I am a stay at home dad and am having trouble getting my little one to nap. My wife and I are hoping not to make her "cry it out," but I am having trouble. I cannot nurse her down for obvious reasons and she doesn't respond to the bottle like she does the breast.....i.e.falling asleep. I am trying to have her nap about every two hours or so.....she shows all the nap signs when I attempt to put her down but fights it. I try everything; rocking, walking, swings, slings, music, a combination of these.....the only thing that works every time is a car ride. Any suggestions?
Also, I am starting to lose faith with our decision on parenting style such as: co-sleeping, not letting her cry it out, etc., but she seems to be becoming more of a high needs baby. She now has to be held or I have to be within eye shot or she cries. Everything we read claims that she will become more independent with co-sleeping but it doesn't appear that way.
First, the independence that attachment parenting fosters doesn't show up until much older. It takes TIME to build a secure attachment. Healthy independence does come from that, but not until the child is older. First there is a very necessary time period of complete dependence. That is as it should be! A 4 month old SHOULD BE completely dependent on you. Sure, some super chill babies sleep through the night at that age, nap easily, don't care if you're nearby - but that's a personality thing, not a problem with your parenting style!
My little guy (now 11 mo) seemed very chill for the first few months, but as he left the sleepy newborn stage behind and became more aware of his surroundings, and more attached to us, the more it became obvious that he was high needs. I guess I could have looked at it and thought that I was "causing" him to become "less independent", but I don't think that was the case at all. It's just who he is.
So, the fact of the matter may be that this is who your baby is...not a great napper, highly relational, wants to be held all the time. Maybe she's missing mom and as such is more clingy with you? Whatever the case, I encourage you to stick with your intuition of meeting her needs...even if that means a car ride for every nap! Also I'd encourage you to try other baby carriers - if the Moby wasn't great for you or her, try Ergo, or a mei tai (BabyHawk is a good brand), Beco, Boba...there are a ton of great carriers out there and they can seriously save your life. Sometimes there's an adjustment period for the baby to get comfortable in a carrier, but if and when they do, it'll allow you to do things while she naps - double win! For many months my son wouldn't go to sleep except in a carrier, walking around or bouncing on an exercise ball. He didn't like nursing to sleep. He grew out of that, and now nurses to sleep on his bed, or falls asleep next to me while I rub his back and sing.
So that's the other thing to keep in mind - the naptime behavior your daughter is exhibiting today is not going to be the same thing she experiences in a month. It is all so transitory at this age. Hang in there, keep being there for your daughter, and trust that building a relationship of trust with her will have long term benefits even though it's tough right now that you're not able to have much time independent of her!
What worked for me at that point was to let them set the schedule. Baby came with me in the sling while I took care of the other kids, did the house work, ran errands, etc. and when baby was tired, he/she slept. In the sling, in the car, etc. There is no real need to have baby on a firm schedule.
How long as Mom been back to work? It will take time for you and baby to develop your own schedule and routine. In the mean time, I would not focus on napping, and just move on with your day. If baby is really tired, and you have her snuggly in the sling, she will fall asleep, or, she will show signs that the situation isn't working for her (crying, fussing) so you can adjust and figure out what she needs.
The independence that attachment parenting fosters does not appear at 4 months. There is no question that AP babies tend to be better at expressing their wants and needs. This can come off as being "clingy" or "high needs" but in reality, we have taught them to expect us to help them. That's our role, as their caregivers, to help them until they can help themselves. As they get older, they do become more independent because they have that secure foundation, secure attachment, with a parent who has always been there for them. A parent who didn't abandon them to cry alone, but who helped them find a comfy way to get to sleep.
Hang in there! It will get better with time! And in the mean time, try to enjoy your new baby's need for closeness. Because sooner or later, you'll have an 8 year old who doesn't want to be with you anymore
C.- WOHM, CPST Instructor, and all around busy Mama to A.- 02/04, I. 01/07,E. 09/10 and
expecting the surprise of our lives Fall 2012!
Hi, I really hope you can figure out a way to help your kiddo without letting her cry it out. For what it's worth, I have a very vivid memory of calling and calling for my mom in the middle of the night at about three years old and not having her come (she was out in the garage doing something, I found out later) and it was AWFUL. And that was when I could've gotten up and done what I needed to do (bathroom) myself. I've sworn that I will never, EVER put my kid through that if I could avoid it.
