July 02, 2015

Q: My 13-month-old son has gotten into the bad habit of only napping in my arms since he was about 4 months old. He sleeps very well in the crib at night, but he will scream at naptime from the second I put him down until I pick him up again. I've tried everything, and he has screamed for up to 3 hours before (with me checking on him periodically). He's now afraid of his crib during the day, and I am at my wit's end. I also have a 3-year-old child, so this situation is not working out well anymore. Help!

A: Nap problems are very common, so don’t feel that you are all alone.  Start by having him get used to the crib and making it a fun place to be.  Play games in and around his crib for a few minutes, several times a day.  For example, hide a favorite toy in his crib or play peek-a-boo through the bars.  At the same time, be sure to have a mini naptime routine in his room.  After a few days, start putting him down for his nap but stay and pat him to sleep.  Once he is used to falling asleep in the crib, start gradually moving yourself farther away from it.  Stick with this, and you will be successful.  It is easier to make these changes now rather than wait until he is older, since these kinds of changes will be harder and harder to make.

Answered by Dr. Jodi Mindell