Trouble with Naps

My now 8 month old daughter had been sailing along smoothly for a few months...napping like a champ during the day and sleeping (12 hours) like a baby at night. She'd lay down for a nap awake and I wouldn't hear from her for an hour or two. Then, out of the blue, it's like she forgot how to fall asleep.

My troubles started about a month ago when my daughter got her third ear infection. The doctor put her on an antibiotic which seemed to help. But a day after she stopped taking the medication, she was still having trouble sleeping. I thought something else was wrong. A tooth maybe? Finally??!!! 

A few days later she was still fussy and out of sorts so I took her back to the doctor. She still had an ear infection. Now, he decided to put her on power-meds! If this wasn't enough to keep her from falling asleep, she then developed a stuffy, runny nose and snot that just wouldn't quit. That lasted about a two weeks (it seemed like forever) and warranted yet another trip to the pediatrician. He said she had a pretty bad cold so I chalked her trouble getting to sleep up to congestion and an ear ache. He also said it was looked like a tooth was finally trying to break through (though it would still be awhile) and suggested if Tylenol wasn't doing the trick to try Motrin. The scary saga with Motrin deserves a post all to itself so...(I'll warn you, it took me back to the doctor's office and nearly to the ER). Anyway, it took me 4 hours to get her to sleep that night and I swore the sleep troubles would NEVER end. The next day it was the same thing more than two hours of screaming, a drive around town and an extra nursing before she FINALLY feel asleep. I was willing to do anything...I'd set the timer and go in after 10 minutes to calm her down, I'd give her the binky and against my own good judgement pick her up and try to rock her. She wasn't having it....any of it!  

By the next day, all of her ailments were gone, but her nap troubles were most definitely sticking around. My husband forced me to let her cry until she feel asleep. It was a good 20 minutes until she finally crashed! The next nap it was a similar situation, but she cried for 15 minutes and the next time I laid her down for a nap- 5 minutes of crying, but no screaming. Finally, I just put her down awake and I didn't hear from her. She's asleep.

While I absolutely hated it, I had to let her cry. When I knew nothing could be wrong with her I knew there were no more excuses (not a runny nose, a headache, a belly ache, hunger, overtired, etc) that either one of us could make. It's amazing how fast babies can get into a habit. In those few weeks of her non-stop medical issues she had gotten used to me helping her fall asleep. And what's worse - she had started relying on it - even though for 4 months prior, she would lay down and fall asleep on her own.

If your child is having trouble napping I feel your pain. But I promise you, if you give them a day or two to fall asleep on their own, your baby will quickly realize you won't come running everytime you hear "mama" over the baby monitor.  By no means am I advocating to let your sick baby wail for an hour or even 20 minutes. What I'm suggesting is to set up an expectation, with your well child, that you mean business. Here's how I believe you can help them learn to fall asleep on their own, take better naps and longer naps!

-Take your baby to the nursery at the first tired cue (rubbing eyes, yawning, fussiness)
-Change your baby's diaper
-Give a binky (if you choose)
-Lay baby in the crib
-Sing a little song or rub her face or belly for 30 seconds
-Say goodnight and walk out
-If she's crying set the timer for 10 minutes DO NOT go back into the room for 10 minutes
-When the timer goes off return to your baby, tell her it's time for a nap but DO NOT pick her up
-Set the timer for 15 minutes
-Repeat, adding 5 minutes to the timer, until your baby finally falls asleep

The most important part is not to pick up the baby. I have to admit this is where I falter. But when I had my husband there, forcing me to let her be, she did fall asleep on her own. And that's how I've finally gotten my sanity back! So...thank you honey!

Recommend Reading

The 45 Minute Nap
How Much Sleep Does My Baby Need
Get Some Sleep: Turn Off the Baby Monitor
How to Get a Baby to Sleep
Getting Your Baby to Sleep Through the Night
Crying It Out: The Last Resort

The books I found the most useful as far as teaching my daughter to sleep are:

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