If your 6 month old refuses to nap, you are definitely not alone. The 6 month mental leap is one of the most monumental in a baby’s development and it can really mess with naptime. Here’s what you need to know about the 6 month sleep regression.
If I had a dollar for every second I spent reading about baby sleep advice online, I would without a doubt be a billionaire.
You see, somewhere around 6 months old, my daughter 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! Sleep? What’s that? I couldn’t help but constantly worry to myself: “My baby doesn’t sleep enough.”
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 my mind would just swarm with angry thoughts like: “you know what, you are so right. My little 6 month old baby who is rubbing her eyes 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.
Why does my 6 month old refuse to nap?
And why do 6 month old’s have such a hard time with naps?
Babies go through a huge mental leap in their development at 6 months old. This is when most developmentally healthy babies will start to sit up unassisted, crawl for the first time, while also starting solids!
Naturally, this makes it very hard for them to sleep. On days when your 6 month old refuses to nap, you may notice them on all fours in their crib, rocking back and forth. This means they are working on their crawling!
If your baby is really adventurous, they may even try pulling themselves up on their crib. Other babies may spend their whole nap trying to roll over.
It’s important to remember that all babies are different. If your 6 month old is fighting naps suddenly, you are not alone.
Back in the dark days, when I was a #rookiemom…
I would nurse my baby 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 Ergobaby.
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 (very short naps) and then she’d be up screaming.
I tried everything.
- White noise
- Blackout curtain
- Modified cry-it-out
When I say I tried everything, I seriously mean it.
What I Did When My 6 Month Old Refused to Nap
Eventually, after several weeks of misery and me more or less pulling my hair out, my mom gave me some advice. She said to me: She’s just a baby, if she needs you to hold her to nap, just hold her.
Good advice, right? Granted, this was NOT the advice I wanted to hear.
Naptime was my time to do All.The.Things: Shower, cook, clean, sit, breathe, etc. I did not want to be *stuck* holding my baby while she napped.
I found myself Googling: “how do i get my 6 month old to nap without being held?” and every piece of advice I read was something I had already tried.
But I was desperate. So I did it. And it worked.
She would nap and I suddenly felt like I didn’t hate myself anymore. The refrain in my head suddenly switched from: I’m going to lose my mind to: I think we’re going to make it.
Of course, I lost that time to myself, but what I gained was a happy, well-rested baby. At the time, I wish I would have realized that time with your first baby is so precious. Babies are babies, and they like to be held.
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. Yes, my one year old was still napping on me.
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 would do whatever it takes to make sure my baby does not get woken up. Looking at you, UPS guy.
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 after a few weeks it got easier.
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 child at home, but at the time, that was the case for me.
You should know, with my second baby, I never had a problem with her naps. She pretty much always napped on-the-go, because I was mostly out and about with my toddler; and she happily slept in the baby wearer. I almost never gave naptime a second thought.
Bottom Line: I don’t regret that time I spent holding her for naps. On days I could make it work in the Ergo, I did that. Some days, she just wasn’t having it.
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 6 month old nap regression, then sharing my story was worth it.
What kind of nap problems have you faced with your 6 month old? Would you do whatever it takes to make sure your baby sleeps? Have a similar story to share?
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