In Action: Troubleshooting Naps


A little over a week ago, Kaitlyn started waking up from her naps early. I gave it a couple of days to see if it was a fluke before I started troubleshooting. Here was my process.

  • I went through a list of things I thought it could be. My first idea was that she was working on crawling and that she was staying up to practice that rather than sleep, then was too tired to sleep through the nap once she woke. While this was a possibility, I thought it should end after a few days and didn’t. So while it could have had an effect, it wasn’t the only culprit.
  • I wondered if she was ready to extend her wake time. As a 9 month old, she is only up for 1.5 hours, which isn’t long. So I extended it. Even worse. She went down to 30 minutes of sleep. Not the right solution.
  • Finally, I realized something. It has been really cold here at night (below 0). My husband leaves for work by 6 AM, so the thermostat was set to our daytime level at 5:15. Because of how cold it is, the heater is on constantly, which just made Kaitlyn’s room really hot because it is a small room. Therefore, she was waking up early in the morning, but she is quiet when she wakes up so I didn’t know until I turned her monitor up and had it with me. She was waking at 7 instead of 7:30, and I was putting her down at 9. We switched the heating times around, and that has fixed it. She is no longer waking early, so she is getting to bed at the right time, not over-tired, and back to sleeping for her whole nap. All is well!

Reader Questions:

  • Lindsay said…
    Wow, cool. My problem is that naps only last for 45 minutes (45 minute intruder??) How long does that last? He’s been doing this for a while now. I’m a first time mom, so I will be first to admit that I don’t really know what I am doing! Who knew about wake time, sleep time, how many naps etc…nobody told me any of this?? :o) Everything I know is from what I’ve read, but every book is different…(p.s. thanks again, i LOVE your blog! Do you mind of I share it with my other mom friends?)
    January 16, 2008 7:05 PM
    Plowmanators said…
    The nap thing will last until either you figure out the reason for it happening or your baby outgrowing the problem. It is hard your first time through–no doubt!With my first, he took 45 minute naps until he was about 6.5 months old. I am still not sure what made him start sleeping longer–it literally happened in the middle of a day one day. With my second, I have been able to work through problems fast because I have experience. But don’t feel bad–that is part of what makes a first a first!Tell away! I am happy to have you share the blog with others.
    January 16, 2008 9:07 PM

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19 thoughts on “In Action: Troubleshooting Naps”

  1. I am a first time mom and just trying to implement the schedule with my 4 week old little boy. At first I tried to kind of use a schedule but got stressed and ended up trying to follow more of the pattern of sleep eat and wake. Now I really want to start being strict with the schedule. He did great at napping until about two weeks ago and now he rarely naps during the day. I have tried everything, even just rocking him to sleep, but when I lay him down he wakes up again and is wide awake! I try to do only like five to ten minutes of wake time to a half hour of wake time and nothing seems to really make a difference. I thought maybe he was still hungry and sometimes it does work to feed him a little more but I am afraid that he is learning that to fall asleep he needs my breast. In the afternoon he sometimes will sleep but not every day. He always sleeps if I put him in his car seat and run errands but I don’t want him to learn that either! How much sleep is normal after each feeding? How many naps a day should he be taking? I just want to have time to sleep myself so if I could get him to even take 45 minute naps that would be great! He usually sleep 5 hours between feedings at night which to me is just great! Anyways I hope this makes sense and if you have any advice please please let me know. I am worried that he is not getting enough sleep.

  2. It sounds like the main issue is that he can’t sooth himself to sleep. See this post:CIO Bootcamp: also:Getting a Consistent Schedule:

  3. We are working on CIO.From what I’ve read throughout your blog it seems that we work on the initial getting to sleep with naps and at night.So if he wakes up cranky and crying from a nap 1 hour into it, I DON’T have him CIO-but what do I do? He doesn’t sleep in his swing, he cries. I find myself holding him until his next feeding an hour later…Then at night he CIO being put to bed. He’ll cry a little-40mins or so but still treats it as naps and an hour later wakes up and starts to cry. Is that it, did we do the initial CIO and from then on we soothe him back to sleep?I’m so confused, frustrated and tired.We’ve been letting him CIO putting him to bed as well as when he wakes up in the middle of the night. We’ve all gotten a total of 6 hours for the past 2 nights. Last night he ate at 11:30 slept till 3:30am and then cried until I picked him back up at 6:30am. I need help and advice!Is there a forum I could post my questions too that is BW accepting, I don’t want to waste my time with responses to questions telling me not to have him CIO.

