4 Month Old Only Naps 45 Minutes!!!

Updated on July 08, 2010
B.W. asks from Tarboro, NC
9 answers

Our family helps watch my 4 month old niece. She is on a feeding schedule where her parents want her fed about every 4 hours, and she sleeps through the night from 8:30-7:00. She does take a morning nap for about an hour from 9:00-10:00 before she gets to my house for care. My big beef is that this little baby only naps 45 minutes out of the whole day when we have her. Usually from 1:30-2:15 or 1:45 to 2:30. After this, she still seems very crabby and cranky and shows signs of being overtired or not getting enough rest. She gets cranky, fussy, yawns a lot, rubs her eyes, and sucks on her hands for a while after she wakes up from this 45 minute snooze that she takes. I feel this pattern of behavior is due to not napping long enough in the afternoon. If she extended this nap by an hour or even a 1/2 hour, it would be much better for her. Instead, she fights sleep in the afternoon like no one's business. No rocking, swinging, cuddling will get her down. A car ride will but I don't want to start that habit up. I have 3 kids of my own and by 4 months, each of them napped twice a day for 2 hours straight through. I also used the method by Dr. Marc Weissbluth who wrote Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child. Not sure if parents today know about this guy and his book but man, was it a good one! What should we do?

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answers from St. Louis on

I know many families believe that using a swing is not a healthy practice. BUT it does work for many children! I also use white noise, soft music, dim lights, & a bedroom.....not the lving space.....for naps.

I agree with the other posters that she may be overtired....try adjusting that morning nap. I also agree that she may be hungry! Good Luck!

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answers from Seattle on

Try putting her down around 9am-10am. My suspicion is that she's already overtired by the time she goes down for her afternoon nap, and thus doesn't sleep well in it.

Also... if she's only eating every 4 hours, she's MAX eating 3-4 times a day. Which is very unusual. The sucking on her hands is ONE sign of being hungry, as well. It's far more typical for babies that age to eat every 1-2 hours... so they're eating between 6-10 times a day... except during growth spurts where that amount doubles. ESPECIALLY in babies who sleep through the night... they need to be getting those calories for growth and development in the daytime. It's also almost impossible for ANY person (from newborn to old age) to sleep when they're hungry.

So honestly... I'd try 2 things:

1) Start offering food every 2 hours

2) Lay her down for a nap after her 2nd feeding in the morning.

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answers from St. Louis on

You said her parents want her fed about every 4 hours, what does the baby want? My original suggestion was going to be an allergy, but if she is sleepin through the night then that shouldn't be the case. Are they feeding her cereal, yet? That would be my suggestion, especially since she doesn't get food all night long. (My kids would have starved) I know if the Dr doesn't recommend it, they're probably not going to do it though. Does she nap in her bed or pack n play? If she does, have you tried leaving her in there when she first wakes to see if she might soothe herself back to sleep? It may even require a few minutes of fussing. My mom had an in home daycare all my life & we "hated" the 4 month stage because we called it the board stage....the babies had energy, but couldn't do much to get rid of it & they were going through alot of changes, so it seemed they were just fussier & less happy at this stage. I do recommend the Exersaucer, a bouncy seat, kick n play (or whatever the latest version is), so she can "wear herself out". Is she getting put down enough to exert herself, or is she being held most of the time? Babies need room to move, & stretch & fussing is even "exercise" for a baby. Good luck....I know what it's like to have child that doesn't sleep (ours was a milk allergy).

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answers from St. Louis on

Four months old is pretty little. How do the parents get her down at night? I am sure since you read Weissbluth you know that he talks a lot about being consistent and no rocking or swinging. If what they are doing works I would try to find out what they are doing so that you are consistent. She could also be fussy and sucking on her hand because she is hungry.

Good luck

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answers from Portland on

More details would be helpful. You don't say whether she's fighting sleep while being jiggled/rocked/sung to, but if not, she may need physical assistance from the adults in her life to help her unwind and settle down, and those interactions may really help. If you're just putting her directly into her crib for naps, she may still be too involved in all the learning and interacting she's doing to let it all go.

Fussiness and sucking her hands could indicate teething or hunger. Four months is often a fast-growth period, and larger or more frequent feedings can make a difference in the baby's overall contentment. Does she use a pacifier? Have you tried feeding her a little more often?

If any video or television is involved, this can actually alter brainwave patterns in ways that indicate disturbance, too. There's sort of an entrancement that can happen with screen time that's very hard for little ones to let go of when it's then removed.

White noise during her naps may also help, and swaddling is great for many children, all the way up to a year or so.

Quite a few families I know with under-one babies have gotten great results from the tips in The Happiest Baby on the Block by Dr. Harvey Karp.

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answers from Dallas on

Babies do not produce a natural melatonin until after a few months of life. Your little one should start soon, but until then, know her sleep cycles are VERY normal. A cycle runs about 40-45 minutes. A little baby usually rouses enough that they wake after the first cycle instead of settling back into another. She should stretch out to 1.5 hours soon. Until then, make sure she is put down 2 hours after she wakes from night sleep, or naps. So only 2 hours wakefulness at the most. This means she will probably take 3 naps a day. Right now with the fighting sleep I'm guessing she might be getting overtired and that prevents her from being rested and drifting off for a nice nap. Also, you might want to move her bedtime a little earlier. Can you do 7-7? 15-16 hours is a good average of how much sleep babies at this age need. Good luck... oh and all this info came from Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child.

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answers from Honolulu on

Okay, whoa... feeding an infant, ONLY every 4 hours, on a 'schedule' is NOT good.
Baby will not be getting adequate intake that way... nor will it sustain a baby during growth-spurts... no wonder the baby is not happy...

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answers from Kansas City on

My grandson has never napped well during the day. We've only had maybe 8-10 2 hour naps ever and absolutely no prediction of timing. When the 2 hour naps come it could be 9-11 am, or 5-7 at night or anyplace between. Most days he takes 45 minute snoozes. He's 11 months old next week. We also don't get 2 naps out of him. He simply doesn't seem to require sleep. He also doesn't sleep through the night always. Sometimes he'll sleep 6 or 7 hours and for us that it sleeping through the night.

My daughter was the same way so I'm not at all surprised about my grandson. You are right that he is fussy quite often and it is so much better on days he sleeps 2 hours.

Personally I don't think all these "methods" and books are worth the fuss. They are not machines. We can't wire them up to timers that turn them on and off when it's convenient for us. We try this and that to help him sleep longer. But ultimately it just is.



answers from Kansas City on

Each child is different, one we had to swaddle at naptime and had a sound machine in the room with her, so she couldn't hear others in the house. Another will only take naps on the couch in the room where everyone is, if we put her in a room by herself she wakes in minutes. Our newest would fight sleep sometimes, but would usually nap when put in a bed by himself, he will also wake after an hour, but will go back to sleep soon if we leave him in bed for a few minutes more.
The sound machine is good if it's the sound of others that wakes them up. At 4 months I'd probably try putting her in the bed at naptime and giving her time to settle herself to sleep, your cuddling, rocking and swinging probably aren't what she's used to. My last baby we've had to rethink our methods several times, he's had feeding issues, ear infections and teething problems. Also at 4 months they are wanting to be more involved with everyone, I know they don't recommend the exersaucers this young, but just having a place to sit and watch everyone is a lifesaver some days, it won't be long until they can move it around to see what's going on. Hope you get some advice you can use. Good Luck!

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