Sleeping FAQ: 4-6 months – Lunchtime Nap

Joe is 17 weeks and I can’t make the lunchtime nap work

Joe was 9lb 4oz at birth and at 17 weeks weighs 18lb 4oz. He is formula fed. We have been following the routine with success from 4 weeks, but from 8 weeks the lunchtime nap has gone wrong (as you said it might in the CLB book). Joe will sleep for 40-45minutes and refuses to settle himself. I have tried leaving him for increasing periods of time but he continues to cry until 2pm. He is not hungry, goes down awake and initially settles within 5minutes. There is blackout lining at his window and he sleeps in a sleeping bag. He sleeps well from 7pm, we wake him for a quick feed at 10pm, then he re-settles and used to sleep well until 7am but now wakes at 5-5.30. He is not hungry at this time but again is impossible to settle, although will sometimes go back to sleep with the dummy. Am I confusing him by giving the dummy at 5.30-6am and not at lunchtime? I don’t want him to be dependant on the dummy though. He can’t cope with being awake any earlier than 7am and is beginning to show less and less interest in his 7am feed, but we are reluctant to drop the 10pm feed due to the early morning waking. His morning nap is only ever 30-35 minutes and I just get him up when he wakes – does this confuse him also? He still has an afternoon nap, and is grumpy most afternoons, largely because of a poor lunchtime sleep. We have introduced solids as the CLB of Weaning suggests, but with no change. We all need the lunchtime sleep back to save our sanity!!

Until Joe is taking more solid food, it is very important that he has a good feed at 10pm. He is quite a big baby and needs to have 6ozs at this time. Once he is taking more solid food at 6pm you can begin to make it slightly smaller. I am sure tiredness at 7am is more likely to be the reason for his reluctance to feed. Make sure that he is really wide awake for the 10pm feed. If he has gone to bed at 7pm and fallen directly into a very deep sleep, this may be the reason for his early morning waking. He just has had enough sleep. By making sure he is well awake at 10pm, and remains so for at least three quarters of an hour should help him sleep longer in the mornings.

Tuck him in securely over his sleeping bag with a lightweight blanket or sheet. When you are aware he is beginning to stir, leave him a good 10-15 mins before going into him so he begins to learn to settle alone. If a dummy helps him to settle at this time, try using it for another week or so but I understand your reluctance to let him become dependant on it. Once he has begun to sleep to nearer 7am, you can begin to wean him off it.

If Joe manages to sleep to nearer 7am, put him down again at 9.15am and give him only 30 mins. Wake him from this nap by 9.45am so he is really tired at 12pm. Make sure he is not thirsty at 12pm before going down by offering him a drink of boiled water. Let him have 10-15mins quiet time with you in his room so he is really relaxed and ready for sleep when he goes down.

Another idea which a lot of mothers find does work is to take the baby for a walk at this time. Some babies fall asleep more quickly in their prams and remain so even when it is stationary. So you may be able to go for a short walk and then return home and let him finish his nap in a quiet corner of the house. If this works and is practical for every day, use this method but still keep trying every few days to put him to sleep in his room so he does not become dependant on the pram.

Let Joe have a 15min catnap before 5pm to get him through to bedtime until this problem is resolved. Give him plenty of time on the floor during the day and encourage him to roll over. Once he is sitting and becoming more mobile, he will use more energy during the day which should help the overall problem.

Don’t forget to read the lunchtime nap article on the site and it really is worth persisting with it, so don’t lose heart.