. We also swaddled him during naps when he was younger (he's now 9 months) because he would not nap without it. As far as a routine, we struggled setting one as well. I've found that unfortunately we go through phases - he'll nap well for awhile, eat at regualar intervals, etc. and then he's off for a few days, or even a couple of weeks. I just go with it and do the best I can to make sure he's getting the sleep he needs. Also, I don't think I was able to get him on a real clear-cut schedule until he was at least 3 months. Don't worry - it will happen.

here's my advice: at such a young age, the "routine" is more like this: sleep, eat, excercise, sleep, eat excercise. i spread the eat out about 3-4 hours (except at night) and that works great. when the baby is iddy bidddy, the excercise is pretty much a diaper change before the baby is ready to sleep again. as the baby gets older the excercise/stay awake period is a bit longer and longer and then longer. but the routine stays the same.
i don't know if you've ever heard of the babywise book/solution, but i think it's the answer. all my babies have slept through the night since birth and i think it's all been because of routine. i hope my advice helps.

there is a wonderful book called "Healthy sleep habits, happy baby" that I refer to all the time

your baby is still learning to sleep through the night, or at least sleep longer periods at night right now, so the daytime naps are shorter but will soon get longer again

so it is just a period of a few weeks or a month or so before the naps will start getting normal again

I did swaddle both my boys for naps and at nighttime and they both loved it

during the rough nap period i did use the swing a lot and we hung a dark sheet over the window to keep the room dark for naps in the day

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