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Friday, August 29, 2014

the nap monster

Once upon a time there was a monster that only came out at nap time and his name was the 45 minute intruder.  While 'Babywise' officially coined him the 45 minute intruder, he could actually be called the 30-50 minute intruder.  Maybe you don't believe in monsters, but this one is very real.  He first arrived when Abram was around two months old, stayed for a few naps and then went on his merry way.  Then, around four months he returned and has stuck around.  He does not appear for every nap, but definitely for the majority.  Abram will go down for his nap, talk himself to sleep, and then right around that 35-40 minute mark I will hear him stirring.  There have been a handful of times that Abram will stir but then will fall right back asleep, but unfortunately the occurrence is rare. 

I have read (well, skimmed) several books, blogs, and information about infant sleeping habits and this seems to be very common.  Babies apparently will wake up at this point in their nap because the change from one sleep cycle into the next can actually arouse the baby.  Yes, I know what you are is very unfortunate!  Not that I even mind if he is awake, I love spending time with the little dude, but what drives me nuts is that I can't get ANYTHING done.  

I used to be so productive on my days off (pre-baby).  I had a checklist of things to do day-to-day and it was incredibly rare that there was anything left on my list at the end of the day.  These days, however, my one to-do list will last for weeks at a time.  It was very frustrating when this sleep monster first started to appear because while I clearly cannot get anything done while he is awake, I could maybe clean the kitchen and take the dogs outside during "nap" time before he was up again.  Not to mention, handling a baby all day long without either of us getting rest, I really started to notice how exhausted I was becoming.  Oh, and did you know exhaustion breeds un-productivity? So, yes, a vicious cycle was created.  

Abram is typically an excellent night sleeper.  Unfortunately in the last week or so, he has been waking up early around 5-5:30.  He doesn't cry, he just talks to himself and is awake.  Maybe I'm getting a glimpse of the other side of this monster.  Not only does he interrupt naps, but he also enforces early rising.  Regardless, if your child is taking short naps and/or waking up early in the morning, you are not alone with this intrusive monster.   So, what do we do?  That is where it gets difficult for me.  The answer is nothing.  I know, right? What an awful answer!  The truth is, there is nothing you can do about this sleep monster except to let him come, invade your home, and wait for him to leave.  I know it's cliche to say, but it is probably another phase.  Just like how rotting fruit tends to attract fruit flies; growth spurts, fevers, colds, teething, etc. tend to attract the sleep monster.  

Bottom line is that no matter how hard you try to do everything just right (sleep schedule included)--it will never be perfect with an infant.  Naps, I have learned, are especially touch and go.  Some days they will be awesome and other days (most days) you will be staring that monster square in the face.  Eventually baby is going to sleep, whether it is in the car seat, on the floor, or in your arms.  Unfortunately, it is what it is.  So, at the first signs of stirring take a deep breath.  If baby is not crying or upset, let him babble in there for a little while, and when you are ready, put on your smile and go love on that sweet little angel.  Monster or no monster, he's probably not sleeping because he'd rather be with you anyway (or so I like to tell myself...)!

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