The Elusive Nap: Adventures in Nap Training

I wrote here about our adventures with sleep training. I’m sure several of you are cursing me for having things go so well, and I don’t blame you. Here is where you get your retribution.
Nap training is a completely different beast. K has always struggled with her naps; she would only nap on my chest for the first two months, then exclusively in the swing for another 2 -3 months. She has always had a problem joining sleep cycles together, so naps have been exclusively in 40-minute segments. I could count on my fingers the number of times naps have been longer than 90 minutes.

We decided to nap train at the same time as sleep training; I figured we’d tackle it all at once, and hopefully just have a few awful sleep-deprived days. Like I wrote about earlier, it took about three nights before K settled into a great bedtime routine, but naps have been an entirely different story.

As with night-time sleep training, our schedule looked a little something like this:
1. Notice K’s sleepy signs (rubbing eyes, yawning, getting cranky)
2. Make sure she’s fed and changed
3. Put her in the Zipadee-Zip (review to come)
4. Lay her down in her crib and walk away.

For the first two weeks, meltdowns ensued immediately. She would roll onto her stomach, jam her hands through the crib slats, and scream. I’d wait 5 minutes, flip her over, shush her and leave. Then I’d set the timer for 7 minutes, flip-shush-leave again. She usually took about 20 minutes or more to fall asleep, and once she was out, she stayed out for maybe 40 minutes.

Is this even worth it? 25 minutes of yelling and flipping for a 40 minute nap? I spent so much time just getting her to relax that by the time she fell asleep, all I wanted to do was collapse on the couch with a cup of coffee. What was so wrong with relying on the swing for naps?

But at 7 months old, I knew K would benefit from more sleep. She needed to be napping, and since night-time sleep training had gone so well, I had hope that naps might follow suit. She slowly began falling asleep faster and faster; 15 minutes of crying, then 10, then finally, just a couple minutes of babbling before she was out like a light.

And then she started sleeping longer, too. We saw the first 1.5 hour nap in ages…and in her own crib to boot! It was still a struggle; wasn’t sleep training supposed to work in the first few days?

I was terrified that we would backslide when the house was hit with an awful cold; for about a week, K was only sleeping sitting upright in my arms. Naps were only happening as she was eating, because the second she lay down, the coughing would begin. And I’ve heard so many stories of sleep training going down the toilet when sickness hit.

But K is a rockstar. She’s feeling 100% better, and sleep has come back with the return of her health. As I write, she’s upstairs napping, cozied into her crib in the Zipadee-Zip. She cried for about 7 minutes, and I had to flip her once, but its getting better.

That’s the key to this whole thing, really. It gets better. No stage lasts forever….and sleep is getting better.

What do naps look like in your house? Have you struggled with sleep training?

2 thoughts on “The Elusive Nap: Adventures in Nap Training

  1. G never napped well for me. Ever. L seems to be doing well so far — once we get him to sleep. I keep telling myself sleep issues shouldn’t last forever. I will get to sleep again soon!!

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