Help A Reader Out: Extended Crying Before Naps

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Rebecca asked*:

I have a rather long-winded question for you. We started Babywise with my daughter when she was 6 weeks old (CIO included). She is now almost 12 months old and STILL has to CIO before naps.

She was not a ‘textbook’ babe when we first started CIO; she would have cried for hours had we let her. My husband and I have been very consistent with her feedings & waketimes because I feel it is important to do CIO responsibly.

For a while (maybe 4-8mo of age) it seemed a little better; she would only cry 10-15min or so when we laid her down. But the past 3 months have been tough–she will talk/fuss/cry for an hour or more at times.

I lay her down for naps at the same time every day, and bedtime is the same also (bedtime is the only time she doesn’t CIO; just goes right to sleep).

Do you have any suggestions? We have tried troubleshooting everything; waketime lengths, etc, but it is so frustrating. I would greatly appreciate any insight or advice. I know she might just be a baby who needs to ‘blow off steam’ before naps, but for more than an hour? Ack!!


*I broke it up into paragraphs.

Please share your thoughts and experiences on this topic! Thanks everyone!

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Valerie, also known as The Babywise Mom, is the mother to four children. She has been blogging on Babywise and general parenting since 2007. She has a degree in technical writing and loves using those skills to help parents be the best parents they can be! Read her book, The Babywise Mom Nap Guide, to get help on sleep from birth through the preschool years. You can also find her writing at, Today Parenting, and Her View From Home. Read more about Valerie and her family on the About page. Follow her on FacebookPinterest, and Instagram for more tips and helps.

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  1. Lehmansterms
    December 12, 2009 / 11:29 PM

    My son is almost 21 months old and we have the same problem. We also struggled through MONTHS of 45 minute naps. He goes to sleep at night without crying so I know he is capable. I dropped the morning nap around 17 months hoping this would help. After trying many things: CIO without going back (cried for over 1 hour), CIO going back every 15 min (cried almost 2 hrs), changing nap times to see if later/earlier was better, noise machine/no noise machine, etc., I now rock him to sleep for nap only. I am with him for 10 minutes or less. I am a HUGE babywise fan and it worked beautifully with my firstborn. I am learning (slowly) that my children are different and sometimes things don't work as described in the book. It relieved a lot of stress when I went with what worked for us instead of trying to force him to CIO.

  2. Jessica
    December 13, 2009 / 1:12 AM

    I wonder if the child's nap routine is similar to her bedtime routine? Obviously there will not be a bath or anything but is the rest of the routine somewhat similar? Does she tend to be more stimulated before naps before she is before bed? Maybe she needs extra time to wind down. Or there could be an optimal waketime issue, she could be up too late or going down too early. When my daughter took two naps her schedule was 7 wake, 10 nap, 3 nap and 8:30 bedtime, her naps were 2 hours each in length.I second the previous poster in that not all babies are the same and that they will not follow the Babywise mold perfectly, and neither will the parent. I rocked my daughter to sleep until she was six months old and would not let me any longer.Our nephew, 19 months, still cries when he is put down to sleep, he takes about 5-10 minutes to settle, I think.

  3. Lara
    December 13, 2009 / 3:29 AM

    The only time my son did that was when he was transitioning from 2 naps a day to 1, at about 16 months. He would fuss, play, and talk in his bed for a really long time. Maybe your baby is not truly tired when you think she is? Or maybe naptime has become a negative experience for her from all the CIO. Switch up the routine with a new book or quiet song together. For a while I used to turn on one of the 30 minute Baby Einstein movies and rock my son while we watched it together. We would talk about the animals or children in the movie and the quiet music calmed him.

