January 21, 2013

Napping and Squirt

Category: Baby Essentials

When it comes to naps, Squirt still does not nap very much as compared to most babies. However, we can’t quite complain as it has to be said that Squirt has been a much better napper than Spud ever was.  

He goes down for at least half an hour, most times up to 1.5 hours, 2-3 times a day. He fights naps, but not half as bad as Spud had. Most important of all, he has gotten used to sleeping in his own bed for naps after being bounced or rocked for just a little bit – thanks to some form of nap training when he was about 6-8 weeks old.

Until just about a month ago, we used to bounce him on the yoga ball to get him to nap.  These days, however, the Nanny discovered that when it comes to Squirt napping, all she needs to do is just put him in his cot (awake!) and he would be drifting to sleep within minutes. 

While I had noticed earlier that he always seems quite upset if he is being carried or rocked and fusses a lot more while being held in my arms as I try to get him to nap, I always pinned it down to him fighting off sleep. He grumbles and grumbles and “yodels” away until he falls asleep. It did not occur to me that he did what he did mainly because he was trying to tell me that he is ready to do it on his own. As I realised, he is much happier when he is being left alone in his cot to wind himself down when he is tired and about ready to take a nap.

I am not a stickler for nap routines as opposed to bedtime routine, mainly because we tend to be out and about quite a bit over the weekend. It is, thus, hard for us to have a strict routine, preferring to keep naps a little “loose”. However, if there was one thing I was adamant about, it was to get Squirt to get used to sleeping in his own bed for naps and not be carried all the time. It was hard initially (he was used to napping in the bouncer or being held), but it pays of really well in the end.

There were no tricks – just persistence and consistency. 

Day 1 – 1st Nap:
Bounced Squirt on the yoga ball and as he drifted off to sleep, I put him down in his cot (we used to put him in his bouncer). He cried bloody murder as soon as his body left my arms. I left him crying while I “camped out” in the adjacent room, wanting to apply the 10 minutes rule.

He stopped crying 3 minutes later. I smiled my biggest smile – surprised that it worked so quickly. It turned out that the Nanny had picked him up without my knowledge. Grrrroooowwwwwl. I imagined that she found it difficult to hear a crying baby and probably thought that I was abusing my child by ignoring him. I wasn’t – I was just giving him 10 minutes!  

My effort had been undermined. Squirt was now happy being carried and was wide awake. Fat chance that he would go down for a nap immediately. I was livid.

Lesson learnt: always inform the Nanny/minder that you are sleep training and that she is not supposed to interfere!

Day 1 – 2nd Nap:
Cried bloody murder again the moment he left my arms. Got the Nanny out of the way – I can tell that she was having a hard time ignoring the crying. I let him cry, but went in every 10 minutes to comfort him. Sometimes I shushed him, sometimes I do a pick-up-put-down or just pat him for several minutes without picking him up, said nice things to him and then leave the room.  40 minutes later, he drifted off to sleep for half an hour. Better than nothing!
Day 1 – 3rd Nap:
Same thing. This time he went on for an hour before he slept for 45 minutes. Hmmmmm….
Day 2-Day 4:
I can’t quite recall what happened in the next few days after that, but I got the Nanny on board to help me out.  (It got easier for her as the day passed). The 10 minute rule applies the moment we put him in his cot.
Day 5 onwards:
It took us 2 weekends to drill this down to a pat. I remember that the first weekend, both me and Silver Bullet took turns to comfort him while applying the 10 minutes rule. Each time we tried, the crying went harder.  For one of the naps on that weekend, Squirt finally napped for 1.5 hours after 40 minutes of controlled crying.
It was promising. And it got better by the day.
Looking back, that was all we had to do – sit and live (or sleep) through the cries. When the crying got unbearably distressing at every 10 minutes interval, giving up became too easy. I have to admit that even with #2, there were moments when we thought that the technique was not working. And then suddenly, without warning, the crying just stopped, he got his much needed nap and Squirt gave us hope to continue again.
In the end, it probably was the best decision ever. As silly as it sounds, getting a baby to sleep is probably one of the hardest things to do and we are happy that we now have a baby who could and would nap in his own bed!
It later dawned on me that putting him to sleep in his own room, in his own bed during nap times should have started on the 1st day when we came home. It would have been a lot easier! 
Duh.

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