Yes, this is almost all I talk about with EVERYONE

Yeah, I jinxed myself a teeny bit with yesterday’s post.  Jack did NOT sleep through the night last night. It was John’s turn to get up, and after two and a half hours (John tried longer than we usually go before trading), I got the text.  “Help.”  Jack had been trying to go to sleep, no crying or fussing, but he just didn’t settle.  We traded at 4am (John and Jack had been up since 1:30), and Jack went right to sleep for me.  He was out by 4:10, and I was back in bed ten minutes later.  Sometimes the trade-off works like that – he just needs the new presence and out he goes.  Sometimes the trade-off wakes him up completely and we’re all screwed.

We still got him up at 7am (need to stick to our routine!), and he went down for his nap easily, too.  I did, too, right there on the floor with my left arm stuck through the slats of his crib.  (He was sleeping on my hand.)  That keeps happening – as uncomfortable as I am like that, I have dozed off with him every time I’ve put him down for a nap or at bedtime for more than a week.  Too bad I have to work during nap time.

I am throwing myself a parade

It’s working!  I feel like SUCH a moron for not doing this before, but making sure Jack’s room is super-dark seems to have fixed our nap problem.  (I am totally jinxing myself right now, I’m sure.)  After a few days of hanging the comforter over the curtain rod, I bought a cheap blackout shade, cut it to fit the window, and stuck it to the top of the window frame.  I still close the curtains over the shade and tape the edges down, and it gets nearly as dark as when I used the comforter, with the added bonus of not having the extra weight try to pull the curtain rod down.

Here’s what you want to know:

Jack has napped (!) in his crib (!!) for EIGHT days in a row (!!!), and EVERY nap has been between 90 minutes and two hours long (!!!!).  He has slept through the night, nine to ten-plus hours, for every one of those nights except one.

I know this won’t last forever (growth spurt, sleep regression, his two-year molars – have I mentioned that he already has all of his teeth except for those four in the very back?  He has so many teeth! – something will happen to disrupt sleep or naps), but I am going to enjoy it for as long as I can.

Woot!

Jack just took his first crib nap in almost three full weeks!  We put a window A/C in his room last week, and it was letting SO much more light in.  We tried blocking the accordion sides with black cloth napkins, but it wasn’t enough.  Today, I turned off the A/C (which will not really be an option later in the summer) and hung a dark comforter over the window.  It got really dark.  Duh.

Jack fell asleep in the crib (after some protest) about half an hour after I put him in it, and he slept for nearly 90 minutes.  Fingers crossed this is the start of something awesome and not a fluke!

He’s not a baby anymore

The biggest cliche in the world is “they grow up so fast”, but GUYS.  He’s starting to TALK to me, and I’m not ready.  He pointed at the seat of the bench this morning and said, “Ant.” Sure enough, there was an ant.  A couple of minutes later, he pointed at the sidewalk.  “Two ant.”  Then we got home, and he told me what song he wanted to hear.  “Elmo.  La la.”  (That’s “Elmo’s Song”, lyrics: “La la la la, Elmo’s song.”  Speaking of Elmo, I think I figured out how he manages to be every toddler’s favorite muppet.  Ready?  He speaks in the third person.  He says his own name ALL THE TIME.  “Elmo doesn’t like rainy days.  They make Elmo sad.”)

Jack appears to be growing too quickly for his naps, though.  Today, instead of napping, he learned to say “oh no”.  We haven’t had a nap of any kind for the last four days.  He’s had only two crib naps in the month of June, two naps in the car (not on purpose, but welcome), and three naps in the stroller.  If you’re doing the math, that’s 10 days without naps.

I keep googling variations on “how do you know when your toddler is ready to give up naps” (and I want to throttle the parents writing articles that start with “My 4 year old has recently started to resist naps”), and what I’m finding is what I already knew.  He REALLY still needs this nap – it’s important for development.  He’s only 21 months old, and he’s TIRED midday.  I just can’t get him to sleep in his ####### crib.

I KNOW it’s not my fault (except maybe it is?), and I KNOW it’s not the end of the world, but if I’m failing at anything parenthood-wise, it’s this.

I can also leap tall buildings in a single bound

I have put Jack down for real, honest-to-god, SOLID naps for THREE days in a row!  I did it, I am awesome, and I am for real doing the Carlton dance (which, ahem, I have learned since that video call with Corey and Mel).  (For those wondering, I did an approximation of the Kevin Bacon Footloose dance instead.)

