He Doesn’t Nap (Help Wanted!)

This is my babe, Joshua. 
He doesn’t nap. 
I need your advice. 

So, you know how textbook babies typically take 2-3 naps a day? A morning nap, afternoon nap, and maybe even a late afternoon nap depending on how long their naps are and what time they go to bed. Lucas took two naps until he was about one; a morning nap around 10am and an afternoon nap around 2 or 3pm. Well, my second born is proving to be a little bit more difficult.

I know this is normal. Some kids are better sleeper’s than others. Some just don’t sleep much at all. I get that, that’s fine. This post isn’t really about me complaining about his lack of sleeping during the day, because honestly, I’m so busy with Lucas that I don’t notice it too much. I would more just love to get ideas on how I can get him to sleep and into a schedule during the day better.  Because, I feel like he needs to sleep during the day. Taking naps is good for you. It gives you a strong brain. (right?!) And, I think if he slept better during the day, he might sleep better at night.

I am thinking, that maybe if he was on more of a schedule, he would nap and sleep better. You know, same time every day you take a nap type of thing, just like bedtime is every night at 7pm. My thing is, it’s really hard for me to put him down for a nap because of Lucas. I can’t just lay Joshua down and say “night night.” I have to either lay with him for a while– a long while– or rock him or something of that nature. It takes usually 20-30 minutes to get him to sleep. If I spend too much time away from my toddler, he gets into trouble, like putting toys in the floor vent…

or he gets into the refrigerator and eats three yogurts in five minutes.

Right now, I have no schedule with Joshua. Lucas has one- he naps around 12-1pm and goes to bed at 7/7:30pm. But Joshua does whatever, whenever. As I type this it’s 9pm and he’s laying in bed beside me giggling and talking about this cute girl he saw at the park today and playing with his blanket. He has slept a total of one hour all day today, some in the car and the other in the carrier during a walk.

Please, all you smart mamas with children who have babies who glorious sleep on a perfectly made schedule every day, during which you sip tea and read your latest romance book and then spend the remaining time mopping the floor and cooking 3 1/2 course meals for your family of five, please tell me what you think I should do about his napping schedule situation. Or, if you think I should do nothing at all and just keep going with the flow of crazy chaos like we’ve been doing.

What are the secret tips for getting a baby to sleep when you have a busy toddler running around the house? I have been putting Lucas in the “high chair” and letting him watch a short movie while he eats a snack, which works sometimes, because he is quite and I know exactly where he’s at. But it doesn’t always work, and I think I need more options.

Oh, and even if you don’t have babes who sleep on a schedule or spend time mopping or cooking 3 1/2 course meals, I would still love to hear from you. 🙂

Published by Samantha Mellen

Certified personal trainer & health coach helping women transform their lives through fitness, abundant mindset coaching and internal peace. Mom of two boys, living life in Alaska.

20 thoughts on “He Doesn’t Nap (Help Wanted!)

  1. I have no idea. Both my kiddos are sleepers. I think you are right that some like to sleep. What do I do – Both kids go down for a nap at around the same time (not an actual time on the clock, but typically for my older son (2) he goes down for a nap about 3 hours after waking up). I put them both in their cribs, say night night, and walk away. (Oh, I feed them both lunch beforehand (2 year old eats while I nurse 6mo. old.). They sleep great, but then again, they are good sleepers.

    I feel for you! Annabelle just slept through the night for the first time in over a week and I feel like a new person. We also do the cry it out method, to a point. I has worked for us. Good luck!

  2. Both of mine are non-sleepers (were non-sleepers, My 4-year-old is a perfect sleeper now). I think I'd tried everything and then eventually I gave up. I they don't wanna sleep, they don't want to sleep. Found your blog on Cloth Diapering bloggers, following you now.

  3. Well, #2 hasn't arrived for me, so I don't know how I'll manage that, but does he have any “sure fire” way to get him to sleep? Like if he falls asleep in the carrier, EVERY TIME, then can you take a walk at whatever time his nap should be?

    Or, can you buckle Lucas into his high chair and give him a snack & a daily movie while you put the LO to sleep? I know I can leave my Luke in the living room (babyproofed) while I run back & shower or check email or whatever & he is normally good for 20-40 minutes–however long of a cartoon I put on!

