last nap of the day is the worst....please help!

Amy - posted on 02/05/2014 ( 5 moms have responded )

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My 4 month old's last nap of the day--in the late afternoon--is always his worst! He just cries & cries & cries most of the time. Once in awhile I'll get lucky & he'll go down for this nap without issues, but it doesn't happen that way often enough. I'll go in after 5 minutes & give him his pacifier or try to comfort him in some sort of way, but once I leave the room he's crying. Then I'll go back in 10-15 minutes if he's still crying & do the same thing (I don't ever stay in the room for more than a minute or two). Then the next time it's 15-20 minutes later. At this point I usually give up because I'm so sick of hearing him cry that I'm ready to scream and/or I just feel so bad for leaving him in there that long. But I'm trying to get him to soothe himself back to sleep---he CAN do it as he does it any other time & has been able to for awhile--but it's always this nap that's AWFUL!! Am I leaving him in the room too long? Am I going in there too much/too often? Should I just keep waiting him out until he eventually falls asleep? I know he's tired otherwise I wouldn't put him down for a nap. I'm currently in this awful napping situation & I'm about to go back in the room because it's been 20 minutes of him crying again. He did sleep from 430pm-510pm, but that's not long enough for a nap. Any advice is much appreciated!!!!!!

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Amy - posted on 02/06/2014

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well, he just woke up at 3:40pm...which means he only slept for 30 minutes! ugh! this is seriously the worst. 30 minutes is not long enough for a nap!

Amy - posted on 02/06/2014

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Thanks. I mean, I can see that he is tired, so I don't want to skip that nap and then in turn have that cause him to get overtired...you know what I mean? That just kind of makes for an even worse situation.

I just hate having to try so many different things and not knowing what works or what's the best. A lot of the time, I'll put him down for that last (3rd) nap of the day when he shows me he's tired and like I've said, he just won't go to sleep for whatever reason. Sometimes I just can't handle it anymore (he really gets me pretty irritated sometimes) and I give up on waiting for him to soothe himself to sleep and i just get him up and put him in his bouncy chair and then he'll just end up staying up until he pretty much can't keep his eyes open anymore and then when i put him down for this 'nap' or whatever it'd be called at this point, he goes right to sleep with no problem. I don't understand this whole i'm-tired-but-i-won't-sleep-no-matter-what thing he's got going on..

Like this afternoon for example, he was rubbing his eyes and looked sleepy and wasn't really enjoying any playtime by himself or with me so I put him down for his nap at 2:35pm. Well, for whatever reason he wouldn't let himself go to sleep and he just cried and cried...i went in periodically to check on him--I always extend the amount of time I go check on him (first time is after 5 min, then it's 10-15 min later, then 15-20 min later if it goes that long). Seems as though it worked today, as he finally fell asleep on his own without his pacifier at 3:10pm.

It's hard to listen to him cry and fuss, but he needs to learn to soothe himself. He's good about like 80% of the time, but he needs to learn how to do it the remaining 20% of the time. Does what I did this afternoon seem like an okay thing to do? I know I'm not being a bad mom by doing things this way, but sometimes my heart just breaks when I hear him crying (then I remember that I know he is tired and he's just being a little fussy pants!).

Chet - posted on 02/06/2014

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Don't make nap time his bedtime. Try skipping the nap if he won't fall asleep, and then see when he wants to go to bed. Some babies do go to bed at 6:30pm or 7pm.

The other option is to try taking him for a walk with the stroller, for a drive in the car, or putting him into a baby carrier and wearing him around the house when it's around the time that he might have that last nap of the day. Sometimes that works.

The thing is, babies grow so fast and change so quickly all you can really do is notice when something isn't working and try stuff until you find something that does.

Amy - posted on 02/06/2014

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Thanks! Oh okay, well, I feel a bit better about things. I always feel like it's something I'm doing wrong that's causing him to not nap well every time for his last nap.

He does fall asleep on his own at bedtime without any problems, but I don't know how I feel about turning his last nap of the day into his bedtime. That's so early for a bedtime! I have definitely considered it and wondered how I would go about it, but I just can't wrap my head around having a 4pm, 5pm, or 6pm bedtime....my son would be up wanting to start his day at like 3am and that is NOT happening. I mean, with his last nap, most of the time he would be out for the rest of the night (it's like something in him just kicks in and he like never wakes up until we wake him for his bedtime routine)...it's crazy. I keep this last nap to no more than 2 hours; however, during the rest of the day I follow his cues as to when he is hungry and tired and I allow him to sleep until he wakes on his own.

Maybe I'm totally doing this whole last nap/bedtime late afternoon/early evening thing the wrong way...I really don't know. But don't you think 4 or 5pm is waaaay too early for a bedtime???

Chet - posted on 02/05/2014

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Babies and young children cope better early in the day than later in the day. This is why photographers are busy with baby pictures early in the morning. It's way toddlers who eat good breakfasts will often eat nothing at supper. Babies who are as happy as can be 6am are cranky at 4pm.

It is very, very common for a baby to be able to do something early in the day but not later in the day. Babies who are just learning to crawl or sit will often do it first thing in the morning, but not late in the afternoon.

So just because you son can put himself to sleep for his first nap of the day that doesn't mean he can do it for his last nap of the day.

If he's falling asleep on his own at bedtime though, and it's only this nap that's the problem, I would try ditching the nap and having an earlier bedtime.

For a lot of our kids the only way we got an afternoon nap was in the baby carrier, the car or the stroller. Morning nap was no problem, afternoon nap required more effort on our part.

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