[Update: Three years after I wrote this post, we found ourselves once again facing sleeping issues, this time with our second baby. I wrote about it here, I think this “second opportunity” allowed us to explore alternatives to CIO sleep training and gave us a more complete insights into human baby’s sleeping issue. If you are struggling with baby’s sleeping issue and are thinking about sleep training your baby, I strongly recommend you to check out both this post and the one I wrote three years after.]
I think, among the many tasks which I can multitask, mothering a baby and homekeeping at the same time is the exception.
Let me elaborate.
Mothering is what I do, when Baby is awake. While homekeeping, is only possible, when Baby is asleep. I mean asleep and on her own. Not in my arms, not latched on still, not on my back. On her own, in her crib, off me.
Now if you read my previous post on Baby’s sleep, you probably would guess rightly that my homekeeping had not been good, at least not until a month ago.
Before we started nap-training on Baby, I used to backpack her in the Ergobaby carrier while doing housechores. She would drift off to sleep while I moved around, mopping and all. That was convenient!
But it could not last very long. As loving a mother as I tried to be, my back and waist betrayed me eventually.
The saving grace was, we were already working on bedtime sleep-training at that moment, and things were going very well with her night time sleep. So we decided to move on with the nap training.
Here’s what we did:
1. Start with night time sleep training, one at a time
The goal is for Baby to master the skill to sleep on her own, without Mommy’s (or Daddy’s) help. And it is a good move to start with her bedtime because lots of things are happening to our advantages during the night time, i.e. Baby is more tired at night after a day’s event and is more unlikely to resist sleeping, the night time environment (being generally darker and more quiet) works well together with Baby’s natural body clock and encourages rest.
I don’t think doing CIO for both bedtime and naptime at the same time is a good idea. If Baby’s naps are messed up (chances are they will be), then the sleep training at night will be a difficult one. Overtired babies sleep poorly, overtired babies cry more. Having four sessions of Baby screaming during the day AND night is just too much for my nerve.
2. Take note of Baby’s maximum waking time and sleepy cue
Do not wait until baby is cranky to put her down. Know her maximum waking time and allow enough time to prepare her for nap. If baby starts yawning and/or rubbing her eyes, most likely she is already overtired.
3. Naptime routine
Babies thrive in predictable situation and environment. If they know what to expect, they feel safe. It also gives a sense of security because they know the parents are in charge. Keeping a consistent routine and timing for naptime will help baby get the idea of what to expect (it’s time to nap, Baby) and help her body regulate her resting time. The naptime routine can be a mini version of bedtime routine. Ours goes like this: darken the room, on the white noise, diaper change, nurse, song, prayer, nap.
(A dark room goes a long way in helping babies to sleep. It blocks out unnecessary stimulation and I read somewhere our body’s chemical responsible for sleep inducing gets inhibited in brightly lit environment.)
4. Mom decides when the nap starts and when it ends
Depending on baby’s age, their nap duration varies. For our case, a decent nap will last for an hour to one and half hour. Only go in to them when their supposed naptime is over. Twenty minutes and she wakes up screaming? Hang in there! Often, babies will fuss and cry for ten to fifteen minutes and go back sleeping for another 30 to 45 minutes.
When we trained her for nap (I started with her second nap), Baby screamed EVERY single day for one hour, on and off, mostly on. One hour is the supposed naptime, so it literally meant she started crying the moment I left the room till I came back to pick her up. This lasted for five good days! I almost gave up but on the sixth day, she cried for the first 15 minutes and slept through the next 45 minutes.
There, we did it!
We continued and things were getting better in the next few days. Once Mommy and Baby gained more confidence, we hit it with the first nap just as well.
Now she naps on her own, and Mommy returns to her housekeeping list.
Yes there are extinction bursts every now and then, do stay calm and keep moving! 🙂
Anyone going through similar experience? Would love to hear your stories!