Baby Won't Nap in the Crib

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5 month old won't nap in his crib..any tips?

March 2010

My 5 month old is a great night sleeper, sleeping 11 hours straight in his crib without any crying at all but naps are a totally different story. We try to lay him down 3 times a day for naps when he is first showing signs of being tired but to no avail he cries for a whole hour before we go in and pick him up. We have been doing this for about 2 weeks now with no improvement and he always ends up either falling asleep in our arms or in the stroller when we go for a walk. Why might he be so opposed to day time sleeping in his crib but not nighttime? Any suggestions greatly appreciated. Dana

I am an infant and toddler sleep coach and I have LOTS of clients whose babies are doing the same thing. I suspect that the timing of the naps is off so the hour you leave him doesn't yield result because his body chemistry isn't aligned with the effort. Sometimes there's just a thing or two that is off in the equation and once corrected wonderful naps evolve naturally!

You don't have to let him scream in order to get him to nap in his crib! It sounds like it's not working for you anyway, and you end up rocking or strolling him to sleep, so why not just skip to what works? My five month old now has a nap routine that's similar to her bedtime routine (soothing music, nursing, swaddling, semi-dark room), and I rock or bounce her to sleep for every nap, then lay her down in her crib.

This may sound high-maintenance, but in the month or so since we started doing it, it's gone from being an hour-long process (at least sometimes) to about 10 minutes, max... the end result being that she's getting more good naptime, and we're both much less stressed out by the whole process. - Not Crying It Out

Getting 5 mo old to nap in her crib

Aug 2009

My 5 month old is improving night sleep (puts herself to sleep, weaning from 3 nursings per night) but we can not get her to nap in her crib (which is in our bedroom) during the day! She cries as soon as she is put down. She easily falls asleep if we walk her, but wakes up if she is put down. I have read multiple books (no cry sleep solution, Healthy sleep habits, happy child, Sleepeasy solution). Right now we are doing the cry it out as recommended by Sleepeasy solution--we are on day 3 without any improvment. I haven't let her cry more than a little over an hour. I know from getting our baby to take the bottle that she can cry many, many hours. It is one thing when there is no choice but the bottle for her and I am at work. But, when there is the option of stopping the crying by having her nap in her stroller or baby carrier while we walk her it is hard to not cave in.

How long can I let her cry when trying to get her to nap? I currently spend 3-4 hours per day walking her to get her to sleep--something I will not be able to do when back at work full time. Please no responses about how crying it out is cruel--we have really tried everything else. anon

Hi, I can totally empathize with your situation. My son was EXACTLY the same, and i'm almost ashamed to admit that I still have to rock/hold him for him to take a nap - and he's almost 2 yrs old!

Like you, I tried absolutely everything (including letting him cry for over an hour for 5 consecutive days with no success), read all the books you mentioned, and even paid 2 different ''sleeep consultants''. Finally, after I was literally on the verge of suicide because of his failure to sleep (and resulting monster-like behavior from being chronically overtired), I put him in a daycare that we could hardly afford. There he finally learned to follow the pack and nap on his own.

Sadly, he still doesn't do this at home, as i mentioned in my intro paragraph. On weekends/holidays, i put him in his crib, he cries for 15-20 minutes, then i go back in and he falls asleep quickly in my arms. Nothing else works for us.

If daycare is not an option for you, hopefully some of the other wonderful parents on BPN will have some better advice that both of us can follow! I basically just wanted to let you know that you're not alone and I wish you the best of luck. And if you need to commiserate, feel free to email me at eldee121 at another tired mama

We did CIO, and eventually it worked. You just have to give it a little time to start working. As long as you know for sure your baby isn't sick, or has thrown up (which you'd be able to hear) or has a poop (stick your head in the room and you should be able to smell it - no reason to pick up the baby and start checking her diaper) or uncomfortable in any way (too much light in the room, room too cold, etc.), there is no harm in CIO, in my opinion. They say that one hour crying is normal.

Our daughter was used to napping in her swing, but at the age of 5 or 6 month we had to wean her off it, because it stopped working. We went through a LOT of screaming, which was very hard on us, but now I feel very good about what we have done, because she learned how to nap independently. She is 15 months old now, and occasionally she'd refuse to nap, too, but we don't cave in, and that's the trick to it.

