Monday, April 14, 2014

Turning the nap corner?

For about the past three months, Gabe has been consistently sleeping through the night. Bedtime is between 7 or 7:30 PM and the morning wake up is generally around 6:30 AM.

Naps though, were another story. Gabe has not been the best napper. However, beginning about a month ago, he started to really take good naps. He takes at least two naps a day, one in the morning, and one in the afternoon. Sometimes he needs a late afternoon quick cat nap, but not every day.

So how did he turn the nap corner? How did this glorious schedule unfold?

I don't think there is any one thing that helped him settle into his current routine. I noticed that he could stay up for about two and a half hours at a clip, needing a nap after each period of wakefulness. Here are a few things that have helped get him to sleep (and stay asleep)!

1) KEEP ACTIVE: When he is awake, we play! I try to encourage him to be as active as possible-- He can't walk or even crawl, but I try to give him different toys and move him from room to room where he can access some new activities. We practice rolling, jumping, sitting up etc.

2) CREATE A ROUTINE: I do the same basic routine each time Gabe goes down for a nap. We read a few books (Gabe chews on them or likes turning the pages) and then I sing a song and put him in his crib.

3) PUT DOWN "DROWSEY BUT AWAKE": I finally understand the advice, "Put baby down drowsy but awake." Before, I would rock or sway Gabe to sleep and then try to put him gingerly in his crib. Sometimes it worked. Other times, I was held captive by him. If he woke up because he was startled by being put down, or hearing a creaking floor board, we had to start all over again. It was AWFUL.

Now, I look for signs that Gabe is getting tired. I watch the clock. I watch him. I take him up to his room--- we close the blinds and do the books/song routine. Then, even if he's not asleep, I put him in his crib.

He had to learn to put himself to sleep. This was not a quick venture, but now, IT IS HEAVEN. It took a few weeks of this routine, and a few weeks of Gabe crying himself to sleep to get him to understand that once in the crib, it's sleep time.

4) LOVE THE LOVEYS: We got him "Gus", a sweet but flat "lovey" to keep in his crib. I liked it because it was comforting for him, but if he rolled on it, it would not wake him up (because it was flat as opposed to a huge stuffed animal).

I seriously read everything about trying to get your baby to take naps longer than 15 minutes. As you may remember, Gabe was either the anti-napper or the cat napper extraordinaire. Now, keeping him SUPER active while awake, watching for his cues, and giving him the skills to put himself to sleep without my help, he is able to sleep more regularly and for longer periods of time.

I am not an expert. I just had to experiment to find what worked for him....Now watch though---- Now that I actually wrote about this, he will totally change his sleep habits just to spite me. That kid! He's lucky he's cute!

Time Marches On.. Soak It Up!

I can't believe that I have an 8 month old baby living in this house. Everyone tells you that, "It goes by so fast!" and it does. Seeing Gabe start to do new things and discover the world around him brings me such joy....His first 8 months have certainly gone by quickly, yet at the same time, Chris and I feel like he's always been with us.

He's just getting so big! He is much harder to cuddle; he wants to move, to play, to explore. Breastfeeding is becoming quite the adventure. Gabe treats me like a jungle gym!

Monkey-Gabe aside, there are sweet glimmers of sweet baby left though. And I have been selfishly purposeful in spending time with Gabe and savoring his baby-ness. And I'm not done! I don't know when babies are officially considered toddlers, but I am not ready to change his title quite yet.

Friends of ours have a two-year old little boy and are expecting their second child any day now. Like literally any second. They came over for dinner last night and we chatted about what life might be like with another kiddo in the mix.

After dinner, I watched as Megan, pregnant 2nd time-momma-to-be,  sat and watched her son play and romp around the house. Her love for him is so evident. But, I can tell she's anxiously awaiting this next new addition too.

I remember the weeks leading up to delivery (See "Nothing Yet" post). Megan too has been hearing the common comments from the non-pregnant people peanut gallery:  

"When is that baby coming out?"
"Wow! You're STILL pregnant?!"
"Poor thing. I bet you can't wait to have that baby!"

Of course those people don't mean anything by their comments. They're excited too!

But you know what? Last night Megan said something that I really want to remember, should we be able to have baby number two:

"Today was such a great day. We went for a walk and spent time together, just the three of us. It was like God knew we just needed a little more time together, just us, before the new baby comes."

Instead of counting down the days, just wanting that baby out, Megan is savoring this time with her son Jackson--- singular, sweet, only-child for a wee bit longer.

Our lives change and progress so fast. Sometimes we don't even see it happening. Other times, all we need is someone's growing belly or growing toddler to remind us that time moves on and babies get bigger. Families get bigger. Love multiplies. And God... well, we learn He's even greater than we thought.