September 15, 2012

Nap Extensions

With a 4 month old baby in my arms sleep is a topic that is constantly on my mind. I read about it and celebrate it when it happens. I track sleep and I think about ways to get more of it.

My latest sleep obsession is nap extensions. Once I finally got my baby napping in the crib I found that she was still taking short cat naps throughout the day so instead of 2 long naps per day she was taking 4 short naps and never waking up fully rested.

I was happy that she was napping but I wanted more. My goal is to have her take 2 long naps and a catnap each day until she is ready for just 2 naps.  So I downloaded a copy of Pantley's No Cry Nap Solution and got reading.

First I tried to extend naps in the crib since I was so proud of myself for getting baby to sleep there. I tried stalking her on the monitor an then patting her back to sleep. No luck. I tried waiting by the crib and picking her up to bounce her back to sleep. No luck. I tried jiggling the mattress to get her back to sleep. No luck. I experimented with timing, an technique but wasn't getting results.

Then I decided to try my luck napping baby in the Rock and Play Sleeper that she currently sleeps in at night next to my bed. I don't have a monitor set up in my bedroom so I swaddled and bounced the baby to sleep on an exercise ball and set up in bed beside her and waited.

A quick not on swaddling - I know that soon my baby will outgrow this magical tight wrapping, but it has been a lifesaver for us as far as sleep goes.  I experimented with several swaddle blankets and found that she sleeps best in a Halo Swaddle Sack where her arms are tightly velcroed in to prevent escape, but her feet are loose so she can still kick out those night time farts.  I have also noticed that she sleeps much better in the fleece sack as opposed to the cotton version.

I also put baby down with white noise, and Starry.  "Starry" is a Fisher-Price Ocean Wonders Soothe and Grow Seahorse.  We named it Starry despite the fact that this stuffed lovey is a seahorse not a starfish.  This sweet little animal is useful in two ways.  First we use it as a sleep cue by playing the music while putting baby down for each nap and bedtime.  I am hoping that by starting now Starry can eventually take the place of a swaddle when we are ready to wean.  The other important thing about Starry is that she plays exactly 5 minutes of music.  When you are soothing a baby back to sleep 5 minutes can seem like a lifetime so it is nice to have an idea of how long you have been at it.  I am always telling my husband that if he hasn't gone at least 2 Starry's then he hasn't tried hard enough to get baby down.

Now back to the nap extensions ...

The first time I tried to extend a nap in the Rock and Play Sleeper went well!  After 30 minutes without stirring her eyes popped open for a few seconds and closed again. I began to rock her back to sleep and she started to doze off.  She woke up and had to be rocked back to sleep multiple times over the next 20 minutes, and then at the 50 minute mark went down and woke up for good at 90 minutes.  The afternoon nap I didn't do as well, but was able to extend a 30 minute nap to 60 minutes.

Pantley suggests that after a week of extending naps baby should begin to take longer naps on her own.  I have been at it just a few days with some success, and some failures.  It is more work having to sit beside baby while she naps, but I am willing to give it a go for the rewards at the end of this tunnel. 

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* This post contains affiliate links, but I was not paid by the manufacturer to review this product - I just like it! I am disclosing this in accordance with the FTC's 16 CFR, Part 255. Images copyright Brooke Photo Studio 2012.


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