How Do You Get Your Baby to Nap?

Updated on June 11, 2012
V.S. asks from Coatesville, PA
17 answers

I have a 4 month old baby boy who I can't seem to get on a schedule or to take naps (longer than a cat nap). He will fall asleep in the car. He will fall asleep on my lap when I nurse him but as soon as I carefully transition him into the crib, bassinet, car seat, etc. he wakes up in few minutes. He is up several times a night too. My older son also drove me crazy re: naps. I currently work weekends and stay home with the boys but I am seriously considering working normal hours and using day care so that I don't lose my mind and the baby gets better sleep. Maybe that is the best thing to do. How do other Moms get their babies on nap schedules? He wants to be held all day and cries when I put him down so therefore I get nothing done around the house. Do you just leave them to cry in a crib and then eventually they get on a schedule? Please don't tell me to read books - I have a library of books on sleep habits from my first child - I even contacted an expert at Notre Dame Univeristy to get his help. Sorry if this is turning into a rant but I think I just need to go to work during the week an let day care handle things. Thanks .

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answers from Kansas City on

OK, here is my honest answer. I am a daycare provider, I do not have time to rock everyone to sleep and stand there with my hand on their back until they settle when I lay them down. This is what I do. If I believe it is time for a nap I lay them in bed, completely awake, and walk away. Do they fuss? Yes, a little. Do they fall asleep? Yes.

It helps with sleep at home too, they learn to soothe themselves and fall asleep on their own.

Good Luck,


2 moms found this helpful


answers from Kansas City on

I started napping my babies in the crib from birth on and they all slept there fine. Sometimes when very little it helped to put a warm crib blanket down on the cold sheet and they slept better on that. I think babies learn to do what you expect of them if you do it as routine and yes it takes patience with some and some cry a bit at first but they will soon love the crib and sleep well in it. I let mine cry for short times but really they learn quickly. I know many don't believe in the crying it out for even short times but all my kids were fine and slept well and I think routine and schedule help very much too. Also if a baby wakes up that doesn't mean you have to jump up and get them every time. If they aren't hungry or wet or in pain they will learn to soothe themselves back to sleep and if you run in at the first second they will also learn that gets mommy in there.

1 mom found this helpful

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answers from Savannah on

We used the swing for a while, to set up a schedule, then I transitioned to the crib.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

We also used the swing to great effect when our daughter was that age. She'd rock literally for hours asleep. Sometimes when we couldn't get her to sleep at night we'd even pull the swing into our bedroom and she'd rock next to our bed. Hey, at that age you do what you've gotta do to survive! Good luck!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Chicago on

If you get the night time sleep on track, the naps will come.
Time for some kind of sleep training, whatever you're comforatble with.

I'm a CIO mom, myself. 2 days of crying at night, and we were done. Both kids napped beautifully after that.

Sounds like he's overtired during the day. You need to let him cry at night and learn to self soothe. It'll go smoothly from there.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Chattanooga on

It is normal for a nap routine to just be developing at 4 months old. I also have a 4 month old. My advice is to work on the nighttime sleep first. We use a really consistant bedtime routine every single night. Bath, PJs, bottle, bedtime. He sleeps in his crib in his own room every night. Keep the room dark and we like to use a fan or humidifier for white noise. We started doing this very consistantely around 2 months old and for a while he woke once a night for a bottle but now sleeps all the way through. If he wakes in the night my advice is - unless he is crying hard, or you think he is legitimately hungary, dont go. Once night time sleep is stable, it is easier to work on naps. He should be ready for nap #1 within about 2 hours of waking. Watch for tired signes (yawns, rubbing eyes, etc) and start soothing him to sleep ASAP. You want to avoid him being over-tired, that makes it harder for them to sleep. Nap 2 should start when he has been awake from nap 1 for about 2-3 hours. Again, watch for his signs. Keep track of his schedule and in a few week you should start seeing some patterns. things that have worked best for us are rountine, consistancy and not letting baby get overly tired. good luck.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Indianapolis on