  4. Ben & Rebecca
    December 13, 2009 / 4:08 AM

    Thank you for all the input! A few things I have and still am learning along the way:-She has never been the 'textbook' Babywise baby. We tried different things, but eventually I had to relinquish my desire for control and adapt to what works best for both her and us (while still maintaining a consistent schedule).-Right now she is 12mo. It almost seems as if she is ready to drop the morning nap, but I feel like it is too early for that. I don't want to keep her up all morning and overstimulate her if she truly needs that rest. But if she doesn't nap in the morning, she typically takes a 3-3.5hr nap in the afternoon and goes down pretty easily. -Here's our 'ideal' schedule:-7:30-wake-9:30-nap -11:30ish-wake-1:45-2pm-nap-4:00-wake-7:30-bedThis week when I put her down for her morning nap, she will talk in her crib and fuss occasionally–for up to 1.5hrs. She's quiet sometimes, but I know she hasn't fallen asleep. I check on her periodically and lay her back down, telling her its nap time. If she is still awake after 1.5-2hrs, I just get her up. My other problem is–if she does eventually fall asleep, its usually so close to lunch that she only gets about a 45 minute nap or less. I then wake her for lunch, but then she struggles going down for her afternoon nap (talking & fussing in crib for a LONG time before falling asleep). Once I waited until she woke on her own from a morning nap (after finally falling asleep around 1030am) and it was 1245pm–this then skews our entire afternoon schedule.It seems like our days go well when she doesn't fall asleep for the morning nap & takes a longer afternoon nap. I just feel like she still needs a rest in the am, I know she gets tired. I am also fearful of overstimulating her, but maybe she needs a longer wake-time. I appreciate any and ALL advice!If anything, God has definitely taught me PATIENCE and understanding through my frustrations. My sweet daughter is only human and sometimes my expectations are a little high! 🙂

  5. Ben & Rebecca
    December 13, 2009 / 4:12 AM

    ***I forgot to mention that she doesn't have any medical problems–no reflux or anything that would contribute to sleep disruptions!

  6. Jessica
    December 13, 2009 / 12:41 PM

    So, she sleeps well for her afternoon nap, and lengthens the nap, if she does not have a morning nap? Hmm. The only thing that keeps me from saying she is ready to move to one afternoon nap is her age.My daughter started the one nap transition at 14 months, she would sleep well for her morning nap but not sleep for her afternoon nap. I still had her take a morning nap but I only allowed her to sleep for an hour instead of two, I think I moved the nap back a bit as well.Maybe you could do a "rest time" where the morning nap would be? Just have quiet Mommy and baby time. Then you can move the afternoon nap up, after lunch, and let her take a nice, long nap.

  7. Redheads
    December 13, 2009 / 2:10 PM

    Sounds like she is ready for just one nap. At the very least, I would definitely extend AM waketime by another 30 minutes to 1 hour longer if you are still going to try to keep her to two naps. But, it REALLY sounds like she is just ready for one nap. You will likely need rest time or independent play for about 45 minutes every morning so she isn't so stimulated. Plan more quiet activities, video time, etc.Amy

  8. Amanda
    December 13, 2009 / 4:45 PM

    hi! this is my first visit to your blog, so i apologize if i post in the wrong place and haven't looked for a response to my particular question…my husband and i are in the early stages of doing babywise for the second time with our 4 1/2 week old, ella. my 2 year old did it and slept through the night at 8 weeks. our biggest problem right now is getting e to go back to bed after her 11 pm feed. she is wide awake, and we are able to hold her off to feed again until 2 am, but she doesn't sleep, so it doesn't bode well for that "sleeping through" the 2 am. what do we do?? she is going back to bed fine at 2 and at 5, but we obviously want her to drop the 2 first!!!thanks, amanda 🙂

  9. Bobbie
    December 13, 2009 / 5:23 PM

    I don't know if this will help (hopefully will!), but I can tell you my experience with my son switching from two to one nap a day at about 12 months old. He started to nap longer in the morning than usual and then would not fall asleep for his afternoon nap – even if I woke him from his morning nap earlier. I started giving him a very early lunch (10:45am) and putting him down for his one nap around 11am and he would sleep for 3 or more hours. Over time I moved his lunch a little later, but even now at 25 months old he still needs his nap by about 11:45 most days and still sleeps about 3 hours usually (I should mention that he is up at 6am!).It wasn't ideal, but it seemed to be all that worked for him. For the first while he would be very tired by bedtime, but no matter what I tried, two naps a day just wasn't happening.

