Raquel Tara

Baby Sleeps At Night But Won’t Nap During The Day

11 January by Raquel Tara 3138
Baby won't sleep during the day unless I hold him

Help! My 8-week-old baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day. He will sleep in my arms in the daytime but wakes when I put him down. At night he’ll sleep in the bassinet but won’t leave my arms while the sun is up.


Consistency is key


If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, what he needs are simple cues for rest. After you have established a predictable routine and familiar environment conducive to sleep, he will feel grounded enough to feel capable to self settle.

I like to remind clients that a holistic view of the whole day is important. The ideal way to help him learn cues for bed is to keep things the same and predictable at every sleep time. This consistency is particularly important in the first months, but remains a core factor throughout infancy.


Don’t let your baby get overtired


Ensuring you don’t go over your baby’s ‘window of wake time’ is important too. 8-week-old babies are particularly affected by stimulation. And overtiredness the worst kind of stimulation. Overtiredness is often what causes babies to fight sleep.


Sleep habits for babies are radically different as they grow


An 8-week-old baby is a little way past the newborn stage and is almost a fully fledged infant. Your baby is beginning to notice the world around him beyond boob, sleep and the smell of mum. This transition is a prime time to give much more opportunities to self-settle.

What that looks like when providing opportunities to self-settle to an 8-week-old is very different to providing opportunities for older babies that you are ‘sleep training’. So while newborns are all about the boob to sleep (because they mostly eat and sleep and not much else), after 6 weeks that begins to shift dramatically as your baby wakes up to the world he now lives in.


Healthy sleep habits for an 8-week-old baby


How do you encourage self-soothing in an 8-week-old baby?

8 weeks is a great time to begin introducing healthy sleep habits for your baby. If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, you are already halfway there! All you need to do is ensure that his sleep routine for daytime is the same as for night time.

There is no need to ‘train’ your baby per se. But there is a need to ensure you are:

  • creating the most encouraging sleep environment possible
  • providing a predictable routine
  • ensuring you offer opportunities for him to self-settle without developing dependencies on crutches.

When babies go to sleep on their own, in the same spot they fell asleep – without boob, dummies, rocking etc – they sleep deeper and longer.


5 top tips to help your baby sleep during the day

If your baby sleeps at night but won’t nap during the day, apply these actions for both day and night sleep until it all becomes a single holistic routine. With consistency, the repeated pattern will establish itself as a habit for both you and your baby.


  1. Ensure his nap times happen within 1–1.5 hours of waking. Until you get the hang of it, I’d be giving him nap time opportunities no later than 1 hour from wake time.
  2. Ensure the sleep environment is dark. Close the blinds as you begin the nap process, and open them as soon as you decide to get him up. Dark rooms are important because darkness promotes the production of melatonin – the sleep hormone we all need a lot of to get to sleep – especially after 6 weeks of age.
  3. If you are feeding baby to sleep, tune into when you feel bub is beginning to relax. Communicate to him that you are going to remove your nipple so he can have a nice cosy sleep in his bed (bassinet).
  4. Only feed near sleep time if he is due for a feed. Don’t feed him just so he will go to sleep. At this age, sleep time is often near feeding time. However, if he is not due to eat, simply hold him in the dark for 5 –10 minutes, sing a lullaby, and put him down while he’s still awake, but sleepy.
  5. Remain in the room. If he cries, as long as the cries don’t escalate after 10 minutes, just be present. Respond with reassurance: “I can hear you are confused. Mummy is going to have a lay down too. I’m sleepy. We’re both sleepy. Let’s have a rest.” Wait until he is asleep before you leave the room.


Healthy baby sleep habits start with consistency and security

You will likely find that if you incorporate these 5 tips, after one or two naps in a dark room, your baby will work out how to self settle, comfortable in the knowledge you are there with him.

To help baby develop this sense of security, be present, listen to and hear your baby while he expresses himself. Observe the differences in his cries (communication). Allow him to show you how capable he is.

Babies gain confidence to show you just how capable they are when you give them predictable daytime routines: same sleep space as at night, limited wake times, and no aids to sleep (boob, dummy, rocking etc).

You can assist the process by calmly explaining to him, “Ok, sleepy time now, let’s get you down in your bed…” That kind of talk will help you as much as him. You’re vocalising the situation/plan, which keeps you calm, and he is calmed by the sound of your voice – the most familiar sound in the world to him, and thus the most soothing.

When you give babies these opportunities well before 4 months, many of them experience a lot less difficulty reaching cognitive milestones. Because they feel grounded. And they feel grounded because they know what’s happening next.


Read about my top 4 must-haves for all sleep times in my blog post, Baby Sleep Essentials: 4 Must Haves to Help Your Baby Sleep. 


Do you have baby sleep questions? Please join my private Facebook group, Baby Talk Australia, where I do regular Q&As with parents like you.

About Raquel Tara – Baby Sleep Support


Infant sleep is major parenting puzzle. Inspired by Magda Gerber’s RIE approach, I’ve been advising families for over 20 years on how to put the pieces together. I’d love to help you too.

Work 1:1 with me through my Baby Sleep Support packages. I also host a free private Facebook group for parents of infants, Baby Talk Australia.

Last modified on Thursday, 26 July 2018 at 10:42 am
Thanks for sharing !

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