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How to lengthen 11wk old nap times????

(7 Posts)
Hybrid Mon 17-Aug-09 14:05:10

My LO really struggles with daytime naps and this has culminated this week in some awful nights.

I'm fairly convinced it's because he's so overtired from not sleeping properly in the day.

When I do finally get him down in his moses basket, guaranteed he'll be awake again after half an hour or so, perhaps 40 minutes on a good day. I wouldn't worry if he woke up bright eyed and chirpy but normally he's either crying or red eyed and yawning which leads me to believe he could do with another hour or so.

I understand that babies have a natural sleep cycle where they have light sleep periods. How do I get him to settle himself once he enters that phase? Should I be letting him cry a bit?

We also sometimes use a dummy but have been trying to avoid that when it comes to bedtime/naps as his sleep becomes even more fragmented when it falls out and wakes him up. When I have tried to get him to go back to sleep the dummy seems to be the only thing which makes him drowsy again but, like I say, he ends up waking up even more frequently.

I do sometimes find he sleeps really well in his car seat in the house - is this me just chickening out of training good sleep habits or am I ok trying to get sleep into him any way possible???

I feel like I'm going a bit mad as I seem to be constantly worrying about encouraging him to settle himself, getting him to nap properly, waiting for those magical 6-7 hour sleeps that everyone else's baby seems to be managing etc!!!! I also have the voice of my HV in my head warning me that bad habits start to stick when they get to 12 weeks.

All this whilst being completely knackered!!!

Any help/advice would be VERY APPRECIATED!!

rubyslippers Mon 17-Aug-09 14:07:09

no such thing as bad habits

you just need to put him down earlier - babies need a lot less awake time than you think

and most babies find it soothing to be rocked/walked/fed to sleep - he will settle himself but not hwen he is so little

a dummy is a godsend in these early weeks IMO as is swaddling

moondog Mon 17-Aug-09 14:12:30

Don't try to control sleeping or anything else in such a tiny baby. HV is a lunatic too. So weird and upsetting the way people want to impose order on a baby. i hate it.

JJ1471 Mon 17-Aug-09 15:56:37

I had this problem too for a long time, it was so frustrating seeing my little one waking up after just 30-40 minutes sleep and still being tired, but not able to sleep for longer. It wasn't about forcing him to sleep when I wanted him to, but for him to manage to get the sleep that he needed.

I didn't leave him to settle himself again when he had woken up at that point, possibly with another one I would try for a few minutes as he was still so tired and it might have worked. I ended up either taking him for long walks in the pram so that he would stay asleep, or else he would have lots of shorter naps. He could only really stay awake for about an hour and half anyway, and most of that time was spent feeding.

I tried to get the long walk in most afternoons so that he would get used to having a longer nap once during the day. Then suddenly at 5 months he started sleeping for longer in his cot and going down without a fuss! I don't know what happened, possibly it was just his age although it co-incided with phasing out breastfeeding. The same thing happened to a friend at 5 months too. Now at nearly 7 months he will sleep for ages in his cot during the day (just wish some of that sleep could be transferred to nighttime/early morning!).

So if you're able to it might be worth trying to get him to sleep for a longer period each day, even if you have to help him, and hope that gradually he will get to understand that it's time for a longer nap. I think that you've got a little while yet before you need to worry about bad habits.

I've also read lots of tips like putting white noise on in the background to lull them back to sleep if they stir, but this didn't work for us. Or try watching at the end of the sleep cycle for signs that he is stirring and then rocking them back to sleep, I had some success with this if he was in the house in his pram, although sometimes this shortened the sleep cycles to ten minutes at a time and I had to keep running back!

DrCosyTiger Mon 17-Aug-09 16:49:42

Hi again Hybrid,

I had exactly the same problem at your stage. The one thing I would say is whatever your HV says don't worry about forming bad habits. Your LO is still sooooo small and I really think that at that stage you should just do whatever works. What worked for me was getting my DD to nap in the pram. To keep her asleep I either had to keep walking (exhausting) or take her to coffee shops where she would happily snooze for 2 hours plus (less exhausting but got v expensive). Must have been something about the background noise. Sometimes I also had success putting her in her bouncy chair on top of the tumble dryer. Like JJ says, some people swear by white noise or deliberately waking the LO just before the end of a sleep cycle in the hope she'd settle again. Neither of these worked for me, but might be worth a try.

I would stress again though - if you find something that works to keep your LO asleep for longer just do it and don't worry about it. My LO is now 5 months and can now settle herself to sleep for naps in the cot and she usually stays asleep for far longer periods of time. The crazy days in the pram did not lead to her forming bad sleep habits.

If you can handle a bit of a heavy read (it's not terribly user friendly - lots of words and no pictures!), Dr Marc Weissbluth's book Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Child is very good imo. It explains how baby sleep patterns gradually develop to the point when at around 4-5 months they naturally start napping for longer. My LO has done almost exactly what Dr Marc predicts at every stage so far.

Good luck! x

DrCosyTiger Mon 17-Aug-09 16:53:32

Oh and what I would add is that if you can bear it, it is worth leaving your LO just for a few minutes if she wakes up crying. A baby sleep cycle is 45 mins. Especially as she got a bit older (maybe 3.5-4 months) and once I'd finally got her napping in the cot, I found that my LO would sometimes wake up after 45 mins, grizzle a bit, but then settle herself back down to sleep for another 45 mins. I learnt not to rush in at the first noise, although it was difficult at times.

Hybrid Tue 18-Aug-09 21:18:56

Thank you all so much for your replies.

Bizarely, he's had the most amazing day of naps today and been like a completely different child - so happy and smiley when awake and waking up restful! Very odd but definitely not complaining!

I've decided to just relax and not stress so much. He sleeps really well in his car seat and when we go out for walks he usually has a good nap as well so I'm just going to keep pushing sleep anyway I can. Bit nervous about how tonight's going to go but hopeful it'll be ok.

DrCosyTiger - I've also got Dr Weissbluth's book which does seem good so thanks for that. It's just so confusing when you have the HV telling you something so definite. It seems there is so much conflicting advice.

Fingers crossed tonight will be one of the good sleeps.

Thanks again!

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