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Mom Tips,  Parenting,  Sleep

Solve Your Frustration With Baby’s Nap Time in 1 Simple Step

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In my last post about baby sleep (read that here), I spoke about anxiety surrounding E and her sleep. I have come to the conclusion that some of it has come from all of this talk about baby sleep schedules and how they should or shouldn’t be sleeping when it comes to naps.

Well. There’s this cool thing about that. My baby doesn’t really follow those schedules when it comes to daytime sleep. She never really has.

Another cool thing (that is actually cool and I’m not being sarcastic this time): It’s totally okay!!

I don’t know how many times I’ve said this since having E, but every baby is SO different. All you mommas with multiple kids…you know. So why, OH WHY, would we take a schedule and then compare our babies against it when they are oh so different??????? What’s with our society and the need to make an average for everything?!

baby sleeping on pillow holding on to moms hand

It doesn’t matter that it’s usually titled “Sample Sleep Schedule” (said DRIPPING with sarcasm). You see that schedule and go this is what my baby should sleep like, because if you’re a first time mom you have NO IDEA what a baby sleep schedule should look like. Or at least that’s what I did. Kudos to you if you said eff that, my baby does her own thing. 🙂

Oh, and to top it all off, when your baby doesn’t follow said sleep schedule, you feel like you are failing as a mom. Even though your baby is his or her own person and doesn’t know about some schedule that someone decided to come up with. Like, come on, E…there’s this time table that mommy found and you need to follow it, K? My eyes are no longer in my head they rolled so hard. 

close up of baby sleeping on side with arm under head

So. Here is how I started following my instincts when it came to my baby’s sleep and schedule or lack there-of some days. 

One of the major things that threw me was that in all of the articles and books I’ve read on babies’ sleep is that you have to get them into bed in this magical window when they are juuuust tired enough, but not TOO tired. Because if they get overtired you better watch out, or they will become a holy terror, and the world will fall apart, and well, they just won’t go down.

And maybe this IS how your kid is. Carry on.

My child is not like this. She just gets more and more tired and still tries to play SO hard. She doesn’t freak out. There is no huge melt down. In fact, if I don’t wait until she’s super tired she WON’T go to sleep. (I’m speaking more so for naps here as we have a pretty solid bed time.) And then mom is pissed off, baby’s pissed off, and it feels like a huge fight.

stressed woman grabbing hair

So, I learned that eye rubbing isn’t always the signal that E is ready to go to bed. It’s more when she’s crawling around going “mmmm” and starting to get a little fussy that she’ll then go to sleep. My point in all of this is to read your babies cues and what that means for his or her sleep based on YOUR experience, not what some book said. Books can certainly be helpful, but they are NOT the end all, especially when it comes to babies.

The other thing that I found so super-duper, incredibly, ridiculously frustrating was trying to put E down for a nap and then at the end of our bedtime routine she WAS NOT FALLING ASLEEP. In fact, every so often she would have a new lease on life, with a burst of energy as if she had just woken up. I used to just put her in the crib and lean my head against it, ready to cry (while she WAS crying), trying to figure out how to get her drowsy when all the previous tricks did not work. I didn’t know what to do.

baby sleeping with moms hand under her head

When I don’t know what to do it almost feels like the worst thing in the world (I say almost and feels because there are definitely worse things then a baby not going to sleep). When I know what I need to do to fix a problem I am unstoppable and am often too stubborn to know when to quit. So, when I am stumped, and it’s not something I can just walk away from and try again later, I get this feeling of soul-crushing defeat.

Here’s the 1 simple step…

But then I had an ah-ha moment. I CAN just try again later. I DON’T have to put E down this very second, because clearly that is not working. Even though it’s when she’s “supposed” to have a nap, since its been 2 hours or 3 hours since she woke up or whatever the baby schedule says it should be. So, we leave the room, go back to playing and try again in a little bit. And do it again until she goes down. She usually will go to bed on the second attempt. I don’t fight it. I accept that she isn’t going to bed right then.

**I should note that she sleeps in her crib, and I breastfeed her to sleep.**

woman with hands in air celebrating

I don’t know about you, but I definitely could not go for a nap if I wasn’t tired enough, so why do we make our babies?? Why do we follow some book or some article that says that once the signs of being tired start to appear you MUST get them to bed immediately. Or that a baby a certain age MUST sleep this many hours in a day. Some babies need less or more sleep and that doesn’t mean anything is wrong with them or you.

E dropped her third nap a couple months before The Schedule said to. And it looks like she’s dropping her second one well in advance of The Schedule’s advice. I’ve learned that it is SO much easier to accept where E actually is then to try to fight it to adhere to something that doesn’t work for her. 

baby sleeping wrapped in a blanket with lips pursed

So. Do your research. Find out about how babies sleep and why they do what they do. There is a lot of good information out there about the science of sleep. And even take a look at those baby sleep schedules. But remember, your baby might not follow the curve exactly. They may even be a crazy outlier.

And that.



Follow your instincts. We don’t hear that enough these days. Sometimes that means creating your own schedule for your baby, and sometimes it means getting medical advice or help. If something doesn’t feel right, then figure out why and fix it.

And that is the one of the most awesome things about motherhood, finding your drive to do whatever it takes to make sure your baby has what’s best for him or her.

They call us mamma bears for a reason. 

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  • Denise

    Thanks for the reminder to follow my instinct! Babies are so different from each other and can be different day to day depending on so many factors. With my little one’s recent nap struggles, I realized we had to ride it out while he figured out how to lay back down after sitting himself up (a new skill he was very proud of and just had to do as soon as he was put in his crib). But when he wasn’t sleeping and was over tired and we were both frustrated, it did feel like the worst thing in the world in that moment. Glad the feeling doesn’t last forever, and the sleep struggles won’t last forever either, right?

    • Rachel

      Our instincts can sometimes get lost in all of the information out there telling us how our babies should be. And it’s true the struggles won’t last forever! I try to enjoy the extra time with my girl since she won’t be little forever either!

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