My younger DD is 6 months old. She has cried non-stop since she was born. I've never encouraged her behavior, but it has never stopped either. I have to let her cry so I can get things done. My best advice is to make sure he is changed and fed then lay him down with a paci, toy, or lovey. Crying isn't going to hurt him. But the stress is bad for M.. Go easy on yourself. :)

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

My sons eyes would shoot open right when he hit the crib. So after he was asleep after nursing or whatever I would have a blanket ready, and gently place him on the couch (of course where I could observe him at all times) Sometimes he would stir but gently putting the blanket by his cheek would put him right back out. That is the only way he napped until he was done with naps. Gasp you say, he could roll off the couch, well he never did and he napped. He would nap in the morning usually about 10 and then we would do our thing and he would usually go down at like 12-1 and then again at around 4-5 at that age.



answers from Janesville-Beloit on

We used a swing at that age (a really cozy one-fischer price my little lamb). This helped me get her on a good schedule (and saved my sanity) and then a few months later we switched to the crib with very little drama. Most experts, even those who are proponents of CIO, agree that 4 mo is too young for crying it out.
Good luck!


answers from Chicago on

I'm going to share a link to my FAVORITE baby gear purchase, my Fisher Price Zen collection cradle swing -

My 3rd baby slept in this every night & nap from about 2 months until he was over 6 months.

I put him in the swing, along with some white noise (I use a humidifier fan in each of my kids' rooms). This has been very helpful to us.


answers from Grand Forks on

I did the Ferber method for my boys at when they were 6 months, and they slept fine at night. It didn't help with daytime naps though. When they were taking two naps a day I would take them into the bathroom with me in the morning in a bouncy chair while I showered. The sound of the running water, and the steam, and my singing would put them to sleep, and I would just leave them in the bouncy seat until the end of the nap. In the afternoon I took them on an outing, and they would fall asleep in the van. Depending on the weather, I could leave them sleep in the van when we got home (in the shade in the driveway, or in the garage), or sometimes I would drive to a park and let baby sleep in the van while the three year old played in the playground. (We have a great park nearby where I could park in the shaded parking lot, sit at a picnic table right next to the van, and have full view of the playground.) In the winter I tried to take them swimming a couple of times a week because that always made them have a really good nap. Both my boys dropped the morning nap by a year, and stopped napping altogether by two.



answers from Philadelphia on

I completely understand your dilemma. One thing that worked for me was to put my son on a 3-hour cycle throughout the day........ The 'schedule' doesn't matter with exact times, but every 3 hours my son would get fed. This way- the baby isn't just snacking every few minutes and never getting a full belly.

One thing that saved my life (and sanity) was a pouch sling. My son was pretty cranky and colicky from the beginning because of gas and thrush. As soon as I got a sling this changed.... I have a million pictures of me wearing my happy (and mostly sleeping baby) out and about, on airplanes, at weddings, etc... I liked HotSlings, but Seven Slings works well too. You will love having your hands free. Many times I could get him to fall asleep in the sling and then gently put him down on the bed and take the sling off over my head, etc... (But- for the most part, I went about my daily business snuggling him in the sling with my hands free... so I was the guilty party in never putting him down) Ha ha.

Also- if he falls asleep in the car, you may want to just leave him in the carseat while he naps (taking him out of the car of course). My son would fall asleep in the carseat, then we would use one of those car seat carriers instead of a stroller.... You can cover the front of the carseat with a soft blanket, so the light doesn't wake him... etc...

For napping- You may want to try a white noise machine. We started with the Sleep Sheep, but would have to rush to push the button again each 45 minutes.... Homedics Sound Spa (usually 20-25 bucks from or Bed, Bath, & Beyond) is great... and has a plug... it can run on a timer or plug into the wall...... The sound of the waves helped...

Also- My son (almost 3 now) still loves his Fisher Price Soothe and Glow Seahorse. It plays gentle and quiet music and the baby can self-soothe by leaning or pushing against the belly to activate the music.

And- for some reason, those Aden and Anais soft muslin blankets were like crack to my baby... They are super soft and light............ You can use them for swaddling......... but my son still runs around with them all day...

