It’s been a few weeks now that I’ve been trying something new with Miss Lula’s sleep schedule. This is actually the fifth post I have written regarding Lula’s sleep habits. I am excited to announce that I think that she and I (with some help and encouragement) have figured out what works best for us…for the time being. I’ve got to say that both of us are much happier.
So…here’s what we are doing currently. Lula gets up around 6:45 AM (see here for a typical day this month) and as 8:30 approaches, I start watching her closely. She often gives me cues to let me know that she is tired. Eye rubbing is the most obvious one but she also pulls her ears and touches her head excessively.
Once I see those gestures, I know my time is limited. I usually have her diaper changed before 8:30 so I can quickly bring her back to the nursery. From there, I nurse her one last time. If she is really tired, she drifts off before I put her in the crib. Most of the time, she delatches when she is done nursing and I rock her for a minute, sing her a song, and put her in her crib with her seahorse playing. She loves this thing and I think it’s a comfort for her to have it in the crib with her.
Some mornings I shut her door and I never hear a peep from her. Other mornings she will babble and play before drifting off to sleep. Other mornings she cries and I need to go back in and check on her once or twice. I have become much more patient about accepting the mood that she is in and helping her if she needs me to.
Then, a big change for me, I let her sleep until she wakes up and as many of the books I have looked at state, she should be happy at the end of nap time. Optimally, I like to hear her playing in her crib after her nap, hence waking herself up, but sometimes I need to get her up if she has been sleeping a loooong time or we have somewhere to go. Typically her morning nap is now two hours long and I can’t express how much it has changed our days! Sometimes I feel like I am “cheating” because our day together has been so easy! (If you’ve been reading for awhile, I used to wake her from her morning nap after an hour and ten minutes.) Clearly that wasn’t enough sleep for her.
I repeat the same process in the afternoon- around 2:30 I start watching her closely until I see similar cues signaling fatigue and then we do a repeat of our morning nap time routine. Her afternoon nap tends to be shorter (unless she had a short morning nap) which is just fine. I never let her sleep past 4 as her bedtime is 7 and she seems to need about three hours of awake time to be ready to go to bed for realz.
Nighttime has gotten so much better. It’s now clear to me how very overtired Lula was most evenings as we would try to keep her up until 6:45 after minimal napping and it was certainly understandable that she had a tough time getting herself to sleep when she was exhausted. I could beat myself up about not recognizing this earlier but quoting Maya Angelou, “when you know better, you do better.”
Just like her naps, some evenings there is nary a peep from her after I shut her door, other evenings she babbles and plays, and other evenings she requires some extra TLC which often consists of a visit or two from me or Pa. The good news is that the extra TLC nights are becoming less and less frequent and I am finding that nighttime is a much less stressful time for our family.
A month ago, Lula was sleeping for less than two hours during the day and she struggled to get to bed most nights. She now takes close to three hours of naps and nighttime is usually a breeze. Other changes I have noticed that I believe are in direct correlation to her new nap time routine include less neediness, more independent playing, and overall, a happier baby.
I am grateful to Lindsay for explaining her baby’s sleep routine (still jealous of those long naps!), Brittany for the encouragement on Twitter and for posting her baby’s day-to-day routine, Ashley for her post about her success with her daughter’s need for extra sleep, and before Lula was born, Heather wrote a very good post about reflections on her time early on with her baby.
I truly love the blog community- it’s wonderful that so many people are willing to share their accomplishments and struggles with others and believe me, the information I have picked up has helped me in many ways!
Have a great day!