Sleeping FAQ: 8-12 Weeks – Lunchtime nap

How can I get my 9-week-old daughter to sleep better at lunchtime?

I have been having the ever popular problem of the lunchtime nap. At 9 weeks old my daughter hasn’t had the full sleep now for 2 weeks and is becoming a very unhappy baby as a result. For the first week I kept her in her cot, pitch black, well tucked in but every day she woke after 45 minutes. I tried giving her a top up before going down but wasn’t interested. I then tried giving the 11am feed at 10.15 but still not interested so I don’t think her waking is a due to hunger. For the second week I have been taking her out in the pram to see if I could get her past the 45 minute mark. Today is the 6th day and she has made it past then twice, even then she still spent a lot of the time awake and crying. I don’t feel as if this is working and I’m my feet are killing me; I’ve done so much walking! To get through the afternoon I let her have 30 minutes after the 2.30pm feed (which she will fall asleep half way through) then another 30 minutes at 4.30pm. She is still very unhappy all afternoon and almost unbearable between 5 and 6pm. She still sleeps well at night but am worried that it won’t last. I am tempted to just get her up after the 45 minute waking and let her make it up in the afternoon but I realise how important the lunchtime nap is so desperately want to make it work again.
At present she naps at 9-9.45am, 12-12.45pm, 3-3.30pm and 4.30-5pm.
She feeds at 7am 6.5ozs, 11am 6ozs, 2.30pm 5ozs, 6.15pm 6ozs, 10pm 4ozs. She weighs 11lb 5ozs.

At your daughter’s age problems can begin as a baby’s sleep cycles begin to change around now. It can take persistence to overcome the problem of 45 min waking but well worth making the effort.
If you have not done so already look at the lunchtime nap article written by Gina

When your daughter began waking after 45 minutes, how long did you leave her to settle again? At her age it may take 20-30 minutes of “crying down” to resettle herself. This is a skill she needs to learn. It can be hard to listen to a small baby cry but if you go in every 10 minutes or so to reassure her of your presence, trying not to lift her from her cot whilst you do so, she will learn how to settle herself back without needing your help which in turn may lead to more sleep associations.

Another alternative to consider is to lie with her for the time she should be sleeping. This option is another way to help her learn how to stay asleep throughout the two hours but obviously is a far more involved for you, although more restful than walking! It may take a week or more for her to fully adapt to being asleep for a longer period of time which is why you do need to be persistent in helping her to do this.

To help her get through 5-6pm better split her feed in the way you may have done when she was younger. Offering a small feed at 5pm will help her enjoy her bath time and then enjoy her feed afterwards. It can also help with the overall intake for a baby as the two bottles added together will be a slightly larger amount than she is managing to take now.

Sleeping FAQ: 8-12 Weeks – Lunchtime nap

Despite trying your advice for a week, my 10 week daughter still only sleeps for 45 minutes

I wrote to you last week about my lunchtime nap problem and many thanks for your reply. I have been trying what you suggested but unfortunately without success. I have tried leaving my daughter for 10-20 minutes, sometimes 30, but she cries and cries. This last week after 45 minutes I have gone to her immediately before she fully wakes up. I know that she will not settle in her cot, so I pick her up and hold her in the dark. She will go back to sleep almost straight away, but when I try putting her back into the cot she wakes again. By doing this I am worried that she may learn the wrong associations and want to be held all the time. My other friends who have had the same problem say that it will disappear, but as I am now entering a 4th week of unsuccessful lunchtime naps, I am not optimistic.
At present she sleeps 9.00-9.45am, 12.00-12.45pm, 1.00-2.15pm and 4.45-5pm.

Getting the lunchtime nap into place needs consistency and persistence, as it can take time for babies to learn how to settle back after their first sleep cycle of 45 minutes. In your first question you said you had tried to feed your daughter before going down, but she was not interested. As hunger is often a cause of waking, try moving the 11am feed back to 10.30am.

Your daughter may take a smaller feed at this time, but then offer her a top-up feed just before going down. You are, in effect, splitting the feed in the same way as at 5/6pm.
Continue with the holding to sleep for another week as it can take at least two weeks for a baby’s sleep cycle to readjust itself. Keep trying to put your daughter down once she seems to have settled back to sleep. You may well have to put some ‘crying down’ into place so she learns how to settle herself. For a full description of this see p39 of ‘The Complete Sleep Guide’ and also the section on Sleep Training in Gina’s article on the website. This method will reassure your baby that you are still there, but she will learn the important skill of falling back to sleep without assistance. Again, it takes persistence, so continue in the same way every day. A baby may cry down, gradually decreasing in volume and intensity, for 20- 30 minutes.

Make sure you have at least a twenty-minute wind-down time before settling her for her lunchtime sleep. Again, keep to the same routine every day so she learns to associate it with having her long nap. Sitting quietly in a darkened room, singing the same lullaby, tucking her in with the same words every day will give her the signals to settle to sleep.

Sleeping FAQ: 8-12 Weeks – Lunchtime nap

My 9.5-week-old daughter’s lunchtime nap is now disturbed by nursery runs

Since my 3-year-old son has been back at nursery, the midday nap for my daughter has gone wrong. He has to be collected at 12.30 so I have to leave at 12.15. My daughter is tired at 12.00 so I put her to sleep in her car seat ready to put in the car. She sleeps fine until I take her out of the car at 12.30 to collect my son. I have tried putting the car seat in the buggy and just carrying it but she always wakes up and will not go back to sleep. I know it is because she has come into her light sleep but these are the times I have to collect him. When we get home I try to settle her in a dark room either in her cot or remaining in the car seat but she then cries on and off until 2pm. She is then overtired for the remainder of the afternoon. She will not sleep after her 2pm bottle either. Before my son went back to school she was sleeping brilliantly at lunchtime. What can I do before it begins to affect her routine? Should I try to keep her awake until 12.45 when I get home? Her 2pm bottle will then be late.
At present she naps at 9-9.45am, 12-12.35pm and 4-4.30pm. She settles at 7pm.
She feeds at 7am 3ozs, 10.45am 5.5ozs, 2.15pm 4.4ozs, 5pm 3ozs, 6.15pm 2ozs and 11pm 3ozs. She weighs 11lbs.

It must be frustrating to have lost this lunchtime nap but at her age her cycles are changing. This change has coincided with your son’s return to nursery.
When you return home, presumably around 12.45pm offer her a small feed of around 2ozs. This may help her be settled back into her cot. Her afternoon feed could be moved onto 2.30/2.45pm if she is not so hungry before this and may be slightly smaller due to the earlier amount.

You could try hanging a blanket over the car seat when she first settles to sleep and see if this will encourage her to stay asleep for longer.
If her sleep is still not so long as you would like, try putting her down a little earlier in the afternoon, or going for a walk around 3.30pm and see if she can have nearer to an hour. This should then see her through to bath and bedtime.