Monday, April 25, 2011

A Nap a Day Keeps the Cabin Fever Away

Boring toddler sleep-pattern post here--mostly for my own "journaling" purposes, so feel free to just look at the photos.

At fifteen months, Finn was still sleeping from 8-6, then taking a longer morning nap and a funky do-I-need-it-or-not afternoon nap. I thought this was weird, since Will was basically down to one nap a lot sooner, but nothing needed to change...until something REALLY needed to change. Finn was sort of fussy all afternoon long, and he didn't seem like he was getting enough sleep in a 24-hour period, and it was also tough mentally for me to stay home for his nap and then stay home for Will's nap in the afternoon. That's a little too much hermit living for someone like me.

I was lamenting Finn's need for two naps per day when I got together with my Isis moms (aka, my longtime mental health support group) for dinner a week ago. "He's sooooo far away from one nap a day," I groaned.

Two and a half years of playgroup therapy

The next day? I pushed him to one nap, and it worked! But as Ceci says, one day's a fluke; we did it again the next day, and again! It worked! Finn has had only the one nap a day for seven straight days (today is his eighth). 

Unexpectedly, in nap-training Finn, we've had to sleep-train him, too. I suppose it's not a huge surprise that daytime and nighttime sleep are so closely related, but Will was always a great nighttime sleeper and a fine napper, except for those days when he'd fall asleep in the car or seem to need a nap so much earlier/later than he had the day before, and I'd lose my mind because NO MORE INCONSISTENCY! But Finny always woke up between 6 and 7, and I just assumed that's who he was.

(Isn't it hard to walk the line between "That's just who he is!" and "Let's throw a million schedules at him and see what sticks"? It is for me.)

Anyway, we've been putting him down at 7, then crying him out at the oddest hours (one night, 2 a.m., another night 5:05) while his brain gets sorted anew. Last night he slept from 7:20 to 6:30 in the morning, and it was divine. Then I spent every five-minute car ride of the morning (thank goodness we live only five minutes from Will's preschool now) jostling his car seat at red lights and singing obnoxious "FINNY!!!" songs to keep him awake. 

The one other thing that's different is that we trained Finn to put himself to sleep A LOT earlier than we did Will. In fact, I think Will was fifteen months when we finally decided that, with a newborn entering the household, Will was going to have to fall asleep NOT in our arms. Also, he weighed about a million pounds already, so the rocking was truly grueling. Finny knows how to fall asleep, but he also knows how to screech at top decibels if he's looking to protest. So in the last weeks, we'd been going in and putting him back down when he screeched, and forgetting that at his age he actually can understand us. When that clicked in, I started saying "Finn, it's time to go to sleep. Mama's just in the other room, and I'll see you after nap." 

And hallelujah! It works.

Next up on the list of Developmental Milestones For Which I Can't Wait? The dissipation of stranger anxiety and separation anxiety and the mean little overlap of the two. Finny's happy to play at Will's preschool, to play with our sitter Maggie, to play with my parents--but the second I try to walk out of the sitting room at the gym, he gets completely freaked. I'm trying to use reassuring words in that situation, too, but I remember Will just growing out of it, certainly by eighteen months, and probably not because of anything I said or did. Oh well.

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