For my next feat, I will turn a toddler into a blueberry.  He is HOOVERING blueberries lately.

Naps 2: The Nappening

In the last week, Jack has gotten one nap, and that was a short one.  We’ve both tried, neither of us has been successful, so we decided to reset again.  When John took over naps, the idea was that he would put a sleepy Jack down in the crib, give him a couple of minutes to settle down, and then leave.  If Jack cried, John would check in on him at increasing intervals (Ferber method).  When John was doing naps and it was working, he never had to do the Ferber thing.  Jack fell asleep within a couple of minutes every time.  Then he started taking longer to fall asleep, and then he wasn’t falling asleep at all. We kind of lost the plan, and so now we’re here.

Reset.  Again.  Back to Ferber, but since John really needs to work, I’m stepping back in.  Our plan yesterday was to have John read to him and put him down, then leave, and I’d do the check-ins.  John left, Jack started crying, and John retreated to his office and his headphones.  I waited out the five minutes (No fun – he sounded more upset than mad, not like the last time we tried this. I can outwait mad.), and then I went in.  Jack went into panic mode when he realized I wasn’t going to pick him up.  He had worked himself into a sweat, he was clutching at me and sobbing and calling my name, and with all of that, I still tried to leave like I’m supposed to.  He let out this wail I’ve never heard from him, like I was leaving him forever, and I rushed back in to pick him up.  We cried together, and John came back to give him a hug and apologize.

Experiment over.  We’re not doing it.  John is going to read the No-Cry Nap Method and try to get more advice out of it than I did months ago, and the meantime, we’re not going to leave him alone like that.

That was yesterday.  Last night he didn’t sleep well.  He was up from around 2:20 to a little after 4, and then he woke up for the day at 5:45.  We played and snacked and took a very exciting walk and played and snacked, and then I took him upstairs around 11:30, maybe a few minutes earlier.  We followed our nap routine (diaper change, back into pjs and the nap sack), and sat in the big chair to read a couple of books.  We read four short ones, and he was knuckling his eyes and yawning the whole time.  (In between books, you’d never know he was sleepy – he springs forward, practically falling out of my lap to point to the next book, or to scan the floor for one he just knows is around here somewhere.)  After the fourth book, I picked him up and he didn’t protest when I put him in the crib.  He went down flat and reached for my hand.  I started describing our morning (at one point, he sat up straight and shouted “GUCK!”), and he was asleep within three minutes.  I retrieved my hand and snuck out.  As of right now, he’s been asleep for an hour.

Fluke.  Today’s nap is the result of not sleeping well last night, and I REALLY don’t want that to be the norm.  But my plan, if he doesn’t go to sleep so easily tomorrow, is to try to soothe him to sleep from outside the crib, like we do at night, for around half an hour.  If he’s not asleep within that window, then I’ll have everything ready to go so I can just throw him in the stroller and go for a long walk.  At least he’ll get some restful time, and if we’re lucky, maybe he’ll snooze a little.

Can’t brain

Today was not a good day for braining.  Jack woke up at 2:45am and got some snatches of sleep before he gave up on trying around 4am, so the three of us have pretty much been up since 2:45 this morning. Well, Jack’s asleep now, but I’m coasting on fumes and won’t be conscious much longer.  Also, his nap was WAY too short and then, tired and upset as he was after only sleeping for 40 minutes, he couldn’t settle down enough to sleep again.

On the plus side, I’m the one who got him to sleep for his nap today, so yay me!  I’m pretty sure it wasn’t my nap technique that had him waking up 40 minutes later.

BUT short nap yesterday then bad night last night then short nap today possibly means bad night again tonight soooooo I’m going to bed right now.

Terribly sorry about only complaining about my lack of sleep tonight.  Let’s try again tomorrow.

Nap update

After four days in a row of me handling the naps, lots of crying, ZERO napping, we decided to have John try, and he would try the more traditional Ferber method – maybe if it’s not Mama doing the leaving, it’ll be easier on Jack.

And so?  We got four days in a row of Jack quietly sitting with John while he reads a couple of books, quietly going into the crib (he ASKED to go in on the second day), lying down when John asks him to, and falling asleep within two minutes on top of John’s hand while John quietly talks to him.  JUST LIKE AT NIGHT. (The 5th day was not so smooth.)

(Let’s review: this is EXACTLY what I tried to do for the first two days, and what I was doing for months with little success not that long ago.  Either we wore him down and he’s too exhausted to protest, or Dada is magic and Mama should stay out of it.)

