Sleep Training Progress
Today, I’ll be sharing our experience transitioning Bibi from a 3-nap schedule to 2 at 9-months old. I haven’t updated you all on her sleep training progress since her 5-month sleep training update because, frankly, it was “unremarkable”. However, in another area of her life we did achieve a new milestone which was eating solids. You can read about it here: First Solid Foods for Baby at 6-months, What I Learned After Using Baby Led Weaning.
As you know from my previous sleep training posts (Training Baby to Sleep 12 Hours Without Feeding & Getting Through 4-month Sleep Regression) we started sleep training when Bibi was around 3-months old and ever since, she goes to sleep at around 7:30 pm and sleeps a solid 11-12 hours without waking for feedings. She also consistently takes 3 naps in the afternoon so I was more than happy with this arrangement.
Bibi’s 3-nap/day schedule looked roughly like this (give or take half hour):
7 am – wake up
8:30 am – 10:00 am – 1st nap (1.5 hours asleep)
12 pm – 1 pm – 2nd nap (1 hour asleep)
3 pm – 4 pm – 3rd nap (1 hour asleep)
7 pm bedtime
The resources I used and referenced in all my baby sleep posts are:
• The Happy Sleeper Book – Science-Backed Guide to Helping Your Baby Get a Good Night’s Sleep – Newborn to School Age
• Taking Cara Baby Paid Sleep Program
• Bringing Up Bebe Book: One American Mother Discovers the Wisdom of French Parenting
• One-on-one meetings with lactation consultants at BC Women’s Hospital
• 7-week Pre-natal Class at the Childbearing Society
• Local La Leche Meetings in Vancouver
• Today’s Parent: Cry-it-out sleep training will not harm your baby
• Baby Sleep Site: The Ferber Method Explained
• Today’s Parent: Giving your baby morning breastmilk at bedtime might be ruining his sleep
• Taking Cara Babies: 5-25 Months Sleep Schedule
• Baby’s Breath Canada: What is SIDS
• CDC.GOV: Learn what parents and caregivers can do to help babies sleep safely
• American Academy of Pediatrics Journal: SIDS and Other Sleep-Related Infant Deaths
• It’s all in the timing: kids’ bedtimes
• Top Culprits for Early Morning Wakings
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Is Baby Ready for 2 Naps?
But with everything about a fast growing baby, I quickly learned that nothing about them really remains the same for long. Around the 9-month mark, I noticed that Bibi was beginning to become more aware of her surroundings, communicating a lot more by pointing and babbling, and becoming increasingly mobile. This translated to a baby who was more than happy to stay awake and fight through her nap times. At that time, I thought it was a sign that it was time for her to switch over to a two-nap a day schedule so off we went by letting her have longer awake periods and only 2 naps.
Once we reduced one of her naps, I noticed she was cranky and tired at odd times of the day when she was usually happy and playful. We tried this 2-nap schedule for several days and when I mentioned to my friend – whose son is one month older than my baby – that Bibi seemed unsatisfied with her new 2-nap schedule, she remarked, “Yes, my son was in the same place last month. We tried to put him on a 2-nap schedule and he just wasn’t having it!”
After hearing that, I decided to let Bibi go back to her 3-nap schedule and allow her to take the lead in how much she wanted to nap. On and off, Bibi would take 2 naps some days and then 3 naps on another. As we entered into her 10th month, she became even more alert and mobile, eventually learning to walk unassisted by the end of the month. After she mastered walking, something seemed to change. She was excited to be walking all the time and became more alert than ever. It was around this time that Bibi started taking 2 naps a day on a regular basis.
Walking, Leaps and Moving to a 2-Nap Schedule
Another mom whose baby was also learning to walk noticed a shift in her own baby’s sleep schedule too as her baby had trouble sleeping. Bibi was in the same boat. Prior to this time period, our bedtime routine was very solid, we could always lay Bibi down awake at bedtime and she had no problems laying in a dark room by herself, self-soothing until she fell asleep. It wasn’t the case anymore as she would cry and protest after only being in the crib for about 5 minutes.
It seemed like she might have been going through a sort of 12-month sleep “regression”. Some sites I read explains that having separation anxiety at bedtime is actually a normal phenomenon at this time causing our babies to have trouble falling asleep. Speaking of sleep regressions, from my readings these past few months, it seems that there is no such thing as a “sleep regression” per se. Our babies are not actually losing the skill to sleep but it’s more likely that they are facing a sleep pattern disruption.
“First let’s make it clear that your children still have the same skills they had before. When they were actively self-settling or able to fall asleep once in a while without help, those skills are still there. It’s just that those skills are still only doable when there is minimal interruptions. With leaps… the various developmental changes taking place are the issue at hand. These leaps tax our children’s systems in ways that make it much harder for them to use the skills they have in place.”Evolutionary Parenting with Tracy Cassels Phd, “Sleep Regressions”: Why It’s Not Actually a Regression, http://evolutionaryparenting.com/sleep-regressions-why-its-not/
Baby Resisting Bedtime
It kind of made sense that Bibi was indeed going through a huge leap, making it harder for her to self-soothe to sleep. There was a 20-day span when I would have to use some of the sleep training techniques that we initially used to train Bibi to sleep through the night at 3 months. One of which was to let her cry for 5-minute intervals after which I would return to sooth her with a hug or a story. Some nights it would take 2-4 attempts before she could finally be laid down awake and eventually fall asleep on her own.
During that time I thought it was an issue of separation anxiety but something about her falling asleep at almost the same time each night at 9 pm – which was way past her 7:30 pm bedtime – made me think that perhaps she was simply not tired enough for bed. Maybe she was resisting so hard because she simply could not fall asleep. She had no troubles being laid in bed awake each night but after trying to fall asleep and couldn’t, she was actually trying to tell us she couldn’t do it. It was simply too early.
Adjusting Bedtime for Longer Awake Windows
It appeared that a re-design to her nap schedule was in order. I had totally forgotten that she was now older and her awake windows were longer, about 3-4 hours at a time. That meant that I would have to wake her up from her nap at least 3-4 hours before I wanted her to go to bed. It meant moving up her last nap of the day from 3 pm to 130 pm.
For Bibi, her tolerance for sleeplessness was lower in the morning and gets higher as the day progresses so her first awake window is considerably smaller than her second and third. Her first awake window after waking up in the morning is only 2 hours, then 3.5 after her first nap. After her second nap from 1:30-2:30 pm, she would stay awake for 5 hours until bedtime at around 7:30 pm. Here is her new nap schedule (give or take half hour):
Bibi’s 2 Nap Schedule
6:30 am wake up (awake 2 hours)
8:30 – 10:00 am first nap (awake for 3.5 hours)
1:30 – 2:30 pm second nap (awake for 5 hours)
7:30 pm bedtime
We worked these times out by ourselves through trial and error. It was only a while afterwards when I thought Bibi might need 1 nap instead of 2 (she didn’t) that I looked up about nap schedules for babies and came across this very handy nap chart from Taking Cara Babies. It turns out Bibi’s new nap schedule is similar to the sample schedule #1 for babies 7 months – 14+. I highly recommend you take a look at Cara’s site.
Good Night My Soon To Be Toddler
Moving my baby’s last nap time up and reducing her nap duration was just the solution we needed for our new 2-nap a day 10-month old. Like in the past, we could lay her down awake and she would happily soothe herself to sleep after about 15 minutes. Life was peaceful again 🙂 (READ: How We Fixed Early Wake Ups)
Wishing you a good nights rest as well.