Nap Time

When Livi was born, people would constantly tell me to sleep when the baby sleeps. And I tried but it was not meant to be.

I mentioned before that in the beginning, Livi would not sleep for more than thirty minutes at night and often only while we held her. That also meant that we would not get much sleep ourselves and that it was often impossible to sleep at the same time.

Napping during the day was just as difficult for her. Up until recently, Livi would only nap when I held her. We tried everything, but during the day we could not put her down anywhere.

I think I managed to do it twice. But each time, the moment I would try to get some sleep myself, she would start to cry as if she sensed that I was no longer awake.

It would have been nice to get some rest since nights were difficult to say the least and left us exhausted and sleep deprived. And days were not easier as I spent all my time holding, nursing, soothing or entertaining her in some way.

In the beginning, I was also frustrated because others told me they would not only nap while their baby napped but also eat, relax or get some work done. I could not do any of it and somehow had to find a way to do it all while holding a baby.

Eventually, however, I was just happy when Livi would nap at all because it would at least give me somewhat of a break. She was not crying when she slept and I could sit down while holding her, something that was almost impossible when she was awake.

Most of the time, she would only nap for thirty minutes. Often, it would take me just as long to walk or rock her to sleep, sometimes even longer.

When Livi was older, we tried to establish some kind of routine for her. Unfortunately, she would have none of it. Her nap times were and still are unpredictable. I never know when she is ready to take a nap and how long she will actually sleep.

One day she may show signs of being tired yet will not fall asleep for another hour or two, despite my best efforts. The next day, she does not look or act tired at all, but falls asleep much faster.

It is hard to make any kind of plans this way. I keep trying, but mostly I have to cancel prior arrangements last minute or wait to run errands on days when she only naps for a short time. Of course that also means that she will be tired and not up for outings or much stimulation.

As Livi grew older, we kept trying different methods to get her to nap by herself. All of them ended in disaster. Just recently, we have been able to make some progress. I no longer have to hold her but one of us still needs to lie down with her.

Her naps still happen at random times and I still do not know how long she will sleep. All we can do is keep trying and hope that as she gets older, her sleep will improve.

More aboutΒ sleep issues.

Flickr Photo by drothamel

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20 comments on “Nap Time

  1. Steph says:

    Yeah, the whole sleep when the baby sleeps thing was elusive for me as well. But our daughter does sleep well these days for which I’m very grateful. I’m glad you’re making some progress with naps lately and I hope it continues.

  2. The hardest thing about it all is we never get a proper break. Having a baby with you 24/7 is hard work.. Also, making plans is a nightmare! So, I think I posted previously that we have the same situation. Some things have worked for me though which may be of some help for you. I understand that it’s not likely though as high need babies are so different and unique. People would give me sleep ‘advice’ (they still do) all the time. I would just nod and smile thinking they had no idea.

    1. My LO would NEVER go down anywhere too. At around 7 months I figured out that if I held her for 20 minutes, (no less but no more because between 25-30 mins is her wake up time and between 0-20 mins is a really light sleep for her) then lay her down on my bed. She would wake up but if I lay down next to her straight away and feed her she would go back to sleep. I would then have to stay with her but not fall asleep because I would have to catch her stirring at 30 minutes and re-feed her then she would fall back to sleep. After about 20 minutes I could fall asleep too or slip away. Sometimes she would sleep for another hour, sometimes wake after 30 minutes.

    2. The extractor fan in the kitchen helps her to go to sleep faster when i’m rocking / pacing with her. When I turn the extractor fan on she now knows it’s nap time and fights it a little less.

    3. Recently, (because she fell off our bed) i’ve started trying to get her down in her cot for naptimes. At first she woke every time I put her down but then I would rock her back to sleep again . We went through this cycle for about a week until hurrah she went down in her cot. After about 2 weeks of this she now goes into her cot for naptiime. She continued to sleep only for 30 minutes but I would always rock her back to sleep and put her back down (she wouldn’t always go back down without waking). Sometimes it would take 30mins or longer to get her back down and she’d only sleep for 10 minutes longer in her cot. BUT I kept persevering. Now (as of this week and last) she will sometimes sleep for up to an hour and a half in her cot.

    Sorry for the essay but I hope this helps in some way!

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you for your great comments, I am sure others will appreciate them, too.
      We have tried all of these and more. We also use a fan and white noise and it seems to help with sleep duration as it drowns out noises and calms her.
      We also figured out that we had to hold her for a certain amount of time before she would move on to a deeper sleep. That seemed to help at night and we had some success putting her in her own bed when she was older. But it never seemed to work for naps.
      Finally, the last thing you mentioned, I also tried, but never got anywhere with it, unfortunately.
      I guess, every child really is different and so is every high need child. Also, what might work today, may not work tomorrow or only for a little while. But I am glad to hear that you have been seeing improvement.
      Livi is now a toddler and since she turned 15 months old, we have been noticing slight improvements and successes here and there. Before, we pretty much tried everything and there was never any sign of improvement.
      So I guess the moral of the story is, don’t give up. We had to wait for 15 months before any of our efforts made even the tiniest bit of a difference and I’ve heard of others who still struggle with their 2 year olds.

