As you all know from following my blog (thanks mum) I have become OBSESSED with napping. Mostly my babies napping, but consequentially sometimes my own. I have been blessed with the ability to fall asleep anywhere, at any time. This includes Phantom the Opera the musical, in the nosebleed seats whilst a giant chandelier careered towards me. My baby however, seems to feel that life is too exciting and “sleep is for losers.” At around 3 months, I thought we were winning. Bed at 7 you say?sleep until 1am?great. Then came month 4 and it went to pot. Waking every 1-2 hours you say?5am get up time?
I like to think of my parenting style as go with the flow, structure without too much rigidity etc etc. I have never felt it realistic, or my life’s aim to get my baby to sleep through at 6 weeks. Despite this, after I had lost count of the times R had woken up and stopped checking the clock because it was making me feel depressed I decided to consult the oracle on all things baby-Google. Top of the charts is what is known in the business as the “four month sleep regression.” What?! I thought that sleep would continue to improve as babies stomach got bigger and they didn’t need to eat as much. I also read that from 10lbs babies can sleep through. That would be R day one of life then. Don’t remember that crunched up in a hospital bed unable to summon the abdominal strength to reach over to the cot or “fish bowl” as someone appropriately described it.
I was bought a couple of parenting books as gifts, which up until last night were in pristine conditon on the shelf. Gina Ford was a no go, and i read the first two pages of the baby whisper and felt patronised by the writing style so gave up. Bleary eyed instead I turned to various mums net esq horror stories of the sleep regression NEVER ENDING. Then I stumbled upon a slightly more scientific site, explaining that around this age babies sleep patterns move towards becoming more adult like, meaning that they are much more easily awoken between sleep cycles. Also correlating with huge changes in development, teething, illnesses, this does not bode well for sleep. I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with “shush-pat” adnausem and would revert to type which would be a swift march round in the sling.
So back to the baby whisperer. Mr S humoured me with the “what type of baby do you have” quiz. I would put R on the “spirited” side, but dads answers were more “textbook.” Ok, so we have a NORMAL baby, it must be us doing something wrong. Where are these two hour naps I was promised? I feel like i spend my whole day looking for sleep signals and on active nap management but always feel frustrated when it inevitably fails. I could shamefully identify with the idea of “toy overstimulation” I.e jangling lots of things in R’s face, flying him around the room, although well meaning. I hadn’t considered that “he doesn’t like that toy” is actually “he doesn’t understand that toy yet.” Que hyper baby who finds it difficult to sleep, wakes up cranky and prematurely from his naps, won’t feed properly, gets increasingly agitated, until bath, bedtime and calmness ensues. It made me wonder what was different at night compared to the daytime. It’s still light at 7pm so that’s not the issue. I realised that R was getting down time, time to unwind from the excitement of the day and learning new skills. So Tracy Hogg says,if your baby is overtired, don’t jiggle them more (which was my go-to technique.) Don’t disrespect them by asking them to sleep in the kitchen. And where they fall asleep is important (imagine falling asleep in your bedroom then waking up finding yourself in the garden.) This resonated with me, whereas previously I though if I read “put your baby down for a nap drowsy but awake” I could scream.
I think my behaviours stem from my personality-you could argue a toxic type of parent “closet competitive” type. Saying, “I don’t mind when he rolls, he will do it in his own time, I think he’s working towards sitting up instead” whilst frantically googling “how to spot developmental delay” and “encourage your child to roll.” Equally, he can do whatever makes him happy (as long as that involves playing sport at county level and grade 8 chello.)
So the pursuit for the perfect nap continues…