  4. I wasn’t sure which post to ask this under, but I remember reading somewhere that when your baby falls asleep while feeding(catnap) it affects their naptime. I can’t seem to keep my 6wk old awake during feedings. This then interfers with waketime (overstimulation, once I get her awake again) and ultimately naptime. Sometimes she lays in her crib a happy baby until the next feeding (missing an entire nap) and sometimes she just can’t soothe herself to sleep (shows sleep cues for an hour instead of sleeping.) Anyway, I’ve tried tickling toes, singing songs, etc. to keep her awake – the good thing is, she does get a full feeding. Do you have any ideas on how I can keep my baby awake during feedings to insure a better naptime?

  5. Lorri, I have answered many of these questions on your other posts, so I will answer new one.See this post for other online forums:Other Online Babywise Resources:

  6. How do you know when a disruption in sleep habits is temporary or when you need to intervene to try to correct it? I know sometimes you just have to “wait it out” but I hate for a bad habit to get further established while I’m waiting. Last week I would have characterized my 7.5 week old as a champion napper. I had read your blogs about sleep cues and timing naps perfectly, and I had discovered his ideal wake time was exactly 45 minutes. When putting him down at that time, he would fall asleep quickly, sometimes with no fuss at all, and sleep well until I woke him for his next feeding. He was even waking in a better mood! I felt like I had solved a great mystery and I felt in control again. Then, one day he just changed, with no identifiable factors affecting him. For the past four days it seems as though he just decided to stop napping altogether! I have experimented with longer and even shorter waketimes, but that does not seem to matter. When I put him down, he is just content to lay there awake for as long as I let him. He might fuss for the first 10 or 15 minutes, but then he just lays awake. If I go in to check on him, he is wide awake, just looking around. Sometimes he even smiles at me when I peek into the crib and he catches me. I’m thankful he isn’t crying through the entire nap, but I worry that he is missing needed rest. Many times, especially toward the end of the day, I have put him in the swing for at least the last hour of his naptime just to help him get at least that much sleep. He does eventually fall asleep in the swing, but of course I can’t make that a habit either. He is too young and not ready for dropping naps or extending wake time… so how else do I intervene? Or, is this just a part of the backward spiral toward developing better sleep habits??

  7. It sounds like he might be ready for a longer waketime. Did you try 50 minutes? Often 5 minutes can make the difference.If that is not the case, I would give him more time with what you have been and see what happens. When they stop sleeping well, there is usually a reason for it. The trick is finding it. My good friend (who does Babywise) and I were talking today. She had her second baby about a month ago. We were talking about how the newborn stage seems to be a series of solving one problem after the other. Things do get better and easier, but know that even those of us who have done it before find it hard and frustrating at times.

  8. I had tried 50 minutes, 60 minutes, even 75 minutes… but maybe I needed to give it more than one nap to decide if any of those would be the magic number. I should maybe devote all of tomorrow to a 50 minute wake time experiment, and see how it goes. From there, I’ll keep trying other times, giving it a fair shot before deciding it doesn’t work. Thanks for the suggestion – hopefully we’ll find the right time before he makes another switch on me!!

  9. Hi!Let me first say how much I appreciate your blog. It has helped me out so much as a first time mom and having no family near me. I have a 12 week old boy who just loves playtime. He usually sleeps anywhere from 45-1 hr and 90 minutes if i am lucky. If he wakes up after 45 minutes i do my best to get him to go back to sleep. However, if he wakes up after 1hr or so and is happy content and NOT sleepy what do I do? I have been letting him get up and sit in his boppy or something until it is time to eat. Is that okay or do i need to feed him right away and adjust my schedule.