The plan is that if he doesn’t fall asleep quickly like that, John will still leave and start the cry-it-out clock, but so far that hasn’t been necessary.  Does this count as being inconsistent, changing the script on him again?  I have no idea, but I do know we all prefer it when Jack doesn’t think we’ve abandoned him.  Fingers crossed this works consistently for at least a week, and then we’ll sub me in once Jack has this down, again JUST LIKE WE DID AT NIGHT.

Day 1: Jack only slept for about 25 minutes, but it was his first nap in more than a week (score!) and we think he pooped himself awake, so it wasn’t really a failure on anybody’s part (except Jack’s ability to poop when it’s convenient for the rest of us).

Day 2: Jack made it past 25 minutes by a substantial amount – he slept for just over an hour.  Again, we think he pooped himself awake.  Jack, you need to poop before naptime!

Day 3: Jack slept for an hour and 15 minutes, again going to sleep on John’s hand within a couple of minutes of lying down in the crib just because John asked him to.  Let’s keep this streak going!

Day 4: John had a harder time getting Jack to sleep, but he was ultimately successful, and he slept for an hour and 10 minutes.  I’ll take it.

Day 5: Jack woke up around 3:30 Sunday morning and only slept for 45 minutes between then and 5:45, when we gave up and got up, so we moved his nap a little earlier.  Unfortunately, John had to leave the room and start the cry-it-out clock for the first time Sunday.  He decided to do a reset on the first pop-in instead of just soothe and leave.  Jack fell sleep in John’s arms and he was able to put him down.  Not exactly following the plan, but we ended up with a sleeping baby (for almost an hour and a half), so it’s a win.

How can I do this to him?

Day 4:

Cry it out is AWFUL.  It’s horrible, it’s heart-breaking, and it’s the worst thing ever.  It might be the only thing that works, but that doesn’t make it fun.  I hate it.

I hate it.

I hate it.

Luckily, Jack doesn’t seem to be holding a grudge.  And also, after the first few minutes, he sounds more angry than sad, and then he switches to hopeless and dispairing, but regardless of the tone, it’s an hour of “Mama?  Mama!  Mama?  Mama?  Dada!  Dada!  Dada!  Dada!  Guck-guck!  Mama!”  He stands the whole time, and I have realized that I can’t pop in and reassure him because it winds him up even more – it’s like resetting him to saddest/angriest when I don’t rescue him.

I’m sticking with it because the results will be worth it, but this could take several weeks – I’ve read that it takes longer with naps (than with bedtime) and longer with toddlers (than with babies).

Switching it up

I know consistency is the key to sleep training, and I had every intention of sticking to the new nap routine as consistently as possible (and as close to our bedtime routine as possible) for as long as it took.  So changing the method two days in seemed kind of…inconsistent.  On the other hand, two days doesn’t equal routine, and really, when it’s that obvious it’s not going to work, it’s silly not to change it.

Bedtime routine: dim the light, turn on the sound machine, change his diaper, put on pjs and sleep sack, sit in the chair together and read a couple-three books, turn off the light, put him into the crib, and sit on the floor while he falls asleep.  He’s nearly always asleep within 10 minutes.  Works for me, works for John.

Trying that at naptime: pull the curtain most of the way, turn on the sound machine, change his diaper, put on pjs and the nap sack (lighter weight), sit in the chair together and read a couple-three books, close the curtain the rest of the way, put him in the crib, and sit on the floor for an hour and a half to two hours while Jack doesn’t sleep.

He cried, he giggled, he yelled, he kissed me, and after two days, it was pretty clear that I was the problem.  I am too dang entertaining.  (Also, maybe it’s not dark enough – we’re working on that.)

Day three (this past Saturday): we began letting him cry it out for naps.  Same routine except that instead of sitting on the floor after he goes in the crib, I just leave.

It sucks.

Toddlers bring change. And sleeplessness.

I made a face mask out of a bandana and two hair bands to wear at the store Wednesday morning.  Then I didn’t go to the store on Wednesday morning because someone woke up at 3am and was still wide awake at 5am when I tagged in.  He fell asleep a little before 6, but I couldn’t get him back into the crib, so the store plan went out the window, and I held him while he slept until 8:30ish.

On the one hand, yay for holding the sleeping baby!  I don’t get to do it much anymore, and it’s SO NICE.  On the other hand, I didn’t get much sleep after 3am…  On the third hand, we didn’t get a nap Wednesday, either, so BOO for that.

