Posted by Vered on October 20 2010
Good question. :) Unfortunately, there’s no magic answer. Many babies resist sleep with all their might, and while the general advice of “be persistent and keep putting her back to bed” may work at night, naps are short, and many babies are perfectly capable of spending the full 2 hours fighting with you rather than going to sleep.
However, it has been my personal experience that if you do persist, and refuse to allow baby to play during naptime, eventually she will accept that when you announce “Time for your nap!” you mean business.
Note, that I’m not advocating the harsh “crying it out” method. I don’t think babies should be left alone to cry, at night or during nap. But I do believe that older babies need boundaries, and the fact that a baby doesn’t want to sleep doesn’t mean he shouldn’t sleep.
So with my own babies, starting at around 6 months old (before that I nursed them to sleep and napped with them), this is what I did: I cheerfully announced that it’s time for their nap. We did a short naptime routine – drawing the blinds, changing diapers, nursing. I sang a lullaby and put them in bed. When they protested, I waited a couple of minutes, then went back to them, comforted them but remained firm in my demand that they go to sleep.
It worked. The first couple of days they didn’t nap at all – they basically spent two hours protesting and I kept coming back to them but did not take them out of bed. But on the third day, both of them (I have two kids and did this with both) fell asleep almost immediately.
I know that for some families, nursing babies to sleep and napping with them works for older babies too, and this is fine. But for me, around the age of 6 months, teaching my kids that they can go to sleep on their own, in their own bed, and be safe and warm, and that I will always go to them if they need me, worked very well. Good luck!