Dear Baby Boy,
Around Week 6 of you in this world, you woke up. I mean you REALLY woke up. Your big brown eyes popped wide open and you smiled up at me. You also realized that there was a mirror looking down at you on your swing. So you started spending your time talking (and often yelling) at your own reflection as you laid in your swing.
Nothing more melts my heart than your bright eyes looking back at me. But this gift did not come without consequence. You learned how to open your eyes and forgot how to close them. Gone were your restful naps and in their place were your puffy red eyes and your overtired cries.
What to do? I put you in your swing. That always worked! Not anymore. Now your reflection kept you up. Who is that guy looking at anyway? I know! I will tire you out, I thought. But no, the longer we waited, the longer you stayed up, getting increasingly more upset. There were a few days where you spent all day awake. The car, the stroller, and the wrap all do the trick! But how long can we maintain going out for every nap?
Nothing breaks my heart more than hearing your frustrated cry. So, I did what every millennial mom would do. I took to the internet. I Googled and Youtubed and Facebooked. I texted and called and emailed. And Baby Boy, I think we’ve finally got it.
How I Got My Newborn to Nap
Every single source (including experienced mommas in my life) recommends a solid routine. At first, I confused routine with schedule. I tediously set alarms on my phone that went off every hour – nap – play – sleep – just to be thrown off by my baby’s needs. What I learned is that a set schedule is almost impossible with an exclusively breastfed newborn. Now if you have done this, kudos to you and leave a comment below telling me how you did it; but for me, I feed on demand for the time being and will worry about a timetable when Baby Boy is a little older.
A routine though is NOT a schedule. It is a set of actions to be regularly followed. Now we’ve had bedtime routine down for a while (should I do a post on this?), and just needed to remember to have one for naps. Now, when I notice that you are sleepy we immediately start your routine – room, white noise, swaddle, rock and sleep.
Many sources that I have read (here is one) advise to watch out for common signs of sleepiness: yawning, rubbing eyes, becoming still, becoming fussy, tugging on ears, and whining or singing. For Baby Boy, by the time he becomes fussy, we are already too far gone. The earliest signs for us are slightly reddened and glossy eyes with little bags under them. Every baby is different so pay attention and eventually a pattern will start to form.
Like I said, by the time he fusses, we are too far gone. The magic time for us is when I see he is tired in his eyes and he starts to look concerned and frowny. Then I know that it is time for some quiet time (sometimes he will complain a little when I pick him up but settles down quickly in my arms). We snuggle a bit and I begin to rock him while I make my way to our room (his crib is in our bedroom) to start our naptime routine.
My husband hates the swaddle. It looks like a straitjacket and how is it supposed to imitate the womb if our baby had his hands by his face in every single sonogram image? So, for the first two months of his life, we did not swaddle our baby. When I finally reached out to my social media asking for napping tips, our close friend Porsche (twin mom and vegan chef – check out her instagram) insisted that we give it another try. She recommends the Ollie swaddle which she used for both of her boys.
Since I was desperate that very day and did not want to wait for yet another swaddle to come in the mail (we have so many different ones already), I tried one that I thought would give the same snug effect. Baby Boy slept great in the Woombie. It was his longestnap yet! We now use the Love to Dream swaddle which allows Baby Boy to have his hands by his face, like he did in the womb, and are loving it. (I have lots of thoughts on these swaddles and some more. Let me know in the comments if you would like a review.)
Have you ever listened to white noise? It is the most relaxing sound ever. I dare you not to fall asleep. Good for babies. Good for mommies. Ask your google or alexa to put it on for you. I also have the White Noise app on my iPhone.
Dr. Harvey Karp aka the Baby Whisperer recommends the 5 Ss to soothe crying babies. This idea is built around the idea that babies are born one trimester (about 3 months) early and therefore need the comfort and familiarity of the womb. To provide this, he says to soothe the baby through: swaddle, side, shush, swing, and suck. We don’t do side (he prefers to be held to my chest) or suck (he usually won’t take a pacifier.) But a few of these Ss really do help. Like I said, the swaddle has proved itself worthy (although I recommend finding the right fit for your baby) and the shush through white noise. But these two things alone would not be able to do it without the closer. Nothing seals the deal for Baby Boy like a little movement. Rocking and swinging does wonders for him. The bumpier the ride (think car seat or cracked sidewalk in a stroller) the sooner he falls asleep. Yes, I know, sleep association. I rock him until he is sleepy and then set him down. Sometimes he wakes right back up. I wait to see if he is able to put himself back to sleep first before trying again. This means he fusses and whines a bit. I don’t like to wait until it is full-blown-I-am-turning-red-tears, but I do want to give him a chance to try on his own.
Still, my Baby Boy is young and we are both learning together. Everyday looks different and everyday he teaches me something else. These days, he usually takes one of his naps in his crib following this routine, one of his naps in our Moby Wrap while I do housework, one of his naps on the go in his Evenflo Pivot Stroller, and a cat nap with me on the couch.
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