Letting the Baby Sleep (or Why We Are Homebodies)

For the first six weeks or so, Ani was pretty portable. Anywhere we went, she came along, sleeping in her car seat 90% of the outings and barely making her presence known. I thought, “our lives are hardly changing at all with the addition of a new child!”

But around the six week mark, we had one afternoon where we didn’t go anywhere and when I laid her down for a nap in her own crib, she slept for about four straight hours. And then that evening she had one of the best night’s of sleep of her short little life thus far.

Sleeping Baby

At the same time, I started to notice that when we were out during a time she’d normally nap (practically every time we left the house, since babies sleep so much), she wasn’t sleeping as well as she did at home. Every time I pulled her carseat out of the car, she’d stir and then, after a few minutes go back to sleep. She’s a very pleasant baby who doesn’t cry much, but I could tell she wasn’t getting the solid sleep she did in her crib (or even in her carseat that wasn’t constantly being yanked in and out of the car).

And when we would get home, she’d have a lot of trouble settling down for a real nap, or I’d go to feed her and she’d get herself so worked up that she couldn’t even latch on, even though I knew she was hungry.

Clearly, we needed to be home more for her sake.

I remembered that, during the first four to six months of Ella’s life, we hardly left the house at all. I was a strict guardian of her naps and she was allowed to get as much rest as she wanted. Was I going to deny my second child her rest simply because I’d gotten in the habit of going out several times a day?

Of course, with Ani, this isn’t quite as feasible. Ella has preschool twice a week, so I have to drop her off and pick her up at specific times on those days, even if that means taking along a previously-sleeping Ani. Groceries do need to be purchased and sometimes the only available time is during a nap time.

But I can make sure that we at least have one long stretch of home time each day. If we have preschool one morning, I try to stay home that afternoon. If we have an appointment after Ella’s nap, I don’t schedule anything that morning.

It’s been a change, and I have to work a little harder to entertain Ella at home because she’s used to being out more than we are now, but I feel like it’s worth it to afford my baby the rest she needs.

And I know that all too soon, the constant napping will turn into three naps a day and then into two and finally down to a single afternoon nap.

Of course, now I wonder how, when we someday have a third child, I’ll ever make it possible for that child to nap.

You can read more of Janssen’s writing at Everyday Reading and on Twitter. She's also on Google+

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