So, if you follow me on Twitter, you know that I tweet often about Binary Boy’s challenges with taking naps (and the length of them) and I’ve blogged off and on about his (lack of) naps, too. Every baby has his or her own challenge. Napping has always been Binary Boy’s challenge. Mostly, it’s napping, not sleeping, as he sleeps through the night pretty often (or only wakes once), and has from a relatively young age, too. I believe around 6 months he started sleeping 10-12 hours through the night.
After our “before sleep” routine for every nap and at bedtime (with added bath before bed), I lay next to Binary Boy and sing a song, then quiet.. shhh… until he is past REM and into a deep sleep. I then carefully move him into his crib. Even though it takes up more of my personal time during the day, I relish those moments with him. The quiet, hushed stillness of relaxing into sleep.
Now, if he doesn’t fall asleep, that’s a whole different, frustrating story, but I talk enough about those times. I want to remember the good nap times, which truly are most days.
He used to be a cluster nurser, “snacking” for almost two hours at a time, then napping for an hour, then waking hungry again, so a nap schedule just never took with him. Up until about 4 months, he used to just fall asleep nursing (he still nurses twice a day, but rarely falls asleep during anymore) or in the Ergo baby carrier and I’d place him in his co-sleeper next to our bed or keep him in the Ergo. That was easy.
At 4 months, he grew out of the co-sleeper, so I’d lay next to him in our bed to get him to sleep and just sneak away quietly. I used to love hearing his soft breathing and gazing at the silhouette of his peaceful face while I hummed and watched him slip into sleep.
When he began to crawl around 5 and a half months I moved the whole routine into his room. We bought a twin mattress and put it on the floor and that is what I still use to get him to sleep. Though, it was then that I truly realized that napping was his challenge. He is a very light sleeper and very sensitive to any out-of-the-ordinary noise.
I tried letting him cry-it-out for two days while we had family visiting here. That was enough for both of us to turn completely in knots, even though it was no longer than 45 minutes to an hour. I know that works for many parents, but it did not work for us, and especially did not work with Binary Boy, as a high-need baby. I have not done it since and don’t plan to, ever again.
Instead, I got creative. I use both a white noise machine and a music soother. Those help a lot. I eventually hung black-out curtains. They also helped, but I hated them. Even during the day it was pitch black in his room, so it was hard for me to see him. Eventually, however, my eyes would adjust and spot his sweet face. The dim light of the monitor helped cast very dim shadows, enough so that I could barely see the outlines of his nose, cheeks and lips. Sometimes a very stubborn ray of sunshine would make it’s way through the cracks in the curtains. I secretly loved those sunrays. I took those curtains down a few weeks ago. I hated them that much. He seems to like it better now, too.
The nap routine is still the same to this day, though he is really only taking one nap a day now. He still needs two. I know it’s normal to move to only one nap a day, but he gets really tired without two. I do not try to get him down twice anymore, though. So, I opt for a slightly earlier bedtime. It seems to be working out okay.
In a couple of years, I know he might not want to nap at all, and I will love our extended daytime adventures when that happens. For now, though, I still enjoy watching the silhouette of his chest rising and falling in the time just before he takes a long exhale and drifts off to dreamland.
PS – I was looking for a photo or two to include in this post and then I realized that we have no photos of Binary Boy sleeping, because, well, he is such a light sleeper that taking a photo would wake him up (seriously). We do have a few snapshots of him asleep in the car seat, however they are on Kevin’s iPhone. Next post will hopefully include some current photos.