Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Nap-Time Tools

Siblings cuddling in the morning. Isn't she sweet!
Baby Henry is a fantastic sleeper. He has been giving us 6-8 hours uninterrupted at night for the last couple of weeks. He also takes long naps (often 2-3 hours) during the day, and is able to sleep in a variety of locations, including on his own in a bed. This is pretty shocking to me as my first child would pretty much only nap in my arms or in her car seat in a moving car for many months. One book that has helped me to understand baby sleep needs is The No-Cry Nap Solution. Stella was likely over-tired much of the time, and although lots of family members suggested that she needed more sleep, I couldn't figure out how to get her to sleep more or how to nap without me. Many days I didn't mind holding her for naps, but she probably could have slept longer if I had been able to put her down. Simply laying her down in her crib or co-sleeper when she was drowsy never worked for her, although I did try.

With Henry, I have been much more open to using tools to help him sleep. Stella never used a pacifier, Henry has had one since week 2 (with no disruption of nursing, luckily). The pacifier often helps him drift off easily. Stella also liked to suck to sleep, but for her it would be comfort nursing. That would mean though that milk would keep flowing and she would eventually get upset and spit up all the excess milk she was taking in. Another tool we have just started using is a white noise machine. The one we got is inside of a stuffed giraffe, and has a timer and 4 different sounds. He loves it! It really helps to block out the other noises of the house (particularly his older sister) and allow him to nap longer. I avoided those kinds of things with my first child, thinking that I didn't want to give her something I'd just have to wean her from later, or have her become to dependent on "things" for comfort. Having more experience now, I realize that infancy and childhood are a never-ending series of transitions. Yes, he will have to wean from the pacifier eventually, just as he will have to wean from the breast, learn to sleep in his own room, learn to walk, start eating solids, etc. etc. etc. So, I am not as worried about ending with the pacifier as I can see it is just one of many changes that we will go through together, when the time is right. And if it helps him to sleep now, then I am definitely using it! Holding Stella for naps was a sweet time, and I do still hold Henry for maybe one nap a day or so (he naps at least 4 times throughout the day), but not HAVING to hold him for every nap has given me so much more freedom and allowed me to still play with Stella and care for her and our house with much greater ease. Sometimes, the "things" of modern life really are a blessing! I do still believe that not all babies need all of the products that are marketed to us, but I am more open to trying some of those tools than I used to be.

Babies do constantly change and I expect that our great sleeper may start waking more at night as he passes through milestones. But it sure is nice for now! I hear him waking from one of his marathon naps now... Happy sleeping, everyone!

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