    When my niece was living with me, she was 2 and 4 months older than Luke..she was old enough & behaved enough that I could just shut my door & tend to him while she played quietly in the living room or play room. But, she's a girl & a bit older than your Lucas is I think.

  4. I'm sorry I probably won't be a lot of help. My first was a horrible napper. He stopped taking naps pretty early on. My 2nd is almost 4 months old and she will take naps off and on during the day but I don't have a schedule. I also don't have a toddler (my 1st is a tween). My daughter also likes to be rocked to sleep and will not just be put down at a particular time. The only thing I've found that has worked for me to get her to take a nice long nap instead of short cat naps is putting her in the car and taking a drive. lol

  5. I've found that when a baby is overtired they are either fussy or they act like they're not tired at all. Try keeping a routine and putting him down for a nap at the same time everyday. Does he ever yawn? As soon as he starts yawning put him down and do it the same every day. It can take a few weeks which can be hard to stay home but it's worth it in the long run.

    How about a puzzle or crayons and some paper for Lucas in the highchair?

  6. For me both my boys were awful sleepers!! The second was a little better than the first but just barely! We started one nap a day around 6 months with both of them.
    I'm awful at schedules but they normally go down around 12-2 I read them a book, say their prayers (which helped a lot get them in the mode) then I always put the youngest down first and let him fuss for a bit if he does fuss, while I get the other in bed. If the youngest continues to fuss I'll get him out and rock him a little but then I put him back in bed and let him fuss about 5-8 minutes, then rock for about 2 minutes, then back for 5-8 minutes until he goes to sleep…..which sometimes takes an HOUR or more! But at least he gets to sleep for a good hour and half after that.
    The oldest hardly ever sleeps during nap time….but I make him stay in bed and read or play quietly (which took about 2 weeks of hard work to get him to do but is wonderful now)
    I try my best to not let them sleep in the car, b/c it's only for a few minutes and then they refuse to sleep at all when we get home. but it happens and then I drive around for about an hour.

  7. My saving grace for naps has been Baby Einstein and our swing! Ethan (my six-month-old) doesn't really nap for very long, but he at least understands rest time (I think he understands, anyway!) and will oftentimes fall asleep after lunch because I have started the ritual of putting him in the swing and starting his Baby Einstein movie. With his tummy full and the ritual of the swing and TV he has started to nap for about a half hour, but will still sit in the swing and watch the movie for at least another half hour.

    Initially, however, I had to buckle him into the swing and go outside while he cried because I knew I would cave and pick him up if I stayed in and listened to him! It's hard to tough-it-out, but sometimes it's necessary!

    Good luck 🙂

  8. As a mother of a baby who only ever napped 20 minutes at a time (after an hour or so of rocking of course) and who didn't sleep through the night until three days before her second birthday, the best advice you're going to hear is:

    Stop trying to control the situation and just go with the flow!!

    The best day in my mothering life is the day I told myself to just stop and let it go! I found myself just focusing so much on whether or not she was napping/sleeping that it was crazy stressing me out and ruining the moments when she was awake!

    As long as Joshua is growing/eating/peeing/laughing/driving you crazy all while you glow your mommy glow/etc, then I can pretty much guarantee that he is getting all the sleep he needs! It's his little body after all, he knows it better than anyone else, including you!

    We can't control when our babies eat/sleep/poop so we really should stop trying to. It's a battle that you're always going to lose! The best thing parents can do is to just go about life the way that you want to.

    Every day I get an hour in the morning to drink coffee and read. Everyday I have a shower, do my hair and makeup, workout, clean, cook dinner, etc, and ALL while Lilah is awake! Sometimes it took a bit for her to get interested in something other than me but it does eventually work! It's so much easier and more rewarding for everyone in the end then trying to force a nap that isn't going to happen.

    It does get better, she now has a long nap every day and sleeps through the night. Sure, it took a while but our days were much happier and easier once I decided to stop caring about how much sleep she was getting! I think we're both better off for it.

    I sincerely hope you find something that works for you and you find some peace soon! It's so amazing how a tiny little human can take a strong, smart mama and bring her to her knees begging for five minutes of peace isn't it?? 🙂
    Best of luck to you mama!