Also, maybe your daughter is transitioning from three naps to two naps, and it makes it harder for her to fall asleep. Olga

4-month-old can't fall asleep in crib

Oct 2008

So our four month old is sleeping in bed with us and waking a lot to nurse. We've been trying to get her into the crib which is like a sidecar right next to the bed but just no dice. She'll sleep for a while but wakes. She likes the crib- plays and coos, but won't sleep. Then when she lies on our bed she conks out. I worry about blankets etc. but I'm wondering if the crib is so totally un-cozy. Any other thoughts? Am opposed to sleep training. deb

If you are willing to put your child in a crib, why don't you just move it to another room? You will both get better sleep. Otherwise, co-sleep... -anon

5-month-old sleeps in his crib at night but won't nap there

Oct 2007

First let me say that our 5-month-old son doesn't have a problem sleeping in his crib at night. And, he takes naps in our arms, in his stroller, in his carseat...just about anywhere except his crib. In fact, whenever we try to place him in his crib after he has been asleep for a few minutes, he immediately wakes and the crying begins. We have tried the Ferber method, but give up after 30 to 45 minutes. It's not practical to let him sleep in our arms every time, even though WE like it. And, we can't take him for a ride all the time, either. Any suggestions? Mike

We had a similar problem and had an extensive phone conversation with Dr. Weissbluth who wrote that Happy Baby, Healthy Sleep habits book. What he said was twice a day at 9AM and at 1PM put the baby in the crib in the bedroom for one hour. If he screams the whole time, fine. Get him after an hour (and not a minute earlier). If he sleeps for half an hour or less, let him scream it out til the hour is up. If he sleeps for half an hour or more, get him if he wakes before the hour is up b/c it is unlikely that he is going to go back to sleep. If he knows that twice a day he is going into his crib (with the same wind down procedure), he will eventually get it. Feel free to email if that didn't make sense. jen

Naps can be hard. Both of my daughters did this -- the older one until 9-months and the younger until 7-months. Just keep trying. Eventually it will work. I found curling up with my little ones for the afternoon nap to be helpful. I wouldn't take a full nap, but would leave them on my bed (I stayed in the room and folded laundry, worked on my lap top, etc as both were avid rollers when they woke up. jan

Everybody has different ways to deal with this, and you'll find what works best for you. I know it seems unending, but this is temporary (though potentially long-term, since your child will nap until he's somewhere between 1-5 yrs old). I had a child who would be wide awake if she wasn't moving (car or stroller) or physically attached to me or her father. I used to get insanely jealous of people who could literally set their babies down and they'd be calm and fall asleep. Ferber methods didn't work for me. Watching those other parents seemed like watching a magic trick. Some of the differences are differences in the kid, and some are difference in you and your parenting style. What worked for me, ultimately, was a combination of just accepting what worked and giving up when it didn't work (and putting her down earlier at night!). I would run errands with her in the car, and plan to finish at about the time she'd likely nap (we had the advantage of a garage, which I equipped w/ a monitor, and I left the windows unrolled and listened very carefully and obsessed about whether she was too hot or too cold). Or I would get my exercise (walk w/ stroller, run w/ jog stroller), and wheel her into the house after she fell asleep. Or I would lie down with her and let her fall asleep w/ me and some pillows, then very very carefully scooch away when she fell asleep, with the pillows substituting for me, then I could get some work done while she slept. The other magic trick I observed was watching kids who fell asleep in the car, then the parents transferred them to a crib and they stayed asleep. Never in five years did that happen to me, no matter how many times or different ways I tried it. She is still a very light sleeper. (as am I. I eventually fired the nanny who insisted on ''training'' her to a crib at naptime, partly because I couldn't stand to hear her scream for 2 hrs.) Oh, and I also had a brilliant night sleeper. Lousy naps and good nighttime sleep may go together. Do what you can, and accept the rest, and don't let anybody tell you that you're doing it wrong. What works for your family is right.

3-month-old naps everywhere but crib

Nov 2003

My wonderful 3 month old son has a problem napping in his crib. At night he sleeps very well in a cradle beside our bed. During the day he loves to sleep a lot, but can't seem to stay asleep in the crib. He can sleep in the carseat (his favorite), the stroller, someone's arms, in the middle of a loud restaurant (all of these are exceptions to the rule- generally we are at home for his longest daytime nap), but he can't take a nap of more than 20 minutes in the crib. If he is groggy when I put him down he will generally wake up and need to be soothed several times. If he manages to fall asleep in there he will be awake no more than 20 minutes later and will not go back to sleep. The room is somewhat dark, although not completely. Something about the crib environment seems to both make him sleep lightly and get very excited and animated when he wakes, so that he gets very hyper instead of going back to sleep. I have been trying to teach him to sleep in the crib, but he just gets grumpier and grumpier throughout the day as he gets more and more tired without a good nap. Finally in the last couple weeks I have relented and let him nap in his carseat (which I put in the crib, just to try and give him the idea), where he sleeps for 2-3 hours for his longest nap with no fussing at all. The problem with this is that 1. his head is getting flat in the back and 2. he will outgrow the seat soon, and then what will I do? Do I need to be doing a naptime routine at this age? Usually after he has been awake for 1-2 hours he starts looking tired and I just put him down, give him his pacifier and rub his forehead until he closes his eyes. He is still sleeping so much that I pretty much do it on as as needed basis rather than scheduling it (I used the Baby Whisperer quite a bit). I think I am reading his signs right, but something about his crib does not equal sleep to my little guy. I have thought of making the room darker or adding white noise, but he sleeps great in his room in his carseat-so I think that it is not necessarily the conditions of the room. I took the mobile down and put it back up with no discernable effect. I am now at a loss and soon he will be super flat headed and too big for his carseat. Any advice would be much appreciated. Rebecca

