Friday, 17 October 2014

Baby Sleep

Do you ever find that the process of writing about an issue you are having helps you resolve it? It took me a few days to finish writing this post. I wrote when I had time and when I didn't, I composed sentences in my head. By the time I was ready to publish it, I felt like I had a better idea of how I want to handle Paloma's naps. Read on...

Baby sleep. If this isn't the most talked about/thought about aspect of parenting, I don't know what is. Strangers see you with a baby and it's one of the first thing they ask: "Is she sleeping through the night?"  Why is sleep the thing that people focus on? I just don't get it. There is so much more to parenting than your baby's sleep habits, but I'll admit that often times it feels like my life revolves around getting her to sleep and waiting for her next nap.

Paloma has become a 40 minute napper. Sometimes less. I used to put her to sleep with a pacifier, but now she detests the thing with a passion. (Just ask Andino who heard her screaming this morning in disgust as I repeatedly tried to get her to take it.) Then I started nursing & rocking her to sleep and then transferring her to the crib once she was fast asleep. The problem with that is, it would take me 20 minutes of putting her to sleep in my arms before laying her in her crib. That would give me only 10-20 minutes to myself before I'd hear her crying again. In that short window of time, I'd try to quickly wash my face / do the dishes / mop the floor or some other productive thing. Then she'd wake up and I'd be back to entertaining her. It became exhausting. And she's a really easy going baby. When she's awake, she's usually happy to play in her exersaucer or jolly jumper or lay on the floor sucking on Sofia the Giraffe if I have to get something done. (Unless she's having a fussy day.) If she's fussy, I just put her in my wrap and she doesn't make a peep. Especially now that she's big enough to put her in back carries, there have been plenty of times where I had her on my back while I did housework. Sometimes she falls asleep laying her head against my back and sometimes she just looks around. But as nice as that is... it's also nice to have time to myself without a baby attached to my body or in my arms or staring at me. 

Paloma has been doing her nights for a long time now. (Thank God) Sometimes I wonder if the reason she only takes short naps during the day is because she is getting the vast majority of her sleep at night, so she doesn't need many hours of day time sleep. She usually starts to get sleepy anywhere from an hour and 15 minutes to 2 hours awake. Then she takes a little power snooze to recharge her batteries. I think once she's able to stay awake for longer stretches of time without getting tired, her naps will become less frequent and longer. Normally, when I see the signs she's tired (rubbing her eyes and yawning) I start putting her to sleep by nursing her. Yesterday, as soon as she yawned I put her in the crib, turned the lights off and turned on her little musical aquarium. And after a few minutes of fussing she fell asleep!! For only 40 minutes, yes... but she fell asleep on her own. I had 40 minutes all to myself and I didn't know what to do with all that time! (I blogged) Since then, I've continued to try to get her to fall asleep on her own in her crib and so far, it's worked a few times. Not every time by any means, but a few times... which is better than no times. The morning naps are much easier than the late afternoon naps.

Truth be told, I am so sick of trying to mold my baby into  the perfect napper as determined by the sleep specialists. Who are those people anyway? I think they are the only parents whose children sleep perfectly, because every other parent I talk to seems to have one issue or another with their child's sleep. Paloma is only 4.5 months old and I've already wasted hours of my life googling baby sleep, only to have her do what she would have done anyway. I really feel like there is way too much pressure on parents to master their children's sleep. To have them on the proper schedule, to not use sleep props and to certainly not nurse them to sleep. For all naps to occur in the crib for a minimum of an hour and the list of dos and don'ts goes on. Whenever I try to follow all that advice I feel like a slave to my baby's constant naps.

I'm not saying I don't  want to care at all about her sleep schedule and routines, I just want to care less. To go with the flow and not care so much if she misses a nap and gets overtired. To not schedule my life around her sleep. Andino really wants that too. He often tells me he's seen babies up dancing well into the night or asleep in a wrap as their Mama dances at various music festivals he's played at. And I want to be like that too! I want that for Paloma. I want her to have fun memories of watching her Dad on stage at hippy music festivals and seeing all the free-spirited people dancing and having fun. I don't want to miss out on those things because she needs to go to sleep. Easier said than done though, because I do really care when I see her staring off into the distance with a glazed look in her eyes from exhaustion and when she screams and cries before I finally get her down because she was too tired to sleep. I want to be more free spirited and go with the flow when it comes to her naps and sleep, but how do I accomplish that? I start her bed time routine around 7:00 with a bath, then story time then I nurse her to sleep. Sometimes she wakes up again at 8:00 for another feed and goes straight back down until morning. We keep her room dark and the noise down in the house and she sleeps. Andino and I get a couple of hours with each other every night and for the most part, we all wake up well-rested so I'd definitely say I'm happy with her nighttime sleep.

