Confession: after writing about taking baby sleep advice with a grain of salt, I continued to torture myself and keep reading baby sleep books. Bad, I know. But I couldn’t help myself. And now that I’m through the fog, I can finally 1) admit it, and 2) tell you I’m so glad I did it because I discovered a super simple sleep trick that I seriously wish I’d known sooner.
I stumbled upon a book called The Happy Sleeper when my friend Jacqueline sent me an article written by the book’s authors. Curious, I downloaded a sample to my Kindle and my the end of the day I had finished the entire book. It was seriously so logical and helpful—I really wish I had been able to read it sooner and apply their strategies to the newborn stage!
That being said, I’ll let you decide if you want to read it or not. But I must share with you the one most helpful tidbit I learned: the 90-minute awake span. This may not be a revolutionary idea to some of you, but as a new mom who has no experience with babies at all, this was a game changer in the best way possible.
In a nutshell:
“…After about the age of 2 months, she will start to feel drowsy around 90 minutes after waking up (before this age, she’ll flicker in and out of sleep much more quickly). There is a magical little window here when falling asleep is easy. When you’ve missed the window and she’s overtired, she may yawn, pull her ears, rub her eyes, cry , or appear a little wired. At this point, falling asleep becomes more difficult because her nervous system is overwhelmed and dysregulated. This 90-minute rule of thumb applies to the start of your baby’s day, and also to each window of time she’s awake after a nap, throughout the day. The 90-minute awake span is one of the most successful ways to improve naps and , as a result, all sleep. Sleep begets sleep. One of the most common mistakes parents make is not putting baby down to nap often enough, which results in a chronically overtired baby whose nervous system is overstimulated and who is even less capable of falling asleep.”
At first I thought this was crazy—Jack didn’t seem tired at all after only being up for an hour or so. But since nap time was a bit of a nightmare at the time that I read this, I decided it couldn’t really get worse and was worth a try. The first few times were strange, I admit. He totally just stared at the monitor, and even cried a bit so I was in and out of his room soothing him back to sleep. But after a day or two, naps became a breeze and they still are today.
What used to be a super stressful thing in our lives—getting Jack to nap and figuring out when he was tired—has now become a consistent, reliable activity that Jack is thankful for and much happier as a result of. Our issue now is not so much that he doesn’t nap enough, but that I sometimes have to actually wake up him from his last nap so he doesn’t miss bedtime!
In about a month or so (around 6 or 7 months) I imagine we’ll get him into a nap schedule based on time of day rather than span of awake time, but for now, this is our golden ticket to amazing daytime sleep. Hope it helps you, too!