Friday, August 28, 2009

Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later

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About one year ago, I asked my friend, Raegan, to write about her experiences with chronic 45 minute naps. She did, and it has proven to be one of the most popular posts on this blog (see Chronic 45 Minute Naps). I asked her to write about her thoughts on it one year later. I think you will love it. Thank you Raegan!

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Months ago I wrote a little blurb about my chronic 45 minute napper. For those of you that don’t remember or don’t know, she had short naps for 13 months. Yes, you read that right. Thirteen months. We had a random 2-hour nap in there somewhere, I’m sure, but those were not even the monthly norm and were usually due to sickness. I worked through every possible solution I could think of, and the list is pages long. I asked everyone and anyone I knew for help. The only advice I didn’t listen to? “See, I told you that you can’t put a baby on a schedule.” We are living proof that sleep isn’t the only thing Babywise (and all the books in the series) are good for, and that even when things don’t go exactly as you had planned, you can still count it as success. Sure, I felt like a Babywise failure on more than one occasion. I was so jealous of those babies that slept well. Or even slept for an hour at a time. Or an hour at a time more than once a week.

So where are we now? My little one is now just over 2 years old and she’s now a big sister. Months after “giving in” to what she needed rather than my agenda and ideas of perfection, 45-minute naps turned into 2-3 hour naps. Don’t misunderstand me; by “giving in” I don’t mean giving up or even letting her call the shots. What I mean is I finally let go of my agonizing over the perfect nap (you know, longer than an hour) and decided that if 45 minutes was all she needed per nap, that was fine. I put her down at my choice of time, not hers, which I figured out by using sleepy cues, attitude/behavior cues, and common sense. She stayed in her crib until I decided naptime was over (which again, was a reasonable amount of time). I always gave her an hour and a half to “sleep.” I presented the opportunity. Whether or not (or how much) she slept, the opportunity was there.

What am I still learning from this?

  1. I cannot make her sleep. I can only give her the best circumstances, good timing and judgement on my part, and not provide props that would make it difficult for her if I wasn’t there.
  2. How do I make good judgements, have good timing, and make wise decisions? Lots of practice, and more importantly, lots of errors. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. If you pay attention, the mistake often times helps you discover something you needed to know about your baby.
  3. I can’t make her sleep, but I can help her learn to rest. Even laying/sitting in a crib is more relaxing than even sitting on the couch talking to me.
  4. When she won’t sleep, I can help her learn to be content. By waiting for her to get a happy heart (and until I get the chance) before I get her up from a nap, she’s learned to talk, play, and wait happily until it’s time to get up. That was not an overnight process, and yes, it did involve tears.
  5. I’m not going to feel guilty about not “rescuing” her immediately, not entertaining her, and about not being able to figure out why she naps or doesn’t nap.
  6. I need to be reminded that I’m human, I’m doing the best I know to do, and most likely this stage is giving me skills I need for other circumstances in life. You may never meet someone as willing to say “Keep trying, don’t give up, and just wait it out in the meantime” as I am. 13 months of not giving up hope on naps will do that for you.
  7. Having a second baby was much less stressful because I felt like I’d already been through the ringer as far as naps were concerned. I’d tried it all, thought through it all, and had a bucket load of possible solutions that could help, were I to need them. There’s always new stuff that pops up with new children, but at least I was very familiar with the trial and error process.
  8. Not sleeping well is not always a reflection of your parenting skills. Don’t take it personally! My oldest did not nap well for the first year of her life. So what? You certainly wouldn’t have known it by her behavior or obedience level. Since she didn’t nap long, we had lots of time to practice behavior and focusing skills. :)
  9. Sleep is just the beginning. I spent so much time worried about possible solutions and lack of long naps. I wish someone could have explained to me so that my heart could have truly comprehended that this is just the beginning. It’s not worth the stress. It may or may not (*gasp*) get better. And the better may be months down the road. But deal with it now, do the best with what you know, stick to your goals, seek guidance, and don’t give up. Instead of letting the stress and worry eat you up and make you “obsessed,” (which, as my husband can probably testify to, I was) let it make you better.
Our second baby has seen her days of rough sleeping patches. But this time around I know sleep isn’t my only goal in their lives, and nor should I place that much importance on that one issue. It’s important, but not the only thing that is important. That may seem like an obvious statement. But I say that because though in my head I knew that sleep wasn’t the only important thing, I sure acted like it was. And I let rough naps take attention away from a precious time as a first time mom.
Having kids that sleep well doesn’t make me a good mom, and being a good mom doesn’t mean you will have babies that sleep well. I may wish for all the tears back, but I’m pretty sure I’m better off for them.
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26 comments:

grace said...

wow! the honesty is awesome. really. sure helps me reflect that nutrition (my baby is a fussy fussy eater) is important, but certainly not the most important.

motherhood certainly helps to make me a stronger person too.

thanks Raegan for your sharing :)

Redheads said...