  3. Oster's Mom says:

    Oster was very similar with his nap schedule in his first 8 months. Don’t feel anxious or worried about canceling outings and activities. Your child is the most important thing and if she wants to sleep through a play date…so be it!

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you! I’m not too worried. It’s just happens almost every single time so others are losing interest in scheduling anything with us. Oh well, like you said, If Livi is tired and needs to sleep then so be it.

  4. the speech monster says:

    i can empathize with the sleep issues! i’m dealing with it myself. it really only started recently mostly in the night but oh yes, is it draining. glad to hear things are getting better! πŸ™‚

  5. Mama Bear Matters says:

    Similarly, my son needed me to lay down with him while he slept/napped. As soon as I even tried to put him down, he would immediately wake up and fuss. I feel like I rarely put him down before he could walk. He always needed to be held, especially when he was asleep.

    When he turned about 18 months, I was able to roll out of bed during his naptime, but only for an hour at most.

    It’s frustrating to feel like you could or should be doing other chores while the baby is asleep. But I always told myself, no matter who I’m cancelling on or whatever chore is being ignored, my baby’s sleeping comes first.

    • hnMom says:

      Yes, that sounds very familiar. I am still holding Livi a lot, but it has improved significantly since she can walk.
      It is very frustrating, when you have so much to do and can only tend to the absolute necessities in the evening. But you are right, sleep comes first and that’s how I have always approached it. πŸ™‚

  6. I do not know how you do it. My daughter only napped in our arms or when we were on the go (car seat or stroller or bjorn) for the first few months, and I remember feeling so stressed when I was confined to the couch for hours in the day when I wanted to get up and clean or do laundry or make dinner. I do not know how you’ve done it for as long as you have, although it sounds like things are improving. That’s amazing! I do think that babies just have a “time” when they are ready for change, and for some, you just cannot push them until they are ready.

    As for canceling on other people – who cares. All that matters is Livi’s well-being. It sucks being that friend who cannot be relied on to stick with plans, but you get used to it. I’ve been that friend for a long time – ha!

    How is the nighttime sleep going? Any better?

    • hnMom says:

      I think you’re right, babies need to be ready for change. Our parents would constantly tell us what they did to make us sit or crawl or walk, etc. And in the beginning, we would give in to the pressure and do what they said with Livi because we feared she was falling behind. But Livi would have none of it. She let us know when she was good and ready. We could never push her to try something new.Β 
      As for nighttime sleep: it’s easier for her to fall asleep at night than during the day but it still takes her between 30 minutes and an hour. She also still wakes up twice at night. But she does seem to go back to sleep easier. I’ve also noticed that sometimes when she cries at night, she is able to calm herself down and go back to sleep, whereas before, she would always wake up completely and cry for us. So that’s an improvement I think.Β 
      But nap time is so much more difficult. Just the last two days she would not sleep unless I held her. Oh well, one step at a time. Maybe it’s too much to try to change both, night and naps, at the same time?

      • It sounds like you’ve made tremendous progress. My theory is that, given how sensitive Livi is, you should probably focus more on one first. She may get overwhelmed if you do both at the same time, and as over-tiredness can effect nighttime sleep, you’re probably better off to just do whatever you need to do to get her to sleep in the day to ensure nighttime will be easier. Then once you have nighttime sorted, it’ll likely be easier to work on daytime sleep. But that’s just my theory, so take it with a grain of salt. πŸ™‚ I found when Bubbs was smaller that her daytime sleep really drove her nighttime sleep, so I was insane about maintaining her schedule and ensuring she was well-rested at all times. I am still crazy about the whole schedule, but I can play around with it a little more now. I am sure she is actually much more adaptable than I give her credit for, but the fear of things slipping again makes me reluctant to change anything!!!! Good luck and keep me posted!

      • hnMom says:

        You know, I was thinking the same thing today. And I pretty much already do it this way. I.e. at night we let her fall asleep on her own but during the day, when it doesn’t work, I always make sure she gets her nap, and if it means that I have to hold her. Thanks for all your feedback and advice, it keeps me going. πŸ™‚

  7. Praying for some longer nap times and more moments of sheer rest for YOU! Don’t feel guilty if you’re not conquering the world when she does sleep. I remember feeling like I would get nothing done when they were napping (Still do), and I eventually decided that was ok! Hang in there.

  8. You are so strong and seem to handle this well! Blessings to you! I would not handle that level of exhaustion well 😦 and you should be proud of yourself and the progress that has been
    made!

    Just wondering…does she sleep in the car?

    • hnMom says:

      Thank you so much! I am sure you have handled your fair share of exhaustion though.
      When she was younger, she really only slept in the car when we had bad days and she was just exhausted from crying, etc. But I could never count on her sleeping in the car. Now, she rarely sleeps in the car at all.

  9. sassandspice says:

    You have handled this so well. I believe that all babies/toddlers are all different and I thought it was great that you at least tried most of the general advice/techniques to see what works your daughter.

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