Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Nap Experiment

LL takes three naps each day. One at 9am, one at 11:30am, and one at 3:30pm. Each one is reliably between 60 and 90 minutes. On very rare occasion, he skips one of the first two, usually because of something like teething pain or grandparents refusing to stop playing with him. Lately, he had been skipping the third nap on a semi-regular basis... maybe two or three times each week.

Just as we were starting to think that maybe he was ready to consolidate to two naps (by pushing the mid-day nap a little later, to say 1:00pm or so, and eliminating the afternoon nap) we ran into a forcing function. LL is the only baby at Natasha's daycare. All of the other kids are right around two years old. They all take a single nap, at 1:00 every afternoon. Normally, nap time is when Natasha can sit down for a moment, eat lunch, straighten things up a bit... you know, the same things that normal people do when their kids nap. Unfortunately, LL is always waking up from his midday nap just as the other kids are going to sleep, which means that Natasha doesn't get any down time at all.

When LL was smaller, she carried him around with her while the other kids napped, and sometimes put him in a swing to hang out while she ate, which was fine. But now he's kind of big to lug around all the time, and he doesn't always agree to play by himself on the floor while she eats or cleans up. (I know this from experience -- he's happy to play on the floor if I'm playing with him, but heaven forbid I try to focus on something other than him, even if I'm sitting right next to him.)

Anyway, Natasha was slowly losing her ability to cater to his unique schedule. So, she reluctantly gave us a choice: we could let her move LL's midday nap closer to 1:00, so that it overlaps with the other kids, or we would have to find another daycare. (When I say she was reluctant, I mean it -- she was practically crying at the thought of losing LL, which is probably also a sign that she's really really tired to have brought it up in the first place.) The whole thing also sent me into a horrible panic, because we've been through enough daycare searches and turnover to make me know that I do not want to find someplace new. But then we said, hey, we were thinking about consolidating his naps soon anyway -- no time like the present!

So, Saturday and Sunday, we did two naps, 9am and 1pm. Each day, by 1pm, poor LL was a sleepy little zombie. Totally exhausted. And his normal bedtime is 7:00, but by 5:30 each day, he was yawning and looking at us with these pitiful little eyes, pleading to be allowed to just go to bed already. And he was so grumpy by bedtime. Noon to 1:00, and 6:00 to 7:00 were ugly. I mean, I'm cranky when I'm tired, too. (Honestly, I feel like I've been a bit cranky for several months now, thanks to constant sleep deprivation.) But LL is normally so good-natured, that it was horrible to watch him be in such a bad mood. I kept telling S that it felt like we were breaking the baby.

But we thought that maybe he just needed to get used to the new schedule, so we kept at it. LL is with Rosie on Mondays, so we told her about LL's new schedule. But when I got home, Rosie told me that LL was tired and cranky by noon, and she couldn't torture him, so she put him down for his nap at 12:30. And then at 4:00 he was falling asleep while playing, so she put him down for another nap. She told me that he was very fussy, then asked if "fussy" was the right word, because English isn't her first language, and she'd never before had to describe that type of behavior from LL.

I was almost scared to bring LL to Natasha's on Tuesday. When I dropped him off, I told her that she could try the 1:00 nap we had discussed, that he's been doing that for three days now, but that he was still adjusting. I picked LL up at 3:00, and asked Natasha how his day had been. Apparently, he started yawning and rubbing his eyes at 11am, so she put him down for a nap. He woke up shortly before 1pm, but consented to play by himself, so it wasn't too bad. And then he fell asleep in the car on the way home, and slept until after 4:30. (He had to work off all that sleep debt from a weekend of missed naps, I guess.) I told her that we had been trying to push back LL's nap to make her life a little easier, but she shrugged and said that while she appreciated the effort, she knows that forcing babies to change their schedules doesn't make anybody happy, so she'd try to make do.

So, clearly he's not ready to give up his third nap yet. On Tuesday, Natasha seemed so relieved that we were even willing to try it that she told us not to worry, that she could work through it for another month until he's ready to try again. But the whole experience left me a little nervous. I'm nervous about traveling next month and dealing with a nap-deprived LL. And now I'm nervous that we'll have to find yet another new daycare.

I'm a scientist, so I have to admit that I like experimenting a bit on LL. Food experiments, in particular, are a lot of fun, though messy. But sleep experiments suck. Blech. I'm hoping that LL is well behaved at daycare for the next few weeks, so that we don't have to run another nap experiment until he's really ready for it.


  1. Can I just say that I'm impressed that you have a nap schedule at all? Every day with Jillian is completely different. She usually gets 3 naps in but honestly it just varies so much in terms of time, duration, etc.

    Glad Natasha is able to work with you. I'd hate to see you guys have to go through another daycare nightmare!

  2. LL is a wonderful baby! MT had that 3 nap a day but only for 3 25-35min cat naps ... I have found out that If i stay home - he is more interested in naps, Gets really cranky. But out and about, He is much more entertained by the the surroundings and is not cranky much at all. He loves to people watch. I hope the same for you on the Trip

  3. Thanks for the comment on my blog! :) I think that's a good suggestion, staying in the disposable ones overnight and keeping some on hand anyway. It doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing thing!

    Nap times are so tricky... just when you get a good rhythm, they start transitioning to the next stage. Which takes FOREVER! Bean napping in the car is our undoing. During the transition, maybe you can start by slowly moving the nap later, instead of doing it all at once? And don't hesitate to move his bedtime earlier. Sometimes Bean was going down around 6 pm for the night.


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