Needless to say, while not allowing myself to complain, I spent a lot of time agonizing over how to get him to nap. He would get so overtired during the day due to his poor napping and I hated seeing him so exhausted!
At 3 months when I was first back at work (I work full-time from home and my son has a caregiver during my work hours), we would try any method to get him to nap. He would nap in the stroller...until the stroller stopped. He would fall asleep feeding and I could sometimes sneak him into the swing where he would surprise me by sleeping either 20 minutes or 2.5 hours! We tried napping in his crib (he slept so well in his crib every night!) but he just cried and I felt he was too young for cry it out...
I read The No Cry Sleep Solution, Baby Wise, The Happiest Baby on the Block, and the sleep section in Dr. Sears' The Baby Book. While all these resources offer a unique perspective with similar tips, none told me how to get my baby to nap. I tried eat, play, sleep... I tried play, eat, sleep...
I learned my son does not nap well when he is put down right after breastfeeding, but I know moms who swear by feeding right before each nap!
The resources I actually used the most were:
- Baby Center - Check out their scheduling tips and sample schedules
- My Baby Sleep Guide - A treasure trove of information
I found this chart when Henry was around 4 months old and it was very helpful to me! If he went down for his nap without exceeding the recommended wake times, he napped much better!
How long should baby be awake?
Birth - 6 weeks
12-18 months (2 naps)
12- 18 months (1 nap)
18-24 months (1 nap)
So once we determined when he should be going down for his nap, it came time to put him in his crib again. He was just over 4 months at this time and I really wanted him to nap in his crib because he slept so well in his crib all night. My son is a thumb sucker, but you can't make a baby suck his thumb on demand! So I sleep trained using a pacifier. We would put him down in his crib at nap time and every time he cried we would go back in, soothe him (without picking him up), and give him back his pacifier. He would sometimes drop the pacifier and find his thumb and other times would fall asleep with the pacifier. It would take him 10-15 minutes to go to sleep at the beginning, but he got quicker at it and less than a week later he would just go to sleep after being put in his crib.
The first day he took a nap in his crib, I excitedly snapped a picture of the baby monitor and sent my husband a picture of our sleeping son!