I have a wonderful 15 month old little boy who has started refusing to nap. Up until now he was mostly a good sleeper and would take naps in his crib without issue or too much resistance. About two months ago he had to have surgery which came with a very unpleasant recovery period. Part of this meant that sleep was difficult. After the recovery period was over we were advised to start working on a few things, including weaning him off of formula and onto cow's milk and eventually off of bottles altogether (his doctors had us keep him on them up until now). We also started working on self-soothing sleep training (putting him down while asleep / drowsy and letting him get himself to sleep, checking on him if he is crying at increasing intervals). While he did not care for that, he did get the hang of it and was able to get himself to sleep for naps within a few minutes for a week or two.
And then something happened. I don't know what it was, but he has staunchly refused to nap for the last week. We still give him a bottle before naps (though it is getting smaller to try and wean him and it's only cows milk at this point) and he will almost always fall asleep in our arms. The problem comes when putting him in the crib. Any attempt to do so causes him to wake up and start crying and kicking furiously. Very rarely do we actually make it from the chair to the crib without him waking up. If we are lucky enough to get him to the crib he will wake up as soon as we try to put him down. We try to rub his back to get him back to sleep to no avail. He will sit up and cry and scream to be picked up again. If we leave him to cry it out (checking on him at increasing intervals) he can go for over 2 hours and still not go to sleep.
At this point my wife and I are losing our sanity. He's grumpy, fussy and whiney during the day. He has dark circles under his eyes from not getting enough sleep. He clearly needs a nap but will not take one.
Things we have tried:
- Sleep training / letting him cry it out
- Taking him for car rides (might get him to sleep but the sleep is never good and this isn't a sustainable option)
- Taken him to the pediatrician. She suspects it's just part of a normal sleep regression, but this has been bad for over a month. The recovery period might have made it worse but it shouldn't have lasted this long (right?)
- The pediatrician checked him for ear infections. He had a mild one and took antibiotics for it. It has cleared up, but hasn't made a difference in napping.
- The pediatrician also advised that we should probably just give up on a nap if he hasn't gone to sleep after half an hour. We've tried that for a bit but that seems to have just reinforced the idea that he can scream his way out of a nap.
Other advice we have gotten so far:
- "He doesn't need a nap anymore" - He is very clearly tired. He gets between 10 and 11 hours of sleep at night but that does not sustain him throughout the entire day. He becomes increasingly grumpy and fussy as the day goes on. Sometimes he's even laid down and almost fallen asleep (but of course he never quite does and trying to take him to his room to nap ends up being a giant failure).
- "He only needs one nap" - Sure, I'm ok with that. The problem is I can't get him to take even one at anytime during the day. We've tried going to one nap around lunchtime but he won't sleep. We've tried earlier. We've tried later. We've tried waiting until he is showing every sign of being tired before attempting a nap. No success.
We are also getting worried that letting him cry it out for this long is causing him harm, which is adding to our stress.
The most agitating thing about all of this is he has demonstrated that he is capable of self-soothing and sleeping on his own. He just won't do it. He can be stubborn if he wants to be (and I know exactly where he gets it from, both Mom and I can be very stubborn if we need to be).
What can we do? What haven't we tried? My wife and I are stressed and tired and losing our minds. We don't have time to hold him through naps and dealing with him in a napless state leaves us both drained long before bedtime. We need help and we need it bad.
I've seen this question and we've been trying to move to one nap but again, it hasn't worked at all. We know he is tired when we go to put him down so that answer on that question also did not help. We've tried googling for how to deal with a kid who could self-soothe but now won't and that just brings up a ton of articles on "How to teach your child to self-soothe" which are unhelpful because we have already done that and are still doing it.