Catching up on our ongoing sleep-training efforts? Part I was all about training the girls to sleep at night. Check it out here.

Let me start by saying how incredibly lucky we are with the girls. If I had to give credit to why the girls are so great with sleeping I’d say 50% good babies, 25% parental effort, 25% luck! So much of it is due to the girls’ temperament and just dumb luck! But I can tell you what I’ve done for my 25% parental effort. It’s what’s worked for us. Maybe it can work for others, too.

Once the girls had well defined nights with plenty of good sleep, I turned my focus with sleep training toward working on getting them to have a better daytime nap routine.

Up until that point we really hadn’t had defined nap times. We were using a baby-led method of eating and napping and the naps tended to be short (approx. 30 minutes), occur while laying in their swing or bouncer, and to be at random intervals. Finally I decided that we needed to have fewer naps (2-3 per day) that lasted for longer periods of time. Plus, I wanted to sync up the girls’ napping schedule because they’d been napping at completely opposite times.

Let me say – it was (and is) a process!

The crux of it has focused on the swaddle blankets.

Remember how the swaddles made such a huge difference for our night-time sleeping? Why couldn’t they work just as well for daytime naps, too?

And, lo and behold, they did the trick!

When the girls started showing signs of sleepiness (e.g., heavy eyelids, yawning, mild fussiness), I’d take them to their room with the lights down low, swaddle them up, rock them a little while they sucked on a pacifier, and lay them in their crib (rather than out in the living room in their bouncer or swing). At first it took several minutes of me standing there next to the crib to soothe them. I’d make sure they had the pacifier if they accidentally spit it out and hum a lullaby to calm them.  And before you knew it, we were having regular naps!

Some days naps are 2 hours long (and long naps can last 2.5-3 hours), but other days they’re quickies (45 minutes). In general, I try to let the girls self-soothe. If they’re grunting and groaning I leave them alone. If they actually start crying I’ll offer them a pacifier and, if crying is unabated, I’ll pick them up and rock them. I try really hard to get them to sleep for at least 90 minute-stretches. But I feel out each situation. Sometimes they’re really fussy but it’s clear they’re super tired and I just try to get them to calm down and sleep. Other times they’re really fussy but it’s clear they’re just NOT going to be sleeping, so I’ll go ahead and pick them up and move to play-time instead. I try to minimize this, if possible, because it messes with our Sleep-Eat-Activity schedule that we’ve got going.

The problem with all of this is, of course, the dependency on the swaddle blankets.

Everything that I’ve read says to STOP using the swaddle blankets between 3-4 months. Since our babies were premature we didn’t even use the swaddles early on and I feel like we have a teeny bit of leeway with the issue. But the girls were 4 months old this week, and at our upcoming pediatrician appointment I’m nervous we’ll be told to stop swaddling.

I’ve preemptively tried to do naps without the swaddle to see how it goes.

TERRIBLE.

No, seriously.

The girls fell asleep just fine, but were up and totally alert/awake within 30 minutes. It’s totally ruined their morning nap and they wouldn’t nap again until their afternoon nap time. This has happened all 3 times I’ve tried to drop the swaddle. *gulp*

But in the meantime, we’re still rocking out the swaddles and sleep has been going great – both during the day AND at night.

We have our tough moments but, overall, we’re very very lucky!!!

 

 

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