And- I know you said you didn't want book recommendations, but the video, "Happiest Baby on the Block" did help us... (just don't watch it with your baby in hearing distance because the sound of crying babies in the background may wake him...........) In the beginning of the video, Dr. Karp talks a lot (which makes you want to throw the DVD player through the window), but his tips did help us...

Basically- you learn 5 s's to calm a fussy baby:
1. Swaddling- Those velcro swaddlers are the best... My son hated being swaddled at first, but grew to love it.......

2. Side or stomach position- Gassy babies HATE being on their backs.

3. Shushing sounds (like the white noise machine) to mimic the sound of being in mother's womb

4. Swinging- If your baby sleeps in a battery-operated swing, so be it....

5. Sucking- Pacifier



answers from Pittsburgh on

I just went with my son's schedule. It looked like this: wake (screaming as if he had never been fed), feed, play a little, sleep - repeat q 3 hours until approximately 11 pm or so, sleep about 6-7 hours - repeat. DH and I both worked full time, so DS went to daycare 3 days a week from 9 weeks on. This schedule worked just fine for them to. I see no point in trying to get an infant onto 'your' schedule. My son would fall asleep wherever he was when tired - car, stroller, floor (on a mat), being carried. I don't think we put him in his crib to nap until he was close to 18 months old. If you want to work regular hours - go ahead and do it. Your baby will adapt just fine.

We NEVER did any sort of 'sleep training'. We put him in his crib after his last evening feeding when we were ready to go to bed (11 pm - 12 am or so). When he was ready (16 weeks 3 days old), he slept through the night on his own. And did from then on.

Your son may just not be ready to sleep through yet. He may be hungry. Also many people seem to put them to bed super early (like 6-7 pm). Then when they sleep 6-7 hours (a full night sleep for an infant that is taking naps) it is still only midnight when they wake up. Then they wake up to eat every 3-4 hours after that - perfectly normal. If you start night time at midnight - when they wake up at 6-7 am - it is in fact morning.



answers from Appleton on

OOOO that is sooo frustrating. I found that transitioning them from my warm body to a cold sheet startled them and they woke up. About the time you think you are going to get the load of laundry folded or the dishes done --- baby wakes up. I found that if I use a larger receiving blanket or a large piece of flannel ( so it can be tucked in) over the sheet they slept better. Flannel is warmer and helps them retain their body heat. A glo worm helps too because the sounds and music help soothe them back to sleep.



answers from Dallas on

Sounds like my first child! I finally gave up reading the books b/c nothing worked and she needed sleep and I needed a break, so I religiously used the swing until she was about 6-7 months old. Then we did CIO...I could always get her to nap the best in the swing. I'd watch for sleep cues and put her in there before she was too tired and then she'd be out for a good couple hours.



answers from New York on

We used Ferber, it worked for us.

If you think that daycare might help him establish better sleep patterns, and will help preserve your sanity, do it. Everyone benefits when mommy is feeling at her best.

Good luck to you and yours,
F. B.



answers from Bloomington on

Use the swing. It is what got us through those dark days of no sleep with both of my girls.

With my first, she only napped in the swing until she 9 months old. So what? She slept, and I got some rest. She was put in her crib from birth (that's what MIL suggested I do....she didn't breastfeed her kids either). Baby 1 did ok at night, but not great. I breastfed for a year.

With the second, she also napped in the swing, but not near as much. I didn't put her in the crib from birth. I put her in the Fisher Price Rock A Baby bassinet for the first 5 months of her life. She napped in there a lot, and slept next to our bed in it. Transition to the crib went well enough. She never slept through the night until I weaned her after 13 months....and maybe it was closer to 16 months. Sorry, the days ran together then.

I also don't think baby will sleep better at daycare. It is clear you need a break (and probably some well deserved sleep!). Take care of yourself (ask for someone to watch him and get a nap yourself!) and do what you can (put him in the swing or find another place to nap him where he feels cuddled), before sending him off to daycare. Good luck mama! It can be sooooo hard.

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