Your baby sounds like he wants to be cradled and held close while he's sleeping. The car seat, stroller and sleeping cradle are all just about his size, right? I think babies feel more secure when they are closely surrounded by something. The way swaddling makes them feel, held and secure, like they were in the womb. Maybe the crib is just too big! You might reconsider him sleeping in his crib until he is older, when he ''fits'' in it. If the cradle works why not keep using that? Or the carseat. When he gets to big for those and still doesn't like the crib, maybe make it smaller somehow, by adding big fat bumper. Remember where he came from only 3 months ago. It may seem like a long time for you, but in the scheme of a whole lifetime it's really a VERY short time to be out on his own. As far as his head getting flat, aren't the cradle and carseat padded? Good Luck. anon

Based on the environments you mention where your son WILL sleep, it sounds like the environment of the crib might be too wide-open, and that he does better in more enclosed, cozy environments (cradle, carseat...). This is often the case with very young babies, and may be something he'll outgrow. In the meantime, is there something you can put in the crib to make him feel more enclosed? Not something dangerous, like soft pillows or blankets, but maybe a sleep positioner, or one of those ''snuggle nest'' things that people use for cosleeping? Karen

I think 3 months old is still pretty young to expect any sort of ''routine'' from your baby. If he sleeps best in his carseat, my advice is let him! His head won't get any more flat from the car seat than from the crib because in either place he should be sleeping on his back anyway. As long as he gets plenty of ''tummy time'' while he's awake, that will take care of itself. My son is 6 months old now and we're only just now figuring out his ''schedule'' which I'm sure will change again. He doesn't sleep in his crib yet either, but I'm sure glad I bought one, otherwise where would I store all his ''stuff''? ;-) tiffany

I highly recommend the book The No Cry Sleep Solution. It has lots of ideas for getting your baby to nap in the crib. Michelle

My son was similar, although he didn't like sleeping much at all -- still doesn't, 2 years later! But I'd like to assure you that carseat sleeping, which made me absolutely hysterical, is on the top of my ''things not to worry about next time'' list.

It sounds to me like your little one wants a smaller, more snuggly sleeping space (arms, carseat, cradle). The crib is wide-open pastures to a little person. Can't the baby sleep in the cradle, bassinet or carseat? I know there are health issues (head flattening) with the carseat, but our pediatrician told us to just roll up a towel and place it beside our son's head in the carseat, alternating sides now and then, so he was forced to change head positions

Another thing is that once your baby learns to roll over and gets more mobile, he will want more space and will hate being restrained in the carseat. Our son slept in his seat till he was nearly six months. I was just starting to wonder how to build a toddler-sized carseat when, lo and behold, he started getting fussy in the carseat and switched to the crib without any drama at all. We also put the carseat into the crib -- I don't know if it helped but at least he gets used to the space, right? Good luck! Catherine

I sympathize - NEITHER of my sons would nap in their cribs until they were about 5-6 months old, which was when I found they fell into a more predictable nap pattern as well. I pretty much let them nap wherever they would, and kept randomly trying the crib. Eventually it worked. I very often would let them nap on our bed, and just put pillows around them - they slept really well and would then always sleep fine in their crib at night. It's OK to give them a little latitude I think in the first few months. Good luck! Susan

Hi! I had the exact same problem when my daughter was around 3 months old (she's 4.5 months now). She hated her crib and would cry nonstop when put in it. She slept great in the bassinet beside our bed, though. To solve the problem, I first put the detachable bassinet inside the crib (much like you're doing with the carseat). After about 2 weeks of that, I tried the crib again.

This time, she was much more accepting, but tended to flip around a lot. Once I found her on her stomach, still swaddled!! I eventually tried using a sleep positioner in the crib, and that works great. I think it makes her feel more secure (like in the smaller bassinet), and I don't worry about her flipping over and smothering. Hope this helps! anon