Wednesday, March 21, 2012
I think back to the newborn phase, when Sisi was taking 6 20-minute naps a day (and only on my shoulder in her dark nursery). I longed for the day when she would only be napping once. For me, naps were a burden. Naps were a disappointment. Sisi was supposed to be napping x times for y minutes, and she was doing neither.
I have a great sleeper now! I worked hard at it y'all. I followed The Dream Baby Guide pretty much to a T, and it worked great for me. Siena is not perfect, but I am SOOO blessed that she usually goes to sleep without a fuss and sleeps as long as she needs to feel rested (unless she's teething or going through a Wonder Week, then all bets are off.)
I was really enjoying the 2-nap phase that started around 61/2 months. My day was organized into 3 nice little sections punctuated by glorious 1.5 hour naps. This phase lasted about 6 months.
Then around 12 months, I started seeing the signs that she needed to drop down to 1 nap:
- trouble settling down for one or both naps
- one nap shortening to 45 minutes
- sometimes straight up refusing her second nap, only to be exhausted and grumpy by dinner time.
- bed time being pushed back up to 1.5 hours because her afternoon naps were getting later and later.
- waking up super early in the morning
- night wakings where she'd play or cry in her crib for up to an hour.
But here's a tip for all the new or soon-to-be-mamas out there: don't let nap time steal time away from night sleep. Night sleep really is the most important and restorative sleep for little ones. It's super important for their development and overall mood, and naps just can't replace it. So when your babe is telling you he/she doesn't need so much nap time (by showing a few or all of the symptoms above) don't fight it. You may even want to go cold turkey into the new schedule, like I always do. Give your baby an extra measure of grace for 5-7 days as her body transitions. She'll be grumpy, tired and disoriented. Then hopefully after that 5-7 days, the new schedule will be the new normal and you can move on with life. I actually don't recommend flip flopping, letting baby do two naps one day, and 1 nap the other day. I think this is what most people do, but why mess with their circadian rhythms and prolong this awkward transition time? If your baby is really ready, just grit your teeth, be totally consistent, and go for it. And like I said, expect hell for a few days.
After a month on the new schedule, I really like it! Yes, the day does seem a lot longer, but we have more freedom to go out and make the most of her awake time without constantly worrying about naps. And her night sleep is now PERFECT. 12 hours straight most nights- the textbook number :) We've found that perfect balance of night sleep and nap time, finally. Well, for now, until that changes, as it always does.