As far as napping: my DD's napping behavior changes every month or two. (She's 8 months today.) I know it's tough, but maybe try to avoid getting too hung up on whether she's napping "easier" or "fighting it more" or "being clingier" or whatever. Babies change a lot. My DD was a terrible napper from ~2-4 months, but she would sleep okay at night. Then she started napping better and waking up more at night. Now she's getting better all around. It's just because she's growing and various things (noise, gas, etc.) are bothering her more or less.
The only way my daughter would nap ages 2-4 months (without nursing) was a walk in a baby carrier (we have an Ergo). And by that I mean: I walked for 20ish minutes, then she would fall asleep, then I would keep walking and she would wake up after 30 minutes. She just didn't nap longer than 30 minutes, no matter what. Don't believe the baby books about the "three 2-hr naps a day" or whatever it is supposed to be. Every baby is different.
As far as the getting clingy: Don't babies get more clingy as they realize you can leave? I'm not sure exactly when that happens (I think they say 5-6 months-ish?), but that could be why she's getting clingier. That's a very normal thing. My DD is getting better about being put down/having me leave her sight for a short time now, now that she's had some time of me going and then coming back. How long has your DD's mom been back at work? That's a major change too and she might still be adjusting.
Another reason my DD was hard to deal with until recently was that once she got to ~4 months, she didn't like to lay down anymore--she wanted to stand or sit up (with help, obviously). So, no more putting the baby down on a mat while we ate dinner or while I did this or that for a couple minutes. My solution was to eat in shifts with my husband sometimes, and to buy a ring sling--you might find something else works better! Maybe your DD would like a bouncy seat or something (mine didn't). We just recently bought DD a thing called a Jumperoo (where she's supported so she can stand or jump) and she loves it--now I can eat dinner with my husband again. Also, she can now scootch herself over the floor, and roll. Both achievements help her entertain herself and make her less frustrated.
Sorry for the longwindedness! I think what I am really trying to say is: please don't lose faith in your daughter and yourself. Babies are ever-changing creatures and each stage of development has its joys and frustrations. I think you've just hit the next stage's frustrations.
Mom to the wacky and wonderful Kalyani (August 2011)
Maybe you're just trying to make your baby nap to much! My 4-month-old doesn't nap nearly as much as every 2 hours! He takes about three naps a day.
Perhaps if you lie your daughter down for a nap, and she doesn't nap, she's not "fighting the nap"--she's just not really tired. Can you spend a day where you just hang out and do what she wants to do? She's probably at that age where she will fall asleep when she really needs to. If she's looking really tired, just rock her for awhile and see if she conks and don't worry about the time or how long she sleeps.
See if that works better for you. It works for me and my son, anyway.
Forgot to add some more concrete suggestions...
--My DH had trouble getting DD to nap in the Ergo at first. As he got more confident, she napped easier. She also really loves it if he talks or hums while walking, I think because of the deep voice. (He never got comfortable with the Moby or ring sling, but loves the Ergo.)
--We found a white noise machine to be super useful in DD's hard-to-get-to-sleep stage. We had a Sleepy Sheep and the "rain" setting was a godsend. (I know, it sounds ridiculous, but it worked. It zonked DH right out too. :) )
--Re: putting the baby down... singing and dancing works wonders. This is another thing that sounds ridiculous but really, really helps. I can fold a load of laundry while singing "Over In the Meadow," but if I don't sing, DD gets antsy after a minute or so. She likes upbeat, bouncy songs and silly dances with lots of hand motion.
--Also, if you go out of eyeshot, singing or talking to the baby reassures them that you'll be back and prevents a load of fussing. That's the only way I could get out of DD's eyeshot at first. (Now that I've done that a few billion times and come back every time, she's okay with me going out of sight momentarily without keeping in auditory contact.)
--My DD has a "bucket o' junk" (a basket and a plastic jar full of random toys, blocks, and household items like measuring spoons) that she gets to play with in the car or on the kitchen mat (wherever she doesn't like to be :) ). I swap out some of the toys every few days and that keeps it interesting for her. It only occupies her for a little while, but hey, anything helps. Your DD is pretty small...at that stage we had toys hanging from a baby gym and pictures on the fridge, and I swapped those out every now and then. But if she's good with her hands she might like a basket of stuff while she's laying on her tummy.
Hope that helps! Good luck!
Mom to the wacky and wonderful Kalyani (August 2011)
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