Modern Parenting

What I Did When My 6 Month Old Refused to Nap

If I had a dollar for every second I spent reading about baby sleep advice online, I would without a doubt be Richie Rich. You see, somewhere around 6 months old, Harper decided she just didn’t need to nap. She was like, I totally got this you guys. I’m sitting up, I’m crawling, I’ve got so much going on! We went from four predictable, decent naps to what I can only refer to as my daily waking nightmare. Every day, every nap was a battle. And every night I felt completely beaten down and regretted how frustrated I was, knowing that my baby was probably even more frustrated.

What didn’t help was that random people would try to give me useless advice, like “maybe she doesn’t need to nap” or “she’s probably not tired.” And I’d be like: you know what, you are so right. My little 6 month old baby who is rubbing her eyes with dark circles is most definitely not sleepy whatsoever. I bet 6 month old babies don’t need to nap at all. Thank you, you should write a book.” It was a very angry time for me.

So what exactly was happening here? I would nurse Harper for her nap like I always did, but the second I went to put her down, she would wake up, start screaming her head off, and from there, I could never get her back to sleep. Not in the Ergo, not in the car, not even on me. She would go from dead asleep to wide awake in a matter of seconds. At bedtime she would go to sleep just fine. Naptime was a whole other story.

On the rare occasion that I could successfully put her down, she would nap for maybe 15-20 minutes and then she’d be up screaming. We tried everything. Pacifier. White noise. Blackout curtain. Modified cry-it-out.  When I say we tried everything, I seriously mean it. Eventually, after several weeks of nap misery and me more or less pulling my hair out, my mom and a momfriend both gave me the same advice. They said: she’s just a baby, if she needs you to hold her to nap, just hold her. And so I did. And it worked. She would nap and I suddenly felt like I didn’t hate myself. The refrain in my head suddenly switched from: I’m going to lose my mind to Looking forward to a snack after this. Of course, I lost that time to cook, clean, regain my sanity, etc. But what I gained was a happy, well-rested baby.

What I Did When My 6 Month Old Refused to Nap

Okay, so here’s the catch. There is always a catch. 6 months later, I was still letting her sleep on me for both of her naps. My fear of putting her down had grown so strong, I would pretty much do anything to get her to nap. Anyone who knows me will tell you, I will do whatever it takes to make sure my baby does not get woken up.

So what did I do? I am not a professional and I have no data or research to back me up here, but slowly I just started setting her down for one nap a day. At first it was hit or miss, but now it’s been a few weeks and it seems to be working for both naps. My goal is for Harper to have a positive sleep association with naptime. Every day is different. Some days she sleeps between errands in the car; other days she naps in the Ergo. But mostly I am working on getting her to take both naps in her crib. Now I understand that sitting in a dark room with a noise machine for however long it takes for your baby to nap on you is only practical if you have one baby at home, but that was the case for me. 

Bottom Line: I don’t regret that time I spent holding her for her naps. On days I could make it work in the Ergo, I did that. Some days, she just wasn’t having it. I don’t regret the gas I’ve wasted leaving the car running while she sleeps. Our babies are only babies for so long. I do however regret those weeks I spent being miserable thinking I had to put her down for her nap otherwise how would she ever learn to nap alone? I ultimately had to let go of that idea and realize that this whole nap thing wasn’t so cut and dry.

If this post can help even one other first time mom out there who is struggling with the nap situation, then sharing my story was worth it.

What kind of nap problems have you faced with your kids? Would you do whatever it takes to make sure your baby sleeps? Have a similar story to share? 

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  • Reply
    November 21, 2017 at 12:47 AM

    Thank you I have been doing this for two weeks. Because my daughter is having a hard time napping. Thank you I no longer feel bad about holding her

    • Reply
      November 21, 2017 at 6:27 AM

      Thank you for commenting and sharing with me! I think often the hardest part is feeling like we are alone or “doing it wrong” so it’s always amazing to hear from other moms who have gone through the same thing!

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