My 5 month old baby boy fights sleep in the day

Question: My 5 month old boy just doesn't like sleep in the day and actively fights it (shaking head rapidly when his eyelids are drooping). We have a good routine at night and he is generally asleep by 7 and up by 6 with 1 to 2 nighttime feeds after which he falls asleep straight away. Naps are another matter!

Within about an hour of being awake he begins to show signs of being tired (fussiness, sucking on hand, rubbing eyes). I have found a dummy really useful in helping him sleep. Unfortunately he keeps inadvertantly pulling it out meaning I have to repeatedly pop it back in several times pre nap. He has a favourite toy that seems to sooth him and he has his naps in his cot when we are at home. It generally takes half an hour to help him sleep during which time he gets more and more overtired with overactive arms and legs and more and more crying (when his dummy falls out). He will then only sleep for 30mins. Within an hour to an hour and a half of being awake he is tired again and I have to repeat the process. My questions are:

- Is it normal at this age to be tired almost every hour and then only sleep for 30mins? Should I try and keep him up for longer between naps? I am worried about making him over tired and then its even more difficult to help him sleep!

- Is the dummy more of a hinderance by making him dependant on it to sleep? At what age should I try and wean him off it?

He gets to sleep easily in the pram (but even then only for 30mins) but with him needing a nap every hour to an hour and a half it just isn't practical to be out for every nap!

Any advice gratefully received!

Many thanks

Heidi's Answer: Hi there,

Being tired after an hour awake time and only taking half hour naps is probably related. If we manage to extend his naps, he will automatically be less tired in between.

On the other hand, you mention that he is also tired after about half hour in the morning, after what sounds like quite a good night ... But that can very well be a pattern he has grown into now.

Either way, you are very right to try and avoid his over-tiredness as being too tired makes settling harder.

So the very first thing will be to try and settle him a bit earlier. I know, you already do start early, but even 10-15 minutes can make the necessary difference.

Work with my gentle self soothing method to gradually teach him how to settle independently.

If you manage that without the dummy, that is of course good. But if the dummy has proven really important for him to sleep, why not keep it. Do start teaching him to put it in himself during the day - play games to do this. Once he can do that, that will be helpful at awakenings later on.

You may also want to give the Baby Sling Trick a try, you may succeed in keeping him asleep for longer naps in the sling, when you're really on the move. Or make sure you are well on the move during stroller naps, paying extra attention around the 30 minute mark.

There is one experiment you can also try. It is the opposite of starting the naps earlier. It may seem a bit rude at first, but it is worth the try for at least a couple of days.

You would then keep him up for at least 2 hours in the morning after waking up. Then start the nap. He may be so tired that settling him is very difficult but then use the stroller/sling to help. And try to be on the move for at least an hour, preferably 1,5 hour. Build the nap schedule for the rest of the day from there.

Good luck,

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