Windows Of Opportunity
We've all heard how important it is to recognize and take advantage of "windows of opportunity." This could not be more true when it comes to getting Finn down for a nap. I have found, through incredibly painful (and loud) trial and error, that one does NOT want to miss the nap window. This window is very distinct and is not open very far, so you've got to be alert and slip him through that narrow opening as fast as you can!
I was at my wit's end last week, trying to get him to nap without going through major histrionics prior to the final surrender to sleep. I'm not kidding--sometimes up to 40 minutes of shooshing, swaddling, rocking, cajoling, crying (both Finn and me), squalling, etc. And then the payoff might only be a 30 minute nap. Frustrating, to say the least.
This was obviously not working for either of us--Finn wasn't getting good naps, I was getting more exasperated each time I needed to put him down. I reread a bunch of my baby sleep books and rededicated myself to figuring out when the "nap window" opens--i.e. he is sleepy and receptive to relaxing, but not overtired and hard to settle. I also decided to change my soothing strategy--less stimulation during playtime (fewer rattles and jingly things in his face), no rocking or walking around (which is killing my back, since he's almost 16 lbs! Plus, rocking and walking are additional stimuli).
My new approach: scoop him up on the first big yawn (the second or third is WAY too late), swaddle him, turn on the lullaby CD, dim the room, sit down and start shooshing/patting his bottom. Yes, he still squawks, but only a few short ones before he settles right down and closes his eyes. From start to finish, it takes 10-15 minutes, and then I pop him in the crib. This is exponentially less time than ever before. I almost can't believe it's actually working! It feels really good to have turned a corner on naptime! (I have actually done a couple of victory laps around the living room after getting him down.) [She's not kidding about that! --J.]