Thursday, May 31, 2012

Waging War: Waking Early from Naps and How We Fix It

Okay, so that title might be slightly dramatic but it feels like it's war right now. Caroline has hit a milestone: fighting naps. Riley went through it, and I honestly think almost all babies do. I'm sure they go through this stage at different ages, for different reasons, and for different lengths of time. Regardless, it isn't fun for mommies. Right now I'm extremely thankful that I took the time to write a couple of blog posts about the battles I had when Riley was fighting sleep. I do remember some of the tactics I used to resolve the issues, but I didn't remember the specifics until I went back and reread some posts on the old blog. As I was reading the posts, memories came flooding back.

Here's what I do to win, and hopefully cure, daytime sleep issues (at least for a while). First, I let both of mine fall asleep our normal way. If you choose to let your baby fuss or cry, do it. If you rock him to sleep, rock away. The falling asleep part is something you'll have to figure out for yourself. The issue I'm worried about isn't falling asleep it's staying asleep. When your little one gets to sleep, go in the room and watch your baby and the clock. If she's waking early during every nap, you'll probably find that it's at the same number of minutes into the nap each time (with a couple minute deviance here and there).

Right before your baby wakes up in the middle of her nap, you will notice that she'll begin to stir. If you time it right, patting your baby or holding her arms and legs firmly so that she can't startle herself awake should help her transition to the next sleep cycle. With Riley, it took two and a half long, frustrating weeks to "teach" her to get through the cycles on her own. It was well worth the time and agony (again, slightly dramatic word choice) of sitting by her crib for every nap in order to have a baby who napped well. Thankfully, Riley definitely stirred about the same time every nap. I would set a timer and get a few things done during the good stretch of sleep and make sure I got to her bedside in enough time to help her stay asleep. 

I'm hoping that this process doesn't take quite as long with Caroline as it did with Riley. It's a little more difficult to sit by the crib for a couple hours here and there throughout the day with a toddler running around and vying for my attention. Thankfully, Riley is pretty content to sit quietly in my nap while I rock her and wait for Caroline's jolts or playing on the bed with her babies (Caroline either sleeps in her pack-n-play in our room or the crib in the girls' shared room).

All in all, I probably would let my kids sleep when they wanted to if I hadn't done so much reading and research on the importance of infant sleep when I was pregnant with Riley. The studies that I read pretty much made me a baby sleep nazi. I'm willing to sacrifice my day (and a somewhat clean house) to help my kids get the sleep that they need. If that means sitting by a crib for hours a day, so be it. It paid off in the long run with Riley, and I'm confident it will with sweet Caroline, as well.


  1. I have an older child - she's 9 months, but I think this could work very well with her too. I think I could modify it enough to use in my house. :o) I like the idea of noticing the transition phase and helping them get through it and into the next part of the sleep instead of waking up. Thank you for the idea. :o)

  2. This was really interesting. As a Mom, I can definitely tell when my infant is still tired and not ready to get up. I've heard of sleep cycles and always make sure that it's either time to eat or they are really ready to get up before I do. However, since reading this, I've either held his arms, patted him, or gave him the paci and it really seemed to help. Thanks!