Monday, May 16, 2011

Concerning babies and naps...

A sweet POH reader asked the following question about babies and naps... I wrote her back but thought I'd give my response here in case anyone else wanted to know how I approach naps. It can be very frustrating for Moms because babies rarely follow the perfect "Baby Wise" schedule that you read about in all the parenting books. (Spoiler alert: I don't have all the answers! :)

Her Question:
"...I feel like I never got naps down for my oldest until he was maybe 18 months old. He was a catnapper and it drove me crazy! Now with my daughter, I can see the same problems, and I'm hoping for some advice. Does anyone have experience with lengthening naps in babies? I don't want to create a monster by letting her sleep everywhere but her crib (except at night - she does fine then), and having to reverse everything in a few months. I'm a big fan of babywearing, but I also want to create healthy sleep habits - it seems contradictory at times! Just curious if anyone had some tips or reassurance!"

My response:
I totally understand your frustration with naps! My babies all had a hard time taking a full nap (I consider at least 90 minutes a full nap; my girls generally woke up at 45 minutes). I probably don't have any great advice for you concerning naps. I will say that well-rested babies are much happier babies and I generally do whatever is necessary to give them a good nap! With my first, I would rock her back to sleep so she could finish her nap. (Oh, how I wish I could have the time to enjoy such bliss with each baby!) Once I had two children, that obviously wasn't possible, so I would wear Karlie in a sling/ baby carrier to finish her nap. And now with Abbi, I move her to the couch when she wakes up early from a nap because she will go right back to sleep. I also swaddle my babies tightly for the first 9 months or so and let them have a paci for about the first 13 months, which definitely helps them sleep better. I did have to do a form of cry-it-out with each of my older girls when I took away those sleep props (which I utterly hate doing!), but it usually only lasts a few days, teaches them how to sleep on their own, and I figure it is worth it to keep them from crying much in the first nine months. I also don't give my little babies a very long "awake" time -- at the first sign of a yawn I wrap them up and put them down for a nap. At 3 months, Abbi still hardly ever stays awake for more than an hour and is usually ready for a nap after only 45 minutes. As long as I don't let her stay up too long and get overtired, she never puts up any fight to go to sleep.

Sorry that I don't have any other great ideas, but please know that naps are something all Moms struggle with. My babies are all very different from each other, but I've never had a perfect napper :)