Posted in Amelia, Amelia on sleep, Baby sleep, Blog, Mother

Sleep Chronicles: Experimenting with Naps

Ever since we sleep trained at 10 months (we “Ferberized,” which involves going in and comforting at gradually longer intervals), E has reliably taken two naps—one in the morning at about 9 or 9:30, and one in the afternoon, between 2 and 3pm.

Lately however, getting her to fall asleep for those two naps has been somewhat problematic. By which I mean “it takes her a half an hour or more to settle herself, if she even settles at all.” I had even taken some measures from our Sleep by Any Means Necessary repertoire—bouncing on the yoga ball, dancing her around, and so forth. My husband wasn’t particularly comfortable with this backsliding; the purpose of sleep training was so she could figure out how to fall asleep on her own and stay asleep. Helping her to get there when she’d already moved beyond that seemed like a slippery slope to wearing her for the entire nap, which is sort of difficult (Note: my daughter is 23lbs).

I had heard tale of little ones giving up one of their naps, perhaps taking place at 10? 11? years old, right? Surely my child couldn’t be at this stage yet, right? Hmmph.

On the flip side, Rebecca told me that her son went through a phase where he acted tired and then when she went to put him down he got all riled up. She asked Ann Kepler about it at Crawlers and Cruisers , and Ann thought maybe he was spending too much time in bed and also not getting enough exercise. Sounded familiar—I’m not sure whether E’s trying to give up a nap or if she just needs to wiggle more. So I’m trying both things.

Firstly, I decided to experiment with her nap schedule—just to see if she was ready to ditch one of her naps. My plan: To increasingly lengthen her awake time in the morning, until the routine becomes eating lunch and then going down for a nap ~12:30ish. So, I kept her up all morning, letting her run wild all over the house (to achieve the second goal of sufficient exercise), getting into cupboards, having snacks, reading books, crawling all over the place.

Finally, at 11, I put her down.

The Outcome

She slept for about an hour and 45 minutes; not quite as long as I expected hoped. And at around 4pm, she became a huge crankypants. So the next day, for a reference point, I put her down for her regular two naps and she slept a ridiculously long time for both, like she was trying to make up for the previous day.

It was the same for the next few days—two nice, long naps—and then it wasn’t. We had another epically long Nap Battle, wherein She Would Not Settle Down, and when she finally did, the timing of it made more sense to be a One Nap Day. And what do you know, the same thing happened—she only slept an hour and maybe 45 minutes, and the next day, two long naps. This is the emerging pattern: a One Nap Day (Read: Frothing-at-the-Mouth-Tear-My-Hair-Out-One Nap Day) followed by a couple of days of Two Long Nap Days. Which leads me to the philosophical question: Is there a point at which I preemptively wave goodbye to the two naps and just put her on a one-nap schedule? I suppose time and attuned parenting will tell.

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  1. I really think she’s transitioning to one nap. From what I hear from other moms, it’s quite a process, not an immediate change. I keep asking people what the transition will look like, but it seems like I hear all kinds of things. Some babies lose the afternoon nap and the morning nap moves later, some babies lose the morning nap and the afternoon nap moves up, and with some babies the two naps just move closer and closer and then, I don’t know, fuse into one?

    I fear the third is what will happen with Quinn, as her 9 a.m. nap seems to be steadily moving toward 10 and her 3:30 p.m. nap seems to be edging toward 2:30 p.m., and both are shortening.

    In any case, I plan to just let it happen as much as I can, because I want the two-nap days to continue as long as possible! I love having a little time to myself in both the mornings and afternoons (even if I don’t get both every day these days)!

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