How can I get my 9-month-old to take naps alone?

Q: How can I get my 9-month-old to take naps alone? She sleeps fine at night and will go down with no problem but will not for her naps.

A: Consistency is key. Sleep routines should be the same during the day and the night. The issue with nap resistance is that your little one doesn't want to miss out on the action. Take it as a compliment--she enjoys spending time with you! But, that doesn't mean it's okay to skip the nap. Nine-month-olds usually need two naps a day to recharge those batteries, grow, and be refreshed to play and learn (which is a full time job for kids). So, keep that in mind as I give you this advice:

Follow the same sleep routine as you do at night. Do a feeding, sing a song, read a book, snuggle, and put your baby down in her crib in a relaxed mood--but not sound asleep. She needs to know that it is time for sleep and that you are not sticking around to rock her or sleep with her. Then, let her sort it out. She gets 45 minutes to an hour to do as she pleases. She can choose to nap, to talk to her toys or to protest. But, that is her time. If she chooses to fall asleep, great! If she chooses to raise a stink about it, you have to let her do that as well. I do not recommend returning to re-soothe her. She will only protest more when you leave or you will encourage her to continue the protest because it gets her out of naptime. Most babies adapt very quickly because they are quite capable of self-soothing and winding down to sleep. That adapt to the new routine over a few days. It is usually much easier than the parent ever expected it would be.

A final note: Remove any other sleep crutches that require your assistance--like falling asleep with a pacifier. Your child will want to you replace it every time it falls out of her mouth if she falls asleep with one. She is old enough to sleep without one now!

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