Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: central coast CA
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My 5mo is working on this transition right now. At first I had to lie in bed with him for the entire nap, but I figured, since he was used to sleeping in arms, he needed my company to get used to this new nap routine. Then I started to try to slink away, but sure enough, he would wake up 10-20 minutes later. I got really good at BOLTING to the bedroom as soon as I heard him rustle on the monitor. That seemed to reassure him that I would be Right There as soon as he woke, even if I wasn't sleeping next to him. At the same time, he began self-soothing himself to sleep at night. I still fed him, of course, but sometimes he would still be awake, so I pretended to be asleep. He was able to fall back asleep on his own within a few minutes.
Lately, he seems to be able to transfer some of that self-soothing to his nap times as well. I still run for the bedroom if he rustles, but I wait at the door to see if he will wake or go back to sleep. More and more, he's going back to sleep on his own. So now, I nurse him to sleep, sneak away, and let him sleep for about an hour three times a day. Sometimes, he still wakes up after 20 minutes or so, but it's getting better.
My last word of advice is to take each transition s-l-o-w-l-y. My ds needs to be able to trust that mama is there so that he can securely integrate these new milestones. I believe sleeping well is as much a developmental milestone as emotional control. Both are much fuzzier achievements than being able to sit up, for example, and both seemed to be "mastered," not at a particular age necessarily, but only after some experience.