Progressive Napping Success

When we were still pregnant with Harper, we both read a book called Healthy Sleeping Habits, Happy Child. It's extremely repetitive and monotonous to read, but it's scientifically sound and it beats the concepts into your brain so you will not forget them. I'm a pretty slow reader, so it took me forever to read the recommended chapters to read before you have your baby. Casey was finished ages before me.

Anyway, we followed basically what the book said. I will probably kick myself for cutting corners but sometimes things need to get done and naps have to be shortened. At 3 months & 1 week old, we pretty much have the nap thing down. Some days are still better than others, but we're still working on it.

When I first started working on her naps, I would have to sit beside her and keep putting her pacifier in when she fell asleep and it fell out, then she'd wake up and cry. I would have to do that for a long time, until she finally would get into a deep enough sleep that she wouldn't notice that the pacifier wasn't there anymore. Then I would have to sneak out quietly, without waking her up. That is an art all of its own.

After a while, I got so I only needed to stay in the room until she fell asleep, and she would be fine. Unfortunately, she would wake and cry quite often. At 2 months old, I wasn't really comfortable letting her cry it out. So, up the stairs I'd go, and put her pacifier in and stay until she went back to sleep. We basically spent all day doing this. I could tell when she didn't need to go back to sleep, because when I put her pacifier in her eyes didn't roll into the back of her head. Then we'd get up for the recommended hour to hour and a half, and then start all over again.

Then, at 3 months, I was approaching the bottom of the stairs to go  put her pacifier back in, and I stopped and thought to myself, I'm going to let her cry for a bit. She cried for 10 minutes and then went back to sleep for an hour and a half! Victory! The next day, however, she did the same thing, but this time she cried for 25 minutes. I told myself I'd go up after 30. I could tell that her cry wasn't a "I'm hungry" or "I've got poop in my diaper" cry so I let her go. She finally went back to sleep and slept for a long time. So far, that has been the worst day (knock on wood!).

This book isn't for everyone. Though, I did find that it was fairly accepting of different parenting styles such as those who don't let their children cry it out or those that do, etc. Some people find that he is very "my way or the highway." I didn't really find that, but I know others did.

I thought I'd highlight some things he said on napping:

- It's the brain, not the stomach, that causes waking, so don't confuse waking up with hungriness.

- Stationary sleep is the best form of sleep. SO, if you're walking your baby to try and get him to sleep, turn around and go home, or if they're in a swing, shut it off once they fall asleep.

- After four months of age, naps NEED to be more than 1 hour in length.

- Don't let your baby get over tired, let them go to sleep when they start to become drowsy!

- The more rested a child is, the more she will accept sleep, even expects it.

I've always heard things like, keep him awake so he'll sleep all night! Well, we've found that, like what the book said, its not true. The worst times we had with our baby were those when she was not well rested.

I get compliments all the time about how happy my little girl is. Some even contribute it to the family that she comes from and that she will "want for nothing, ever." Do you really think that's why my 3 month old is happy all the time? Because she can have any toy she wants? No. It's seriously because she is extremely well rested. Wanna know how I know that? I've seen her when she's not well rested. It's not pretty.

Last week, she didn't nap very well at all one day, and the next day, she was not herself at all. She wouldn't smile at anyone, she cried for no reason, and she pretty well slept all day. After catching up on her naps, she was back to herself the next day.

So, when people ask me how I get my daughter to sleep though the night and nap well, I always point them to this book. I don't have a super strict schedule, but I do respect my baby's need to sleep.

My little napper.