Fast forward to today, when I am finally publishing this post and here's what I've figured out. Paloma is able to nap on the go, if I have her in my wrap. Even sometimes in her carseat if we drape a blanket over top. Sometimes, she's too excited by what's going on around her to be able to calm down enough to take a little nap. I've decided I'll use my judgement during the times when she's not able to nap on the go and if need be, find the time to slip away somewhere quiet and help her nap. As for the times when there is an evening event that I'd like to attend with her, Andino and I have decided to not worry about her schedule for that one night. A missed nap or late bed time here & there will not make that big of a difference in her life & the memories we make as a family will be worth it. Parenting (like all things in life) is about being flexible.



9 comments:

  1. First and foremost, I say do what works for YOU and YOUR family because that is the only thing that matters. Secondly, I'd rather have a baby sleep better at night than during the day. I mean, I'd rather have both, but if you only get one? Well, I want my sleep too!

    When I was doing all my reading up on sleep training, it stuck in my mind that sleep cycles are 45 minutes and we all "wake" up at that 45 minute mark (or 40). Babies need to know how to put themselves back to sleep, or self soothe, in order to get longer naps. I think it was probably around Paloma's age that my babies only slept for about 40-45 minutes at a time for naps also. Now they nap pretty good for the most part. There are some days that aren't so good, but overall I have to say they are now good nappers. Still working on the nighttime stuff though! Although I honestly can't complain too much about that either.

    There is no magic trick that works for every baby. It's just a matter of figuring out what works best for YOUR baby :)

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  2. Exactly! I think flexibility is what matters, sometimes a nap isn't in the "perfect" place or time, or sometimes they don't happen at all. I just wish all these experts didn't make parents feel bad about themselves because they can't always meet their standards, just so they can sell more books. That's just how I feel anyway.

    I can definitely relate to trying anything to get a baby to nap, taking a hour sometimes, only for her to wake up 5 minutes later after putting down (and had to hold her for 10-15 mins so she'd get into a deep enough sleep to put her down). Sometimes parenting is exhausting. Sofia napped a lot in our wrap for almost a year (I know it's frowned upon by most experts except for Dr. Sears).

    You're right though, generally naps become less often and last longer. Somethings end up getting easier, and some tougher. You just need to go with the flow sometimes and figure out what works with your family.

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    1. I couldn't agree more!! And what drives me crazy is going against my instincts. I felt so guilty the other day because she bawled her head off for 5 minutes because she wanted boob and I was trying not to nurse her to sleep since the "experts" say you shouldn't do that. Like seriously, how messed up is that that I let my little baby cry and denied her what she wanted against all my instincts because of something I read?! Never again!

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  3. If you're saying she's STTN at 4.5 months, or even just long stretches, then that is spectacular in and of itself. I agree, that not every baby is going to fit the mold of some sleep chart or schedule. My pedi just told us last week that some babies don't even sleep longer stretches at night until 6 months, so at least you have that! We are only getting 2-3 hours sleep at night still at 2 months, and many times he's up with only 1-1.5 hours. I will trade you. haha! Keep going with your gut. You're doing great!

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  4. As she starts taking fewer naps, she will nap longer each time. I think it was around her age we transitioned to 3 naps and had specific nap times. For me, a schedule is key, and I couldn't survive twins without it. But, that's twins. I do think for the most part babies do great on some sort of schedule. That being said, they also need to be able to go off schedule every now and then and be ok with it. Keeping her up late or missing a nap now and then isn't the end of the world and hopefully teaches her to be flexible. We do plan outings around naps for the most part, but if we want to go out for the day, we just have them take their afternoon nap in their stroller or we plan to be driving during nap time. It's not the best nap, but it works. I am a little bit of a slave to naps and always make sure they get them somehow, but it doesn't keep us from leaving the house. It just means there is more planning involved for each outing.
    Congrats on Paloma doing her nights. Whatever you are doing, keep doing it, because it's working.

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  5. Flexible is good. For me the hard part is going with the flow and not letting myself over think it. Its not like I have any real control over her behaviour. All I can do is try to provide the right sort of environments. In any case it sounds like you're doing a fab job.

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  6. Hazy is the same! Really good night sleeper (in our bed nursing a couple times a night) but not a great day napper. I think it's a trade off. And no day is the same as the last, sometimes she will sleep for two hour naps and some days I'm not sure she sleeps longer than 10 min at a time! I just try to go with the flow. I totally agree with you about staying up with your baby all night dancing...sometimes those memories just gotta be made!

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  7. It's so true! I am pregnant and have already read two books and been to a sleep seminar. It feels like the most important thing as a parent to "figure out".

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  8. Create those memories Im sure she will appreciate it when she gets older and sees all those lovely pictures.

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