Nap Weaning, Day One

February 28, 2009

Creative Commons License photo credit: Allen Elliotte

Sadie is 3 and a half years old. She still very much needs a nap.

If we drive somewhere in the afternoons, she always falls asleep (the older children never do). If I nurse her or lay down with her, she will quickly and easily fall asleep. She yawns if she sits still for a story after lunch.

There is no doubt she still needs that nap.


She relies on my body as a sleep aid. That’s fine at night, I’m happy to snuggle up next to her at night to help her transition to sleep.

But during the day? Emm… not so much.

I have things to do and other children to attend to. And I don’t need or want a nap. If I sleep for one minute longer than 20, I’ll feel poorly and tired. I’ve tried setting an alarm or having my oldest wake me up after that time, but because she is reliant on me to sleep Sadie will awaken at that time too.

20 minutes isn’t enough of a nap for her. She needs an hour to an hour and a half.


I think it’s time for nap weaning.

When my oldest was around 2 1/2 or so, I could lay down in the bed with him and put him to sleep and then sneak away. I enjoyed an hour or even two hours of alone time with my newborn second son, or to myself if they were both sleeping. It was wonderful.

I need that time to work, to spend with the other kids doing school, to clean, or just chill. Or whatever.

Nap weaning has begun. This is Day One.

I sat down with her in the bed and we read 3 stories together. During this time she yawned repeatedly and her eyes closed several times, but she would wake herself up.

I rubbed her arms. I traced her face. I ran my fingers through her hair. I sang songs.

This went on for about 30 minutes.

no dice.

Then I got up. It’s been about an hour and a half and she’s still in her room (the playroom really, there is a bed in there but she and her sister don’t sleep in it at night!). She is protesting but not horribly loudly.

Asking for water. Asking for pillows. Asking for snacks. Asking for going to da bafroom. Saying, “I’ve had too much sleep!”

LOL! She hasn’t fallen asleep yet. ;)

For those of you who have done this before, what’s the prognosis?

Will this go on for another day or two and then she will realize mom is serious?
Do I keep trying to stay in there with her for a reasonable period (say, 20 minutes) and then leaving if she’s not asleep?
Do I stay in the whole time?
Do I not stay in at all?
Do I insist that she can’t come out unless she naps?
Or do I require a certain time limit regardless of whether she falls asleep?

Advice and BTDTs much appreciated.

p.s. I don’t do cry it out and she has only left the room two times. I calmly and gently ask her to go back in, I tuck her in and kiss her cheek. No punishing. So please don’t suggest that. Not that you would.

Keep in mind also that she naps easily for her Dad and my Mom when she stays with them. And neither of them have mee-mees.


Nap Update:

It’s 3:30 pm, and after publishing this post, getting a couple of comments, and trying again:

Sadie is napping.

And I’m obviously… not. I was able to roll off the bed without waking her. So now I’m making a menu and grocery list and getting the other kids ready to head out to Whole Foods.

Whee! Success! A little later than I would have hoped, but I’m sure tomorrow will go even better.

She woke up at around 4:15 and got lots of hugs and praise from mom.

More Posts By Carrie:


8 Responses to “Nap Weaning, Day One”

  1. Karen on February 28th, 2009 2:55 pm

    I wouldn’t stay in there the whole time. You may try telling her that for the first week you’ll lie in there with her for 20 minutes. And the next week, you’ll sit on the bed with her. I’m not sure what the right answer is, but whatever you decide, the key is consistency.

  2. Chrissy on February 28th, 2009 3:17 pm

    IMHO, you are a very perceptive mommy and put the needs of your children first every time! My only suggestion and agreement with Karen is keep whatever you try for nap weaning consistent.

    Each and every child is different so using a method for one may not work for another. You know your child better than anyone, so go with your gut and just be consistent in what you choose…it will work! May not work as fast as you want but patience in this area will pay off ;)

    Good luck!

  3. michelle on February 28th, 2009 3:53 pm

    When my children still needed me in the room with them for nap, I would read them a story and then let them know that I was willing to sit with them, but that I would be busy with something (like a book)Perhaps you could do computer work at that time if needed?
    After staying with them for about 15 minutes, I would tell my children gently, “I’ll be back in about ten minutes” and then I would come back. After doing this for a few days, I extended the time for a few minutes until they were finally o.k. by themselves. What helped is that I always began by staying with them.

  4. Lisa D. on February 28th, 2009 4:58 pm

    I say send the child to me. I will raise her for the next 5 years or so, and you can get some work done.
    Seriously, tho. I nursed Paul to sleep, including naps until he was five years old, and when he was ready to abolish the naps altogether, that’s what he did. I will never get that time back with him, so looking back,I have no regrets. Do what feels right for you and Sadie.
    Love you guys,
    Lisa and the guys

  5. casual friday everyday on March 2nd, 2009 9:17 am

    Alright for Mommy Success :)


  6. Lexi Rodrigo on March 3rd, 2009 1:26 pm

    So happy to hear about your success. I will have to go through this exact same thing soon with my 29-month-old son. Right now, he pretty much naps ON me, lol. Sometimes, I welcome the chance to lie down and read or watch TV or even take a nap myself. But there are days when I would rather do some work.

    I was going to suggest Elizabeth Pantley’s nipple-removal technique (from her No-Cry Sleep Solution book), which is what I use to wean DS (and many years ago, my second DD) from nursing at night. I still nurse DS to sleep at night, but he no longer needs it throughout the night. AAAh, more sleep for Mommy!

  7. Anita Kaiser on March 3rd, 2009 1:34 pm

    I don’t really have any advice – and you seem to have figured the trick (at least for today!) but I did want to comment – my three year old often doesn’t nap on the weekends – beacsue she is so excited to have us home with her (we work ouside the home!) but ocasionally she will go to her room and we close the door – and she plays for a few minutes (about 5 or so) and then she starts holalring I’ve had a good nap mommy! This always cracks me up – I wonder at what point the day will come when she realizes we listen to her through the monitor! :)

    Hopefully tomorrow is another successful day for you!

  8. Nova on August 12th, 2009 5:32 pm

    I’m not offering advices as much as seeking it…I’m trying to nap wean my 15 month old. I don’t mind night nursing at all but I am over being his nap pacifier. Not to mention he’ll be going to day care one day a week and he’ll have to (or not) take a nap unaided while he’s there. I feel like the only info I find relates to “crying it out,” which I have done for the last two days…I hate it and so does he. No naps at all, just a strong steady wail for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Any advice?

Got something to say?