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We've recently tried Ferber's method of progressive waiting to help our 4-month-old sleep better.

At nights, it's worked extremely well... after his bath in the evening he now falls asleep within minutes of being placed in his crib, and usually sleeps through the night with only one feeding, after which he falls asleep again in his crib with no problems.

However, naps aren't working so well. He only seems to be able to fall asleep while nursing. We've tried preventing him from sleeping while nursing, which only causes him to be so tired that at his next feeding he'll fall asleep instantly as soon as he's put on the breast. And he still won't fall asleep any other way, even being held or rocked. We've let him cry in his crib for up to 30 minutes, and his crying only increases in intensity (unlike when we were sleep training him in the evenings, when he'd eventually get calmer).

Anyone dealt with any similar scenarios?

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First of all, naptime is very likely going to be harder than bedtime. There's so much to do during the day that the baby doesn't want to go to sleep. Whatever you choose to do, make sure you stick with it for a while before giving up. Here are some ideas (Usual disclaimer - these are only suggestions. They may not work for your baby, or you may be opposed to them. Take the ones that sit well with you, and leave the rest).

  1. Check out the book "The No Cry Sleep Solution" It has some good information on nursing and sleeping, as well as how to break sleep associations.

  2. Use a pacifier. Young infants are comforted by the sucking motion of nursing, and a pacifier mimics that. It might help to use a pacifier to help break him of nursing to sleep. Of course, you'll have to eventually break him of that, as well, but at least doing this, he gets the comfort he needs, and Mom doesn't have to deal with nap time.

  3. Make Dad put him down for naps. We found that our son wouldn't go to sleep without nursing if I tried putting him down, but he'd go down a lot easier if Dad put him down. This might take some phasing out - nurse for shorter periods of time, then hand off to Dad, but always make sure that he's still awake, and Mom's not in sight or earshot after handing baby off.

  4. Accept that he might not be ready. It's possible that he's simply not ready to give up nursing before naps. This can especially be the case if there's been a recent disruption in his routine (moving, a death in the family, vacation, etc). Growth spurts and teething can also contribute to not wanting to sleep. It might be worth it to wait a couple of weeks, or even a month or two, then try again.

  5. Have a routine similar to bedtime. It doesn't have to be as long as the bedtime routine, but have something similar and keep a routine that signals that it's time to go to sleep.

  6. Make sure the room is sufficiently dark. Light means activity! Keep the room dark to help convey and reinforce that it's time to sleep.

  7. Use other methods to get him to sleep. It might help to put him in something like a Moby wrap and walk around to get him to nod off without nursing. Again, this is replacing one sleep association with another, but it can be a step in the right direction by disassociating Mom and nursing with sleep and may make getting him down easier.

  8. Stay quiet just before and during nap time. Baby doesn't want to miss all of the action! Make sure to convey that he's not missing anything by sleeping (this will also help when he's older and in that stage where he's sure that you're having a party when he's asleep). It might also help to play music or a white noise machine to drown out the daytime noises.

  9. Adjust his nap schedule. We all have our circadian rhythms, where we fall asleep easier and sleep better if we do so in certain time frames, and function better when we wake up at certain times. Babies are no different. It's possible you may need to shift his nap time by 30-60 minutes one way or another. It's also possible his number of naps isn't right. If he's on three a day, try consolidating two. If he's on two naps, try reincorporating the third. Also, make sure he's sleeping enough for each nap. The general rule of thumb is no less than an hour, and for babies that young, it's not uncommon for them to sleep 2-4 hours a stretch (especially for the first two naps). It sounds counterintuitive, but longer naps doesn't necessarily mean the next sleep time is going to be a fight. As the saying goes, "sleep begets sleep" - adequate sleep will keep them from going into a state of overtiredness, where they end up wired and their sleep quality decreases (when you do manage to get them to sleep).

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