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I've cracked the catnapping! Rss

Hi ladies,

I'm a mum of 2, my eldest being 2.5 and the other is 8 weeks old. Both of my daughters were terrible daytime catnappers but slept through the night very early on in their life.

I don't claim to be an expert but I think with the benefit of hindsight and a little more experience, I swore with DD2 that I would do things differently and have had great success.

There seems to be a lot of posts about catnapping babies so I thought that I would share this with other mums who have catnappers.

Please be aware that some babies find it easier to adjust than others so some may take a little more time but either way, I recommend that you persist for at least 2 weeks EVERYDAY. If you don't persist and aren't consistent then you will be sending mixed messages to your baby. I don't recommend that you take baby out during these 2 weeks during its sleep times until your baby has learnt to self settle if it is avoidable.

DD2 is now 8 weeks and was a great baby from the get go but by week 3 or 4, she started to catnap - sometimes it was impossible to even get her down for a nap. She seemed to like being either fed to sleep or rocked to sleep. This is what I did to turn the catnapping around:

When DD2 turned 7 weeks, I made up my mind to stick to the following rules: No dummies, no feeding and rocking to sleep and most importantly, being consistent and persistent.

DD is now 8 weeks and is currently taking 150mls - 200mls of formula during each awake period. I noticed that if she took any less than 150mls during her "awake time" she was very likely to catnap. I also noticed that I missed a lot of the "tired signs". When I say "tired signs", I mean things like baby yawning, getting grizzly and grimacing so its important that you watch out for them.

Here is rough guide of our routine:

6am - DD2 wakes and feed 150mls

6:20am bath (I like to bath DD2 in the morning so I don't have to bath 2 kids in the evening but you can skip this and go straight to tummy time/ play time.)

6:35am tummy time/play time on the baby gym - I try to give as much tummy time as she'll do to tire her out and interact with her as much as possible.

(in between I start getting DD1 ready, give her milk and breakfast)

7:30am - I attempt a top up feed if she'll take it (approx 50mls)

7:15am - I take DD1 into her room (away from tv and toddler), turn on soft music like Enya or anything conducive for sleep - no radio though as pitch varies too much, wrap her up, put her on the bouncer (with no mobiles hanging or dangly bits on the bouncer as this is too stimulating) for quiet time. No talking, and pay her no attention - at this point, I usually go and take a quick shower. If your bouncer has a vibrating / swing function, do not turn it on as this will defeat the whole self settling purpose.

7:25am - without talking to her or having any eye contact, I put her into her cot and let her self settle to sleep. (Note: if you have a mobile hanging over the cot, suggest that you take it off as it is too stimulating).

7:30-10am - she's asleep or I'll wake her up for a feed to restart the above process.

I think feeding and sleep a very closely related. If a baby is not full or hasn't had enough, they are less likely to self settle or sleep for longer periods so you need to figure how much is enough for your baby.

I was told by a midwife that the guidelines on tins of formula are based on babies in the 90th percentile for weight so don't be surprised if your baby can't keep up. Both my DDs didn't although, DD2 is close as she is in the 75th percentile.

I try not to let the routine stray too much because if DD2 is fed before 10am then she will only snack on 50mls and this usually will have a knock on effect for the rest of the day causing her to catnap as she is never quite full.

If I let her sleep longer then it means that I won't be able to fit in more than 4 feeds in 24 hours (including the dream feed around 10 or 11pm). I think at this age she needs at least 5 feeds.

My day will start whenever DD2 wakes up and this can vary between 5:50am - 7am.

I must confess, the first couple of times I tried the above, she protested / cried a little but it wasn't a big cry, just a little wa wa but then she fell asleep all on her own. I was surprised.

Whenever she surfaced from her first sleep cycle (around 40 mins), she did initially cry a little but I stood back and waited to see if she would settle herself. I listened to the cry, if she was just doing a bit of a whinge, I let her continue until she stopped. If she was hysterical and patting wasn't going to do the job, then I picked her up because there is no way she will settle if she's hysterical. Sometimes it was just a bit of wind, other times it was for comfort. Either way, after I calmed her down, I would put her down in the cot and let her self settle herself again. If this doesn't work, I might try a little bit of a top up in case she might still be hungry. If she fell asleep on the bottle, I woke her up and put her down awake so that she knows where she is and has the opportunity to self settle to sleep. The only bad thing about the "in between sleep cycle" top up is that it may cause snacking for the rest of the day if I misread what she wanted (at this point its still trial and error).

