I am looking for some practical tips as to how to get my four month old to fall asleep, and once asleep, how to get him to nap longer.

When I try to put him down, it seems as if he is looking for anything interesting to focus on to stay awake. Everything distracts him. I tried covering his eyes to literally give him less to look at but it only makes him mad.

Before you suggest systematic solutions - we have a pretty stable sleeping schedule and well-established sleeping rituals (curtains closed, relaxing music, we use pacifier only for sleeping, he always sleeps in my bed or in the crib, etc.) He sleeps well during the night. It is the nap-time falling asleep I would like to change.

He either only naps in his baby carrier, on my chest, or on the breast. He wakes up if I put him in his crib or, when left alone, sleeps a significantly shorter time. If allowed to sleep in a carrier/on me, he takes two naps a day - one before noon (45 min) and one in the afternoon (up to 2.5 h). If put in the crib (he does fall asleep by himself in the crib) and left alone for a nap during the day, he starts to either play or scream. He won't fall asleep even in a dark room with all the sleeping rituals.

He is capable of falling asleep alone because in the evening, I just put him down and leave him. It takes him a while but 90% of the time he falls asleep on his own and he usually sleeps for 10-11 hours waking up once to nurse.

The trouble is he is sooo active. He can go without sleep for the whole day, and he never stops moving! And now even the naps he takes on me and in the carrier are getting shorter.

  • Just checking, but are you saying he falls asleep in your bed, and you then transfer him to the crib? Because that's a bad habit, and is likely to cause sleep problems. It makes it harder for your infant to associate his crib with "going to sleep", and thus makes it harder for your infant to go to sleep when put in the crib. – user19912 Oct 25 '16 at 17:25
  • Frankly what I would do is sleep or rest with him, to help establish the nap routine. You don't want him getting use to running on overdrive all day. Four months is quite young. At this stage your baby might need some cluster feeding combined with the nap period in order to get some rest. – aparente001 Oct 26 '16 at 13:16

Do you want to housework? Well you could carry him on your back and then do the housework with him in there.

Do you want to do some desk work? Well I this going to get harder and harder when they get older. My tactic was to carry the baby around till he was a sleep, then lie down with him in the carrier (open it).... Note our bed only consist of mattresses on the floor, if it is higher it is maybe not safe. We also practised co-sleeping. ...and after a minute or two you get him out of the carrier. This would often get some sufficiently long nap 1-2 hours.

Kudos for having an established bedtime routine! I would add to that to be fully cognizant of his energy level leading up to and during his nap routine. I found with both my daughters they came down from a high energy state in steps not a continuous line. To help them I would first match their energy state then encourage them to come down a level by leading. So I started with high energy play if that is where they were, then to bath time, then reading a book, then pillow talk with some giggles, no giggles, then quiet time, and dreaming. This was our night time routine but the point is the same, match energy level then lead. Sometimes they might go back up a level and that's normal, go back up one level yourself and lead down again. It was often bumpy on the way down.

Find where each energy gradient is because it is different from child to child. You'll notice if you try to skip a level because you're in a rush it won't work and we can't force the process as it just creates frustration on both parent and child. I always tried to keep resistance to a minimum because resisting requires a high energy state. If I felt my daughter resist than it was an indication to try a different approach. Kids are notoriously adaptive by design, we need to be better. What works this week may not work next week and we have to accept that graciously and move on. Stay leading. Often keeping them focused on my face and singing soft lullabies worked the best.

Resistance is an interesting topic because a child naturally knows what to resist against versus what not to. For example, they will tug, pull and twist against your embrace but not give the rungs of a crib a second thought. They know what is a soft boundary versus a barrier. Having some of both is good and you decide what will be a soft boundary and what will be a barrier. Your barriers though must be permanent and static just like the crib that doesn't react back or get frustrated at what it does. Showing frustration shows your child the boundary is soft. Barriers may be where you place an arm or a leg, part of your body, a chair or wall or even a virtual one but should not be constricting either, it should be at a distance. His normal position should be in the warmest welcoming loving embrace. Furthermore, whether you are putting up a soft boundary or barrier you must always keep your apparent energy level less than theirs or they'll follow your lead back up.

I knew the moment they were fast asleep when I heard the exhale of breath indicating they fully crossed into dreamland. If I was holding them I'd also feel the muscles go from primed to fully limp. Being cognizant of their energy state and mine was key.

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