My son will be 1 in November and since he was born, he has taken all his naps worn in a front carrier (Baby Hawk). It has really worked great for closeness, enabling me to get work done & making breastfeeding super-convenient (hands-free!). However, now that he's getting older (bigger! heavier!), the positives are being outweighed by the difficulties. Wearing him for so many hours a day (2 naps & bedtime until my husband & I go to sleep too - we cosleep) is killing my back and is physically difficult. I can tell it is starting to be uncomfortable for him, too, as he has almost outgrown the carrier.
I didn't worry about this when he was younger, as I assumed that he'd take to napping in the swing around seven months like his big sister did, but that has been a no-go. He hated it. I have tried getting him to sleep in the carrier, then taking him out & transferring to a crib, play yard or some other safe sleep environment - but he wakes when I remove him. I can usually lie down with him in the carrier, and carefully untie it & slip away, but this only works on the bed (where it is big enough for my to lie down), and I feel it is unsafe to leave him sleeping on an adult bed when I will be going downstairs to work, so far away from him.
I work part-time at home, and I really need to fit those work hours into his naptime in the morning while his sister is at pre-school. Trying to get anything done when they are both home & awake is a catastrophe!
Do you have any advice for easing him into sleeping on his own?
Maybe you can find a way to barricade him safely on the adult bed? Wedge pillows? Guard rails? Stacks of pillows on the floor? I guess I sort of did all of the above at times. If he has to actively crawl very far to get off the bed then he’s going to climb down vs. fall off.
I found the backpack, with most of the weight on my hips, worked well for a couple years after front carriers. My son loved to be cheek-to-cheek with me and see what I saw, and I could work around the house with it on, appreciating the extra exercise without being physically injured. I did have to stay pretty mobile for him to be happy in it, until he was asleep, and then I could work at the desk wearing him. I also was able to slip it off after he fell asleep and lay him on the bed in it. I couldn’t take him out but he’d sleep wonderfully on the bed inside the backpack and that way he wasn’t going to go anywhere/fall off the bed. Young children often enjoy that restricted feeling for napping, as in a swing or carseat, or moving over to the edge of the crib. I think the sleeping body interprets it as akin to being delightfully crunched up against a body or squeezed inside a womb.
I also found I could work at the computer for quite some time with my son lying in the desk drawer, nursing. He’d comfort nurse for long periods while I typed across his body : ) Travel cribs are a good option too (watch for suffocation safety). Baby is much more likely to sleep if he can at least hear and smell you very near. It’s natural, and studies show that babies nap best and safest when very near parents, with all the sounds and goings on. As my guy got too big for the drawer, he pulled out a little rug and laid on it right next to me as I worked.
Oh I hear that society-imposed guilt in your voice when you say "I didn't worry about this when he was younger..." as if you did something wrong and now he's ruined. There's never any reason to restrict any kind of loving affectionate parenting for fear that a child, or the adult he'll become, may continue to enjoy loving affectionate parenting. Obviously things need to evolve all the time but he doesn't need to do his own laundry or even cut up his own food right now for fear he won't do it later.
Linda F. Palmer, DC
"The Baby Bond"