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Nap strikes

Help, my baby is refusing their nap! A common message that drops into my DM’s every week.

Nap refusals, nap strikes and skipping day sleeps are super common! You’re not doing anything wrong, your baby hasn’t forgotten how to settle (if they have mastered this already) and more often than not it’s definitely not time to drop the sleep they are refusing!

Nap strikes – what are they?

Exactly as they sound – a period of time when your little love doesn’t take a day sleep. They may have been nailing their routine with great day naps, an awesome wake to sleep balance and very predictable days and then out of the blue holy crumpets here comes a nap strike. I feel you, it’s frustrating, annoying and a pain in the backside when they don’t take the sleep offered but you know what? You can’t make them sleep!

What causes our little people to refuse their nap?

Here’s the top 3 culprits to nap strikes/refusals;

  • Developmental changes

  • Under/Overtired

  • They are ready for less sleep

80% of the time when my clients refuse their naps it’s because there’s something going on developmentally. Whether that’s separation anxiety, practising a new skill or FOMO, believe it or not but baby’s are impacted by what’s happening in their world. For a lot of little one’s sleep time can turn into playtime and a great opportunity to practise their new skills. Whether that’s rolling, sitting up (but haven’t figured out to lay back down yet!), blowing raspberries, or throwing their comforters around like a ragdoll, nap strikes are NORMAL!

Nap refusals can also happen when our little one’s are under or overtired. Frustrating I know but they may go to bed too early and then become overtired because they’ve spent the last 30min babbling away instead of sleeping. Likewise if they go down for a nap too late and they are full of stress hormones which impacts their settling.

If your little one is consistently refusing their nap it may be time to look at their total sleep needs, dependent on their age. Are they ready to reduce or even drop the nap? Could the nap now be offered as a shorter assisted one out and about on the go instead of in the cot at home?

When do nap strikes usually appear?

Anytime! Most commonly around 12 months of age and again around 2yr. Parents often take this as sign that their little love is ready to drop to 1 nap or no nap. Don’t! It’s too soon to drop the day sleep and very challenging to try and reintroduce it a couple of months later when their overtiredness catches up. Nap strikes are just that, a temporary strike or refusal – not a permanent drop of day sleep.

How can we navigate nap strikes?

  • Keep offering the nap – until they are consistently refusing the nap for 10-14 days I suggest you keep offering it. If we drop naps too early/young overtiredness creeps in and causes overnight wakes, early morning starts and a little bubs who may be somewhat irritable during the day.

  • Offer the nap assisted as they navigate through their developmental stage. It usually won’t take longer than a week or so and they will be back to their usual day sleep routine.

  • Take the pressure off you and baby – head out and about rather than feeling overwhelmed by being stuck at home during this time. Car/pram naps are great during times like these!

If you are struggling with nap refusals and you are ready to make a change I'm here for you! Book a discovery call and let's chat about your little one's sleep and how I can help your family get the rest you all need to thrive.

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