Sleeping FAQ: 8-12 weeks – Lunchtime Nap

My 10 week son has problems resettling at lunchtime

My 10 week old son has been on the routine for about a month now, but it seems like the moment I get one problem solved, another pops up. Originally I was having problems with the lunchtime nap as well as early morning waking. So I started keeping him awake for 1 hour at the 10pm feed. Since doing this he stirs slightly at 4am, but goes back to sleep and again at 5:50 but goes back to sleep until I wake him at 7.

The problem that we still have is his lunchtime nap at 12. At every sleep he cries when I put him down for about 1- 10 minutes but eventually settles himself and goes to sleep. The problem is that he wakes at 1pm, I’m sure it’s due to his sleep cycles. Occasionally he will cry for 10 minutes then settle back to sleep, but if he has slept well through the night, he refuses to go back to sleep.

I am trying to practice controlled crying, going in after 10 minutes, then 15, etc. However the main problem is that he begins to cry uncontrollably, working up a sweat and waking himself up completely. If he does fall asleep again, it’s usually for about 1 to 10 minutes, when he wakes up again and starts the whole cycle over. Also because his crying is so wearing he begins to gasp which usually wakes him up if he does manage to settle himself.

When I go in to settle him, he rarely stops crying, but I usually stay no longer than 2 minutes. Should I be trying harder to calm him down or just leaving him? If I leave him, he seems to get more uncontrollable and is unable to get back to sleep. This continues throughout the final hour of his sleep when I get him up at 2:15. I feel as if he will never learn, as I always eventually get him up when he’s supposed to. Also if he does fall asleep it’s not until almost 2pm. Should I still get him up at 2:15-2:30 or should I leave him to sleep a little longer? Also after his 9am nap, which is about 30-45 minutes, he is very grumpy through to the lunch time nap and is often very sleepy at 11am. I make sure he gets his full feed at 11 by giving him an expressed bottle of 6ozs at this time so I know it’s not hunger waking him during his lunch nap.

He also has an afternoon nap of 30 minutes from 4.15-4.45pm.

At present he is breast fed at 7am, 2.30pm, and 5pm. I give expressed feeds by bottle at 11am, 6.30pm and 11pm. At those feeds he takes between 6-7ozs. He weighs 14lbs.

Getting a good lunch time sleep established can take time. Have a look at the article written by Gina about this very common problem: There are also case studies from her books which should be helpful to you.

At his age, your son’s startle reflex could well disturb him when he comes into a light sleep. Make sure he is really well tucked in, even if he uses a sleeping bag. At this age a low tog [0.5] bag can be used with either a cotton sheet and/or cotton cellular blanket. This needs to be used lengthways across the cot, and two towels rolled up and pushed down the spars to secure everything.

Be aware that the room needs to be as dark as possible, especially at this time of year when the sun is bright. Stop up any gaps at the top of blinds and curtains and also make sure that the door has no gaps which allow light through.

Bring your son’s feed at 11am forward to 10.30am. This should help him take a good feed because he is not too tired. Before you put him down at 12 offer him a small top up. If he then wakes after an hour you will know that it is not hunger disturbing him from resettling himself.

As you have tried to get your son to resettle himself without much success, there is another way to try to get him used to sleeping longer at this time. Either take him out in the car or in his pram, or even lie down and let him sleep with you so he manages to get a two hour stretch without a break. If you do this consistently for a week or more, you should find that his cycle adjusts. Some mothers find they may need to keep the pram or car moving during this time, others find that once the baby has settled to sleep and he is put into a quiet spot; perhaps the garden or a quiet room, he makes it through to 2pm. Once their baby is sleeping for longer each day, go back to settling him in his cot at this time. Usually with a small amount of crying down, the baby is able to sleep through the whole nap.

If you decide to continue to carry on trying to let him settle himself, decide how long you will leave him trying to resettle himself before you get him up. If he has only slept about an hour let him have another 30 minutes after his 2.30pm feed and another 30 minutes before 5pm. This will ensure he is not getting too tired in the late afternoon. Alternatively if he does settle himself back for a while, let him sleep to 2.30pm. You may have to adjust the afternoon naptime a little, so he is getting his recommended amount of sleep before 5pm. Adjusting the routines a little is often the way forward until your baby has learnt to be more settled in the middle of the day.

Letting a baby cry whilst he resettles is not easy. At his age it is a skill he needs to learn and he appears to be doing quite well at times. Working to get him to sleep longer may take a bit of time, but it is worthwhile so you are able to get a break in the middle of the day.