The naptime fight

My son hates to sleep.

I guess most babies do — perhaps because they’re afraid of missing something, an infant-sized dose of FOMO that compels them to scream their heads off when you even venture near the crib.

Where Oliver would once drift off in his rock ‘n’ play without much of a fight, our almost 10-month-old (I’m sorry, did I just type 10-month-old?) now loses his noggin if he even gets a whiff of you wanting to put him down for a snooze.

The problem? He’s exhausted, of course. And when he gets exhausted, he gets mad. Our easygoing, never-met-a-stranger child becomes a possessed possum when he’s sleepy: clawing his way back to consciousness, refusing to give up the ghost.

I have no idea what his kind day care provider does, honestly. She never reports a problem. But I’m kind of afraid to ask.

There is no foolproof solution to this. He once wanted his bottle before drifting off, but eventually gave that up. He doesn’t take a pacifier anymore. Spencer and I just do the best we can, soothing him into his midday snoozes with a story or well-timed car ride. He goes to bed just fine at night, thank God, but those naps are a fight that takes all the energy we’ve got. And some we don’t.

That’s most of parenting, I’m finding: everything you have until you are empty, depleted. It requires you to become an excavator, digging around for something — anything — to give again.

But then they smile at you, reaching out a chubby hand or thoughtfully tugging a lock of your hair.

It is hard. It is so worth it . . . but it is hard.


Yesterday morning, I sat by his crib as he rubbed, rubbed, rubbed his eyes and screamed, a red-faced and angry shriek that cut straight to the bone. It took everything I had not to reach in and scoop him up, whispering anything I thought would comfort him, but I knew the war would only wage again five minutes later.

I reached for a book, perching in the rocking chair just out of sight — close enough to hear every breath, grit my teeth through every cry, but not where Oliver would see me.

Maybe he sensed me there, trying to relax while my child kicked and howled. Maybe, in a strange way, it was comforting.

But he finally relented, falling fitfully into baby sleep. His face eased. The tears — thick rivers down his cheeks — quickly dried. I moved delicately toward him, pulling a bunched-up blanket away from his face, and crept downstairs to finally eat the cold English muffin I’d toasted an hour before.

And then the doorbell rang: solicitors. With pamphlets.

And I guess that’s just parenthood, too.

12 thoughts on “The naptime fight

  1. My strong-headed younger child yelled and screamed once when I put her down for a nap. After about 10 minutes the crying had subsided completely. I went and checked on her and discovered she’d fallen asleep sitting up in the corner of the crib, her head tipped back and supported by the place where the long side of the crib meets the short side. I left her alone a little while longer, letting her slip deeper into sleep, before going back and gently guiding her small body to the mattress so she could finish her nap lying down.

    Kids, right? :>


  2. So the silent treatment does work! ha! I’ve been babysitting my two cousin brothers since they were wee lil things, but only for a few hours, the most being a few days, and mind you they are a handful! big shout out to moms out there!! it is worth every chubby lil kiss you get ! 🙂


  3. Baby sleep is so fickle and always changing! Caleb has never been a good napper and has never napped in his crib. He started sleeping through the night though at 6 weeks, and slept in his crib from 2 months to 12 months. The last few weeks though, all of a sudden he wants nothing to do with his crib anymore. It’s been… challenging, to say the least. I always have to remind myself it’s all temporary and soon enough he will be a big boy and wanting to be in his room all the time. Sometimes it helps and sometimes it’s just sad! So difficult being a mom!


  4. when I was younger and I couldn’t fall asleep my mom usually held me in her arms while she sang to me. maybe that could work for your baby.

    On Sun, Feb 7, 2016 at 9:07 AM, write meg! wrote:

    > Meg posted: “My son hates to sleep. I guess most babies do — perhaps > because they’re afraid of missing something, an infant-sized dose of FOMO > that compels them to scream their heads off when you even venture near the > crib. Where Oliver would once drift off in ” >


  5. First let me say that he is tooooooo adorable. And there truly is something about nap time that they dislike. Regardless of how exhausted it is as though they fear they are going to miss something. It used to be that we would rock her but now it seems as though she does better if she is just laying down. It’s almost like she thinks she “made” the choice to go to sleep and not us putting her to sleep.


  6. We have the same nap time fight. It’s starting to get better since he merged his two short afternoon naps and has more awake time but man, it was rough for a long time. There were times when he would cry and fight it for almost an hour only to sleep for 20-30 minutes! I had to remind myself daily that it was temporary and would get better eventually and it is (slowly but surely)!


  7. I’ve just started doing this for nap times for my daughter! We created successful bedtimes by letting her cry it out with me sitting in the room offering comforting comments every few minutes. But she’s going through a sleep regression and she won’t go down for naps easily although she’s exhausted. Thanks for posting about this. Just the parenting encouragement I needed!


  8. Ha! I can so relate to every word on this page! I’ve been having a tough couple of days with Cara and she’s now passed out on the kitchen table (on a bouncer) which means that the shower I wanted in the other room is probably out of the question right now. She wanted nothing to do with her rock n play and my back is sore from holding her most of yesterday. Ha!!

    Ask your daycare provider. I had a lot of struggles with Elle and when I finally asked she told me that she puts her to sleep on her stomach (she was younger than Ollie and not able to roll back to front). That did the trick! We are also a big believer in white noise-discovered this with Evie and now everyone has white noise for sleep. But you never know–she might be able to tell you her tricks!


  9. I raised four kids – all went to sleep on their own at night, but like Ollie refused to go to sleep on their own for naps. I rocked them to sleep – took a few minutes – no tears and I got to hold and spend a few precious minutes alone with them. The years they napped all ended by the time they were 3. How I wish I could have those moments back. Ollie is adorable- in the end though, you need to do what works best for you!


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