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Baby Not Napping
His room was a bat cave, there was absolutely zero trace of light seeping in. We had the perfect temperature set. The best blackout curtains money could buy. A fantastic white noise machine with 40 different sound options. We even had my favorite mom hack, the zippily-zip which helps with startle reflex.
Despite all those things, no matter WHAT, our baby could not put himself to sleep independently.
The worst part? All that effort only resulted in my baby only napping for 15-30 minutes at a time. I felt like all I was doing all day long was trying to get him to go to sleep, with the smallest fraction of sleep actually happening. Catnapping and marathon rocking sessions lead to one mentally and physically exhausted mama.
Baby Not Napping, But Now What?
FOUR HOURS… That is how long some days I would spend in a rocking chair trying to get my son to sleep.
It’s important to remember that I have a three year old daughter as well. This meant I would have to sneak off and leave her with Doc Mcstuffins to babysit. (for those not familiar, Doc Mcstuffins is a cartoon not an actual Doctor that lives at my house).
There was fear in her eyes when I told her I needed to put her brother down for a nap. How long would she have to play alone?
I found myself in a really dark place physically and mentally. I started becoming anxious at the start of the day. I’d wonder how long it would take me to rock my son to sleep today, and how long would he stay asleep?
Household chores were piling up. How are you supposed to get anything done when the baby only naps for 20 minutes?
How To Stop Rocking Baby To Sleep For Naps
Prior to the four hour “rock fests” with my son, I sat down with a certified pediatric sleep consultant for an interview about baby and toddler sleep, that I thought would result in an informative article for my blog. Everyone could use a little help when it comes to sleep, right?
Carianna, the certified pediatric sleep consultant and owner of All The Sleeps had extensive knowledge on baby and toddler sleep. We chatted about how to help with toddler naps, age appropriate wake/sleep windows, and the nitty gritty of how to get children to sleep and stay asleep.
My questions went something like this…
- How can babies connect their sleep cycle?
- What are some tips and tricks to help a baby sleep through the night?
- How to stop rocking baby to sleep for naps?
- How can you get a baby to nap longer?
- What can you do for night time wakings?
- What do you do if a baby wakes up too early?
Most of these questions had the exact same answer….
“Babies need to learn to put themselves to sleep independently and once they can do that, they will be able to connect sleep cycle and sleep through the night,” said Carianna. Well.. that sounds pretty straight forward.
I learned so much from our conversation and at the end of our meeting Carianna said that she would be happy to offer her services if we ever found ourselves in a place that we would need them.
What a GREAT offer, but my son slept through the night so I didn’t need professional help. I was off to write about baby sleep.
Fast forward, the constant rocking, short naps and exhaustion were really starting to take a toll on the whole family. My baby won’t nap, and I needed help.
Working With a Sleep Consultant
I’m sure people get nervous when they hear the words “sleep training” or a sleep consultant. You get mixed emotions of “Oh I would NEVER do the cry it out method,” or the general anxiousness of not understanding how sleep training works.
Since I didn’t have to sleep train my older daughter, I too had fear of the unknown.
Would he fall asleep on his own? Would he cry? How long would he cry? What should I do? What if it doesn’t work? When should he be napping? How long should he be napping? Will this work? I wasn’t willing to find out the answers all by myself.
Sleep Training Is All About Having A Plan
We did a long assesment of our son’s current sleep behavior, his daily routine, his sleeping environment, etc. We put a detailed plan into place, and were told to follow it to a T.
There were two different methods offered to us in order to assist my son in falling asleep independently. The plan set forth involved what to do for early wakings and middle of the night wakings. She also put forth a very throuough schedule of when our son should go down for a nap and how to adjust for naps based on a variety of situations.
A good sleep consultant works on the comfort level of the parent to provide an actionable and effective plan. It is NOT all about the cry it out method. Sleep training is about following a comprehensive plan with intention and repetition.
When day one of sleep training rolled around, we had a phone consultation with our consultant to ensure everyone involved was on the same page. We discussed all the “what if” scenarios, and we didn’t hang up until everyone was comfortable with moving forward.
My husband and I now had all the tools to get my son to sleep. We just needed to follow the plan. Deep breaths.
Sleep Training Results
On day two of our sleep training adventure my son took a TWO hour nap. If you’ve made it this far in the article you know that prior to this, he hadn’t slept for longer than 30 minutes during the day.
It was taking him no longer than ten minutes to fall asleep ON HIS OWN. By day 5 and 6 he was falling asleep often times under 5 minutes.
Although my son did sleep through the night (or what I thought was sleeping through the night) our new routine had him sleeping from 7:30pm-7:30am mostly uninterrupted. IF he did wake up around 4:30-5:30am he would usually babble for a bit and then fall back to sleep…. ON HIS OWN.
How to stop rocking baby to sleep for naps? That question seems so obvious now. Babies thrive on routine and my son and I didn’t have any sort of real schedule before we started sleep training. I was often just winging it and waiting for sleep cues that never happened. Following the sleep consultant’s plan for naps made ALL of the difference.
Were there tears? Yes, but not the way I had imagined there would be. My son was capable of much more than I thought he was.
After two weeks of the sleep schedule, my son was:
- Falling asleep on his own
- Sleeping through the night
- Taking longer naps
- NOT crying himself to sleep
Should You Hire A Sleep Consultant?
Hiring a sleep consultant was an extremely positive experience for our family and would HIGHLY recommend All The Sleep’s services to anyone out there who is struggling. (she works with clients ALL around the world)
The best part about hiring the consultant was that I had someone holding my hand and guiding me along this journey. What should I do if he woke up early and I didn’t know how to adjust naps? What should I do if X, Y or Z happens? Our consultant was just an email away, with an extremely quick response. She was our biggest cheerleader, and she honestly started feeling like an extension to our family.
I got my life back. My daughter got her mom back. My son learned an important skill he will be able to use for the rest of his life.
Whether you are struggling with middle of the night wake ups, long rocking sessions, an early morning riser or a combination of all these things, a good pediatric sleep consultant WILL get your child to independently sleep.
Bonus Sleep Advice From A Pediatric Sleep Consultant
What are the worst habits parents can instill from the beginning?
- It’s important to make sure to give your child a few minutes to see if they can fall back to sleep on their own
- Don’t rush into the room right away
- Work around your babies schedule NOT your schedule
What Are The Best Habits Parents Can Instill From the Beginning?
- Following a feed, wake, sleep cycle
- Don’t allow children to fall asleep while eating
- Start sleep training at bedtime NOT at nap time
- Be consistent
Books On Baby And Toddler Sleep
The following books were recommended to me by the pediatric sleep consultant for further reading on baby and toddler sleep.
*All the Sleeps dedicated their time in exchange for this blog post. All opinions are my own.