Sometimes, things don't always work out like the above routine every day.

I find that if she doesn't take the full 150mls all in one go, then I often break the feed up by either offering it to her again 10 mins later or straight after the bath or wait until the top up feed and offer the 50mls plus the amount of whatever she didn't drink previously instead of just the 50mls - in this instance I make a new bottle - you can't use the old milk because it would be out for too long.

Now, I'm not saying that this will work for everyone and you will need to tweak it depending on the age of your baby as younger and older babies need less/more awake time and less/ more formula but as a general guide:

4 - 12 week old babies need 1-1.5hrs of awake time and 1.5 - 3 hours of nap time.

3 months - 6 month old babies need 1.5-2.5 of awake time and 1.5-2.5 hours of nap time

I don't recommend starting this before 4 weeks old because babies often fall asleep on the bottle and often need to fall asleep straight after a feed.

Anyway, I know its quite a lengthy post but I tried to be detailed.

Goodluck and hopefully you'll have some success.

[Edited on 01/10/2009]
Thanks for your advice, I am having HUGE problems with my DS (12wks) taking 45min naps during the day, he wakes screaming, no grizzle to start with. I put him to sleep awake most the time but he still cat naps - its doing my head in to be honest and I am finding it very hard to deal with. There is only so many walks & car rides I can take in one day. When he is up, he isn't hungry then gets overtired by the time the next feed comes and its a downhill spiral from there. I might try the quiet time in the bouncer thing and see if that helps.
My 7 week DD catnaps chronic. We do the routine wake up in the morning feed her bit of play time then when I notice she's getting sleepy I take her to our room (bassinet or on our bed) pat her shoosh her then before she goes to sleep put her down semi conscious. She gives me the illusion she's going to sleep so I leave her. 10 mins later she sqawks.I start the process all over again. Grrrr.

She only sleeps ages if we hold her or lay down with her.

What do you mean by percentile? She's hit the 5kg mark and has between 120-150ml each feed depending on how long she's been awake for.

She sleeps fine at night 3-4 sometimes 5 hour sleeps. This day thing is insane and Im at my wits end. I cant complain to much as she could be a right turd and do it at night but she doesnt. I just want her to nap so that she's not so grizzly.

If I was to try your method she would get hysterical as she has done before. Even picking her up to settle her then put her down after her tanty still doesnt work. She will still get hysterical.

I am going to wait til DH goes back to the mines to do a strict routine with her. It might be the only way.


My baby is 5 weeks now and has been catnapping same as your baby (from the previous post) for a week now. Have you found something that has worked yet?? I teaching him to self settle to sleep but trying to get him back to sleep after a sleep
Cycle during the day is near impossible. I have tried letting him grizzle/cry and he gets hysterical and I'm trying resettling him by patting, shhhhing and rocking in bassinette. Have only had success a handful of times. He definitely needs the sleep As the day I let him cat nap all day he was incredibly over tired by the end of the day and wouldn't sleep at all. Awake for 6+ hours and a heap of crying before he slept. He is perfect at night too so I know he can sleep through a cycle but he'll only do it for 2x night sleeps all other sleeps he wakes. I've tried white noise, he's swaddled, he's full just won't resettle himself!! He is also on routine more or less in terms of feeding every 3ish hours feed/play/sleep. Advice anyone??? I need a strategy to get him sleeping through cycles
Hi I'm having same issue with my 9 wk old boy at night he sleeps in 2-3 hr blocks which is fine but during day won't sleep I have to rock him then he falls asleep in my arms when I put him down he wakes up.. He has like 30 min naps but not much during the day just a few times. I can't get anything done I don't even have time to eat lunch.. Help? I Breast feed him
My boy is 10 weeks tomorrow and I have the same issue with day time catnapping. I've tried resettling him after he wakes from the first sleep cycle but have never been successful. I do the whole shushing and patting when he is calm. Pick up when he screams his head off and pop him back down when he is calm and resume the shushing and patting. How long do I keep it up? Till the next feed? Any suggestions on other resettling techniques? I have tried to be consistent with this for a week and havent seen much improvement? Any tips, pointers, suggestions is greatly appreciated as it is driving me crazy.
Thanks for the information. That is excellent advice.
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