Our little Evan is a hellish napper....he has been since he grew out of the newborn sleep anywhere phase. He sleeps well at night- he's been going down with little to no problem around 8 and wakes up around 2 and then 6 to eat. Since Ella sleeps through from 8-6, it's has just been him waking up to eat. So overnight no big deal. Day time is a pain in the ass.
We've been having both babies sleep in a quiet area downstairs in their rock n plays. Evan needed to be swaddled, rocked, have a paci and be placed just so on his side to fall asleep. It typically would take 2-4 tries to get him down and I could easily drain 30-40 min attempting to get him to nap. In between attempts he would scream. Once he was down, he'd sleep from 1-3 hours no problem. It was just getting him to go to sleep that was the issue.
His screaming started to wake Ella from her naps so I transitioned her into her crib for naps. It took a few tries and a few trips up and down the stairs, but she goes down without a problem. I notice she is tired and I run her up to her crib, rock her for a minute, give her a paci and her taggie and put her down. The girl is nuts about her taggie blanket. She goes to sleep much faster when she has it and she insists on covering her face with it. It makes me nervous, so I'll go in and move it off of her face only to see it back in 5 minutes. Here is a pic of my crazy napping girl. We don't practice safe napping at our house.
Once she was transitioned (one thing at a time!), I decided it was time to start working on Evan the Terrible Napper. Of course, the first few attempts were utterly futile. He'd be screaming the second I bent to put him in the crib. I caved and would just put him down in the rock n play. Cue the frustration, because it was still taking over 30 minutes to get him settled down for a nap. Ridiculous. However, I didn't know what to do...
I reached my breaking point two weeks ago. I was trying to get him down in the crib in the morning and he kept crying. I snapped and started whining to Collin about how he was the worst napper ever, how I didn't know what the hell to do, how frustrated I was etc. It wasn't good. I hate when I get whiney like that... I hopped in the shower, sulking, and Collin continued to get ready for work. When I got out of the shower, he had scrambled eggs, toast and coffee waiting for me to help pull me out of my bitter mood. It worked. I also decided it was time to come up with some kind of plan for this boy's napping issues.
You see, I like plans. I don't like living in chaos. I like to be organized. This napping business has been chaos. I know there isn't a clear cut answer for what to do to get the kid to nap. His instruction manual never showed up in the mail...I decided it was time to embark on Nap Boot Camp.
So here is how we turned our Evan the Terrible Napper into Evan the Excellent Napper. Nap Boot Camp Week One: I paid close attention to awake times; from what I read online babies this age should be awake for a max of 2 hrs. Evan tends to get fussy around the 1.5 hour mark. Once I noticed he was tired, I instantly took him upstairs, closed the curtains to make the room dark and turned on his sound machine. I then proceeded to swaddle him and rock/sing to him for a few minutes (I need some new lullabies because I am getting sick of the same three I sing!). I then put him down in his crib. If he started crying at this point I shushed him and gave him a paci. I did this a few minutes. No matter if he was still fussing or not, after a few minutes I left the room. I gave him 5 minutes to try to sooth himself. If he was still fussing, I returned to the room and again gave him his paci, rubbed his head and talked to him for another couple of minutes. No matter what he was doing at this point, I left the room again and gave him 10 minutes to try to sooth himself. After 10 minutes I would return and do the same. I didn't have to go beyond the 10 minute mark, but if I did my plan was to return in 15 minutes. You get the picture.
Boot Camp Week One Results: Evan would fuss the minute I put him in his crib, but I stuck with my above plan and he'd put himself to sleep in 10 minutes by the end of the week. The first few days were rough. He napped for very short periods of time (20-30 min) and was exhausted by the end of the day (which also made one exhausted mama). However, I stuck with it and things greatly improved by the end of the week. He was taking 45 min-1 hour naps and putting himself to sleep with minimal fussing. A small victory for me!
Boot Camp Week Two: Collin mentioned working on unswaddling him for naps. He said he'd work on it over the weekend with Evan to give me a break from the nap boot camp. He's gotten too strong for swaddling and frequently busts out of the swaddle thus waking himself up and ending the nap. It was time to unswaddle. Who knew teaching a 4 month old baby to nap could be so exhausting? I was feeling like I could conquer the world after the positive results I saw from our first week of napping boot camp so I decided I'd give the unswaddling a whirl. I laid him down in his crib (without being swaddled) after rocking/singing, gave him his paci and taggie blanket and followed the plan I used during the first week.
Boot Camp Week Two Results: The first three days were a disaster. Evan would lay in his crib and flat out refuse to nap for 1-2 of his naps (they typically nap three times a day). He'd lay in his crib babbling and crying on and off, but I left him in there for 45 minutes. The naps he did take didn't last long (about 30 min), but I was strong and didn't give in. I kept up my napping plan despite the crying and crabby baby I had on my hands. By the third day, there was minimal fussing and he starting putting himself to sleep within 5-10 minutes! He still skipped a nap here and there, but he didn't cry during his skipped naps. He babbled to himself and played with his taggie so I left him in his crib for 45 min. By the end of the week...wait for it...he was NAPPING!!! YES! I'd only have to go in 1 time to sooth him and he was napping about an hour at a time. He also STARTED SLEEPING THROUGH THE NIGHT!!!
Yup, that's right! He is completely easy to put down for a nap now. I don't even watch him constantly to whisk him away at his first sign of tiredness. I know when he's tired and I put him in his crib and he easily goes down for a nap. 1-2 min of rocking, a paci and a taggie. BAM! That boy is asleep. Gone are the days of begging him to nap while I futilely rocked him, swaddled him and became anxious over our 30-40 min nap routines and end up in tears at some point in the day.
I can't tell you how much relief this has brought into my day! I can put both babies to sleep with ease for their naps. They are also on the same nap schedule and this means I get a break from doing everything baby all the time. I am cleaning, doing laundry and cooking meals these days! I remember when we first brought the twins home, I didn't think I could ever be a functioning human being again. We've come a long way!
We've been putting the babies to bed around 7-8 pm and they have been sleeping until 5-6 am. It's a beautiful thing. We have a schedule during the week that is predictable and we're having fun! I can't believe how fast they are growing up! Evan sprouted a bunch of blonde hair overnight. He went from bald to fuzzy blonde!
We got high chairs last week and have moved on to starting solids! Ahh!! More to come on that later.