Rock-a-bye Baby: Naptime!

It seems like everyone I talk to is frustrated with their children's naps- or lack there of. When I tell people that my 5-year-old takes a 2 hour nap, at the same time that my 3-year-old takes a 2 hour nap and now my 8-week-old takes a 1.5 hour nap at the same time as well- they seem to comment how "lucky" I am. Yes, I am blessed with good sleepers (I prayed a lot for good sleepers!) however, I have worked REALLY hard to get them to abide by this schedule and with a little effort you can have napping angels as well! I read the article at the bottom of this post and have seen enough studies to know that kids need naps- and to be honest, moms need kids to nap too! I don't know what I would do without my "break"- I can sleep, do bible study, read, prepare dinner, laundry- you name it- it happens between 2pm and 4pm. There are several nap phases with children, I believe. Here is my synopsis:
Phase 1: (0-13 weeks) I generally (very loosely) follow Baby Wise and with that plan they eat then are awake for 1.5 hours, asleep for 1.5 hours; therefore there are several naps throughout the day and usually they are happy to be napping! 
Phase 2: (13 weeks-1 year)  The move to a 4 hour schedule- so they are awake for 2 hours then asleep for 2 hours. This is where I start to manipulate their schedule according to what works for the family. I want my kids wake up time to be 8am, so I put them to bed at 8pm and then allow them to sleep until 8am when I feed them and start the 4 hour schedule: (NOTE: baby #3 might just have this schedule in the car between errands, I am prepared to be flexible!)
8am: wake
10am -12pm: nap #1
2pm-4pm: nap #2
8pm: bed
I always love that Baby Wise says: nap time starts when the parent says it starts and ends when the parent says it ends. There is a time during each sleep period when the baby is active, maybe even crying- if you pick them up at the first movement it will train them that they are in charge of waking and sleeping. I think this plays a huge role in the future of napping! Make sure to give them time to fall back asleep- my girls usually fall back asleep if given the chance. 
Phase 3: (1-2ish years- or as long as they are in a crib) Maintenance- I believe this phase is all about "training" the child to nap when the parent says it is time to nap- which is the time when their little bodies are ready for a nap. When you have a schedule, you have the confidence to know when they need that. Baby Wise points out that if your child wakes unhappy or crying, they have probably not received enough sleep and most of the time, they will fall back asleep if given the chance (i.e. leave them in there until you think they are ready- even if they cry a little bit or delay response) At some point in this phase, usually around 18 months, they drop the morning nap and are down to 1 nap a day= FREEDOM! You will love the one long nap a day, you can accomplish so much more outside the house! My girls were both sleepy in the mornings so it took a few weeks of keeping them up and pushing back the nap before they made in to 2pm (which is the time I chose for nap- you decide what time works for you).
Phase 4: (2ish-5 years) When they move into a "big kid bed" that is when the fun begins! Usually, if you have followed the above, they will stay in the bed whether it is a crib or not, until you say it is time to wake. However, when given the first taste of freedom it gets a touch challenging. This is where you have a choice- you can let them come out of the room and decide when nap time ends or you can train them to be obedient and stay in bed until their nap is complete. I will say, Ellie is one of the few kids who still naps in her pre-school class and she has been talking a lot about "skipping a nap" because she chats about it with her buddies at school. They all tell her they don't nap and she thinks that is a great idea- which means I need to "reinforce" the importance of nap time at our home (because she still needs one- some kids do not require it at 4/5, every child is different). Here is what works for me; I give the child a generous amount of time to fall asleep- if I hear them on the monitor or check on them and they are not sleeping- there is a consequence. In my opinion, you can go a number of ways here- the key is consistency and (sadly) it has to "hurt", meaning if your child sleeps with 8 items (as mine do) and you take away the baby at the end of the bed that they don't really care about- you will probably be unsuccessful- take the prize item the first time- for example the blankie- yes they will throw a fit, but I bet the next time all you will have to say is- "if you do not sleep, I will take X and you will not be getting it back until you can obey mommy and take a nap." At bedtime that night, you will have to remind them why they are not sleeping with that item and that when they obey mommy or daddy you are excited to give it back. What I really care about with my 5-year-old is that she is resting in her room from 2-3 and not waking her sister- who shares a room. I do not necessarly require sleep anymore, but most of the time she falls asleep because she is required to be in her bed, quietly resting. My 3-year-old needs to sleep, so I make sure she is sleeping at nap time or she will get a consequence. I have had to give further consequence when this becomes an obedience issue vs a sleep issue.

