Why is it so hard to get my baby to nap?

Naps are the Holy Grail, aren’t they? They mark the bit of down time you have for a breather, a rest, and a cup of tea. But our babies don’t always play ball. Post the newborn phase, naps can become more challenging, with catnapping becoming prominent, but there are ways to help you little one realign their day napping!


Once we reach about 4 months, babies often hit the ‘4-month regression’. This marks a permanent change in our babies sleep patterns and cycles; so, it is something we need to work with, not against. Around this age babies also become really alert to the world and so they are much more stimulated. This can mean that it is harder to settle them for a nap, but also that catnaps (those 45-minute short naps) are not restorative to them anymore. In fact with catnapping schedules in babies and toddlers over 4 months, we often then see overtiredness, night waking and early rising.


So good day napping is vital, to promote restorative sleep and reduce overtiredness leading up to bedtime. So how can we achieve these naps??


The first and simplest area to look at it your little one’s sleep environment. To promote sleep, we want darkness as this stimulates melatonin production – the sleep hormone; so investing in some black out blinds is a good option. We also want to reduce outside noise which is much greater in the day and so playing white noise at a volume of about 60db will help to do this. It also acts as a great positive sleep association and then can be used in part of your wind down routine. We also want to focus on temperature, ensuring that it is between 18-21 degrees Celsius so that our little ones are not waking too hot or too cold. We also want to ensure we carry out a good winddown routine to relax and destimulate our little ones, making settling more achievable. 


The second area to look at is your awake time. Is the awake time age appropriate? Are you consistent with this or some days are you putting your little one down too early in which case they will be ready to play still, or too late in which case they will be overtired and upset. Keep a sleep log for a week and this will help you to see how consistent you are being with the awake time, which will then give you an idea of what changes need to be made.  It is important to recognize that through the first year, especially the first 7 months, awake time changes rapidly, almost monthly and so undertiredness can easily become an issue. 


The next area is a nap schedule. This is a bit different to awake time!

As babies get older, they start to really thrive off routine. They develop biological windows in which sleep becomes easier, and so does settling. By following these windows and establishing a nap routine from about 4 months onwards we can work with the body’s natural sleep times. However, you need to follow a schedule for about 2 weeks for it to become established.


The final area to think about is how you are settling your little one for sleep. Are you rocking them or feeding them? If so, that may mean that they are relying on these things to get to sleep or to resettle when they wake from a sleep cycle. Sometimes the techniques we have been using since birth stop working, this can be due to that alertness I was talking about! As babies become more alert settling techniques such as rocking may become too stimulating for them – it may be time to consider a more hands off approach, leaning more towards self-settling. 


If the information in this post is resonating with you, then I can likely help you further! Drop me an email and get in touch. 

Leave a Reply