What To Do When Your Baby Hates… Nap Time


Liam can be night and day when it comes to nap time. Sometimes, he goes down without a peep, and other times he has a full-on meltdown before falling asleep. I think that it can be attributed to letting him get too tired before his nap. Sometimes I’m able to catch him at the first signs of sleepiness. Other times, I might miss it, and that’s when the meltdowns occur. Some babies fight their sleep no matter what, and if that sounds familiar, these tips might be helpful.

Showing me how he really feels about nap time with that middle finger.

Try To Catch It Early!

This is so important! Like I already mentioned, getting Liam to sleep before he is overly tired is so much easier. Obviously, you can’t sit around and watch your babe all day long, but keep an eye out for the give-away signs. Rubbing eyes, yawning, general “sleepy” look, are all good signs to look out for. Also, remember to keep an eye on the clock. At four months and younger, most babies should keep their awake times to under two hours. Every babe has different needs, so try to be aware of the time and figure out your child’s ideal awake time. For Liam, it’s about an hour to an hour and a half. When that time is up, try to get baby to start winding down, even if they might not “look” sleepy. Chances are, they are.

Swaddle For Nap Time

Some babies love the swaddle, some not so much. Liam fights getting in it sometimes, but once he is wrapped up all tight, I can see him relax. It also helps him stay asleep since he isn’t whacking himself in the face, pulling his pacifier out of his mouth, scratching himself… you get the idea. If your babe is one of the ones that genuinely hates the swaddle (first of all, I’m really sorry, because for us it’s really a miracle worker), try the Merlin’s Magic Sleep Suit. We use this for Liam for some of his daytime naps, and we plan to use it once he is rolling over.

Eeeeeeek he’s so little here.

The 5 S’s

This is the technique developed my Dr. Harvey Karp and it is amazing. You can read about it in his book The Happiest Baby On The Block. If you’re in a pinch or don’t have time to read the whole book, you can find the technique on youtube. The 5 S’s are swaddle, side/stomach, shake/swing, shush, and suck. You’ll want to put baby in a swaddle, hold them either on their side or their stomach, bounce or swing baby, “shush” them (more loudly than you think you should) or turn on white noise (or the vent fan over the stove or the bathroom heater or vent in a pinch), and give them something to suck, like a pacifier. If baby is already in full meltdown mode and won’t take their pacifier, try running it under some cold water. While babies shouldn’t be given water to drink until about a year old (it can be harmful), a few drops won’t hurt. Most babies like the taste, which will prompt them to suck. I cannot stress enough how well this whole technique works. It’s like having a baby off-switch. Try to get baby used to the routine early, because they “outgrow” the technique after three months. Since we have been consistently using the technique on Liam since day one, it still works to help him relax at four months old, but I know the day will come when it no longer works and I dread that day. Once baby is good and relaxed, or even asleep, you can put them in a baby swing for their nap if you need to get some stuff done around the house. Make sure if you do this, that you keep an eye on them. Babies should never be left fully unattended in a swing. Their heads can flop over and cause “positional asphyxiation.” Basically, their head being in that position can close their airway. If you notice that baby’s head might be starting to flop over, gently readjust it. You should be able to do this without waking them. 

Note: Those things on either side of him are socks filled with rice and a few drops of lavender essential oil. I pop them in the microwave for about a minute so they’re nice and toasty. He loves them.

Baby Wearing

If all else fails and your babe just wants to be held while they nap (usually during a leap or growth spurt when they are especially clingy), strap them up in a wrap. Baby gets to sleep, and you still have your hands free to fold clothes, wash dishes… browse Pinterest (be honest with yourself, ladies). Liam falls asleep almost every time I put him in his Moby. It is easily one of my most used registry items and I cannot sing it’s praises enough. Moby is a well established and trusted brand. Much cheaper options are available online, but be cautious. These brands may be made in other countries, contain unsafe chemicals, or just not be of quality as high as Moby. They’ve just come out with a Petunia Pickle Bottom collection that is absolutely precious and I can’t wait to get my hands on one. If wraps aren’t for you, they have other options like the Baby Hawk, the Buckle Tie, and the new Ring Slings. I’m a Moby addict and I plan to own them all as Liam grows. Make sure to read the instructions thoroughly. Using any of these products incorrectly can be extremely unsafe.

Exercise Ball

Walking around, holding, and bouncing baby can be really exhausting. Holding baby while you bounce on an exercise ball works really well and is a lot easier on your arms and back. If you don’t have en exercise ball, try sitting on the edge of your bed and bouncing.

SnuggleMe Organic

I will never stop recommending this thing. It helps him stay asleep once we go through all of the steps above to get him to sleep. It’s the best and it’s more affordable than some other similar options.

Happy napping, Mamas!

Note: I never let him nap on his tummy or with a blanket or stuffed animal unless I am in the room and he is totally supervised.

Do you have any other techniques for putting baby to sleep when they’re putting up a fight? Share in the comments!


The Crispy Mama

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