Why Isn't My Baby Napping?

And 4 tips to get your baby's nap schedule back on track.

Why Isn't My Baby Napping?

Every parent has a breaking point when it comes to sleep. For some, it’s overnight wake-ups. For others, it’s hour-long bedtime battles. For me, it was my son’s two-week nap strike just after his first birthday. As a new parent, I didn’t know that nap strikes were a thing… but, unfortunately, they are.

If you haven’t yet experienced this phenomenon, you may be wondering: what’s a nap strike!? Well, it’s just what it sounds like. One day, for no apparent reason, your baby starts to refuse one or both naps. He may cry through his entire nap period, or he may just never fall asleep. Either way, it’s no fun for him or for you.


I didn’t know it at the time, but it’s quite common for babies to launch nap strikes around 12 months (and, just to make it more fun for us, again at 24 months). Even if I had known, I’m not sure it would have reduced the frustration of my toddler suddenly refusing both naps and becoming an overtired, hot mess by early evening.

If your child about to hit his first or second birthday? Below is my cheat sheet to sailing through these two nap stikes or at least minimizing your frustration.

Why is the nap strike happening?

At 12 months. A lot is happening in your baby’s life, around 12 months. He may be cruising or already walking. He’s probably starting to say a few words (and, behind the scenes, there’s a lot of language acquisition going on). And he’s definitely becoming more independent.

As a result of this craziness, your baby may temporarily stop taking one or both of her naps. Your natural reaction will likely be that she’s ready to drop to one nap. Hooray! No more staying home for the morning nap while all the other moms are at Baby Hip Hop class! Not so fast, mama. Almost all babies need two naps until they’re closer to 14-16 months, as they’re both developmentally important.

At 24 months. If the 12-month nap strike was rough, just think of the extra stamina your toddler now has! The Terrible Twos have arrived, and you may have a long year ahead of you.

Again, you will likely assume that your little one is ready to stop napping, but I’m going to stop you right there -- that’s a big N-O. Hold on to that nap for dear life; she needs it and you probably do too.

What can you do about the nap strike?

No matter the reason, nap strikes can be the bane of a parent’s existence. But this too shall pass, and there are a few things you can do to get your little one back on track.

1. Stay the course, and almost always, your child will start to take naps again. Instead of prematurely dropping to one nap, continue to offer two naps around 9 am and 1 pm. The same goes at the 24-month mark: continue to offer the nap at the same time every day (I recommend between 12.30/1pm at this age).

2. Consider on-the-go naps. If your child (like mine) refuses both naps, then you may need to resort to a few on-the-go late afternoon naps to see if he’ll pass out in the stroller for a few minutes. It’s not a long-term solution but will keep him slightly more well-rested while the nap strike resolves itself.

3. Put sleep boundaries in place. At 24 months, you may be able to create and enforce more boundaries around sleep. Let your little one know that nap time is not optional and leave him or her in the crib for a defined period of time, even if he or she is not sleeping.

4. Offer early bedtime. For any nap strike, the key to avoiding a sleep regression is to offer an early bedtime on days where your child isn’t napping well (or at all). An earlier bedtime will allow your child to catch up on missed sleep and will help avoid accumulating sleep debt. (If you’re worried that your child won’t be tired earlier, trust me, she or he will be).

5. Revisit your baby's sleep schedule. If you've had a busy week or have had visitors, you may find that your baby's internal clock is out of whack. If that's the case, figure out a routine that works and stick to it as much as possible.

In This Article

    14 toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

    They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

    With fall in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in outside-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

    From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

    Wooden doll stroller

    Janod wooden doll stroller

    Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.


    Detective set

    Plan Toys detective set

    This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.


    Sand play set

    Plan Toys sand set

    Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


    Water play set

    Plan Toys water play set

    Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


    Mini golf set

    Plan Toys mini golf set

    Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


    Vintage scooter balance bike

    Janod retro scooter balance bike

    Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


    Wooden rocking pegasus

    plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

    Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.


    Croquet set

    Plan Toys croquet set

    The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


    Wooden digital camera

    fathers factory wooden digital camera

    Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.


    Wooden bulldozer toy

    plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

    Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.


    Pull-along hippo

    janod toys pull along hippo toy

    There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.


    Baby forest fox ride-on

    janod toys baby fox ride on

    Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.


    Balance board

    Plan Toys balance board

    Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


    Meadow ring toss game

    Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

    Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


    We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


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