Baby Whisperer — Nap Training

Getting your little one to nap seems to be a universal struggle for moms.

When and how do you put your baby down? How long? Do I wake my baby up to feed if they are sleeping longer than usual? So much uncertainty especially with that first baby! That's why I love the “mommy” community. Although everybody has different opinions, we all still help each other out. This is also why I’m so thankful for Dorothy. She was so sweet and willing to help share some tips to get Theo to learn to nap during the day. He sleeps great at night- because of all of her wisdom on sleep training- but he resisted napping  during the day! This made for a cranky baby and a very unproductive mom.

Of course, as with any advice on parenting, you have to be flexible. Everything depends on your lifestyle and your personal schedule. Everybody is different and we often forget that every baby is different as well. It took Theo about a week to get his body used to the new schedule of daily naps. Here is a glimpse of what a typical day looks like for us:

7am Wake Up

He may wake up earlier, but I let him play in his crib until I go in and get him at 7:00 on the dot. I nurse him immediately.

2 Hour Wake Time 

This 2 hour window includes diaper changes, breakfast, light housekeeping, maybe watch a little VeggieTales, play on bouncer, have tummy time, reading books, etc.; mostly just keeping him busy and enjoying quality time. This is a sweet chunk of our day for us to have some really good one on one time.

9am Nap Time

It made me a little nervous the first time I put him down after the 2 hour wake time, because he showed no interest in going down. He would rub his eyes but was determined to fight it. I put his paci in his mouth, turned the sound machine on, gave him his ‘Lovey’, put him down and walked away immediately. If I gave him a chance to make eye contact it was all downhill from there. At first he would just play and talk to himself. Then 10 min later he would get bored and remember I wasn't there, so he would whine and cry. I let him cry for about 5 min, to give him a chance to soothe himself and get tired. Then I would go in, trying not to make eye contact or talk. If his paci had fallen out of his mouth, I would put it back in. I would put the Lovey by his face and walk away again. The first couple times I did this routine 3 or 4 times. He eventually tired out. Because it was such a process, he wouldn't go down for an actual nap until 9:30 or 9:45.

2 Hour Nap

While we were training, I only let him nap for 2 hours. This helped get him into the routine of regularly scheduled naps. Again, in the beginning it took him a while to adjust.  Sometimes he would want to sleep past 11:00 but for the sake of the routine, I would wake him. Or if he woke before then, I let him stay in the crib until wake up time.  Once up, I would nurse immediately.

2 Hour Wake Time 

This is the second wake time of the day.  Just like the first, I keep him as active as possible.  We go for a walk, play, make lunch, etc.

1:00pm Nap Time 

Same routine as the first.  However, it is typically easier to get him down for this one.  After a busy day, he is ready for a nap.  However, it isn't as long as his morning nap. It usually lasts about 1.5 hours. To break up his naps and so he will be ready to go to bed when it’s time, I don’t let him go past 3:00.  Again feeding him as soon as he wakes up.
Wake time. By this wake time, dad is home and we have some much anticipated family time!

Evening Cat Nap

This is just to get him to last for bed time, which is anywhere from 7:30- 8:00. So he'll take a 45 minute nap around 4:00. I wake him at 5:00 no matter what. This gives Robbie and I quality time to talk, make dinner, etc.!  Another nursing time immediately after waking.

2 Hour Wake Time 

During this wake time we eat dinner, go for an afternoon stroll, run errands, go to dinner, etc. Again keeping him active and getting him used to our family’s routine.

Bed Time

This is the only time I feed right before putting him down. We start his bedtime routine at 7; bathe, feed, and then sleep. I talk more about his night sleep here.

I was very strict in the beginning with the schedule. My intention was to get his little body to understand what to do when he was tired. I'd say the strict training lasted about a week. I stayed consistent and it paid off! Now all I have to do is lay him down with his paci and ‘Lovey’ with the sound machine and BAM! The kid is off to dream land.

His longest nap is his morning 9:00am nap. He'll nap about 2-3 hours and it's such a blessing! I get so much work done! (Like write this post and clean the house!)  His afternoon nap helps me finish any jobs for the day before my husband gets home. His evening cat nap lets me and Robbie spend time together. His bedtime lets us watch movies, play cards, have a bonfire or get a lot of sleep! Ha! We love this kid and how much he loves us by sleeping :)

I mentioned I was strict in the beginning.  I still follow the same guidelines but now that he has the routine down and knows how to soothe himself, I’m not worried about breaking the rules. If I'm out grocery shopping or on meetings, I take him with me and he'll either sleep in my arms or during the car ride. I'm not worried about him regressing.  He actually wants and prefers his bed and routine but, thankfully, can be flexible.  

This is what works best for me and Theo, but like I said, every baby is different!  Dorothy is a fount of baby wisdom, so I thought I would share.   I would love to hear what has worked for you as well.  Please feel free to share any mommy wisdom you have in the comments below! — Jo