Tuesday, 5 February 2013


Grady is not a good sleeper. He has never been a good sleeper. Shawn and I learned very early on that we needed to make changes to accommodate our fussy sleeper or live in misery. So we did.

And now here we are with an 18-month old who is still not a great sleeper. Scratch that - he sleeps perfectly as long as he is sleeping with someone. Which isn't a problem at night. Grady sleeps in our bed with us. Yep. Not really interested in debating the merits of co-sleeping with anyone but just let me say it's what works for our family.

The problem is naps. Grady does not nap unless he's being held. He will not fall asleep without being cuddled. And once he does fall asleep? He sleeps so lightly that if the cuddler tries to escape, there's a pretty good chance he'll wake up and scream and most days it's just not worth risking forfeiting the nap for the sake of an hour or two of free time.

I know we're lucky. We're lucky that this is the worst problem we've had with Grady. We're lucky that we don't have to force a cry-it-out scenario because I'm able to work part-time from home on my own schedule. We're lucky that we have similar views on raising our child and having Grady sleeping in our bed isn't a source of resentment. I know we're lucky and I'm not complaining - really, I'm not - I am just curious: what is your family sleep situation? Did you bed-share with your little ones? If you did, when did you stop?

And how do I get Grady to nap solo? I can only play Candy Crush one-handed on my phone for so many hours before I go crazy, people.


  1. We have/had the same problem and daycare broke him of it. I think that they probably let him cry, but I am just telling myself they were baby whispers. Recently he had to transition to sleeping on a floor may from the pack n play at daycare, and seeing the bigger kids sleeping was all it took to transition him. Can you borrow a well sleeping toddler to lead by example?

  2. We are going through sleep training right now because I wasn't sleeping while he was in bed with us. It's been a couple of weeks and I still bring him into bed in the morning (between 5 and 6 am). He nurses himself back to sleep and I get a little extra time with him (full time away from him has been hard). Napping... is at the hand of my husband, and he pretty much won't sleep unless someone is right next to him. He doesn't need to be held, but he needs a leg next to his back. Or a (dangerous) pillow situation, so he has to be monitored. It's not ideal, but it's working for us so far.
    I have no nap advice for Grady, but for you, audio books on your phone? I listen to audio books while I'm pumping. I recommend it.

  3. I was sort of amazed when LG transitioned to the 1-2 year-old room at daycare and I found out that she just naps on a cot in the middle of the room with everyone else. I thought for sure she'd have a hard time not being in a crib, but she took it fine because of course she did.

    Can you try a floor nap situation? Maybe stay in there and rub his back until he falls asleep, so it's like cuddling-ish, but he's not in a crib, which maybe gives him separation anxiety feelings? (I have no idea...just throwing thoughts out there.)

  4. We actually wanted to co-sleep with Sebastian, and planned on it, but he learned how to sleep alone at 2 weeks, and we learned that we actually really like having the bed to ourselves most times. We co-slept a little (usually for the first few hours of the morning to get him to sleep past 6 a.m.) for the next few months, and we loved it, but eventually he started getting way too overstimulated by being in the bed, and eventually even the same room as us. Now he has his own room and there was no transition at all, but he is still not a great sleeper. He is 9 months old and still wakes up 4-8 times a night. He will only fall asleep--for naps and at night--by nursing. He is getting a little better at putting himself back to sleep when he wakes up, but it's still nowhere NEAR sleeping through the night (or for more than 3 hours, usually). I'd really like to break him of nursing to sleep so that I can work and my husband can get him to sleep, but I'm not sure how to make that happen. I feel like we've tried everything, and nursing to sleep is just what works right now.

    For naps, what has helped us is putting him on a schedule. I never thought I'd be the kind of parent who schedules her kid's sleep, but it's REALLY helped. I don't have to fight him so much to get him to go to sleep. The part that sucks--that I wanted to avoid--is that if we get off the schedule one day, it's like torture for us all. Also, we are pretty chained to the house at 9 and 2.

    I'm going to give this "Gentle Withdrawal" method a shot, but I'm not terribly optimistic about it. The thing that's helping me is remembering that there probably aren't many 5-year-olds who only nurse to sleep...

  5. Oh, I SO FEEL YOU ON THIS. My 5mo daughter has regressed terribly and I am afraid it's not just a regression anymore. She will, thankfully, let me put her down for naps but only sleeps for 20-40 minutes at a time. She's gone from sleeping 5+ hours at a time through the night to sleeping in 90 minutes - 2 hour increments and demanding to be nursed back to sleep. What the hell, right? We co-sleep at least part of the night every night, which is fine with my husband and I.

    I've found Nancy Holtzman to be incredibly helpful as a new parent; she's a nurse and lactation consultant who answers questions on Twitter. She also hosts weekly webinars, primarily on topics relating to infant/toddler sleep and breast feeding. You can find all her sleep webinars here:http://www.isisparenting.com/page/webinarssleep I appreciate that she doesn't promote a cry in out method and when we are ready to sleep train we plan to use her trade down method; it has great reviews! Right now I am not up for losing more sleep in order to be consistent enough for sleep training to work. Just call me lazy.

    Even though we are lucky to only have to deal with sleep issues at this juncture it doesn't make them EASY to deal with. You aren't alone! Good luck with Grady :)

  6. Very similar situation with us. Meredith still sleeps in our bed and I'm fine with it but I have no idea how we're going to get her out of it. I think my husband is ready for that to happen. She naps well at daycare but not at home. I have to nurse her to nap every time and she wakes up easily. So, no advice - just sympathy!

