My 5-month-old dd will only nap for 20 mins at a time most days. Ppl keep saying, "maybe she's just wakeful" and it's driving me nuts -- the kid is TIRED all day. On days when I can get her to sleep longer even once, esp 45-90 minutes, she is much calmer, happier, focused, etc. She obviously needs the sleep.
She napped 2 hours at a time several times a day up until 7-8 wks of age, then all of a sudden one day, POP! Her eyes opened after 20 mins! If she only does the 20 minute naps, she wants to sleep 4 or 5 times a day. I feel like we're spending half the day napping/getting ready to nap!!! Also, she falls asleep every time she eats on those days!
For naps, I get in bed with her and nurse her to sleep or mostly to sleep, depending on when I catch the "fluttering" sucks. I was staying in bed with her past the 20 min mark, both to see what was happening and to soothe her back to sleep. Very rarely I've gotten her back to sleep. When she DOES get even one 45 to 90 min nap, she is calm, happy, etc. all day through evening! But I'm not sure my success rate is making this worth it -- I REALLY appreciate some time with her napping and me being able to do things even if it's only 20 mins, and I don't think I'm helping her "learn" to sleep longer by staying there through the whole nap. I tried doing scheduled naps (within a small window, for flexibility) complete with napping routine when she's naturally most tired during the day, but this didn't seem to help. She would always go to sleep but wake 20 mins later.
At night, she's ready to sleep around 7p, and does best when she's in bed (sleeps with me and dh) until 6-7a. She had been sleeping a 3-4 hour block, stirring to bf, then sleeping 2 hr blocks for the rest of the night, stirring only to bf. Starting about a month ago, she's been stirring (and sometimes waking) every hour to 90 mins, thrashing around in bed while she's still asleep. Within the past week, I've stopped swaddling her as she's outgrown the blanket and sleeps no better when swaddled anymore. (The thrashing started while she was still getting swaddled... I thought at first she was reacting to being uncomfortable all bound up, but there's been no real improvement since I freed her.) At bedtime I rock her to sleep.
I feel like I'm in this horrible overtired cycle with her -- lack of naps leading to lack of nighttime sleep leading to lack of naps leading to lack of nighttime sleep etc.!!! Am I keeping her from self-soothing by nursing/rocking her to sleep, so that when she gets through the first REM cycle at naptime, she can't get herself over the hump to deep sleep? I absolutely don't mind nursing her to sleep, it's so cozy and sweet, but I also don't want to be hobbling her.
The pediatrician recommended "fussing to sleep," which sounded okay (I am completely and utterly ANTI-CIO, this sounded different) and I started to try it today but she quickly started screaming every time I laid her down in bed. Not the intended result. I called the pedi's office for support, and the nurse asked if I'd "read that book by Ferber"!!!
Sorry this is so long and involved but I am desparate for the healthy, alert, able-to-sleep-for-as-long-as-her-body-needs little girl I KNOW I have. Am I doing something to hinder her? What can I do to help her? Or am I crazy? Should I let go of the fantasy of sleep?