Thursday, February 21, 2008

Getting a Baby to Nap

My wife and I managed to have our baby sleeping through the night before he was even six months old. If someone asked me what our trick was, I don't know what I'd tell them. I suppose we just used consistency: keeping bedtime at the same time every night, sticking to the same routine (bath, book, song, crib), planning ahead as to how we would handle nighttime crying and sticking to it.

However, we weren't as attentive to the details of how and when his daytime naps happened. When we was just a wee newborn, it was so easy. Numerous times a day, he would start to look sleepy and we would either rock him in our arms or put him in the swing. He'd be snoozing in no time. Eventually, he outgrew the swing and we switched to a vibrating rocker. We usually didn't have to use the vibrating function, we just rocked him a while and his eyes just couldn't stay open. We felt like nap geniuses: one in the morning, one mid-afternoon, maybe a later one if he looked tired and grouchy.

The next development would change things. The little guy became quite adept at keeping himself awake through a system of moaning and flailing. We could rock him through it and eventually get him to sleep, but it took longer and longer and we knew a sea change was approaching and we needed to adapt. One day, we realized he was impervious to the power of the rocker. I was disappointed that a system that had been working so well was now obsolete, but alongside this feeling was my pride in how much my boy had grown!

It was a good run, but now for the past several weeks we've had to get him used to napping in his crib. He's been fighting the change, but he does get himself to sleep after a good deal of protest (crying, yelling, crying). Wearied by the screaming, I tried to find some tips in the internet to make the afternoon nap go a bit more easily, and came across an article at with some pragmatic advice. It's the same advice you hear everywhere regarding naps - no secret, works-every-time tricks - but I realize after reading it that it's about the only advice you can give, and it sounds very familliar: consistency.

He's upstairs in his crib, enjoying a good long nap right now. Today, he only fussed for about fifteen minutes, which is an improvement on his almost unnatural stamina of yesterday. I feel like maybe we never needed to use the rocker, and that perhaps it just delayed him in learning how to go down for a nap in the crib. But I wouldn't go so far as to call anything we did along the way a mistake, since we all came out of it okay. Naps happened, our baby is healthy and happy, and the three of us are learning every day.

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