Baby Sleep: A Tale of Ecstasy and Woe

Sweet Pea is 4 months old, which means we have already cycled through many sleep phases in her short life. Despite this being my second child and despite the fact that Babykins now sleeps through the night even though we let her sleep with many “bad habits” (Nap in the swing? Check. No schedule? Check. Nursing to sleep? Check. Nursing in the middle of the night? Check.), I still find myself subject to the roller coaster of emotions relating to baby sleep.

Sweet Pea will go through a few days that she sleeps “by the book”. Her awake times are predictable, she goes down for naps without a fight, and she drifts off to sleep at night in a timely manner. Then I feel like a sleep master–I unlocked the magical door to my baby’s sleep!

But then everything will fall apart and Sweet Pea just. won’t. sleep. Careful observation of her wake times does nothing. Turning off all the lights in the bedroom just means she yells in the dark. Leaving the house doesn’t make her sleepy. And when she does sleep, it’s only for a short time. At that point, it’s fairly clear that I’m a failure as a sleep guru and a mother.

But here’s the secret that all those sleep books and blog posts never fully admit: YOU CAN’T MAKE A BABY SLEEP! Sure, there are things you can do to encourage sleep but babies do what they want, when they want.

Now could someone please remind me of this about every other day? Thanks.


Nap Strike

Things have been quiet around my blog lately for various reasons. We’ve had a busy October with guests and preparations for Sweet Pea. We’ve also been going through a vicious nap strike with 2-year-old Babykins.

I understand that nap strikes are developmentally normal for a toddler. Consequently, every day I put Babykins down for a nap. For the past 3 weeks, naps have gone 1 of 3 ways.

  1. Babykins quickly quiets down in her crib and SLEEPS!
  2. Babykins plays in her crib for 90 minutes or so and decides she is done with naptime.
  3. Babykins flips out after about 30 minutes (or less) and the rest of naptime is crying, frustrating mess.

On no nap days–which have occurred about 2/3 of the time the last few weeks–bedtime is at 6 p.m. Babykins typically passes out within minutes of going into her crib and then wakes up 11 or 12 hours later ready to take on the world again (sometimes there’s an early evening wake-up involving a missing pacifier).

To be fair, there are a plethora of reasons Babykins may not be napping right now. We had one week that our friends visited AND we had new windows put into the parsonage (not exactly conductive for settling down in the middle of the day). Babykins has been chatting more than ever and is probably going through a developmental spurt. She is also pushing her canines through and those teeth are vicious.

I try to remember that the nap strike isn’t a personal attack on me and Babykins is just being a toddler. But my selfish nature just gets so tired. No nap days are long with little downtime. Even when the 6 p.m. bedtime comes and I finally have time to catch up, I’m too exhausted to do anything productive. Of course, the exhaustion could also be related to being 35 weeks pregnant.

At any rate, that is my tale of naptime woe from the past 3 weeks. Babykins has deigned today to be a “sleeping in” day and has graciously given me an hour of glorious free time this morning. Ahhhhh. . . But now it is 6:45, she is starting to chat in her crib, and we must get this Sunday morning show on the road, so I bid you adieu!

The Naps Aren’t Long Enough

You may remember some of my past laments about Babykins’s terrible sleeping skills. After a year of sleep angst, I’ve concluded that she a) is a terrible self-soother and b) isn’t a high sleep need kid. The combination of the two left me convinced that she would never, ever sleep through the night.

However, a few weeks after her first birthday, she started to do just that. Not every night, but often enough that I could always hope for a full night’s sleep. For those of you wondering, we didn’t do any sort of intense sleep training. We had a few nights that my husband sat with her for awhile as she cried because I was so exhausted. Other than that, she started to use the pacifier to sooth herself and that was that. Of course, between her learning how to walk and possibly teething (the kid still doesn’t have any teeth, so I never know if she’s actually teething or just being a baby) there are still plenty of nights with wakings. But an occasional full night’s rest is a marvelous thing.

Naps are a different story. We transitioned Babykins to 1 nap around her birthday. There were several indicators that she was ready to make the transition: Short naps and battling (and sometimes skipping) the second nap were the two big ones. I was hoping that the transition to 1 nap would lead to more sleep-time during the day. That hope has proven futile thus far.

Babykins typically naps about 1 hour and 20 minutes (She is just starting to coo to herself as I write this. Her nap was 1 hour and 10 minutes. Wait. . . now she’s crying. Great.). Since she goes down about 12 p.m., that makes for a really long afternoon. It also means that I struggle to figure out what to do during naps. Do I do the chores that are next to impossible to complete while Babykins is awake? Or do I enjoy some of the only downtime I get during the day and do things like read, write, and peruse Facebook correspond with friends and family?

(Hold that thought, Babykins is now screaming)

(And now she’s up)

The obvious answer is to split the time, but it never seems to work. On the days I try to do some housework before fun, Babykins seems to wake even earlier from her nap. When I do fun before housework, I get sucked into whatever project or brainless activity I’m working on and never start the housework.

I suppose it comes down to having more discipline and cutting myself off from my fun activities to get actual work done. Either way, it’s time to wrap up this post because Babykins is crabbing around the living room. Perhaps she’s hungry.

What do you do during your children’s naptime? 

Best Laid Plans of Mice and Moms

Yesterday, Babykins slept horribly.  She wouldn’t let me put her in her crib to sleep after 3 a.m., she fought going down for naps, and only slept in 30-minute stretches when she finally succumbed to sleep.  We had one errand to accomplish yesterday–going to the small grocery store in town.  The grocery store is only a mile away, so this errand could easily be squeezed in at any time of day.  Long naps would have been perfect yesterday, but Babykins wanted to party all day instead.

Today is “going to town” day.  We typically go to my moms’ group and go to a store.  Since the bigger town is a 30+ minutes drive away, this endeavor easily takes half the day.  Today Babykins decided to go down for a nap at 8:15 a.m.  She slept for over an hour and a half.  The moms’ group met at 10 a.m.  Short naps would have been perfect today, but apparently Babykins wants to catch up on sleep.  Figures.

best laid plans