What is more frustrating than a baby fighting nap time? You just get your schedule down, with eating, napping, and bedtime, then baby decides, she’s not having it, and you feel like your world is tumbling down! Parenting. Fail. I spent so many afternoons obsessively staring at the monitor to see if my daughter, Elizabeth had fallen asleep, only to see those shining raccoon eyes staring back at me. I would get frantic, pacing the floor checking the monitor every two seconds, texting my husband, “She’s not napping!!!” plus a thousand red, angry face emojis. I knew that if she didn’t nap, the entire afternoon would be off; any plans we made would be ruined, Elizabeth would be cranky, crying, and unpredictable, and worst of all, she would wake up numerous times throughout the night! NOOOO!!! I worked so hard to maintain that schedule to have some sort of control and order over our lives, and when the nap started to slip, it meant I’d have to start all over again.
Each time this happened (because it happens numerous times, as I’m sure you know, or are learning), I Googled sleep regression, consulted my Mom, my best friend, plus any other mamas, and even E’s pediatrician; I tried turning up the white noise, increasing food and formula, lowering the crib, adding a blanket or lovey, taking away a blanket or lovey, praying, anything you could possibly think of, I tried to save each and every nap. I thought, I could will her into taking a nap…and sometimes, it would work for a day or two, but then the sleeplessness would continue. I’d lose my time during the day to wash bottles, pump, exercise, do laundry, take a shower, rest, and go to the bathroom without worrying about E crying. The days when E didn’t nap were the days when I needed to “tap out” as soon as my husband got home from work. I would be exhausted, frustrated, stressed, and quite often, hungry. And thirsty. No time for lunch.
For four years we have faced sleep regression off and on. E still takes an afternoon nap, but is often okay to skip it if we need to, so long as we get her to bed really early. What I discovered from all of these years of the Napping Wars:
- If your baby is fighting his or her regularly scheduled nap for longer than 5 days in a row, and he or she is not sick, it probably means it is time to drop that nap (if he or she has more than one) or you need to move it back and let him or her be awake longer before resting.
- Stop stressing; skip the nap if necessary, and, put the baby down earlier for bed.
- But, still, respect the nap routine (as much as possible) once you’ve established it.
Overall, I’m happy that I made E’s nap such a priority and that we sleep trained her; she is a very good sleeper and has an easy-going, energetic, and happy disposition. I’m not happy that I let myself get so stressed about it, but…first time Mom…live and learn…blah, blah, blah…plus I was sleep deprived. Thank God, for now, sleeping is going well. Most importantly, I learned: NEVER TAKE SLEEPING FOR GRANTED!