After my “On the daytime nap” post I got so much great advice that I got the confidence to figure this nap “issue” out. Or at least to try.

My first step was to get him on a better schedule. I had heard of the eat, play, sleep pattern before, and when someone mentioned it as helpful with the post-colicky baby, I decided to commit to it. We actually accidentally fell into a pattern of eat, play, sleep that Saturday, and so I just kept it up from that day on. And it’s really worked! Instead of Wally surprising me with when he’s tired, I know that after he eats and then we play a while, he will be needing a nap. So after about 1 hour of play time, at the first sign of crankiness (or tiredness, if I can catch that first), we head upstairs and get ready for a nap.

As most things with parenthood, there’s always a catch, and always room for improvement. The little bugger won’t fall asleep on his own, so I had to figure out the best way to make him go to sleep. When he’s tired, he’s cranky. And when he’s cranky, he fights sleep. He hates hates hates it! As well as a 3 month old can throw a tantrum, he throws one! I can’t rock him, as he’ll wail. I can’t stand and sway with him, as he’ll try to wriggle free and bite me. (Okay, he doesn’t try to bite, but if he knew what biting was, I bet he would!) So we wrap him up in a nice tight swaddle (what my mom refers to as the straight-jacket), and I sing the one verse I know of “In the Still of the Night” (complete with “Sho dope, sho be dos” and “Doo whop, doo wahs”) while we bounce on the exercise ball.

Sometimes it’s sweet. It takes three bounces, his eyes get heavy, and he fades into a peaceful slumber. Sometimes, though, it takes much longer. I read in “Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child” (more on that book later) that for babies, catching sleep is like catching a wave when surfing. If you get the baby at the perfect moment of tiredness, he rides the wave easily into the River of Judea. If you get the baby too late, though, the wave crashes on you and you get thrown into rocks and coral at the bottom until you are bruised, beat up, and broken. Maybe not quite that dramatic, but basically you don’t want to catch that tiredness wave too late. When Wally is too late, the bouncing scene is quite silly. He is drifting off, then smooshing his face into my shoulder or arm to fight it and wake himself up, he’s arching his back, he’s screaming. I don’t really think he’s yelling at me, because I’m not even sure he remembers I’m there. I think he’s yelling at himself for the stupid act of falling asleep when he could be awake and fussing at mom and dad about how tired he is. Because that’s so much more fun.

So he throws his tantrum while those waves take him over, and he stumbles and fumbles about, and eventually he drowns, usually within 10 minutes. And really, it’s like sleep drowns him during his worst tantrums, because one second he’s yelling and he next he’s out.

So, we’ve mastered Wally Ben napping on his own without laying on us. We’ve figured out (finally!) what putting a baby down for a nap means.

One issue that keeps coming up is that many of these naps are only 30 minutes long. Exactly 30 minutes. Every time. I assume he’s probably going through one sleep cycle and waking up. I’m not quite sure what to do about this. I read online about a “Wake to Sleep” method, where you jostle the baby about 10 minutes before they usually wake up to force them into a new sleep cycle. So like a crazy person, I was up there today jostling my sleeping baby. One nap lasted 33 minutes using this method. Whoopie. One nap I jostled him too hard, and he woke up entirely. (Reminds me of Princess Bride “Fessick, jog his memory.” Clunk. “I think I jogged him too hard.”) Perhaps once we’ve tried sleep training, he’ll be able to soothe himself to the next sleep cycle?

The next post: We try some crying to sleep. Oh boy. Let’s just say that after our first attempts we’re  waiting until he’s four months old to daytime sleep train, as most books/sites recommend waiting, especially for the post-colicky baby.

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