Tips to Enjoy Naptime
My 4-month-old cosleeps and does very well in the evening. During the day I rock him to sleep for naps where he stays asleep for up to 3 hours. Ha! This is obviously “immobilizing” to say the least! He’s been like this since birth. Do you recommend just letting him grow out of it? Any ideas when he might be up for napping more independently? This is only an issue because my mom babysits a few times a week and it would be nice for her not to have to hold him the whole time he’s there, napping. Thanks!
How to Make Naptime Work for Everyone
My first impression when reading your question is if your baby stays happily asleep for three hours during naptime don’t change a thing. While you called this “immobilizing,” or tying you down for three hours during the middle of the day, you might want to look at this “quality time” in a different light. Mothers often tell me, “I can’t wait for my baby to take a nap, so I can finally get something done…” Well, I can relate to that with one of our high-need babies who would nap wonderfully next to me (or co-napping) but wouldn’t nap on her own. I finally realized I was doing the most important job in the world – mothering a human being.
With co-napping, I was helping my baby develop healthy sleep habits, possibly for life. I was helping her brain dial down stress so that her brain could grow smarter and calmer. And, it forced me to take a nap. Think about it. What could be more important for you to do during those few hours than to rest from your stress and nurture the growing brain of a little human being? But it sounds like you already have this nurturing approach in your mothering toolbox.
Consider the Sling
If you can’t get baby to accept napping laying next to you as at night because he needs to be rocked, try just walking him to sleep, perhaps in a baby sling, and then once he is sound asleep you can lie down with him still in the sling and rest yourself. Or have him in the sling in the rocker, so that you can get up and “get something done” now and then while he stays asleep for you that way.
On the days your mother babysits, what a treat for “grandma nursing.” Explain to your mom how your mother’s instinct is that your baby needs the presence of a warm and loving body to stay peacefully asleep. And it sounds like your mom already is supportive of handling naps this way, so work out ways where she can be comfortable during those two or three hours of napping.
Follow your Mommy Instincts
After fifty years in pediatric practice, my husband, Bill, tells mothers almost every day, especially when it comes to sleeping, nursing, and crying questions, to always follow their instincts as to what their baby needs to thrive.
With our children, it helped me to daily remind myself that the time at my breast, in my arms, and in our bed is a relatively short time in the total life of a child, but the memories to me and the health effects on my baby last a lifetime.
Written By: Martha Sears, R.N.
Martha is the mother of Dr. Bill’s eight children, a registered nurse, a former childbirth educator, a La Leche League leader, and a lactation consultant. Martha is the co-author of 25 parenting books and is a popular lecturer and media guest drawing on her 18 years of breastfeeding experience with her eight children (including Stephen with Down Syndrome and Lauren, her adopted daughter). Martha speaks frequently at national parenting conferences and is noted for her advice on how to handle the most common problems facing today’s mothers with their changing lifestyles. Martha is able to connect with both full-time, stay-at-home mothers and working mothers because she herself has experienced both styles of parenting. Martha takes great pride in referring to herself as a “professional mother” and one of her favorite quips when someone voices their concern about her having eight children in an already populated world is: “The world needs my children.”