Mrs. Sell's Blog of Household Management

Baby naps

I just read an article called ‘Changing from Two Naps to One’ on Just the Facts Baby, and realised that some people put way more thought into their baby’s napping schedule than I ever have.

The article recommends at what age to switch baby from two naps per day to one, and has checklists to determine whether or not your child is ready.

I will just have to wonder whether or not this article would have changed what has always been my policy for my baby, which is ‘when she’s tired, she sleeps.’

That’s not to say that she’s not on a schedule, because she is. It just doesn’t necessarily follow a clock as an adult understands it.

I have always felt a little guilty, because my baby has never been on a ‘traditional’ sleep schedule, at least as far as bedtime goes. Part of the reason for that is that, due to space restrictions, she has always slept in our room, if not our bed. So it’s hard to put her to sleep before we turn out the light, because as long as the light’s on, she wants to know what’s going on. Also, because my husband often gets home late from work, if I stuck to a traditional seven or eight o’clock bedtime, she would only see her dad on weekends.

Right now, her schedule is roughly this:

sometime between 7 a.m. and 9 a.m.: wake up

sometime between 12 p.m. and 4 p.m.: nap, anywhere from 30 minutes to 2 hours (timing depends on how early she got up)

sometime between 8 p.m. and 10 p.m.: go to sleep

She usually wakes up a few times during the night, but doesn’t nurse anymore between bedtime and breakfast, so I just lie down with her and she goes back to sleep. Quite often, her mornings alternate: if she gets up at seven one morning, she’ll sleep til nine the next, then early again, etc. She hasn’t had a morning nap for months (she’s almost fourteen months old).

I suppose if you were super-organised, this so-called schedule would drive you crazy. Fortunately, I have a laid-back personality in general, so this works well for us. It gives us leeway, especially on the weekends, to be able to go out and be able to delay her naps, or let her nap in the car. She’s really good at that; she can catch a good 30 minutes or so in the car seat, mid-afternoon, and be recharged until bedtime.

I think it would be extremely frustrating to try to force a baby to sleep on a strict schedule. In my experience, my baby isn’t necessarily tired at the same time each day, so it would be futile to put her down. As John Rosemond says, going to sleep is one of the three things it is impossible to force a person to do (the others are eat and use the toilet; hence some of the most common parent-child conflicts). I just keep an eye on my daughter, bearing in mind when she last slept, and put her down when she’s tired. And she sleeps until she’s not tired anymore, then gets up.

It’s possible that when we have more children, I won’t be able to be as relaxed about nap times, but this works for us now. The most important thing is that you do what works for you and your baby, no matter what other people are doing. If your baby needs a strict sleeping schedule, then be glad that you can make plans and be able to count on some free time at the same time every day. But if your baby’s schedule runs more on his biological clock than the one on the wall, then be glad that you can be flexible and that your baby can tolerate missing a nap or two. Bottom line is there are pros and cons to each, and it’ll benefit you to be thankful for the pros and put the cons in perspective.

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One thought on “Baby naps

  1. … operative words being “when we have more children, I won’t be able to be as relaxed” – if I could get you and your sister to nap at the same time, I felt fortified to face the rest of the day!

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