3 Baby Sleep Strategies
Rigid nap schedule vs. Go with the flow
STEPHANIE: The fact of the matter is, your children are going to make this decision for you, and each child may turn out to be completely different in his or her need for napping. I tried to keep my kids on a schedule, but it's hard to plan your entire life around your child's naptime. I know moms who did, but I always thought they were insane to center their entire life around their 2-year-old's afternoon nap. Sure, if we were at home, we tried to keep naptime consistent. But when my second child (Timmy, now 8) came along and I began working from home, I was a mom on the move. We'd visit the petting zoo and the aquarium, and my kids would fall asleep in their stroller or car seat when they got tired. I was also fortunate enough to have babies who could be moved from car seat to bed without waking up.
My daughter was done with naps by the time she was 18 months old. Timmy (to my dismay) stopped napping at age 1. I realized my job as a mom was to be flexible and recognize that what works at 12 months may not work at 15 months.
SARA: During the first few months after my daughter was born, I tried to stick to a sleep-wake-feed-play schedule every few hours. It gave my day some order and provided me a little sanity knowing I could (hopefully) count on certain naptimes. But I wasn't particularly picky about where she slept-she could nod off in a car seat or a stroller -- if we were out and about. By the time my daughter was 1, she was taking a two-hour nap each day and sleeping for nearly 12 hours a night. I was sure I had this whole sleep thing mastered. But then I had Cade, now 6. He wouldn't sleep in his car seat like Anna did; he had to be in his crib. So I became one of those moms I used to secretly chuckle at -- "I've gotta go! It's almost Cade's naptime!" Soon he wouldn't go down until late afternoon, and then I couldn't get him to sleep at night. I'd force him to stay awake all day in order to get him to bed at night. It wasn't pretty, but eventually that phase passed. Stephanie always says, "Change is the only constant." It's so true. Whether you're in the stage of little sleep, feeling like you are being held hostage by an infant tyrant, or enjoying 12 straight hours of snooze a night, remember: This too shall pass.
What you need to know, no matter what you choose:
Not much! Though some experts say the snooze time a kid gets on the go is not as "quality"as the shut-eye he gets in his crib, only you can judge whether or not your tot is tired. Keep in mind, though, that infants thrive on routine. So if you're going to do on-the-fly naps, build in that routine elsewhere (meals and snacks at the same time every day, for example, or a strict bedtime protocol).
To learn more about Stephanie Triplett and Sara Ellington, visit Saraandstephanie.com.