  10. Caroline
    December 13, 2009 / 6:10 PM

    We transitioned my son to one nap at 11.5-12 months when he started only sleeping for one of his naps. (If he slept for his AM nap, he wouldn't sleep for his afternoon nap and vice versa–even if I woke him up from his AM nap). When we first transitioned him, some days I felt like he needed two naps and some days just one. Additionally, when we first started he was slightly more cranky than normal, but within a few weeks he was back to his normal, happy self! (Hah! Until all four of his one year molars started coming in at once! BUT at least the nap issue was taken care of by then!) Good luck to you! I know that it can be very frustrating at times! (I'm right there with you–God has definitely been teaching me about having EXTRA patience and understanding through my frustrations! God is so good!)

  11. Elizabeth
    December 13, 2009 / 8:45 PM

    I agree with the looser babywise application. Don't be afraid to experiment with nap schedules for a day or two to find out what works best. I let my daughter's cues help guide me in how long to keep her up and how long she needed to nap for. The main thing I concentrated on was keeping a set feeding schedule. Once my daughter was past 7monhts old, slight changes in schedule didn't bother her as much. She could eat or take a nap within a 30 minute range of the "normal" time (8am, noon, 4pm, 8pm)and would be fine. I was also not as concerned with "sleep props." Most kids grow out of them at some point. If my daughter seems to have a hard time calming down I will rock her or walk her for up to 10 minutes. If she hasn't gone to sleep by then, I just put her down and let her cry. Usually though, it helps and she goes right to sleep with minimal crying. She also has a blanket and teddy bear (for nap time only) which helps alot. Yes we do have to make sure to take her blanket with us, but I don't mind the inconvenience since it provides a measure of comfort. If she takes that long to go to sleep, She might be ready to stay up longer, or she might just hate napes. If she just hates them, I would try creating a fun nap time routine (like reading or cuddling) just to see if it works. If she isn't tired enough, try keeping her awake for 30 more minutes. My 8month old is up anywhere from 2 to 3 hours at a time. She just transitioned to two naps this week. Her schedule looks something like this:Up between 7am-7:30amEat, individual playtime, reading time/bath9:30-10:00am go down for a nap – she usually sleeps for 1/5-2 hours.11:30-12:00pm wake up. I wake her up a noon if she is still sleepingEat lunch, play, take a walk, errands,2:30-3pm nap time – she sleeps between 2-2.5 hours4:45pm 5:00pm wake upI wake her up at 5:30pm if she is still sleeping.Dinner, family play time, reading (we like reading :D).7:45pm nurseBedtime is 8pm (or 8:30 if she slept until 5:30pm)Parenting involves a lot of prayer and guesswork and experimenting to find out what works best! Babywise is one method, but if it isn't working try something else. The principles (parent directed naps, what to eat, moral training) can be applied to all kinds of routines, not just the babywise one. It is great for stabilizing in the early months, but I have been more flexible with it the older my daughter gets and she is sill a content and happy baby.

  12. Rochelle
    December 13, 2009 / 9:15 PM

    I second the thoughts on a.) nap routine and b.) considering dropping the morning nap. We had trouble with two at that age and it was a rough spot with us for a couple months, but we just finally did a "rest time" for about 30-45 min in the am and if she fell asleep, great, but if not we just got up and went on with the day. Then there was no "late morning nap messing up the afternoon nap"….3-3.5 hour afternoon nap sounds great to me! I also found our whole schedule simpler once we went to one nap.You might already be doing this, but my daughter gets 2 books, a prayer and a lullabye before nap and bedtime….she loves that little routine. Of course bedtime routine is longer, but this part of it is the same. Hope you are able to find a plan that works well for you both soon!!

  13. LKD
    December 14, 2009 / 12:34 AM

    My daughter is only 9 months old so I cannot relate completely, but I do know that she started a 2.5 hour morning waketime a few weeks ago which actually lengthened her nap. I would try keeping yours awake longer and see what happens.I do think the idea of rocking to sleep may be a wise one. My daughter goes to daycare many days. They rock her to sleep and it has never been a problem with her ability to soothe at home. If you have to rock sometimes, I cannot see how it could hurt.Doing Babywise does not mean doing everything exactly like it says.Good luck!

