Now that Baby Jumper is a year old (eek! How did that happen so quickly?!), we've been looking back on the last year of our life. The first thing we did was pat ourselves on the back -- hooray! we did it!! -- but we also reflected on the things we've done and what we could have improved on. Being a parent doesn't come with a handbook. There's a lot of advice out there, but our philosophy was to take it with a grain of salt. Not all of the advice necessarily applied to us, and we really did want to learn on our own. We both agreed, though, that we really could have improved on getting Chloe to have better sleep habits because we didn't have a set nap time or bed time, and followed Chloe's cues.
Chloe is a year old now, and I still can't count on her to take a nap every day. She'll cat nap every once in awhile. Maybe she'll doze off for twenty minutes or so, but it's not long enough for me to get any real housework done. There are days when she won't nap at all, and she's never once napped in her own crib. She sleeps there wonderfully through the night (most nights!), but screams and cries if we put her in her crib for a nap. So, how did we get here? And what could we have done differently?
- I couldn't lift the baby in and out of her crib (at first). I had a c-section, and it was hard for me to get in and out of our bed. I slept on the couch out of necessity for the first four weeks or so, but continued to sleep on the couch until she was 12 weeks old (when we transitioned her to her crib). I'm short and we don't have a drop-side crib, so letting her sleep in the crib (at first) was off the table. I quickly got into a routine of nursing her or giving her a bottle, rocking her to sleep, and letting her sleep in the bassinet beside me.
- Everyone wanted to hold her, and I mean everyone and all the time. I didn't think it was possible to spoil a baby, but boy did she get used to this sleeping arrangement pretty quickly! It may have been sweet to see grandma holding Chloe during the day, but at 3am when she was shrieking and absolutely refused to lay in her Rock n Play, we were beyond exhausted and miserable and wishing that maybe we hadn't let someone hold her all afternoon while she slept. It would take at least two days for Chloe to adjust to sleeping without being held. This happened enough times that we finally set the rule "if she's sleeping, do not touch her!!" because it truly was that hard for us in the middle of the night!
- I got lazy. Chloe has always been a bad napper, so if she finally took one I didn't want to do ANYTHING to disturb her. I tried gently picking her up and putting her in her crib a few times, but each time she'd wake right up and scream until she turned red. It never mattered how deep of a sleep she was in. The second her head hit the mattress, she was up and screaming. This was so terribly stressful and wasn't a fight I wanted to fight. I figured she needed her sleep, period, more than she needed to sleep in her crib... so I just let her sleep wherever she fell asleep.
- Poor daytime napping means late nights. Chloe gets exhausted to the point where she can't even walk straight. I have never seen a person fight sleep as much as she does! She'll yawn, rub her eyes, snuggle up with a bottle and ten seconds later she's caught a second wind and is up and running around again! We start our bedtime routine around 8pm and we're lucky if she's asleep by 9:30. Most nights, she's up until 10pm. She'll sleep until 7:30am, but has restless nights if she's teething (like right now), so everyone in our household is downright exhausted.
Her poor daytime sleep habits have been really stressful for me. Oftentimes, she would fall asleep in my bed (and I couldn't leave her) or beside me on the couch (so I still couldn't leave her side), that it meant I was neglecting things like housework or catching up on emails. I've talked to our pediatrician at length about this, and she has never seemed worried about Chloe's sleep habits. As long as Chloe is getting adequate rest and is physically healthy and developmentally on track, she said, then there isn't anything to worry about.
Still we wish that we'd have established better sleep routines for her instead of being so go-with-the-flow. She's a wild one and certainly has a mind of her own, and when she catches a second wind watch out!!
Does your child have poor sleep habits? How do you cope?