My daughter hates nap time, scratch that, she hates going to sleep. She’s a nosey little madam and will not sleep if there’s too much going on and even in the dimmest of lit rooms with zero noise or white noise or Ewan the sheep she will fight it! Don’t get me wrong we’ve been lucky and on a night from about 3 months old she’s generally been a good sleeper waking only once or twice for a feed (at one point she wasn’t waking at all and due to her slow weight gain/tongue tie issues I had to set alarm to feed her).
The problems are day time naps and getting her off to sleep. She hates day time naps, hates them, she fights sleep and often once I’ve got her off for a nap she wakes minutes (or even seconds) later. I’ve tried everything, I rock her off, comfort feed her so she falls asleep on the boob, let her self soothe (she went through a short period of being amazing at this then twigged that she was being left to nap and packed it in) I’ve used white noise, car journeys, long walks, the lot. All are tried and tested ways of getting her off for a nap but don’t always mean she naps for long and often I find myself walking or driving around for that extra 20mins-half an hour just to make sure she’s had some decent shut eye. I also sit in the car with engine still running before going back in the house just to make sure she’s hard and fast off or stand in the hallway pushing the pram back and forth giving the illusion of still being out walking. I’ve never known the streets of my local area as well, I spend that much time walking or driving them!!
I’ve been preached at by many saying that I’m making a rod for my own back doing each of these methods to get her off to sleep. However, I personally don’t fancy the cry it out method, nothing against those that like it but I just can’t bear to hear her cry and know my daughter well enough to know that she won’t give in by being left to cry it out and instead will just keep getting more worked up each time I leave her. I’ve also been told not to worry so much about naps if she’s sleeping so well on a night. Well actually that’s not the case, she doesn’t sleep well on a night if she’s not napped well in the day plus have you ever tried to look after an over tired baby? Witching hour is a real thing, it exists and lasts for longer than an hour and teamed with teething is hell on earth! So thank you for those “rod for your own back” and “don’t worry about naps” comments but actually I prefer to work my arse off to ensure she gets some naps during the day because it makes for a happier baby and happier mummy (as well as a decent nights sleep!).
The thing with naps I’ve found most of all is catching it at the right time, you see I did try and establish (ok force) a nap time routine, but a breastfed baby that’s fed on demand I found made it difficult to find a set time for a nap. What’s worked better is relaxing and going with the flow and trying to catch her in the right window of opportunity. Generally, she gets tired at roughly similar times of the day but I try not to focus too much on that and more on little P’s natural responses and behaviour. If I catch her too early or too late then nap time is battle and can become a nightmare but as long as it’s timed for when she’s become tired enough to drop off but not so tired that she’s past it then I can usually manage to rock her off and put her down in her bassinet. Too early and she just ends up have dozing on me for a few minutes giving herself enough for a second wind and not napping at all so I feel the consequences later. Too late and I have start pulling out the big guns, rocking with soft singing, white noise and sometimes a comfort feed, at this point I’m lucky if I can manage to get her in her cradle and often end up having a snuggle with her as she snoozes. I’ve started to embrace these snoozy cuddles though, at the end of the day it’s more important that she sleeps and my maternity leave is grinding too halt so I need to make the most of these moments! Soon she’ll be older, I’ll be back at work and a morning of Phil and Holly with baby P snuggled up snoring on me will just be a memory.
I also find we have to have a trip out, even if it’s a quick nip to the shop or walk around the block, the fresh air helps prepare her for a nap, it almost wears her out enough to off. So in a weird way we’ve got nap times cracked, even if they are taken in the car, pram or in mummy’s arms. We’re managing them!
Nighttime can be a whole different kettle of fish!! My hubby and I from early on tried to establish a bedtime routine, even though in the early days of cluster feeding, 2 hourly feeds and typical newborn wake times this routine might have to be at a different time on an evening we tried to get a clear pattern going. I do think it worked, we always have given little miss P a bath, then dimmed the bedroom lights, given her a bit of baby massage with hushed voices, gentle whispers and singing, got her ready for bed, given her a feed and (attempted) to put her down to sleep. It wasn’t long before breastfeeding was established and cluster or frequent feeding was no more and we were able to make this series of bedtime rituals at the same time each night (call us old fashioned but we are great believers of baby/children being put to bed at a decent time each night). Sorted then I hear you say. Easy as pie…
Wrong! You see we have a clear routine and plan that we’ve done over and over again so this bedtime malarkey should be easy…we just have one problem…baby P likes to sabotage it!! Some nights she likes to giggle, play and generally be a mischievous little madam. Now although this may be pleasant behaviour and not her upset and crying, it can go on for hours and the early, appropriate bedtime we want for our darling daughter goes out the window, thanks to the young lady herself! In fact the nights where she’s teething and upset or tired and fighting it are easier as we take it in turns to rock and sooth her until sleeps-they’re upsetting, tedious and draining as parents but they don’t generally last as long and between the two of us we can get her off to sleep. But the playful bedtimes are tough because we know deep down she’s tired and that it’s a game to her so we have to carefully ride it out. We have to try not to get her too stimulated or interact too much because this encourages more playtime but it’s hard to resist her beaming giggles in the dim light! At the same time though we need to let her burn off some of the energy she seems to have suddenly generated pre-bedtime. Again I’ve started to relax into this and go with the flow a little, keeping our bath and bed time routine at the same time etc but working alongside P to get her off into dreamland.
Sleep patterns and routines are so hard and there’s so much advice and judgement out there, we’re now just trying to do what’s right for us and baby P. We’ve settled into our own napping methods and have a decent bedtime set up at the same time each evening, even if her ladyship refuses to sleep at that time! So far it seems to be working for us and baby P is a healthy happy baby so as much as it can be tedious at times, I don’t care if I’ve made a rod for my own back or if I should be following what some text book says. I have a daughter who’s a nosey Parker and will avoid sleep like the plague so whilst it’s working, I’ll stick to it!
I’ll change it and try other things if and when I need to but for now if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Or should I say if it ain’t awake don’t disturb it!