  14. Ashley
    December 14, 2009 / 12:46 AM

    I have a 12 month old too (12/19/08)!! I'm wondering if she's just not tired when you put her down. About a month ago we started having nap problems. I pushed her morning nap a little later and don't let her sleep more than an hour- usually 45 min. She sleeps great for both naps now. Here's our new schedule- 7am- wake, breakfast9:15- nap10- I wake her up, play11- lunch1pm- nap3:30ish- she wakes up on her own, snack5:45ish- dinner7pm- bath, bottle, bedIf you change her waketime give it 3-4 days before you decide that it doesn't work. It can take a little bit for them to adjust. About 10 minutes before nap time we calm down by reading a book, etc. We go through the same routine as bedtime. Also, I had to darken her room by putting up black plastic on her windows because she won't nap if it's too light in the room. If I were you I would give 2 days to really watching her sleepy que. See how long she can stay up- she's not sleeping anyway. Write everything down and see what the pattern is. Please let me know if you have any questions. Good Luck!!PS- There are BW mom's that drop the morning nap at a year. If all else fails, you could just have 15-20 minutes of quiet time reading and snuggling in the morning to get her over the tiredness so she'll sleep better for her afternoon nap. 🙂

  15. B. Morgan C.
    December 14, 2009 / 1:17 AM

    It sounds like she is just not sleepy. 2-2.5-hr waketimes sound rather short for a 12-month-old. My almost 10-month-old still has a 2-hr waketime before her first nap, but a 3-hr one before her second and needs 4 hours between her second and bedtime in order to be tired enough to go to sleep. She is not a long napper, but I wake her up in order to protect the next nap when she does sleep longer. If you move to one nap, Dr. Weissbluth in "Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child" suggests moving the bedtime earlier if the child is tired by the late afternoon. This is what we did when we dropped the 3rd nap — she was going to bed as early as 5:45! This really did the trick for us.

  16. Jessica
    December 14, 2009 / 1:42 AM

    You know, the more I think about this and review other's thoughts, I think your daughter is ready to drop the morning nap and move to one, long, afternoon nap.

  17. Ben & Rebecca
    December 14, 2009 / 2:29 AM

    Thank you to all for your wonderful suggestions!I am also thinking she may be ready to drop the morning nap; I just hesitate because of her age. Today, for example, she skipped the morning nap because we had church. By the end of the morning, I could tell she was exhausted. She went down for a nap right after lunch. It still took her a while to 'settle' down–talking in her crib for 20+ minutes before she fell asleep. Does anyone else have kiddos who take this long to 'blow off steam' or settle down before they fall asleep? I guess it doesn't bother me because she wasn't truly crying it out, but seems like a long time especially when she is probably a bit over-tired. She did sleep for 3 hrs for this nap today.We have the same routine before bedtime and naps; reading books while rocking. She is not a cuddly baby who can be rocked to sleep, unfortunately, otherwise I would certainly try that!Think I will try lengthening her morning waketime tomorrow and see how it goes. Any suggestions for a quiet 'rest' time in the am if she forgoes the nap? Should I still put her in her crib for some quiet time, even if she doesn't sleep? Even though she has not followed Babywise to a t, I still feel that we have reaped some of the benefits. She sleeps wonderfully at night, STTN at 8 weeks, is very focused on her play, plays wonderfully independently, and is a pretty content baby (though we did have a rough, fussy start!). I would certainly still recommend a Babywise-type structure to anyone. Again, thank you to everyone for your help, and thank you to Val for publishing my comment!

  18. Victoria
    December 14, 2009 / 7:33 AM

    Val–quick question. If I click on Amazon through your blog, do you get a %? I know other websites that do, and I figured if yours did, I would make sure to click! Your blog certainly is a blessing, and it would be a little way to bless you back!