Oh, I am so happy to hear the update on Reagan. I, as many of you know, have a chronic 45 minute napper as well. I have been down (and still am traveling) down Reagan's road. My DD has had 45 minutes naps since 2 months of age and is now 7 months old. We had a 2 hour nap yesterday, but now it is back to 45 minute naps again. Sigh. I have learned to give my DD a "naptime" of 2 hours. She sleeps for some of that, and then plays in her crib for the rest of it. I just recently put one stuffed animal in her crib. Unlike Reagan, my DD learned pretty quickly how to be happy in her crib until I got her. It took about a month of CIO to get there. It is true, that they are getting much needed rest in their crib, even if they are not sleeping. It is hard to "let go" of this obsession with naps. I find myself every few days having to surrender this issue to God. He is my strength and joy! I am so glad to hear that Reagan is enjoying lives with her kids and I am sure she is a better person for having gone through it. Thank you, God, for putting Reagan in my life through this blog. Sometimes all we need to know is that we are not alone. Thank you, Reagan, for sharing. - Amy and Sophia

Ashley said...

Thanks for sharing Raegan, I know your advice has helped me a lot over the last few months!

Amy said...

I was in the same boat with my son and at about 14 months I too started getting longer naps from him! He is 19 months old now and it seems crazy to think of him only taking two 45 minute naps a day. Nice to know I wasn't the only one going through it! Number two is on the way and I'm praying I won't be as uptight about the nap thing as I was with number one.

Christy said...

A friend of mine sent me the link to this blog today, knowing I, too, have been somewhat obsessed with naps. :) My almost 2-year-old sounds just like Raegan's daughter! And #2 is now here...proving that yes, naps CAN be worse. I thought surely it would be easier the 2nd time around, but God must know I still need to learn some things! Definitely trying to not obsess (even though naps are sometimes only 20 minutes, and this one will ONLY sleep in her carseat!), and enjoy her. And remember that it WILL get better. Even if it takes a year...or two. :) Thanks for the encouragement and lessons learned!

PeteMel said...

Thank you so much for these words. They are timely. I have recently learned (and accepted) that it is ok. Simply that. My 4.5 month old doesn't nap/sleep for the"perfect/prescribed" amount of time, but he sleeps for the time that he needs and is content and healthy. It is ok.

VMM said...

So if the baby only sleeps for the first hour of an hour and a half "naptime," you still count the extra half hour as part of their waketime, right? do you adjust daily if its not a consistent amount of sleep so you at least get the same amount of awake time? is this what most people have success with even though that time alone in crib is considered rest?
my 6 month old consistently sleeps 45-50 minutes for her first nap of the day and then 2.5-3 hours for her second. its pretty much a 3 hour schedule in the morning and 4 in the afternoon and then 3 again later. naps 9-10 and 12-3ish.
i'd love for her to sleep longer in the morning but no luck on that in the last few months. especially since i'm back at work now so while the babysitter and the grandma that watch her (each a couple of days) are on board with whatever i ask of them, i don't think i know how to ask them to leave her in the crib to cry or play for that extra half hour since she's rip-roaring ready to play and entertain.
she pretty much always (for real!) wakes up smiling and happy and ready to play. i used to be able to pacify her and get her to go back to sleep but they haven't been able to accomplish that past that 1 hour mark. and since i really only have her for naps on weekends, i can't do much about it either.
do you think its okay then for her to be sleeping like this at this age? she always takes at least one more 1 hour nap after the 3 hour one, sometimes 2...

ABCKegg said...

I SOOOOO needed this today, having just put my 19 week old down for his FOURTH nap of the day, which I'm sure will be 45 minutes like all the rest no matter what I try. I also have a notebook full of "solutions" that haven't worked and find myself spending the entire day trying to get Ben to have a good nap rather than enjoying our time together. I'm happy to hear we're not alone and that I'm not a bad mommy. Thank you for sharing!

LKD said...

Regan,

Thank you for sharing. Your first post brought me to tears a few months ago. I printed it out and showed it to my husband that night. From then on, we tried not to worship naps, but leave worship for God. Luckily around 5 months old my daughter began taking a 1.5 hour morning nap and then last week, I went back to work. We've had 45 minute or less naps all week. I've been driving myself crazy hoping she'll learn to sleep at daycare, but your post has help reassure me that if she doesn't, she's still the happiest baby there, so I really don't need to worry! THANK YOU!

Tracy said...

