I know I’m pretty lucky. When my baby was about 3 months old, he started sleeping through the night. He’d go down around 11pm and sleep until around 5am. I thought that was excellent. He didn’t even really go through the dreaded sleep regression at 4 months (although there were a few days around that time when he’d sleep only three or four hours and then wake up for a feed). After this, his sleep improved, and he started sleeping from 10/10:30pm until 6/6:30am (or waking up quietly and letting me grab a few extra winks). I don’t always feel rested, but it’s great to be able to sleep through the night myself.
The thing is, my little man doesn’t like napping. Sometimes he’ll have a nap after his first feed of the day, and I’m usually still sleepy enough to nap as well. It seems, though, that when I actually need this nap, I just end up with two big and beautiful little eyes staring up into my face, and wakefulness wins me over. And I don’t mind.
During the day, he rarely naps , and when he does, it’s usually following a feed. I know there is a lot of debate around allowing your baby to fall asleep at the breast, but I’m not going to go into that here. If my baby falls asleep breastfeeding, I just let him sleep. He obviously needs it. The thing is, most of the time, if I try to put him down in his cot, he will wake up, and getting him back to sleep is virtually impossible. So I tend to just let him sleep in my arms. It’s usually for about half an hour, which I know is precious mummy time (for chores or rest or a cuppa) … but, again, I don’t mind. I want my baby to get some rest.
The trouble is, there’s also a lot of work to get done around the house, not to mention actually having a meal or two (or a shower!) throughout the day. The advice here is usually to just ignore the housework, and take a chance to rest. But, eventually, you run out of clothes, or the furniture gets dusty, or there’s a pile of plates in the sink, and you just need a few minutes to get something done. This is when baby napping comes in handy. I know that there are a number of health and developmental benefits to napping, but that’s not what this post is about. Of course you should make sure your baby naps whenever they need it (preferably a couple of times a day), there’s no question about that. What I’m talking about are the “mummy benefits” of baby taking a nap.
Whenever my baby stays asleep after I put him down in the cot, I usually flit around trying to prepare some lunch, or wash some clothes, or tidy up, or have the quickest shower in history before he wakes up and starts crying. I hate leaving my baby to cry – controlled crying so that babies settle themselves is not something I’m a fan of. But to each her own; I’m sure there are benefits to every method. Don’t get me wrong: sometimes I leave my little man to cry for a few minutes if I know he’s exhibiting “about to fall asleep behaviour” because, yes, he does need to learn to self-settle. What I’m talking about is letting the baby cry for a lot longer without offering any comfort.
Anyway, the reason I thought of writing about this is that yesterday, after forty-five minutes of rocking, shushing and singing, my baby fell asleep and napped for two and a half hours. Of course I didn’t know he was going to sleep this long, so the first thing I did was heat up some leftovers and wolf them down. Then, I unpacked a large load of washing that I had put on earlier in the evening and hung it up, while boiling the kettle. I soon sat down with my cup of tea, fully expecting him to wake up as soon as the cup reached my mouth, which is what usually happens. But it had been forty-five minutes and he was still fast asleep!
Over the next hour and fifteen minutes, I dared to tempt fate and have a shower long enough to wash my hair. I stopped the water a couple of times just to make sure he wasn’t crying, and did the same with the hairdryer. He looked so peaceful, so I grabbed my clothes and got dressed in the lounge room to avoid waking him up by accidentally snapping some elastic from my PJs against my skin (yes, the sound of my bra elastic has woken him up before). I then put on another load of washing and sat down to finish a blog post I’d been working on. I checked on him several times and he was still asleep. It’s amazing how, when you’ve got stuff to do or when your baby just want you to hold them every second, you wish they would just have a nap so you can have a little break. But then you start to miss them. As his nap bordered on two and a half hours, I started planning to wake him up for his next feed, thinking he wouldn’t sleep overnight if I let him keep sleeping. I was still kind of torn about what to do because he’d had very interrupted sleep the night before – maybe he’d had a nightmare or something, and so he’d woken up several times. In the end, he awoke by himself, as though he had read my mind.
After his last feed – during which he usually falls asleep for the night – my little man was wide awake. He was pretty relaxed, but his bright eyes showed he had no intention of going to sleep any time soon. I snuggled him into the crook of my arm, and put on Netflix. After a little while, his eyelids began to grow heavy and his head drooped onto my shoulder. Almost an hour after finishing his feed, he was finally asleep again. I put him into his swaddle bag and went to bed myself.
I was overtired, so took me awhile to fall asleep. And my baby woke up at 5am. As I groggily got out of bed to change and feed him I thought back to the night before. As excited as I had been to have such a long break and get things done, was it worth losing the sleep I had gotten used to overnight? Seeing as I still got a solid five hours sleep, I’m not sure how I’d answer that question.
I’m usually an advocate for letting your baby tell you what they need. It doesn’t matter if the midwife recommended three-hourly feeds – if my baby is hungry, I’ll feed him when he asks. When he looks tired, I’ll try to rock or feed him to sleep at whatever time in the afternoon it happens to be. He doesn’t like sleeping at the same time every day anyway – he’s a busy little guy! But I think I’d be inclined to control the length of naps to avoid impacting overnight sleep for both our sakes – a zombie-mum won’t do my baby any good, after all. That is, unless my baby hadn’t gotten good sleep the night before or was sick or something else that made it obvious that he needed more sleep during the day (which, of course, was the case yesterday).
Mini Mummi Blogger 🌺
Mini Mummi Blogger is a first time mummy to a beautiful baby boy. Currently on maternity leave, she is looking to put her writing/publishing experience to good use through her blog, helping other mummies navigate through the wealth of often conflicting (and, sometimes, even discouraging) information out there about pregnancy and motherhood. She believes that every mummy knows what’s best for her own baby – even first time mums!