All of that being said, of course there are days when we skip naps or take naps at a different time to fit in our schedule. I believe you can start at any phase- it takes a full week or two to establish a new routine and the key is sticking to it. If you are firm and consistent at the start and the nap is "parent directed" not "child directed" you will have napping children! These are just my opinions, I am not a doctor or expert at all- we have issues just like everyone else! I realize I have only been doing this for 5 years and I have SO much to learn. This is simply what had worked for my family. Sleep is extremely important around here, so I have worked hard to maintain this wonderful daily routine! If it is not important to you- do whatever works for your home. That is the beauty of our "job" as parents- we get to decide what is important to us and how we want to enforce those important things in our home. God called YOU to raise your family, no one else has been called to parent your children, so do whatever you feel is best for your family! Hope this was helpful for those of you frustrated by naps- please feel free to email me or comment below if you have any questions about what I said above.

BabyCenter News

Missed naps could put children at risk for mood disorders

HealthDayThu, Jan 5, 2012 (HealthDay News) — Children who miss daytime naps may be at increased risk for mood disorders later in life, a new study indicates.
Researchers looked at children aged 30 months to 36 months and found that depriving them of a single daily nap resulted in more anxiety, lower levels of joy and interest, and reduced problem-solving abilities.
"Many young children today are not getting enough sleep, and for toddlers, daytime naps are one way of making sure their 'sleep tanks' are set to full each day," study leader Monique LeBourgeois, an assistant professor in the integrative physiology department at the University of Colorado, Boulder, said in a university news release.
"This study shows insufficient sleep in the form of missing a nap taxes the way toddlers express different feelings, and, over time, may shape their developing emotional brains and put them at risk for lifelong, mood-related problems," she explained.
The researchers videotaped the emotional expressions of toddlers while they worked on solvable and unsolvable picture puzzles on two different days. One day, the test was conducted an hour after the toddlers had their normal 90-minute daytime nap. On another day, the toddlers were deprived of their naps and tested an hour after their normal nap time.
When they were nap-deprived, the toddlers had a 34 percent decrease in positive emotional responses after completing the solvable puzzles, a 31 percent increase in negative emotional responses when they were unable to complete the unsolvable puzzles, and a 39 percent decrease in the expression of confusion when they tried to complete the unsolvable puzzles.
"Confusion is not bad -- it's a complex emotion showing a child knows something does not add up," LeBourgeois noted. "When well-slept toddlers experience confusion, they are more likely to elicit help from others, which is a positive, adaptive response indicating they are cognitively engaged with their world."
Overall, according to the release, the study shows that missing a daytime nap may make it more difficult for toddlers to take full advantage of exciting and interesting experiences and to adapt to new frustrations.
"Just like good nutrition, adequate sleep is a basic need that gives children the best chance of getting what is most important from the people and things they experience each day," LeBourgeois said.
The study appears online and in an upcoming print issue of the Journal of Sleep Research.

-- Robert Preidt

Copyright © 2012 HealthDay. All rights reserved.



***I have received a lot of traffic on this post recently- thanks for stopping by- please check out my blog and feel free to follow on Facebook or Twitter! I had to remove comments from this post- which just stinks- just when I start getting comments :) I just need to say to those of you who wish to comment negatively- I am not interested in hearing you tell me that this makes you sad and I do not want this to be a place of arguments or division- I have three of the happiest babies I know, I adore my children and I believe that teaching them self-control and allowing them to actually sleep is being the mother God called me to be. If this isn't for you, then please do not read it- I am sure you have a wonderful plan for raising your children and they are wonderful babies. I am simply sharing what worked for my three babies and what worked for ME- because when the mother is relaxed and thriving- so are the kids! God Bless you as you find what works for YOUR family! You know what would be so much more fun than arguing- what if moms join together and support each other and pray for one another and accept each other for the individuals God made us to be! 
Just in case you need to know- here are pics of my three babies at 6 months old- pretty sure none of them were starving by not feeding on demand (see rolls below!)- I nursed the first two for a year exclusive of any formula and the third is on month 9 with no formula- no starving children here!


