Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Oh, are babies supposed to nap?

According to this chart I found, one-month-old babies are supposed to sleep around eight hours a day, in addition to their nighttime sleep (also eight hours). So, basically, they should be asleep like all the time. Three-month-olds should sleep around five hours a day, broken into three naps. So, I figure Grady should be somewhere between the two. And... he so is not. When he takes a decent nap of an hour or more, I am always amazed and mildly concerned and don’t quite know what to do with myself. Usually he will doze for 20 minutes after nursing and then be awake again. In recent weeks, his naps have rarely exceeded a cumulative two hours for the whole day. (There have been exceptions... he was very sleepy around Christmas, for instance. The holidays will do that to a baby.)

So, because I am a parenting genius, it occurred to me that maybe I had a role to play in all this lack-of-napping business. I mean, at first I thought... he is a baby and they don’t have schedules and so he’ll sleep when he sleeps. Which is true, and I know some babies are more assertively sleepy, but it seems that Grady needs a little nudge. The world is just too dang interesting and delicious for him to sleep for long on his own. And by “on his own” I mean, “passed out in a milk coma on my lap.” And that reminds me that in the hospital they told me that the first 20-30 minutes of sleep after a feeding is a different type of sleep than real sleep. It’s a shallower sleep and it’s why so many babies startle back awake if you try to move them too soon. So Grady has, for the most part, only been getting spells of that shallower sleep, but not transitioning into real sleep during the day.

Anyway, I got to thinking about naps when we were over at our friends the Dubranglemyers’ house. Jasper and I had joked about Grady’s lack of napping, without really thinking hard enough about it to be concerned, but then we tried out their baby swing on him and he conked out for at least an hour. I was so amazed and blissed out by the freedom that I sampled some gin. (I really did! Mr. Dubranglemyer is a fellow connoisseur, mostly because I got him really drunk this one time. We seriously throw the classiest dinner parties.)

Since that day with the shocking swing nap, I’ve been trying to offer Grady more opportunities to sleep. I also read that a baby his age shouldn’t be awake for more than a couple hours at a time! Which I guess makes sense if you do the math on all those naps. I mean, it's a lot of napping to fit into a day! So now every couple of hours I try to offer him sleep, just, like, as an option, if he’s into it, no pressure, because I am so not a rigorous parent like that... This mostly means that I wear him and walk him around the neighborhood until he passes out, and then putter around the house for an hour or so while he sleeps. He sleeps! Which, incidentally, is why you’re getting actual writing on the blog. So, you know, you’re welcome.


  1. This is funny to me. Bennett sleeps like, all day. He is awake for maybe a total of three hours? That's three one-hour spaces. It's ridiculous. He sleeps anywhere and everywhere. Half the time he's passed out in the living room while the kids run around him...either on me, or on the floor. The rest of the time he's upstairs in a bed...sometimes he just doesn't settle in until he's up in a quiet place on his own. Such a snoozer! I'm sure he will 'wake up' one of these days, but man.

  2. My son mostly naps in 25 minutes intervals, and has since just about birth. They used to be every few hours apart but now (8 months), they're about 3 or 4 a day. Every now and then, he'll nap for an hour and catch me so off-guards I won't have got anything done with the gift of free time (since I rarely bother starting anything when he's napping, figuring I'd never get to finish it). I also had/have the "laid back" approach in which I figure he'll let me know when he needs to nap, but now I'm wondering if I shouldn't have encouraged naps more often when he was younger. I hope you are enjoying your time to yourself when Grady is napping--sounds like you have been short-changed up until now!

  3. The thought of Bennett just snoozing away with the big-boy chaos around him is so cute! Grady just fights sleep most of the time (though not at night, thank goodness!

    Samantha, I mostly got into nap-encouraging because Grady was already only taking a few 20 minute naps per day and at two months I just didn't feel like that was enough. If he'd been taking tons of short ones, I may have rolled with it. I *think* napping has helped his overall demeanor, but they change so fast at this age anyway that it's hard to tell. I am enjoying the larger blocks of time, though I'm often walking.

  4. Ah yes, my kid likes to sleep while I hold him and walk too. Hope the changed demeanor is holding up!