  7. My first daughter was like that. I would nurse her to sleep while laying in bed with her, and then after about 20 minutes I'd sooooo carefully roll away and get up, and 80% of the time she would wake up. This was true for night time and naps. I don't know if anything I did worked, BUT the good news is that at two, she moved into a big girl bed and never looked back. We got her a twin instead of using a toddler bed because that way I could lay with her while she fell asleep, but she'd let me get up and walk away. Naps were still a beast, but at two and a half she started preschool and totally dropped her nap. She was pretty worn out by bedtime but she would fall asleep more easily and sleep 12 hours at night. Some kids just aren't nappers. So long story short, no advice, but this too shall pass. I am hoping that baby #2, who so far is a good sleeper, will nap until kindergarten!

  8. As I have no kids yet this is just secondhand feedback, but my aunt was telling me that with my cousins she used to hype up nap time and sleeping for my cousins. She was always telling them "you're so lucky! you get to go to sleep now, that's the best." between that and being somewhat stern I guess that got her kids to sleep pretty well.

  9. Ahhhhh, sleep, Hillary. I so relate to you in this post for a number of different reasons. We did a hybrid co-sleep with Gavin until he was 9 months old. He slept in our room in a Pack N Play next to our bed. If he was fussy, we'd pull him into bed. Around 9 months, his sleep patterns started to change and he was waking more frequently. We decided it was time to move him into his own room, which helped. We are lucky, because his room has both a queen sized bed and a crib. We have always put him to sleep in the bed, so one of us could hold him while he was younger or lie down next to him now that he's older. Once he's asleep, we're able to leave him in the bed (with pillow barriers, so he doesn't fall out) and then transfer him to the crib before we retire for the night. Gavin, though, does a lot of waking up in the middle of the night ... and on those nights, I try to get him back to sleep in the crib, but if that doesn't work, I just pull him into the guest bed with me and sleep with him there. I think you'd agree with the sentiment that sleep, in whatever form it comes, is better than no sleep at all.

    While we haven't had the challenge of Gavin waking up, because he's a light sleeper, a few things do come to mind regarding your dilemma. Have you tried talking to Grady? Sort of preparing him for what you're going to do. I really believe that kids understand a lot more than they are able to express in words. I've always started talking to Gavin about things a few days (or even weeks) before we're going to do them. So, in your case, I might start talking to Grady about how you're going to let him fall asleep in your arms for a nap and then put him down in his crib (or in your bed or wherever else you want him to sleep). I'd tell him that I'm going to be just in the next room and I'll check on him throughout his nap. I'd also tell him that I'll come right to him when he wakes up. Essentially saying things to get him psychologically prepared for what's to come.

    Other ideas ... make it gradual. Maybe at first, you let him fall asleep for a nap in your arms while in bed and then you move him to how you'd normally sleep at night (I'm assuming he doesn't sleep in your arms). Once that works for a few days, then let him fall asleep and move to sitting on the floor next to the bed. And after a few days of that, leave the room altogether. (BTW, we find that running a fan in Gavin's room helps him sleep better, because he can't hear us or the TV at night).

    And, one final thought - will he fall asleep for other people? Maybe over a weekend, you have an aunt or uncle or grandparent or friend come over to put him to sleep for naps and at night ... and then after he wakes up, talk to him about how well he did when so-and-so put him to sleep and how it'd be rockstar awesome if he'd do the same for you.

    I don't know much and am just brainstorming here ... and you know your situation better than any of us ... but, I will say this, just because something didn't work 3 months ago doesn't mean it won't work forever. So, it's worth experimenting and grasping onto what works for you now and holding onto other ideas for a few months down the road. Good luck! xoxo

  10. Oh, been there. Henry only napped in my arms for the first few months of his life. Then we were able to get him to nap in a baby hammock (I think the motion may have helped?), but then he outgrew the hammock and when we tried putting him in a crib for naps, he'd wake up (probably because there wasn't any motion, omfg). Eventually he got used to the crib for naps, but he still wants to fall asleep in my arms and then I transition him to the (warmed up with a heating pad, which then gets removed) crib. It's been an ordeal. He's 13 months. At night, he sleeps with us. Period. He nurses to sleep and gets a boob if he wakes up fussing. I'm sure it's not ideal and I can't imagine how many sleep "experts" would raise an eyebrow at it, but it works for us. My husband... well, I'm pretty sure he wants Henry out of our bed. We're looking into putting a twin bed next to ours, and hopefully Henry will get used to that. But, it's a process.

  11. My girl is only a month old, but this is already becoming a big problem. She actually sleeps in a cradle by our bed at night and does well there. But during the day, she will not let me put her down. I'll get her to sleep, then determine I WILL get something done or maybe take a nap myself, and I set her down comfortably. And within minutes she is awake and pissed. Recently I started using a Moby so she can sleep on me but my hands are free, but it still keeps me from taking a desperately-needed nap.

    In short, I have no solutions, only sympathy. I really hope this is a short-lived problem, but I fear I'm creating a monster!

  12. I feel you on this. We co-slept with Henry until he was 9 months and then transitioned him to crib for night sleep (mainly b/c inevitably big bro and sis wound up in our bed and 3 kids and 2 adults in a queen bed was 3 too many people). He took only a few days to transition at night but naps are another story. At 16 months we probay get 2-3 decent crib naps a week, basically he's so tired he just doesn't fight me. That said, his new trick is falling asleep in the car or stroller moments away from home and waking up when I turn the car off and that's it, 3 minute nap for the day. Those days I'm now putting him back on our bed and sitting next to him until he (hopefully) falls asleep. After 3 kids I thought we'd have this down, but they certainly know how to change things up. I just remind myself that the chance of me having to go to college with my kids to co-sleep is pretty low, so I'll enjoy being needed while it lasts...