Here are my 3 thoughts on how to make a baby go down for naps during the day, knowing when to do it and how to give mummy some free time.
My mother-in-law, from the start would pick up Lo-Lo once she’d fallen asleep in her arms and would put her in her cot. Now she was doing a smart thing. She was making sure that Lo-Lo didn’t get too used to only sleeping on people. Breaking the association between sleep and the comfort of someone’s arms during the day. This tactic gradually should have given mummy time off as Lo-Lo would be asleep in her cot during the day as well as the night. This sadly never worked for me. Lo-Lo would wake up as soon as she was in the cot and it would be game over. She’d be tired and crying and I wouldn’t know what to do, I’d be upset that my baby was such a loud, relentless, teary baby. Since hearing babies shouldn’t be up for longer than 2 hours at a time I’ve simply made sure that when i see the signs (yawning/tired moaning) i start putting her down. I have more confidence now, knowing that she’s not just randomly crying for no reason, that she needs sleep and she’s crying because she’s tired. This bit of information gives me a reason to understand why she’s crying so I can remedy it. But how do you do this?
A big change we’ve been making with her over the last few weeks is we’ve been putting her down awake. Not screaming and crying of course. We’ll hug her to comfort her so she’s calm and feels secure and loved but she will still be awake. Once she’s ready rather than rocking her to sleep, we will put her down in her cot to sleep. We started doing this at night initially. It started out that she would cry a bit. Mummy feeling guilty would pick her up to comfort her – I thought I was doing a good thing. But all I was doing is confirming to her that if she cries mummy and daddy will pick her up. Not good. So now, knowing that she will eventually settle (we are putting her down because she is tired) we let her moan it out a bit and eventually after about 5 mins she drops off to sleep. I have now started introducing it during the day as well. Result? Literally in the last 5 days she has got up, eaten/played and gone back down in her cot for 2-3 hour sleep a couple of times during the day. It’s amazing. She’s gradually building up the understanding that a) when she’s put down in the cot it is time to sleep and b) she does not need to be rocked to sleep. It has been revolutionary and very freeing but at the same time a little heartbreaking at the start and requires consistency from us to get her there. The interesting thing is it doesn’t seem to take babies that long to get with the program, they are fast learners. Ultimately I want a happy baby who cries less and one that goes down at nap time unaided sounds like a great start.
Final important thing to add. One useful tip from Gina Ford. Some advice says that you should go about your normal life (from a noise perspective) during the day whether or not the baby is sleeping. Possibly this is used as a technique to help newborns tell the difference between night and day in the very early stages. However Gina makes a good point. How well would you sleep in a noisy room? Probably not very well. So put the baby down in their cot, in the room that they sleep in at night/somewhere quiet. They get better quality sleep so you get a happier baby once they wake up and they associate their cot with sleep.
Bottom line, after 12 weeks of having no schedule, no routine and rarely anytime without her we’ve suddenly gained a good few hours a day to ourselves this last week! WHAT TO DO WITH IT ALL!!!!???? MWOHAHAHAHA!!!