The tl;dr version:

The father can get a toddler to sleep easily, but the mother struggles. Has anyone else experienced this and if so, what strategies were used to overcome it?


We have an 18 month old son who nurses twice per day. He's been going to a daycare from the time he's been 15 months old. I drop him off in the morning at around 07:45 and my wife picks him up after he eats lunch at around 13:00. He seems really happy there (based on our observations, the reports from the workers, and the excitement he gets when he arrives there), but since he started there, he hasn't consistently napped.

Since he was about 8 months, I have been solely responsible for putting him to bed at night. He and I developed a nice routine and he would go to bed and fall asleep without fuss 99% of the time. At that time, my wife would get him to nap by nursing him. In preparation for the daycare transition, my wife slowly reduced the nursing sessions to twice per day: once in the morning before breakfast and once in the evening before supper.

Now he won't nap except for on the weekends when I'm there. Recently I took a two week vacation from work in the hope that I would be able to help get him some much-needed naptime and then transition him over to his mother for naps once a routine was established. During those two weeks he slept great during the day, but now that I'm back at work, he won't nap. He just screams and screams and screams as soon as his mother puts him into his crib no matter what she does. He'll scream for 1.5 hours and then my wife will go and get him. In the early days of this, she would then get him to nap either by lying down with him and then by taking him for a drive in the car. He would usually fall asleep right away, but she can't then transition him back to his crib.

What we've tried:

My wife has tried to adopt and adapt our routine to no avail. She's tried to develop a routine completely different from mine. None of this works. The only way our son will nap is in the car or sleeping (and nursing) in our bed with his mother. Neither of these options are optimal.


Has anyone else experienced this circumstance. Is it just to do with differences in the ways that we've interacted with our son? It's starting to make my wife crazy and very upset. It's obviously difficult to hear your son who you love scream for an hour and despite my protests, she inevitably sees it as somehow being her fault. Of course, it isn't but that's hard to accept. If anyone manages to read through this, I'd be interested to know if anyone else has experienced anything similar to this and if so, what they've done to cope. Or if anyone has a theory about what might be behind this, I'm all ears!

  • 2
    Good job with your first question here and welcome to the community. You are clear, offer detail and description and make the type of answer you are looking for clear. Commented Nov 8, 2012 at 2:21

1 Answer 1


It sounds like your son has become dependent on you to be there to go to sleep. It might be time for you to change the way you are putting him to bed. It's easy to stick with something sometimes because it's working (The whole "If it ain't broke don't fix it" idea), but it seems like you only have a couple of options now: a) keep doing what you're doing or b) change the bedtime routine radically or c) learn to live with your child not taking a nap and put him to bed earlier. Perhaps your wife can help you put him to bed and then start transitioning over to where she is putting him to bed solo a few nights a week. He won't like it at first at all, but if what you are doing is not working then maybe it's time to try something different.

Some other thoughts: Does your son sleep well at night once you get him to bed? Sometimes if a child is not sleeping well at night, he/she will not take good naps and vice versa. Do you have a set nap-time or do you tend to follow your son's "I'm sleepy" cues? Children's naptimes and nap preferences can change from day-to-day. My daughter will go weeks and religiously go down for a nap around 11:30/noon and then suddenly she'll go through a spell where she wants to stay up until 2:00 or so in the afternoon. I have no explanation for this. Does your son nap at daycare or does your wife pick him up before naptime there? She might have some success getting him to nap at daycare where your son will see other children napping and might begin to learn to settle himself down to sleep. That might not work for you, and it will delay his pick-up time, but it's a thought.

I don't know if any of that helps, but here's hoping you figure something out!

  • Thanks for the answer! Those are good ideas. He sleeps (more or less) pretty well at night. He goes to bed at 19:30 and never wakes until 05:30 at the earliest and usually until 06:30. It's not possible because of schedules for my wife to put him to bed at night, but I think your suggestion to have him nap at the daycare is great. We haven't tried it yet and it may be the best approach. I really appreciate your response and input!
    – smillig
    Commented Nov 5, 2012 at 14:23

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