Chronic 45 Minute Naps: One Year Later

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Do you have a baby who always takes 45 minute long naps? Read these reflections from a mom who has been there as she looked back on a year or short naps.

Older baby napping

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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Looking Back at My Short Napper

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 judgment 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 judgments, 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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