  1. great post -- thanks for all the advice!

  2. What are some of your other consequences for refusing to take a nap (or stay in his room in my case)? This is a new behavior since starting preschool (my son is almost 3). I know how important sleep is, but I am having a hard time enforcing it.

  3. My 7 week old will not fall asleep if I just lay her in her crib for nap. She cries and cries. What do you suggest on how to get your infant to sleep without rocking them to sleep? How long do you let them cry etc.

    1. hi! I think you take 1 nap at a time- and just lay them down- have in mind ahead of time how long you are comfortable leaving her to fall asleep- you can start at 10 minutes and push it back a bit at each nap- but every nap, practice just laying her down, and walking out WHEN it is nap time- when you have them on a schedule- you will have confidence to know when they need sleep- so you are meeting their needs by letting them work themselves to sleep.Make sure she is really full at feedings and not too stimulated right before nap- just chill time before naps- I find if we have too much stimulation before naps, they wont settle into sleep. That being said- make sure they are getting energy out right after eating- tunny time, "exercises", etc..
      Hope that helps a but- one nap at a time!

  4. Hi there! I have found your posts really helpful. I started my 8 week old daughter on a 3 hour schedule right from the hospital and she has been doing wonderfully. Now sleeping 6-8 hours a night consistently. My problem is that just this past week she has been so much more alert that she will be happy happy happy and then just meltdown after just an hour of being awake. I have found that she needs a lot of help getting to sleep these days when before I would just put her down, she would suck her thumb and be out. I wonder if she is taking in too much stimulation now that she is noticing the world around her more. I have been trying to catch her before the meltdown and soothe her to sleep but I don't want to form a habit that she needs me to fall asleep. Any suggestions would be really appreciated! Thanks again for yours posts, Im sorry you have been getting negative replies, I for one am really thankful you have put your experiences out there!
    Bless you!

  5. Hi! I've got an almost 5 month old who only naps for 30 minutes at a time. I don't even know where to start. I put him down awake and he goes to sleep on his own. But he wakes up soon after. In a great mood too, I might add. But then he's ready for another nap an hour later. I am going to try your schedule of taking him by 8 then putting him down at 10 and so on. Any other advice? He is breast feed.

    1. I have the same issue with my 4 month old. Did the schedule work for you? Are they napping better now?

  6. Hi Jenica, Thank you for your napping advice! I would LOVE for my 5 month old son to go to bed at 8pm and wake up at 8am. Did your kiddos ever want to wake up at 6 or 7am? If I put him down at 8pm, he often seems to think morning is somewhere between 6-7am and won't stop crying until I get him up. Do you have any suggestions or tips on how to get him to consistently have 8am be his wake-up time? Thank you in advance for your help!!

  7. My baby is 7 weeks old and I've just began putting her down for the 1.5 hour nap time in the 3 hour cycle. She falls asleep for about 10 mins and wakes crying. I feel so bad letting her cry, but am afraid she wont soothe herself to sleep and then the 1.5 hour nap time is down the drain leaving her tired for her wake time. Any suggestions?

  8. I am so so happy I found your blog. I am in this same exact situation right now, my oldest is 5, middle child 3, and new baby is 3 weeks. I have followed your same way of parenting with the sleep and feeding schedules with all of my kids. Now that the 3rd is here and I am smack in the middle of the sleep deprivation it was so encouraging to find your blog! I especially love your post about the newborn sleep schedule. I needed that refresher to remind myself this too shall pass! And we can get there with a good plan! Thanking God for this today :)


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