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Q&A: My Baby only wants to catnap

Dr. Christine Wood, M.D


Q My 6 month old only wants to catnap. I work full time, and try my best to keep to a daily routine, but it is very hard. She is a very healthy baby and doesn't seem to be lacking sleep. At times, the only way she will sleep for a long period of time is if hold her. It is very exhausting for me. Won't she begin to expect it? I cannot bear to let her cry it out. She cries so hard, she starts coughing. Could part of this be due to separation anxiety? I had to go back to work a month after she was born. She stays with my Mom or my husband. I was hoping this would not happen as a result of my going back to work. Any suggestions?

A Catnaps in babies in this age can occur, but it sounds like she is controlling how she falls asleep and requires your attention to get to sleep. You did not mention how she is sleeping at night. If she is up a lot at night, and needs your help to fall asleep, she has developed a sleep crutch. At nighttime, I would definitely recommend starting to let her cry it out if she is up in the middle of the night. Also, make sure you have a good bedtime routine, and put her in her crib awake. Again, you can let her cry to fall asleep.

For naps, it is more difficult. I usually find if they cry for more than 20 minutes or so, the odds are they won't fall asleep. You certainly can let her cry for 5 or 10 minutes and see what happens. Otherwise, I think you will have to resign yourself that she is just not a good daytime sleeper. I would make sure you are focusing on her nighttime pattern, because it may help her daytime pattern.

Also, don't feel guilty about the work thing. All babies go through separation anxiety at some point - working mom or not.

Christine Wood, MD

Click here to Ask Dr. Christine Wood questions about your baby's health

Dr. Christine Wood is a practicing pediatrician in Southern California. She attended the University of Detroit for her undergraduate degree in chemistry and received her medical degree from the University of Michigan. She completed her pediatric residency at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. She was Chief Resident there and then worked in the emergency room at Children's Hospital of Los Angeles. After three years doing pediatric emergency room medicine she went into private practice. She received her lactation educator certification from the University of California, San Diego.

She is the author of "How to Get Kids to Eat Great and Love It," a book that addresses the issues of why and how to feed kids healthy. The book also covers information about environmental threats and the role of nutritional supplementation for children. She lives in Southern California with her husband and son.

Christine is also the cofounder of Call Your a website designed to give concerned parents with non-emergency medical questions, solid, no-nonsense information that can give them information in deciding when to call the doctor and some home treatment advice. You can visit her website at

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