Well friends, as I stated in my last post, the sleep issue is a big deal in our house right now, and my kiddo's lack of routine/ napping is high on the list of Things That Make Me Want to Gouge My Eyes Out. Seriously. There has been crying, from her and from me, frantic downloading and reading of books, desperate calls to my SIL and prayer.
Lets start at the very beginning. A very good place to start:) E hasn't been a great napper since she left the sleepy newborn stage (never thought I'd refer to that time as sleepy, but looking back, yup, it was). We had so much going on, and planned on moving soon, so I had no real desire to push anything on her. Plus, she was doing really well at going straight to sleep at 10pm, and was sleeping through the night often enough that I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize that lovely stretch.
Shortly before we moved we realized she was starting to get fussy before going down at 10, so we moved her bedtime up to 8pm. We also moved her into our room while we painted her room, and she went back to getting up 3-4 times a night. She just needed her paci, but mama has to be semi awake to give it to her. Bleh. Once we moved her back into her room, she would sleep through the night better, but then began the fighting of bedtime. I'm talking all ready for bed at 8pm, practically asleep, but the second her head hit the mattress, screams. For an hour and a half. If I held her or not. Do you have any idea what this mama is like after her baby screams inconsolable screams for an hour and a half? I'm a crazy person.
I thought it must be because she wasn't napping well during the day so I really tried to get her on a routine. Our pediatrician told us she should be napping for 90 minutes twice a day- first nap 11-12:30, second nap 3-4:30, bedtime at 8pm, wake at 7:20ish for the day. So this is what we tried. This led to her cat napping anytime I wasn't 100% focused on her (brushing my teeth, making coffee etc) and fighting "naptime" Sleeping a total of about 40min to an hour total during the day. And still the horrible struggle with bedtime (she wasn't actually going to sleep for the night until 9, 9:30, sometimes even 10pm). I knew she needed more sleep than that, as she'd wake up in a great mood in the morning, but as the day went on, she'd get more and more fussy. She was waking up from her naps crying and still tired- rubbing her eyes, etc, but refusing to go back to sleep.
I tried putting her to bed awake, drowsy, and totally asleep. I tried feeding her right when she would wake up, I tried feeding her right before she should be going to sleep. I tried keeping her to a set naptime routine, with a wind down time. Tried keeping the room a little warmer, tried what I felt was just right, tried it being a bit cooler. Tried letting her nap in bed with me. Tried blackout curtains, music, lovey, absolutely anything I could think of. I even gave up coffee for a week, wondering if the caffeine was the culprit. Ughhh, that was a long week. I tried letting her cry it out with checking on her, which resulted in her starting to cry again before I would even leave the room, so then I tried letting her cry with me just watching her on the monitor. She would cry until it was time for me to go in and feed her again. The only thing that would get a decent nap out of her was physically holding her in my arms. Even then, she'd wake up after 20-30 minutes and need me to soothe her a bit to go back to sleep. Nothing seemed to make a difference. Needed a new game plan. ASAP.
I downloaded Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child, and called my SIL for advice. We moved her bedtime from 8 to between 6:30 and 7pm, and started shooting for 3 naps a day, with the first one being about and hour to an hour and a half after she woke for the day. She started waking a bit earlier for the day, around 6:30, but I really didn't mind- totally worth it for her to be getting better sleep since she now wasn't fighting bedtime as she had before. Her naps went from 20-30 minutes here and there to 45 minutes in the morning and 30 min for the other naps, and again, bedtime was much smoother.
However, after a night when we got home late and thus she went to bed late, the next morning we were both wiped and so when she woke up at 6am, I just fed her and brought her back to bed with me. She slept until 7:30, and then I fed her again at 8:30, and she went to sleep at 9 and slept for a full hour! Do what? Sure enough, tried it again the next few days and yup, letting her go back to sleep after she woke at 6am meant another hour and a half of sleep for both of us, AND a better morning nap. Sign me up.
So where we stand now is waking for a feeding around 6 am, going back to sleep and waking for the day around 7:30, nap around 9am (usually her longest of the day), nap around noon, and last nap of the day around 3:30 or 4pm. Bedtime around 6:30 with a dream feed at 10pm. I'm still hoping her naps will get longer, and honestly it doesn't take much for our whole days schedule to get off, depending on how long she sleeps during each nap. Sometimes it means 4 shorter naps in the day. I've read that right around now is about the time she could be transitioning to just two naps in a day, and perhaps if her naps were longer she could do that, but once she wakes from a nap I can MAYBE get her to go back to sleep for another 10 minutes, but that's about it, so I'm not sure how to get her naps to be longer.
I've been tracking her sleep times and over the last two weeks her total daytime sleep has been increasing gradually. Saturday she slept for 2 hours during her first nap, 45 minutes for her second nap, and an hour for her third nap!!!!! That's the first two hour nap I can remember her taking in months. AND she didn't fuss at all when I put her down. Miraculous. However, Sunday we were out and about, and Monday I had MOPS, so I'm not sure if that's why, but the last few days she's back to her old tricks- 20 and 30 min naps and up multiple times at night.
It's a balancing act of putting her down to nap when she's sleepy but not overtired, and making sure that she's got enough time between when she goes down and when she needs to eat next to allow for a long nap if she so desires. I'd love for her to be on the Eat Play Sleep routine, but right now it's more of and Eat Play Sleep Play routine because her nap time length is so unpredictable. All naps are in her crib, and we do white noise, paci, lovey, and she gets laid on her side (9/10 times she ends up on her tummy). I can't honestly say this is working, because of the last few days, but you know me, I feel better just having a plan. And bedtime is still going better. I think we're planning to start solids tomorrow in hopes that it will help.