Thank you thank you thank you. It was good to hear this today. My 10-month old DD has decided that she doesn't nap anymore. (used to do two naps of at least 1h & 30 min) I now have to walk her in the stroller for an hour to get 45 min of napping in the morning, and then in the afternoon, I have to drive for an hour. I'm exhausted and demoralized and my house is a mess! My question: I'm kind of weary of doing CIO in the morning because I'm unclear now when she is actually tired (she's at an age where she could be transitioning to one nap). How do I 'experiment' with nap times and do CIO at the same time? The morning walk is good for me, but I really need to get things done and also take care of myself, which has really fallen by the wayside for nearly two months now of no naps/short naps. BTW, she still sleeps great at night, so maybe this is just something I have to live with....?

Plowmanators said...

Grace, I agree; I think motherhood makes you much stronger and a better person :)

Plowmanators said...

Thank you for sharing, too, Amy :)

Plowmanators said...

Good luck with number two, Amy :)

Plowmanators said...

Christy, I wanted to throw out there in case you haven't thought about this...have you considered reflux? A baby with short naps who only likes to sleep sitting up can often have reflux.

Plowmanators said...

VMM, according to Babywise, 1.5 hours is normal and perfectly healthy for some babies.

With the short nap in the morning, have you tweaked morning waketime? That is usually the shortest of the day.

At 6 months, number of minutes awake in the crib are different for your baby than number of minutes out of the crib. So 30 minutes in isn't the same as 30 minutes out. The crib is a lot less stimulating. Picture yourself in bed awake vs. awake moving around your house. In bed is more restful :)

If what is happening is working and everyone is happy and nights are good, I wouln't worry about it. One day, she will likely grow out of it.

Plowmanators said...

Tracy,

If she suddenly started not sleeping well and nothing changed, consider a longer waketime in the morning. You can start with adding 5 minutes. If that doesn't work, add five more the next day. etc.

It also can be teeth, new skills, new sounds, change in temp, etc.

Tina said...

thank you for this post. it was very helpful and full of balance and wisdom. i especially liked the bit about 'waiting for her to get a happy heart' and providing the opportunity for 'rest' even if baby did not sleep. our naps are often short and i was not sure how to handle it. cheers.

Lynn said...

I too am guilty of obsessing over naps (even when they're decent naps). I obsess over the timing and what it means if he doesn't take a good nap every single day. Thank you so much for writing this so I know I'm not alone and for reiterating how there's so much more to parenting than having a good napper.

Aunt Kristen said...

wow, what a positive attitude. This is soo what I needed to read right now. Thanks for the hopefull attitude.

Crissy Melaine said...

I posted this on another board that was less relevant so I am posting again. Thank you for your help!!!

My new challenge is that he wakes early from naps but will not cry. He just stays happily in his crib! Sometimes after just a 30 minute nap! I don't know what to do. Pick him up play until he gets tired again? Try the swing sometimes that works but sometimes again he just swings wide awake and happy. I go over to him and he smiles. I feel guilty just leaving him there to be awake! Also the last couple of days he been refusing both afternoon naps. He sleeps well and long in the morning and then when I put him down on the afternoon he will just stay awake! Not really CIO just awake. Then he crashes and burns at 6:30 (which is before our final feeding at 7) so I feed him early and put him down early. He then wakes in the middle of the night (not hungry) but tosses around until he falls back to sleep. I feel like I am doing something wrong. Maybe he doesn't need to sleep as much in the morning then he would nap better in the afternoon?

sarahoutloud.com said...

Thank you so much for this post, Raegan and Valerie! Just what I needed to hear today. I was feeling discouraged this morning about how inconsistently my 12-week-old sleeps through the night and what to do because she's the queen of the 45-minute intruder, but this shot of grace and honesty was a big help for me.

Susanna Darr said...

Thanks for this blog. I come here daily. Having the same issues with my 15 week old twins and worried it will never get better. This has been going on for 8 weeks. We get a long first nap and then 45 min naps for 2, 3 and 4 (sometimes shorter). I've tried to let them cry in the crib when they wake up hoping they will fall back asleep but this doesn't happen and they will cry until naptime is over which I feel is ponitless if they are not falling back asleep (teaching them to self soothe). We always start the nap drowsy but awake and have 1 minute of fussing. We have great nighttime sleep. Should I just not worry about it? Of course I've tried adjusting their wake times (30 mins-2 hours), we have very strict routines, etc. Funny, at 6:30 they are down and we hear NOTHING from my son until midnight and my daughter will get a dreamfeed at 11 and not wake up until 6 AM. So discouraged.

Susanna Darr said...

Discouraged about the naps, not the nighttime sleep.

dani said...

I just needed this and the other post to not feel like a failure. I'm trying my best.

Valerie Plowman said...

That is all you can do Dani! Hang in there!

Lisa Valentine said...

Love this article! And I really like the idea of having them rest for an hour And a half even if they are just taking a shirte nap. My question is, how do I get there? My 18 month baby wise baby usually only sleeps 45 min. And wakes up freaking out. So would I just let her cry for another hour? Or is there a better way to do it? Thanks

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