Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Sleep Log: Day 1

I borrowed Dr. Sears's The Baby Sleep Book from the library and I've been reading it to get some advice on our sleeping situation. For the record, at night we sleep pretty well. We start with a bath around 6:00, then we chill for probably a half hour, sometimes Sadie nurses, sometimes she bounces, depending on how hungry she is. We do medicine at 7, and I nurse her to sleep after medicine, which takes anywhere from 1 hour to 2 hours (I get to watch a movie pretty much every evening!), put her down in her own bed (which is the pack 'n play in our room right now), then I get about 2 hours to myself before I go to bed in MY own bed with only my husband. She usually sleeps about 8 hours, then wakes up and tells me she's hungry. At this point, I bring her into bed with me, and we both fall asleep nursing for another 3 to 4 hours. This schedule works for us...when it actually goes like this, which is most of the time.

But naps. Naps are a WHOLE different story. There is always a morning nap, and an afternoon nap, and sometimes an evening nap after bathtime if the afternoon nap was lacking in substance. But they don't always happen, and having a GOOD nap on a consistent basis is where we're struggling. So, Dr. Sears to the rescue, right?

Naps are important because they improve emotional well-being and brain maturation (and we need all the brain help we can get!). Naps also reduce the level of stress hormones in a baby, which is why when your baby doesn't sleep, he/she gets cranky and fussy and stressed out. This is also why when Sadie is stressed out, even a 10 minute snooze will settle her right down. The more stress hormone a baby has, the harder it is for them to sleep...this is why good sleep begets good sleep. And why keeping a baby up during the day does NOT help them sleep better at night. Babies who get all stressed out during the day bring all that stress to bed with them and have trouble sleeping peacefully and for a long time at night. What I've noticed in my own child is that a really good nap is better for her irritability than any medicine the dr. gives us!

Sears says that a 3-6 month old needs 14-15 total hours of sleep, 2-3 naps a day, which are 3-4 hours. Well, we know that MY child doesn't fit into any average scales, so we'll adjust these numbers to what I've observed in Sadie. She probably needs 13-14 hours of sleep a day, she gets 10-11 hours at night, so this leaves about 4 hours during the day when Sadie needs to sleep. Dr. Sears also says that a 3-6 month old should have 2 naps a day about 1-1.5 hours long. My goal is that we take an hour morning nap and a 2-3 hour afternoon nap, then if Sadie wants to snooze while nursing or bouncing later in the evening, I won't stop her! But I also want her to be able to take these naps free of mommy-assisted sleep so that I can too get rest.

The first step in this journey is getting Sadie to nap at predictable times. I've learned that if I just let Sadie fall asleep when she's tired we'll all suffer. Her naps will be short, they will usually involve massive mommy-participation (ie. holding or nursing her the whole time, or bouncing the bouncy chair the whole time), and then she'll be more than her usual cranky fussy self in the evening when we want to sit down and eat dinner like adults. So, the solution is to get Sadie on a nap schedule (babies seem to operate REALLY well with consistency) doing the same thing everyday at the same time to promote good napping habits. Plus, I figure since we don't go anywhere anyway, it'll be easy to make sure we're home at nap times for this to happen.

How do I know when these times should be for Sadie? Instead of PICKING nap times that are convenient to me, I want to have nap times that fall within Sadie's patterns of tiredness, so that it won't be such a fight to go to sleep at these times. Remember, my goal is to also get rest when she is napping (and by rest, I don't necessarily mean sleep!) So, we'll start a nap log. This will include what time she took a nap, how long it lasted, and what were the means of falling asleep. Hopefully after a few days of keeping track of this information, a pattern will begin to develop. And hopefully after a few days of doing the same thing at nap time, Sadie will begin to recognize when it's time to take a nap, and just like bed time, will fall asleep peacefully and stay asleep for as long as she needs to.

Today, Sadie took a half hour nap from 10-10:30 in the bouncy chair, it was the kind of nap where she had to be bouncing the entire time or she'd wake up. And when someone came to the door and I had to get up, she woke up...we probably could have gone on longer if not for that. But that's annoying, she needs to be able to sleep independent of me.

Around noon, I tried to lay down with Sadie, but she wasn't having it. I think her morning nap wasn't really enough to carry her much longer than an hour of happy baby time, so she was cranky-tired. We got up and bounced, but as soon as I saw the eyes closing, I quickly scooped her up and took her to bed. She was asleep within minutes. I planned on laying there with her for 30-45 minutes to make sure she was really asleep...but I guess I needed a nap too! And before I knew it, it had been an hour and a half! She did sleep a little longer once I got up, so I did get a little time to myself. She slept until 2:15, which was just over a 2 hour nap!

We don't start our bedtime routine until about 6, so I'm hoping that 2 hours will carry her until then, if not then we'll see if we can work toward a longer afternoon nap. What are your experiences with nap time? Have you been successful at creating a nap schedule? How did you do it? I wanna hear your stories.


  1. Christie, she is SO cute! I love sleeping baby photos :)

    We had the same kind of trouble getting Sophie to take good daytime naps, and in the end all I could do to get her sleeping for long periods was lie down with her. At first it was awesome- I got to read lots of books, I got to nap lots myself- but after a while she wouldn't sleep without me. It all fell in a massive heap at about 8 months and from then to 13 months she slept in our bed day and night, and woke up 8 times a night.

    My eye is still twitching writing that even though she's been a perfect sleeper for five months now. Anyway- I don't have any great advice for you, because I totally stuffed up with Sophie's sleep at the same age- but you are absolutely on the right track with a) sorting it out now, and b) getting her on a routine to do it. You'll thank yourself for doing it very soon.

    Good luck!

  2. I completely agree with you that babies need sleep regularity. It is really important for babies to learn to fall asleep on their own. Sleeping patterns must be taught to a baby. The past few days, Nathan has been taking an hour and a half nap in the morning and a really long three hour nap in the afternoon. The morning nap tends to just happen in a bouncy seat, but I'm going to start putting him in his own bed (not the bassinet) for the afternoon nap time in preparation for moving to his own room in a month or so. I hope you figure out what's best for you and Sadie. :) -Anna-

  3. Routine Key...my kids took their naps same time everyday. They usually took a shorter morning nap between 9-10 sometimes for about 1-1.5 hours...then afternoon nap usually around 1230-1 for several hours. And I think you are on the right track with scooping her up and laying her down when she is sleeping. I did similiar things with Dominic and he took a lot of his morning naps in his swing but it moved by itself so I didn't need to be right there. Afternoon nap I always put him in his bed, even if he feel asleep somewhere else I would put in him his bed. What worked for me was I almost always nursed him to sleep and then when he was groggy laid him in his bed. It took awhile for him to nap in his bed but he did great. And as a suggestion both my kids started sleeping better during the day when I moved them to a big crib.