  19. melissa
    December 14, 2009 / 12:43 PM

    There are so many great comments here, so I will (try to) be brief….my son, now 1.5, has never been a great napper – and by that, I mean he was just always inconsistent – sometimes "perfect" naps, sometimes far less than, with lots of crying before and after and waking up at 45 minutes on the dot. The inconsistency was hard for me, as was the crying (as I imagine it was for him as well!!). Finally, at 11 months, I just threw up my hands and went to 1 nap. And that was what was needed…..he fell asleep quickly, with just a few minutes of crying, if any (which has since phased out), and slept for 2.5 to 3 hours. For about 3 weeks, he was pretty tired around 11:00 a.m. (he wakes in the a.m. at 8), but I would do something low key with him during that time (usually, a walk in the stroller), and then lunch at noon would give him a boost to get to 1:00. He would sleep until about 4. He quickly adapted to the one nap and after a month, I didn't have to worry about "missing" that morning nap. Every child is different, and I agree you should just give the one nap a go for a week or more and see what happens. As for the time it takes for your child to fall asleep – I think that is very normal!!!! All the books say it can take a child that long or longer to fall asleep and if they are not crying (although some really need to cry, too), then I definitely wouldn't worry! My son is taking longer and longer to fall asleep, both at nap and at night, with it sometimes taking as much as 30 minutes to fall asleep (he just runs around the crib and throws his stuffed monkey around). He's not crying, just talking to himself or singing, so I consider it his down time and/or winding down time and feel that it is necessary for him. Ok, that wasn't so brief. HTH!

  20. Tracy
    December 14, 2009 / 2:22 PM

    I have 15-month old twins, and we are just wrapping up 3 months of chaos. My daughter was ready to drop her morning nap at 12-months, but my son has just recently gotten to the point where he's ready. I guess I just wanted to share that though you think your daughter is too young for one nap, all babies are different and she MAY be ready. My daughter would do the same thing as yours…fuss or cry for an entire hour (or more) while I tried to force her to take two naps. She also wasn't sleeping well at night. After dropping the morning nap, we now get 2-3 hour naps and a solid 11-12 hours at night, and no fighting nap/bedtime. If this helps, when I dropped the morning nap, I lightened up their morning snack and pushed their lunch to an earlier time (10:45-11:00) and then laid them down right after. Gradually I bumped their lunch/naptime back, and now we're eating at 11:30 and they nap at noon. Good luck!!!

  21. Tracy
    December 14, 2009 / 2:27 PM

    Oh, just read all the other comments and saw you had a question re: quiet time. We actually watch an episode of Blues Clues or Yo Gabba Gabba mid morning, right before their snack, and since it's more of a passive activity, that seems to rejuvinate. I watch with them, and we often cuddle on the couch together. If you aren't allowing television yet (and before I get lynched here, we only watch a couple episodes per day, so maybe 40 minutes max, and I watch WITH them so it's interactive), maybe you could read to her, or just snuggle, sing songs, have a conversation?

  22. Caroline
    December 14, 2009 / 4:50 PM

    Rebecca–to answer you other question–It takes my son a while to settle down in his crib before he will fall asleep. We now have a video monitor, so I can "check in" on him to see if he's fallen asleep. Some days he falls asleep quickly. Other days he may take 30 minutes to fall asleep. He usually doesn't fuss during this time; he just walks around his crib, plays with his crib toys, talk, sings, throws his stuffed animals out of the crib, etc. Even if he is exhausted, it can take him a while to settle down!

  23. Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias
    December 14, 2009 / 7:00 PM

    Although she's younger than most, I agree that she may be ready to at least start the transition to one nap. I would move the afternoon nap to 12pm when you drop the morning nap, that way she's not awake too long. I also wanted to say that we had a lot of crying at 12 months suddenly too, it was terrible! For us it was actually a defiance issue and Tobias realizing he could get us to come in and cuddle if he cried loud enough. Once I got firm again and increased our discipline during waketime the issue worked itself out.

  24. Plowmanators
    December 14, 2009 / 7:03 PM

    wow everyone! Thanks for helping a reader out! I will definitely continue this series!

  25. Plowmanators
    December 14, 2009 / 7:04 PM

    Victoria, yes I do 🙂 If you click to amazon from here, anything you buy (even if I didn't link it) will give me a percent. Thanks!

  26. Ben & Rebecca
    December 14, 2009 / 7:08 PM

    Melissa–sounds like our kiddos are one in the same! Inconsistent is the perfect way to describe Harper. The frustrating part is that we have worked SO hard to be VERY consistent! Thanks for the tips; I am tweaking our schedule a bit and praying for the best!

