My son did NOT want to nap. Ever. (Ok, that’s an exaggeration. But that is how it felt! He did usually nap on his own for his morning nap, but it was always a short nap) I knew exactly when he would be eating during the day, but I never knew what the naps would look like. Then he would get cranky because he was tired so we resorted to rocking him until he fell asleep and then put him down in the crib. Yup – you read right, we put him down in his crib awake rocked him.

It was very confusing because come bed time he would go down smiling at us as we turned off the lights and closed the door but during the day it was a whole other ball game. There were a few months in there that I would nap with him in my bed, which on the one hand I loved but it didn’t really work well when I had somewhere I needed to be. So we rocked him to sleep for his naps and we continued this until he was almost 1 year old. Then we had enough. A week (if even that) of crying in his crib after we put him in, and that’s all it took. From then on, he would go into his crib for his nap without any issues. He would even blow me a kiss when I went to close the door. This lasted until he was 2.5 years old when we dropped his nap because he stayed in camp until 3 pm.

So when baby #2 came along, I was determined to have a very different experience. One thing I changed right from the beginning was to let him nap in many different places – the nap nanny, the swing, the stroller, the bassinet etc. The most important change I made relates to the swing. My first son LOVED the swing. He took most of his naps in there with the swing function on. I LOVED the swing. But then when he was too big for it and it was time to nap in the crib… well you know how it goes. I still love the swing and how comfy they are in it, so baby #2 hung out in it all the time but the swing function was OFF. Now, every so often I was happy to turn it on, I was just conscious that it was not all the time. When it came time to stretching the feeds to every 4 hours — I needed the swing function to help me. I used it when I needed it, again, consciously.

Let’s fast forward. Now, baby #2 has been sleeping through the night for a while and he is about 4 months old. I decided I was ready to tackle the naps. It might seem silly that I added that line, but I believe YOU need to be ready. It is a commitment and it takes time and energy. I personally believe there is a huge payoff. A lot of the crankiness I dealt with around what should have been ‘nap time’ with my first child, simply doesn’t exist with my second. I remember so well on a family vacation when my son was 10 months old, my husband and I having to leave the pool and sit in the room rocking our son for 15-20 minutes to get him for a nap. The process was frustrating and there was always stress surrounding napping. Round two, (baby #2) naps at basically the same time everyday, and it’s a 2 minute process — change his diaper, put on his sleep sack and put him in his crib. Happy baby, happy mommy.

Before I tell you how I did it, here is a reader question:

NAP TIMES: ive been working on putting my baby (11 weeks) into the crib for naps and she actually started being able to fall asleep in there (she screams, i put the pacifier in- finally even succeeded with barely any crying) but she ALWAYS wakes up after about a half hour. she is still definitely tired (althought sometimes will be smiley about 5 minnutes and then crying again) but i have in no way succeeded in being able to get her to fall asleep again after that. she screams and shrieks (not just wimpering or something like that) and eventually i take her out and she falls asleep in my arms usually. any advice??

When I moved baby #2 to the crib for naps, he did the EXACT same thing. Every day he would wake up 30-45 minutes after he fell asleep. At this point, I did not have a pacifier to use to help me because I got rid of it at 3 months (see previous post on pacifiers). So this is what I did:

I put him to nap in the crib awake and before he was very tired. I didn’t wait until he showed me his was tired, I put him in before. By 8:45 am I was putting him in the crib. I would let him sleep as long as he wanted and then when he woke up (30-45 minutes later) he was still tired. Instead of attempting anything in the room, I would take him out right away and put him in the swing. I knew he liked to sleep there and would be happy there. I didn’t leave a long time for him to be awake – as soon as he started to cry I moved him to the swing. Sometimes swing function on, sometimes off. My goal in this was I wanted him to have the solid nap, and I would work on continuing it in the crib after. I did the same thing with the afternoon nap.

After about a week, I felt he was ready to do the full nap in the crib. Here is when I just tried a whole bunch of tricks, and thank G-d they worked. When he would wake up, I would first go in, rub his belly and put his softie and rub it on his face. (I love the angel dear ones) If that quieted him, I left. If he started up again, I went in and turned on this bunny that we got as a gift (Thanks Emily!) – it displays stars on the ceiling (something similar to this) I would see him watching it, become calm, and I would leave the room. My last trick was this crib attachment toy that we got as a gift when my first son was born. (Too bad I didn’t think to use it with him!) I call it a TV even though it is not a TV. It has animals and they move and there is a nighttime mode that has a nighttime lullabye – similar to this. I would turn it on, and he would watch it, and then after some time, he would fall back asleep. I would switch up my tricks, try them in different orders. I tried really hard to be consistent in that when I went in, I would keep him in the crib. If he needed to be picked up for a minute to calm down I would try that, and then I would lay him down, distract him with the stars or “TV” and then I would leave the room. I did this with both naps – in the crib. I also would leave the angel dear small blanket with him, while I was watching him on the monitor.

At this time he was still taking his 3rd nap, but that one I kept in the swing (not swinging) and didn’t bother moving it to the crib. During the training, I was pretty much stuck at home while he napped. I often questioned if it would work and it was hard. It felt like forever, but looking back it was probably just after 2 weeks that he stopped waking up after 30 minutes. He would sleep straight through about 2 hours for both naps (wow! I know he takes extra long naps).

Once I felt confident that he had it down, then I was comfortable to let him start a nap when we were out in the stroller and I would transfer him when we got home.

One note is now I put the TV music on (no longer in his crib, just somewhere else in the room) to nap with. The music goes off after 30 minutes but he stays sleeping. I just like the nap with music, probably not a good crutch to create but just something I do. I also like the music on the Sleep Bunny.

I hope this helps you!