Reasons Your Baby Won't Nap, Plus 8 Tips To Help Them
“Sleep like a baby” is a nice phrase, but the reality is that little ones don’t always sleep well — especially when it comes to nap time! If your baby won’t nap, their day is thrown off and it can be oh-so-frustrating for you as a parent. We understand.
If you find yourself with a napless baby, you’re in the right place. In this article, we’ll go over a few potential reasons that your baby won’t nap and provide some tips to help them start sleeping.
There’s no time to waste! Let’s get straight to it.
Potential Reasons Your Baby Won’t Nap
1) The Environment Isn’t Right
Some babies fall asleep no matter where they are or what’s going on around them. However, lots of little ones won’t fall asleep if the conditions aren’t just right.
The sun streaming into the nursery window or loud noises from the neighbors don’t necessarily make for an ideal environment to doze off for a nap.
2) Your Baby Isn’t Tired
If your baby won’t nap when you put them down, they might not be tired yet. It could be as simple as that!
3) Your Baby Is Overtired
On the other hand, if your baby won’t settle down and sleep, it could be that they’re overtired. Yes, being too tired to sleep is a thing.
When your baby is tired, it’s time to sleep. Keeping your little one awake longer to make them more likely to fall asleep almost always backfires. When your baby is too tired, they can become more wired and less likely to fall asleep.
4) Your Baby Isn’t Comfortable
It’s hard for you to fall asleep if your basic needs aren’t met. The same goes for your baby. If your little one is hungry, hot, cold, or has a wet or dirty diaper, a nap will be hard to come by.
5) The Location Has Changed
This rule doesn’t apply to all little ones because some babies nap like a dream wherever they find themselves. But, for most babies, if their nap location changes, they’ll have a hard time dozing off.
For example, if your little one is used to sleeping in the car seat while cruising, they might have a hard time when you put them in their crib.
6) Sleep Regression
Sleep regressions typically happen around developmental milestones, when your baby’s body and mind are doing lots of growing and changing.
And what is a sleep regression exactly? If your baby was on a good sleep schedule and suddenly has problems falling asleep or staying asleep, you’re most likely dealing with a sleep regression.
If you think this might be the case, make sure to rule out other factors that can affect your baby’s sleep schedule such as sickness, travel to different time zones, or daylight savings time.
8 Tips To Help Your Baby Nap
1) Keep Them Comfortable
When you put your little one down, they should be comfortable. Make sure all of their basic needs are met. They need to have a clean diaper and no rumbly tummy!
You’ll also want to make sure they aren’t too hot or too cold. When it comes to room temperature, some recommend between 68 and 72 degrees Fahrenheit.
The Ohio chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics simply advises to “Set the room temperature in a range that is comfortable for a lightly clothed adult.” The ideal room temperature also depends on what your baby is wearing while they nap.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you “dress your baby in no more than one extra layer than you would wear.”
And, for safety reasons, you should never cover your baby with a blanket or top sheet if they are under one year old. Instead, wrap your little one in a swaddle (if they haven’t started rolling over) or put them in a sleep sack.
If your baby is still little enough for a swaddle, opt for Newton Baby’s Organic Swaddle Blankets. These comfy swaddles are made with 100% organic muslin cotton, which is completely breathe-through to help keep your baby at the perfect temperature and avoid overheating!
2) Keep The Crib Safe
Speaking of keeping your baby comfortable in bed, remember that what you consider “comfortable” (like soft blankets and cozy pillows) might not be safe for your baby.
The safest way for your baby to sleep is in a bare crib outfitted with only a fitted sheet. That means no pillows, crib bumpers, blankets, or toys in bed.
You’ll also want to put them on a firm crib mattress that fits correctly in the crib. For even more peace of mind and comfort for your little one, go with a Newton Baby Crib Mattress.
The Wovenaire® Core is made of 90% air and 10% food-grade polymer, making it 100% breathable! Your baby can breathe straight through the mattress if they roll over in the middle of the night. The breathability also means no more sweaty backs!
For more information on sleep safety, check out our article here.
3) Stick To A Naptime Routine
Just like a bedtime routine, a short naptime routine will clue your baby into the fact that it’s time to wind down. The key is to do the same things in the same order and to be consistent!
Your naptime routine doesn’t need to be as involved as your bedtime routine, but it can include relaxing activities such as dimming the lights, reading a book, singing a song, and the like.
4) Put Your Baby Down In Their Crib
Always putting your baby down for a nap in the same place — their crib — will help them fall asleep more easily. New places and changes are hard to get used to!
That being said, we realize that your life is busy and it’s not always realistic to nap at home!
In her article “Naps by Age: Your Guide for Nap Success from Newborns to Toddlers,” Carolynne J. Harvey says that once your baby is consistently napping at least 60 minutes and sleeping soundly at night, you can use a “Nap Pass.” What’s that?
She says, “The Nap Pass means that up to 3 times per week, your baby can take a nap on the go. (This applies to babies over 4 months of age — most newborns sleep so much and so deeply that many of their naps inevitably happen on the go.).”
5) Follow Your Baby’s Sleep Cues
We mentioned earlier that you don’t want to put your baby down to nap when they aren’t tired enough and neither should you wait until they’re overtired. So, how’s a parent to know when it’s the right moment?
Follow your baby’s sleep cues. This means keeping an eye out for signs that your baby is getting tired and putting them down for a nap when you start to see those sleep cues.
You’ll need to learn your baby’s specific sleep cues, but look for signs like moving more slowly, yawning, rubbing their eyes (which might be a bit red), or becoming less interested or focused.
6) Teach Your Baby To Self-Soothe
While it might seem like a good idea to rock your baby until they’re sound asleep and then ever-so-carefully place them in their crib, the reality is that this doesn’t help your baby in the long run.
Teaching your little one to self-soothe is an important part of helping them go to sleep and stay asleep.
Instead of rocking your baby until they doze off, put them in the crib when they are very drowsy but not quite out. They’ll learn to fall sound asleep in the crib by themselves.
7) Create A Schedule If Your Baby Won’t Nap
You’ll have more success getting your baby to nap if you put them down at the same time each day and they nap for the same length of time. This schedule, of course, should be kept within reason.
Parenting isn’t an exact science!
8) Know When To Cut A Nap
The older your baby gets, the fewer naps they will need.
When your baby is between four and nine months old, they should be taking three naps a day. Nine- to fourteen-month-old babies should nap twice a day. After fourteen months, they can move to one nap a day.
If your baby won’t nap, it may be that they are ready to move from three naps a day to two or two naps a day to one. You’ll need to keep this in mind to know if it’s time to cut out a nap.
Just remember that making this nap transition isn’t always clear-cut and might make for a bit of chaos! Have lots of grace and patience for your little one as well as yourself.
When your baby won’t nap, it can throw your entire day off.
If your little one refuses to nap, think through the six potential reasons that we listed at the beginning of this article. If you know why your baby isn’t napping, it may be easier to find a solution!
Then turn to our tips to help your baby nap. Remember to keep them comfortable yet safe in their crib with a Newton Baby Crib Mattress, stick to a routine and a schedule, and pay attention to your baby’s sleep cues.
Getting your baby to nap isn’t always easy, but with the right habits and a lot of patience, your little one will soon be napping happily!