The new nap routine starts today (Thursday), and life is going to SUCK for a while.  The car is no longer reliable, and it was never a good long-term solution anyway.

Putting Jack to sleep is exhausting

The traffic last night was conspiring to keep Jack from going to sleep.  And we REALLY needed him to go to sleep (and sleep all night – which he did HOORAY HOORAY!).  Over the last several days, we’ve been having some trouble.  Jack didn’t get a nap at all on Saturday, he only got a little more than half an hour on Sunday, and he only got 10 minutes yesterday, when he REALLY needed a good nap because the night before (Sunday into Monday) was ROUGH.  He slept for about 4 hours, woke up a little after midnight, and then didn’t go back to sleep until 4am.  He wasn’t fussy after the first bit – he was just awake.  Wanted to babble at us.  We did our best to convince him that it was time for sleep, it was dark, and all good babies and gucks and woowees sleep when it’s the middle of the night, but he didn’t get the picture for several hours.

We’d gotten complacent – before Sunday night, he had slept for 11 to 13 hours straight every night except one in the month of April, and we were beginning to feel human again.

One bad night isn’t a pattern, but with several days of short or nonexistent naps followed by a night like that one, it’s hard to feel positive.

Anyway, the traffic.  John was putting Jack to bed, and I was doing the dishes.  At three separate times within 40 minutes, ambulances and fire engines went screaming down the road, sirens blaring, and THEN some giant truck laid on his horn as he went through the intersection near our house.

I nearly went outside to yell (at what, I don’t know – the universe?) “THE BABY IS TRYING TO SLEEP, PEOPLE!”

Now, as I speak type, he is napping. I don’t know how long we’ll get, but something is better than nothing and we’re at 20 minutes so far, so today is already a win over the last several days. Hold your breath and don’t slam any doors, my dudes, because the baby is sleeping.

Eleven minutes is not a nap!

After a long break, we have officially restarted nap training.  Sleep training.  Crib training?  I mean I’m working on getting Jack to nap in the crib.  We were working on it months ago, but I gave it up when the teething started in earnest and nighttime sleep was being disrupted.  For however many months that’s been (maybe two?), Jack has been napping semi-well, but exclusively while being held (mostly by me) or in the car seat (stroller and car).  The advantage of the car seat is that I can usually bring the car seat in from outside without waking Jack up, and he can sleep in it, in the house, and let me do other things.  But wouldn’t it be nice if he would just sleep in the crib?  I’m starting (restarting) now for a couple of reasons:

  1. He’s going to grow out of the car seat.  I’ve been talking about it for months, and he hasn’t done it yet, but it’s inevitable, and I feel like it’ll be soon. We’ll have to replace the infant car seat, which can be carried around, with a convertible car seat, which is one of those that will last for years but which doesn’t leave the car.  What if (WHEN) he falls asleep in the car in the new car seat?  I will have to unbuckle him, carry him inside, and put him down without waking him up.  So far, he hasn’t proven to be that sound of a sleeper.  Same for sitting in the stroller without the car seat.  So he needs to learn to nap in the crib.
  2. Teething’s not over, of course, but his second top tooth has broken through and we have a pretty good routine at bedtime.  He sleeps pretty well in the crib, mostly through the night, so I’m not too worried that these attempts to nap in the crib during the day will screw that up.

I just want the flexibility.  We’re at home at naptime?  Sleep in the crib!  We’re on a walk and he gets sleepy?  Sleep in the stroller!  We’re in the car?  Sleep in the car!  And if he’ll really nap in the crib, I can get work done during the day.  Probably not the full four hours, but it means I won’t have to stay up as late EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.

The worst thing about this is the crying, of course.  I’ve tried all kinds of things, read all kinds of books, and I really don’t know how to make this work without any crying.  Thankfully, today, new attempt #1, he only cried for a couple of minutes.  Then he tossed and turned but quietly, and he was sleeping 6 minutes later.  Of course, as I type this, I can see (and hear) him kicking the back of the crib, but I’m pretty sure he’s still sleeping.  Weird kid.  He wiggled around a ton during those first few minutes, so I can’t see his face in the monitor anymore.

Shoot, I think I jinxed it.  He’s definitely awake.  Eleven minutes isn’t enough!

Update: Attempt #2 is going well so far.  He stayed asleep when I put him in the crib, and he’s been asleep for 14 minutes.