Friday, January 29, 2010

Implementing a Schedule and Nap Training

I am so lucky to be able to stay at home with Mungee.  Our days are unpredictable however.  I am not sure when she's going to nurse.  It could be every two hours, it could be three.  It's a good day if she takes a nap.  We often find ourselves going out to dinner because I don't have anything planned.  For my sanity and what I perceived to be Mungee's daytime sleep deprivation, this had to change.

I nurse Mungee to sleep.  She tends to sleep well at night, although I'm never sure exactly when she's going to fall asleep and if she will stay asleep once I put her down.  For a while now, she's been going to bed between 9 and 10 and will often sleep until 7, sometimes waking once.  She's been getting sleepy earlier however, so I've been able to put her down around 8:30-9.  Even by this time, I'm so exhausted, I am ready for bed myself.

I received a copy of Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child shortly after Mungee was born.  Once I realized that while nursing, I could pick up a book and read a few pages here and there instead of clicking on the TV, I started to get into HSHHC.  Reading about cumulative sleep deprivation and the ill-effects it might cause down the road, such as behavioral problems, hyperactivity, etc. made me completely paranoid.  Paranoid enough to tell Mungee's Pa I was a failure as a mother, that I should have started sleep training a long time ago, that she wasn't just going to say to herself one day "Oh, I'm 6 months old, I should take naps regularly now".

At the beginning of this week, I decided that it was time to implement a schedule.  I would FORCE myself to get up at 6:30 am (ish) and take a shower, get dressed and eat breakfast before Mungee got up.  This way I would know WHEN I was actually going to do these things, rather than trying to fit them in between nursing, diaper changes, playtime and fighting Mungee to take a nap because I missed her tired cues.  I built in a morning and afternoon nap, time for nursing, play, going for a walk, even making dinner at home!  In my sample schedule, I didn't see much room for us to get out of the house for long stretches of time, and I noted that Mungee's Pa and I would probably have to give up late night going out to dinner and that I may only get to go to the gym on weekends, but I was willing to make these sacrifices to prevent the future sleep problems that had already manifested in my mind.

I found a sample schedule in HSHHC that I thought might work for us.  We would attempt two naps and an earlier bedtime.  For naps, I would look for the tired cues and start a soothing ritual, then put Mungee in her crib and leave her there for at least an hour, regardless of whether or not she cried.  This hurt my heart, but I wanted to see how things would go.

We got started on Wednesday.  Mungee woke up about 7:15 and we got the day started.  At 9:10, I put her down for a nap with her kitty lovey.  She flipped herself onto her stomach and screamed for a while.  I went in and flipped her back over.  I then left the room.  She flipped herself back onto her tummy and continued to scream and cry.  I went back into her room and gently rubbed and patted her back.  Then an amazing thing happened - she fell asleep (with the kitty lovey smooshed up against her face - don't worry, I moved it).  She slept for one hour!  Around 12:45, I noticed some tired cues, so I put Mungee in her crib for the afternoon nap.  I gave her the kitty lovey and the My Pal Violet (set to play "soothing" music for 10 minutes).  She cried for about an hour, but it wasn't like the screaming she did during the first nap attempt.  She fell asleep on her tummy again with the encouragement of some back rubbing.  She only slept for 35 minutes that time.

We introduced rice cereal on Wednesday night.  She seemed sleepy when we gave it to her at 7 pm.  She got a bath, then I nursed her, which usually results in her falling asleep.  She was not asleep when I finished nursing her, so I was worried about how we were going to get her to go to sleep.  At 8:30, I put her in her crib, drowsy, but awake.  She fussed for about 20 minutes - Mungee's Pa said "Are we going to go and try to soothe her?"  I said that we would wait a few more moments.  Soon after that, she fell asleep and slept through the night until 7:30!

On Thursday, she woke up at 7:30, got her diaper changed and then I nursed her.  She played on her playmat for about 35 minutes and then I noticed tired cues.  I put her down at 8:50 am and she fussed but did not scream, for about 30 minutes and then napped for two hours (on her belly).  Yes, TWO.  

We went out to meet Mungee's Pa for lunch a little later than the time of the Wednesday afternoon nap.  I knew she was tired, so we kept her in the carseat and she napped for about 30 minutes.  I tried for a 3rd nap around 3:20 but she never settled down for it.  She had rice cereal again that evening. She seems to really like it.  She kept opening her mouth and kicking her feet and if I was not getting the spoon to her mouth fast enough, she became demanding.  I think it was still a little too runny so I will attempt to make it thicker tonight.

She was in bed at 8:30 or so.  I put her in awake but drowsy and she did not fuss.  She went to sleep, but woke up at midnight.  I nursed her for 15 minutes or so and then put her back in her crib.  Again, she did not fuss and slept until about 7:30.

Today around 8:45 she showed signs of being tired so I rocked her for a few minutes, sang her three songs and then put her in the crib with her kitty lovey and said, "I love you, it's naptime".  She pounded her legs for about 5 minutes and then went to sleep - never cried.  She slept for an hour and a half.  She may have even slept longer, except the cat started meowing and startled her.

At 11:45, I took her to the doctor because she had some smelly earwax - I wanted to make sure she did not have an ear infection.  (Which she does not, thank goodness!)  After the doctor's office, we went by the grocery store, then stopped by a friend's house to drop off some food for the dinner we were going to attend later this evening.  By the time we got home, she had fallen asleep in her carseat - at 1:00, the time I was aiming for nap #2.  She slept in her carseat for about 35 minutes.  I tried for a third nap at 2:40.  She banged her legs and was quiet for a little while, but I'm not sure she ever fell asleep.

I am very proud of her for beginning to learn how to nap better, be it in her crib or carseat. I am sure we will continue to struggle but it is amazing how recognizing the tired cues and getting Mungee in her crib sooner can minimize the nap struggle.  I was just waiting and hoping she would fall asleep at random times before.  I think this will give her some sense of predictability and routine so she doesn't always have to wonder what's next.  That was probably stressful for her.

Tonight we will be out a bit later than Mungee's new bedtime of 8:30, so I hope it won't mess her up too much.  I wonder how things will go this weekend.  I certainly don't want to get up at 6:30 on Saturday and Sunday, especially when Mungee's Pa doesn't have to work, but I don't want to fall out of "routine" already.  I have to stick with this ... just like I've stuck with flossing, even though I'm no longer at risk for pregnancy gingivitis :)

2 comments:

Jenn said...

You are lucky she sleeps so long at night! You are doing a great job!

LB said...

Honey, that book saved my life (and the life of my young, non-sleeping babies)! My preschoolers go to bed at 7-7:30 ish, but up until age 3 they went to bed at 6:30 pm. Every night. I even missed important family functions because I did not want to mess with their schedules.

I'm a bit more relaxed about it now. You never know how important sleep is to a person until you aren't getting it. Sleep was my obsession!!

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