Hack My Baby: The Naptime Battles

We started Katy on a loose daily routine a few days ago. Or as I’ve subtitled it: the “Hack My Baby” experiment.

I was originally dead against the idea of scheduling Katy for one simple reason. If she gets used to napping at a fixed schedule only at home and under specific circumstances, we’ll all be stuck  waiting for her naps to start and end before we can go anywhere. So against it was I that, starting from when she was about 1.5 months old, I lugged her nearly everywhere I went so she would be fine napping in any and all situations.

Around the start of this month, though, I realised that the joke’s on me. My strategy worked in that Katy’s been able to nap like a champ in the car, and in her stroller both indoors and out – but when at home, her catnaps lasted no more than 10 minutes each. To make things worse, she was throwing massive tantrums a few times a day, usually two hours after her last bottle. It took me a while but eventually I realised I was dealing with a constantly overtired baby. And taking her out every 1.5 – 2 hours so she can nap in the car isn’t really a long term solution.

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THEN: Too tired to sleep, too angry to settle down.

So I sucked it up and started reading up on sleep training and scheduling. The Wee Bee Dreaming blog in particular has been a great resource. The fascinating part – for me, anyway – has been understanding the relationship between daytime naps and nighttime sleep. With adults, we all know that taking a nap too late in the day will probably screw up your night’s sleep. But with babies, a good night’s sleep sets the tone for restful daytime naps, and adequate daytime rest means the baby is primed to doze off soundly at night.

It’s been a little less than a week, but I think this experiment has already had some positive results. Here’s what we’ve been doing.

– I found a pleasant white noise track on Spotify, of waves crashing on the beach, and it’s on loop all night in Katy’s room. (Best use of my paid subscription so far!) She definitely nods off more easily with this playing than without. Downside: when I want to sleep in her room to be close by when she’s having a fussy couple of hours, it drives me NUTS.

Dreamfeeding is wonderful. Instead of waiting till Katy wakes from hunger, we feed her in her sleep at the same time every night. The first time James took the dreamfeed, he said it was so easy that it felt surreal. I didn’t try it before because Katy always resists being fed when she isn’t feeling good and ready, so perhaps different rules apply when awake and when asleep!

– Katy has always responded well to her bedtime routine – bath, jammies, swaddle, lights out – so I instituted a simple naptime routine. Now she plays in the living room after a bottle, and after 50 minutes she returns to her room to calm down (with more white noise) and lie in her rocker until she sleeps.

For the first two days, the results were AWFUL. Come naptime, Katy would howl for up to an hour before passing out for a few minutes from sheer fatigue. But all of her caregivers stuck to our guns. As of today, there’s only been light fussing from her before she settles in for a nap that can last up to 40 minutes. I know she should really be taking hour-long naps, and I’m aware that her comfort level with the current routine could change anytime, but for now I’m counting this with my blessings.

An interesting and unexpected benefit is that Katy now gets hungry for her first bottle at roughly the same time every morning. For the past three mornings she’s taken her first bottle at 7.45 – 8 am, even if she wakes up any earlier. Which also makes the rest of the day a little more predictable. And to absolutely no one’s surprise, she’s still napping awesomely outside the home. I’ve tried to time our trips out to coincide with the naptime part of her schedule, and she’s been most cooperative.

Fingers crossed and praying that the little squeaker keeps this up. 🙂

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NOW: One ridiculously well-rested baby.

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2 Comments

  1. MissusTay - May 16, 2014

    i find the returns of having a schedule outweighs not having one for me. i can see vast difference between both Thad and Tea. although Tea can sleep almost anywhere as long as she’s tired, the lack of routine makes her kinda out of control sometimes. i’m still vexing over how to fix this.

    • Germaine - May 16, 2014

      Thanks for sharing babe. It really helps to hear from someone who’s tried it both ways. Some days I really get super frustrated when Katy still doesn’t go down for her nap willingly and I can’t help but wonder if it’s worth the angst!!

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