  27. roberjen
    December 16, 2009 / 6:40 PM

    Sometimes my 10.5 month old won't take a morning nap either. She will cry for 1 hour and then I give up and get her. Other days, she takes a nap fine. Who knows why? I would say, make a decision, and stick with it. And I do believe in very early bedtimes too. She goes to bed at 6pm some nights. I actually hate it because I work but I know it's better for her in the long run. Good luck!

  28. Plowmanators
    December 29, 2009 / 11:59 PM

    Rebecca, let us know how it goes and if anything fixes it!One thing to be aware of, if you do go for dropping the morning nap, watch things closely. Babies might start off fine when you do this, but they will build up a sleep deficit.An example, Christmas Day, Kaitlyn didn't take her nap. She was totally fine and happy all day. Two days later, we again tried to skip the nap for a family party. She came to me crying at 5 PM and asked me to put her down for a nap because she was tired (I know, she is awesome). So she could handle it that one day, but she couldn't handle it another so close together. Be prepared to need to have two naps some days and one other days.Also, keep in mind the need for physical activity and mental stimulation. Good luck!

  29. Plowmanators
    December 30, 2009 / 12:02 AM

    Amanda, it sounds like she has night and day mixed up. The things to do to fix that are 1)stick to 2.5-3 hour feedings in the day and 2)work on having waketime in the day.Another idea, I noticed that Kaitlyn was wide awake at the dreamfeed. We had the lights dim. I decided to turn the lights blazing on. She then slept after the dreamfeed and never had a problem 🙂 We did go back to dark and quiet lights, but as a new baby, she preferred the dim lights to the bright ones.

  30. Ben & Rebecca
    December 30, 2009 / 2:11 AM

    Here's a little update on how things are going…The first week, I tried to feel her out and see if she was truly ready to drop the morning nap. On days where she had a distraction, or when we were out & about in the morning, she did great. She was happy in the morning, and usually slept about 2.5-3hrs in the afternoon. However, if we were just staying home (which we typically do), I could tell she was very ready for a nap by about 10am. I thought it might be wiser to try lengthening her wake-time than to attempt to entertain a tired and overstimulated babe. The schedule that has been working for us is nap at 9:45-10am to 11:15-30, and then nap at 2-2:15ish til 4pm. It took me a while to find what wake-times were appropriate for her–a few times she really struggled going down for the afternoon nap, or skipped it altogether. I think that she needed a little more wake-time and I tried to make sure she had a balance of stimulating activities/exercise and quiet play, plus a shorter morning nap. The part I haven't quite figured out is that she has started having to CIO before bedtime (probably about 2-3 weeks ago); usually about 5-10min or less. She still occasionally fusses before naps. We have been out of town for about a week for the holidays and she has napped and slept WONDERFULLY!! I am seriously in awe and very grateful. It is much easier to enjoy the holidays with a well-rested baby and mama!To be honest, I put a lot of prayer into this and certainly credit God with giving me the patience and understanding to troubleshoot and not give up if we have one bad day. Thank you for all the encouragement and advice!

  31. Plowmanators
    January 12, 2010 / 6:41 PM

    I am glad to hear things are better! I hope they still are. If not, I would try to get more stimulation into her days since it sounds like she is sleeping better when she has busy days.

  32. Hannah
    October 9, 2012 / 7:46 PM

    My son is 15 months old and has been non-stop teething for the last 1 1/2 months, which has made napping a disaster. Sometimes he will only sleep for 45 minutes in a day! I feel like we are totally not on a schedule and it is driving me crazy! He screams every time we lay him down and cross our fingers, hoping he'll fall asleep. If he cries for longer than 20 minutes, we usually get him up and lay him down at a later time. I feel that he is still in need of two naps, but with all the teething going on and 12-13 hours of sleep at night (he ends up going to bed early because of bad sleep during the day) we are only at one nap, which ends up being, at the most, 1.25 hours. NOT long enough. I have no idea what to do because he never used to scream before naps! I am thinking maybe I need to make nighttime sleep shorter? Or maybe he is just figuring out that if he screams long enough, I will get him up? Or maybe he needs more physical activity? He's not walking yet, but almost. Anyways, my husband and I are perplexed; any advice would be so appreciated!!!

    • Plowmanators
      October 10, 2012 / 5:25 PM

      Hannah I answered this on another post you asked it on, so be sure to check that out.

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