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I care for a 11-month-old baby who has two weeks where they arrive at 5:30am and then 2 weeks they arrive at 1pm.

For the 5:30 shift, the baby should be going to sleep. The mom had said it was normal for the baby to wake between 5 and 5:30 am, have a bottle, and go back to sleep, so I figured I would do same.

I change the baby's diaper and give a bottle, but when the baby is put down for nap the baby just screams his head off until I pick him up. The screams are not scared screams; they are the screams of a frustrated child waiting to get their own way. This is very evident when I go in and he instantly stops screaming and smiles and motions to be picked up. There are never any tears with the screaming.

No matter what I try: rubs, soft music, white noise, holding them to try to get to sleep, etc., nothing is working. As soon as I pick him up, he is all smiles and giggles.

As soon as I walk into the room (yes, I have tried different rooms in the house; it doesn't matter) he stops screaming right away and smiles. There is never a tear in his eyes. I'll go in, lay down the baby, and say "you are ok. Night night!"

You can see how exhausted he is, and see that he needs the nap. The baby has dark circles under his eyes, is extremely tired, and yawns all the time. I am becoming seriously concerned for the child because of his lack of sleep. He sleeps fine at night, I am told, and goes to sleep at 7-7:30 pm with no issues, and, for the most part, sleeps through the night until 5-5:30 am.

He/she will lay down on the floor, but just will not sleep for a nap at all. I have spoken to the mom about it, and she says he does it at home too. He has no naps at all during day when not in my care.

I am at wits' end. I have never had a child flat-out not sleep. I have cared for many babies and never have I run into an issue like this. I have other children in my care and it interferes with what we are doing because I constantly am trying to settle this baby in for a nap. The other children do not nap but have quiet time and the baby screams through it. I would hate to have to end care with the family, but I cannot have the other children having to play second fiddle while I am running up and down trying to get a tired baby to sleep.

How do I get this child to settle into sleep for a nap?

  • Upvoted back to a score of zero, as somebody (probably several somebodies) is (are) overtired. – Codes with Hammer Jun 25 '14 at 17:54
  • How do his parents put him to sleep? I ask because if he is not used to just "crying it out" with them, it may be a struggle for you to try implementing it. Basically try matching what the parents do, if they hold him until he sleeps try that, or if they pat him in his crib try that instead. – auujay Jul 18 '14 at 21:23
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It sounds like it might be time to try leaving the baby alone during "nap time". Get them into the routine with the rest of the children you care for. From my own personal experience, getting children into a routine is the best thing for them. Eventually the child will learn that at nap time you aren't going to comfort them. We did this with our daughter at about the same age. We took a "steps" approach to it. We would start by letting her cry for 5 minutes before going to her, then 10 minutes, then 15, etc. This was one of the hardest things in the world for us to do, just let our daughter cry. But it worked out well for us, and nap time became a non-issue.

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You say "no matter what has been tried". Maybe you're trying too many things. This kid might have out-smarted you (no offense) and knows you'll come back and try something else.

Ideas:

  • The kid needs to be up a bit longer. After the ride over there's been too much mental stimulation; he/she's not ready to return to sleep and trying to do it too soon results in the ongoing resistance.
  • Keep close track of the time between trying something different. Try increasing that time and letting the situation settle in a bit longer.
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I was amazed when I walked into a daycare for preverbal and barely verbal kids at nap time and all of them (at least a dozen little kids) were napping. I asked and was told that the kids know that if they nap they will get a candy. Sure enough, when they woke up, they all came around for their little candy.

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