Well I’ve had a very good run up until now with the baby sleep routines, so I guess I shouldn’t complain really. But even so, I can’t say I am impressed with my new middle of the night wake up calls I’ve been having the past couple of weeks. I thought weaning was supposed to make babies sleep better?! Or is it not the weaning at all? Perhaps it’s a growth spurt? A mental leap? Teething? Constipation? Indigestion? There are so many possible causes, and no definite way of knowing really. And at six months old, my little girl can’t yet tell me herself! Life would be so much easier if babies came with manuals!
And then there is the daytime nap battle. Baby girl has always really enjoyed her long night time sleeps (touch wood, fingers crossed etc etc!), but is much, much feistier about giving in and going for her daytime sleeps. The afternoon nap in particular is just a full scale war of attrition. Some days I win. But most days I don’t. And it is not something I lose graciously on. It really is so frustrating. I know she needs a sleep, and she knows it too, but she just won’t play the game. Given that she wakes around 5.45am and has a 6.45pm bedtime, you’d think she’d welcome an afternoon nap as well as her hour and a half morning snooze. I know I would!
What to do?! When it comes to my baby, I try to use my instinct, common sense, and my parental intuition, based on how well I’ve come to know my own little girls over the months. That’s what parents since the dawn of time have had to do, right? But I’ll admit that I am also one of those mums that look to the internet for reassurance and guidance. ‘How long should she breastfeed for?’…check google. ‘Should baby poo really be this colour?!’…check google. ‘How much sleep should she have?’…check google. In one way I think it is a blessing to have the answers to all the neurotic-new-parent questions so easily to hand. But sometimes it can feel like something of a millstone. That feeling that there is a ‘right way’ that can be easily referred to, rather than just going ahead and doing it my own way. And quite honestly, at times the forums can breed a level of worry bordering on hysteria amongst people posting on them, which, whilst not their fault, is really quite unhelpful and unhealthy. Overall I think I keep a reasonable balanced approach in using online resources to help me with my baby-related dilemmas…most of the time. I do try to keep things in perspective and keep the panic mode in check as much as possible!
So having read the books and searched the internet, I know that babies this age should be getting around 14 hours sleep over a 24 hour period. And at 12.5 hours, we’re not missing the mark by a huge margin. But by early evening, I have one very crotchety baby with bags under her eyes and I’m pretty fed up myself, having spent at least 3 hours fruitlessly trying to get her to take a nap. I seem to never manage to get out of the house and do anything fun with her, because we’re locked in the nap time battle of wills. So the question is, do I continue persevering and hope that consistency eventually wins the day? Or do I stop stressing it, throw the rule book away, and do what lots of other mums seem to do and just take her swimming/to the park/on play dates until her little brain is so over-stimulated that she falls asleep out of sheer exhaustion? I am a self-confessed routine-loving rule follower, so it will take a big leap of faith to move to a timetable free existence! But it would mean that at least we’d both have a more enjoyable, less stressful afternoon, so I am tempted. Very tempted. Watch this space….