Monday, February 21, 2011

Struggling with Naps

Sorry I have been MIA but sick children have a way of taking up all your time... A's sitter's son was sick on Monday, so I stayed home, and Tuesday when we went to the pediatrician's to check on A's old ear infections, we found out he had a new double ear infection, plus bronchitis, oh joy!

So, today's subject is naps, or lack thereof...
I have to say that we've never had much trouble putting A to sleep in his bed at night, thanks to a basic routine he knows what to expect and most nights, he's happy to go in his bed and sleep. That is not the case for naps... A basically never wanted to sleep in a crib during the day, whether at home or at the sitter's. We would sometimes manage to put him asleep in his crib (after much rocking) when he was an infant, but within 15-20 minutes, he was up and screaming. If we left him in the crib, he would keep on screaming. If we picked him up, he might fall back asleep. He would stay asleep for sometimes more than an hour if we kept him in our arms, but would wake up the second he felt us trying to put him back in the crib. So here's what we tried...
  • letting him take mini-naps
We tried to go with his flow, and let him only sleep the amount that did. That resulted in many cat-naps of 15 to 30 minutes, which worked as an infant but became a problem when he got older. It also often resulted in an overtired little boy.
  • keeping him asleep by any means
That's the one where you may think "oh, these people are nuts, they're the ones who created the problem by indulging him". Well, guess what, when you work full time and you only get two days with your child, yes, you may go to great lengths to get him to sleep a full nap, because you want to actually be able to enjoy your child for the few hours that you get to see him/her. So what did we do? We held him for his nap, we walked him in the stroller for hours (fearing any encounters with neighbors since any stop of the stroller would result in A waking up). If he fell asleep while we were driving, we sometimes extended our drive by 30 minutes to an hour (and got to know a lot about the neighboring developments).

who says cribs are for sleeping?

  • what we didn't do
We did not let him cry for naps because we followed Dr. Ferber's book (Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems) and he says that you should not let your child cry at nap time while you are letting him cry at night. Well, since we were always starting over with the night thing, we never really got to the naps. Besides, A has enough stamina to stay up all day without a nap, so I don't think that would have worked.
  • staying with him
Eventually, we got to a point where A slept a pretty good nap (one to two hours) if we laid him on our bed and sat by him the whole time.
  • The sitter problem
The one problem was that whatever we did at home, we could not expect his babysitter to do, since she was watching other children at the same time. To her credit she tried many techniques, and some worked... for a day or two... but in the end, after A turned one and he only took one nap a day, most days when I picked him up, he would have only slept 15 minutes that whole day. Needless to say, he would either fall asleep on the way home (around 5pm) or would be truly overtired for the few hours that we had to spend together.
  •  Our Solution
I got to a point where I thought something HAD to be done because it was not healthy for a 15 month old child to only sleep 15 minutes during the day. Meanwhile, I was dealing with my own struggles with a full time job I had grown bored with, and an uneven schedule that I felt contributed to our nap problems. I truly believe that routine is a tremendous help when dealing with sleep issues, but there was not much room for a daytime routine with my schedule. So I did something crazy and left my job for a part-time teaching gig at Syracuse University. This allowed me to send A to the sitter's in the morning four days a week, pick him up after lunch and take him home where we spend his nap together on my bed.
This may sound crazy to you, but it has made all of us ten times happier. I figure what's wrong with spending an hour or two relaxing, doing some work on the computer, or...blogging, if it makes A a happier, healthier child. Besides, he won't be taking naps forever. On another note, I have discovered that I truly enjoy teaching and working with college students, and am hoping that this crazy job move will result, in time, in a fulfilling new career.
  • Major Improvements
So, after almost 6 months of this system, I am happy to say that we have seen major improvements. A lays on the bed, we read a story and then, he usually falls asleep within 10 minutes, by himself, and sleeps for an hour or two on his own. I would leave him alone if it weren't for the fact that our bed is very high and I am afraid he might fall off.
Since the end of January I have been teaching a class at our local community college and it involves a long day on Friday, which means I can't be back in time to pick A up for nap. SleepyPapa and I were pretty worried about that, but it turns out A now sleeps an hour and a half to two hours on his own at the sitter's too! There he sleeps on a double bed in the same room as his buddy who has a toddler bed. (the double bed is pretty low so he can get off on his own).
Have you dealt with nap problems? What worked for you?

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