  10. Thanks for you blog. As a first-time mom, its great to have someplace to go and get ideas. My daughter is 6 weeks old and has recently become difficult to put to sleep. I've somewhat followed BW from birth (full feedings, wake time after eating, 3 hour schedule, put to bed when I see sleep signals, etc) but didn't have the heart to just let her CIO from the beginning. I would usually rock her for a bit and then put her down when she was drowsy but not all the way asleep. In the past week she has become inconsolable–especially at night–and is unwilling to go to sleep no matter how much my husband or I rock her or soothe her. Finally we decided that she can no longer have her pacifier (she LOVES to suck) as we felt that was preventing her from falling asleep faster and she would cry when it came out. We are no longer giving her the pacifier and putting her to bed and trying CIO (since I've come to the conclusion that nothing I do really makes a difference). The trouble is that she has gone from taking 1.5-2.5 hour naps during the day to about 30 min cat naps. I feel like I've gotten to know my daughter pretty well by now and she desperately needs long periods of sleep. Now when I put her down on her own, I've found that it takes her FOREVER to fall asleep, and if she does, she'll fall asleep only to wake up 30 minutes later, cry for 10 mins., sleep for 20-30, and then cry for another 10. She will repeat this cycle for the remainder of her "nap" time. I'm pretty sure that she isn't hungry, so I've just left her in her crib until her next feeding. My biggest concern is that she will become overly tired. I read somewhere on your blog that they have more trouble sleeping soundly during sleep training. I can understand this, but the longer she goes without getting good sleep, the harder it is for her to go to sleep later. I have some questions (hopefully, you haven't already addressed them elsewhere): 1. You mentioned that you put your daughter in a swing if she wouldn't fall asleep or would wake up early. Do you have any alternatives, is the swing doesn't effectively get them to sleep? 2. What do I do once my baby becomes way overtired? Let her CIO longer? At this point her sleep cues become much more difficult to read and I'm not sure what to do. 3. Is it considered "rescuing" her if I take her from her crib for her next feeding because she never really feel asleep? What do I do when it's time for her next feeding, but she's never gone to sleep? 4. What do I do if I miss her "sleep window" by just a bit (say I have her in the bath tub when she exhibits sleepiness and then by the time she's dressed it's too late)? Should I not put her down at all? Should I do more to put her to sleep? Hopefully, you might have some insights! Thanks!

  11. Lonica,1-my second daughter absolutely hated the swing. With her, I would rock her back to sleep if she woke early and wasn't hungry.2-I would try to get her to sleep. If she is too overly tired, she won't be able to fall asleep on her own.3-get her when it is time to eat. Then feed her and put her back to bed soon after since she will be vey tired.4-I would help her fall asleep.It is normal for babies to have a hard time staying asleep during sleep training. You might look into the baby whisperers 4 Ss to help wind things down before nap. Also, she was at a growth spurt age, so be careful to watch for those, also.

  12. My 9 week old is getting down for his naps well- )this morning's nap was after 40 minutes of wake-time…) and otherwise it's 50 or so minutes. But once I put him in there, he'll usually just lie in there awake for up to an hour! Do you have any ideas why? Also, can that much alone-but-awake time be good for him psychologically?

  13. Yes, well, I tried 70 for a couple days, but it was taking him forever to fall asleep so I went back to 50. But he's 12 weeks now, and I think we've figured out his optimal waketime…finally! It's 40 for the first nap, and 55-60 for the rest. PHEW, that took forever to figure out! He naps like a champ now. I also read in the Baby Whisperer book that it takes them at least 20 minutes to fall asleep, and if that cycle gets interrupted, it starts over. Have you found that to be the case? Since I read that, I stopped worrying about him being in his crib for a half hour before falling asleep. But do some kids just drop right off? I also read that starting at three to four months, naps become more regular- maybe he'll start nodding off sooner now? Thanks so much!

  14. Caitlin, glad you got things figured out! That optimal waketime can be annoying. I have read that in the Baby Whisperer book. I found that with my kids, with optimal waketime they did fall right asleep within five minutes. But I do trust that if the Baby Whisperer says so, some kids take that long (at least I trust it at this point). Four months old can be a crazy time, so sleep might get crazy for a few weeks there.

  15. I have a 14week old who wakes 30-45 minutes into her naps crying. I know she is not hungry because when I pick her up she falls back to sleep when I rock her. I've tried letting her CIO for 30 minutes and also tried putting her down 15 minutes earlier in her swing. By the time I get her back to sleep she will sleep another 30 minutes. Any suggestions on correcting this?

  16. Amber the first thing to figure out since you are confident it isn't hunger is what changed? If anything. Did something change prior to her stop napping well. Look even down to room temperature.If nothing changed, try adding five minutes of waketime length to see if that helps. If not, add another five. If not, add another five.


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