  9. I have 5 kids and some were sleepers and some were most definitely not. However, I did try to get all of them to nap when they were babies at least once in the afternoon. Sometimes that meant holding the baby while the toddler played beside me. Or waiting until the older kids were busy and the toddler was asleep before even attempting to put the baby to sleep. I certainly never had a baby who I could just lay down and say, “Night-night” to!

    It was important to me that we had a quiet/nap time at 1-ish in the afternoon, but how I got there changed (and still changes) all the time. It helped the most to get everyone on the same general schedule so that we didn't have 1 napping at 12 and another at 2 and not enjoy the peace of everyone sleeping at once.

  10. Oh dear, good luck. My 1st was an excellent napper and slept through the night from 3 months – he's now 7 years old. My 2nd, awful napper and does not sleep through the night and actually still sleeps with either my husband or myself. Let me correct that. She naps at daycare and refuses to nap for me on the weekend. It didn't matter if I had a schedule or not, she just won't nap for me at all! I am not the person to give advice about schedules, but I have found that going with the flow works way better than stressing about the lack of sleep.

  11. I read a book called “The Sleep Lady” and found one of her points to be so true… “Sleep begets sleep”. A well rested baby during the day tends to sleep better at night.

    A common mistake is waiting to lull your baby to sleep after they show many many signs of being tired and then overtired.

    What time does he wake up in the morning? Surprisingly, he may be ready for a nap as early as 1-2 hours after he wakes up!

    I'm a huge fan of rocking or swaying my babies to sleep. Can you do it in the same room as Lucas?

  12. Ugh, I feel your pain! I have an almost-8-month old and I try to stick to a 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. rule of thumb. Or sometimes its 9 and 1. She has always slept in her swing too. I know, I'm a terrible mother, but it's worked for us. It's the Fisher Price Little Lamb swing. I think it just makes her feel cozy and secure. Maybe Joshua's crib/bassinet is too open for him?
    We tried Babywise and we tried crying it out- both escalated my post-partum depression! I know babies thrive in routine, so I say just pay attention to his sleepy cues and try to set the day up that way.

  13. I am so sorry you are having to get your little one napping. It is such a hard/stressful time. For us a modified cry It out worked. And white noise. The white noise was/ is awesome for #2 and 3. it is so much easier to schedule naps for one kiddo. Once siblings come along its like they have to go along for the ride.
    Good luck you will figure something out. I do know if I ever let my kids get to tired before age of 2 they would fight their naps and bed times. They just need to learn that naps are awesome and it's ok to be by themselves. That way they can put themselves back to sleep when they wake up between sleep patterns. Also before kids can really get around crying is one of the few ways they can burn energy. So not all crying is bad. Good luck!

  14. you're not gonna like my answer. let him fuss/cry a bit. i know some people like cry it out, some do a modified cry it out, some people hate it. but we did it with both kids and both sleep GREAT.

    my boy (youngest) just turned 2. even now, I put him to bed and he will scream my name… “mooommmmaaaa”, so i go back in, he wants a drink. i give him a drink. i walk out, he screams my name, he wants another drink. this routine would continue for an hour if i let it.

    tonight, I let him go for 5 minutes… 5 minutes was all it took. he got tired and realized i wasn't coming in.

    yes, i realize joshua is a lot younger, but we did the same thing at that age. watch for sleep cues and lay him down. he WILL get used to it. at that age, we had a pretty good schedule. Eat play, sleep, eat play sleep, eat play sleep. it really does work.

    lots of good books (babywise, healthy sleep habits happy baby, happiest baby on the block) all have great ideas.

    now, go ahead, and tell me i'm a bad mom for letting my kids cry. 😉

  15. Just have to say that I love Charissa's answer. Once I let go of trying to measure up to what other's said was good for my kids re. sleep, life got much better! #1 NEVER slept (about 7 hrs at night while nursing every 2 hours). #2 slept a little better but only ever 1 nap a day til 2 yrs. #3 is napping just a little better but is up til midnight every night. They are each so different and if I spend too much time trying to make them sleep a certain pattern I think I'd go nuts. The biggest question that I hated as a new mom was “is she sleeping through the night yet?” Well I can now say at 5 years old my daughter sleeps 12 hours straight through the night 🙂 Do what makes you and your boys the happiest.

  16. http://www.babywisemom.com

    I have posted it before but it really works. If you start something, finish it and be consistent EVERY time.

    If you want him to sleep at the same time as Lucas you have to TEACH him to soothe himself.

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