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.

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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.
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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.

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