I think when it comes to naps there seems to be two types of parents. Those that are happy for their child to nap in their pushchairs or car seats whenever they need a nap, and those that have more regimented nap times. I can certainly see that if you have more than one child, napping on the go may be a lot more practical. I don’t think there is a right or wrong way for a child to nap, and parents should do what suits them best. However, for me I need that nap time break, so James’ naps are as much for me as for him. It’s the time where James and I need to recharge our batteries, but just in different ways.
When James was younger most of his naps were either in the pram or in the car. I didn’t know how to get him to nap in his cot, and at night I would have to breastfeed him to sleep. It was only when we moved to the UK that I started to thing about getting him to nap in his cot. He was refusing to just fall asleep anywhere and it wasn’t always convenient to take him out in the car or the pushchair. Getting him to nap at home would usually involve me putting him in a baby bouncer and hoping I could bounce him to sleep, which often didn’t work. I would get far too consumed on how I was going to get James to nap.
Eventually I decided that he needed to start napping in his cot. I needed him to get into a routine, for me just as much as him. He actually began napping in his cot before he would sleep in his cot at night. I seem to remember I would just put him in his cot for a nap and leave him to cry (I know, not everyone wants to do this) or whinge for a while until he fell asleep. This didn’t work every time, but the more I did it the more successful it became, and now he generally goes down for his nap without any problems. Napping in his cot was great for me, and it gave me break, a chance to get things done that I needed to do. When he was on two naps a day I used to aim for at least one to be in his cot, and the other could be in his pushchair or in the car. Otherwise I don’t think I would have left the house much.
He has now been on one nap a day for over a year and we usually get anything between 1 – 2 hours. It does mean that we generally split our day into two, by doing something before his nap and then something afterwards, so he can nap at home in his cot. On occasions where we go out for the day and he has a car or pushchair nap we are lucky if he sleeps for longer than 30 minutes, but we just accept that this will be the case. Afterall, he sleeps well at night and to me that is the main thing.
However, the last couple of weeks have been different. James has spent absolutely ages chatting to himself in his cot before falling asleep, or after an hour and a half of me sat downstairs, willing him to fall asleep he has completely refused to nap. The first time he did this I was dreading our afternoon, thinking he would be overtired and grouchy. I was wrong though, and it didn’t seem to affect him much. He then did it again last week and was fairly pleasant all afternoon, which again surprised me. I was starting to think, was this the end of his naps? And obviously praying it wasn’t. I decided to persevere with putting him in his cot for his nap. I figured even if he does just chat to himself, it still gives me the break that I need. Remembering what his sleeping had been like during development leaps when he was younger, I wondered if it was just a phase and he was in some sort of leap. After a little internet research it appeared that he was and that refusing of naps was one of the characteristics of this phase. This gave me some hope that it wasn’t the end of naps.
I am pleased to report that over the last few days his naps do seem to have gone back to normal and he is falling asleep within about 10 minutes again, which is a big improvement. Fingers crossed it continues because I want these naps to last for as long as possible!