Monday, March 22, 2010

Visitors = No Sleep For Baby?

Does your baby’s nap schedule change when you have visitors?

I’m not talking about the inevitable excitement that your baby experiences when new faces are in the house. A baby is bound to be a little more wound up and restless than normal when new people are around.

I’m talking about purposely changing a baby’s nap routine so that the baby is awake as much as possible when the guests are over.

When our baby was little, she slept just as well, if not better, in someone’s arms as she did in her crib. Having visitors over made almost no impact on her naps, because she was able to sleep while someone held her. True, she maybe didn’t sleep as much because she wasn’t as comfortable with the visitors as she was when my husband or I held her, but she still slept when she was tired.

Now, she only really sleeps in her crib. If we try rocking her to sleep, she arches her back and fights it.
During the last two days, many situations have presented themselves where it appeared to be a “good” idea to keep our daughter awake instead of letting her sleep.

Yesterday afternoon a friend called me, wondering if I’d like to go on a walk with her and bring our babies along in strollers. I thought it sounded great; unfortunately, my baby had just gone down for a nap. I told her we’d be ready to go in an hour, figuring she’d be up from her nap by then.

She wasn’t up from her nap, and I debated whether I should leave her with her dad while I walked. I leave her quite often with him, but I knew she’d be hungry when she woke up. After weighing the pros and cons, I woke her, fed her, and we went for an hour-long walk.

She took a quick nap after we got home, and we were off again, this time to a get-together with my friends. When we came home, I discovered that her grandparents (my in-laws) were coming to stay overnight. My baby was beyond tired, so I put her down for a nap. Her grandma and grandpa were, of course, 
disappointed that she was asleep when they arrived. I went in to feed her at about 9:30, and could tell she would easily sleep all night if I let her. Instead, feeling bad for her grandparents, I brought her out to play. She played until 11:30pm, which is WAY past her normal bedtime.

The next morning, everyone wanted to go out for breakfast. I had already put our baby down for her usual morning nap, and I could tell everyone would like to settle on a definite time for departure for breakfast. This time, I was firm – “If you would like to set a time to leave for breakfast, that is fine with me. The baby and I will just have to stay home from breakfast if she isn’t up yet.” They decided to wait for her to wake up.

By the time we were done with breakfast, she was ready for another nap. Instead of coming directly home, which is what I would have preferred, everyone decided to stop at the grocery store to pick up a few things. Then, when we got home, Grandma and Grandpa wanted to play with the baby some more, of course. She finally got her nap in when they left.

By the time Saturday night rolled around, our baby was exhausted, crying inconsolably, and I was feeling all kinds of different emotions. First, I was feeling guilty and mad at myself for not standing up for her and letting her sleep when she was tired. Secondly, I was mad at my in-laws. Even though they didn’t really do anything wrong, I felt pressure to keep our baby awake because of their presence. Third, I was mad at my baby, because she wouldn’t stop crying. (Yes, also ridiculous, but it had been a long couple of days for me too!)

I made a decision right then and there that we wouldn’t have a repeat of the last couple of days. Yes, I understand that, sometimes, babies have to be woken, because parents need to go places, and the baby can’t stay home alone. However, when it comes to visitors coming over and desiring to play with the baby, they can wait until she wakes up from her naps, and they can say goodbye for a little while if she needs to go down for a nap.  Adults can understand and deal with disappointment. A baby can’t very well understand why she is being woken up and kept in a constant state of over-tiredness.

I’m going to be firm on this. Although people may have a strong desire to spend time with our baby, my desire for her to be healthy and well-rested is much stronger. Even though I might really want to get out and socialize with my friends, I’m not going to do it at the expense of her sleep.

And so, another lesson has been learned the hard way. It’s not the first on the list, and I’m positive it won’t be the last.  

1 comment:

  1. Hi,
    I'm a writer for Parents magazine and I'm working on an article in which I'm talking to parents across the country for their real-life tips on how to stop their babies from crying. I saw a post you wrote on Kangaroo Care and would love to include that as one of the tips. If you're up for helping me, please e-mail me at or call me at 646-397-4838. I would just talk to you for a minute or two about how/why it worked. Thanks so much! -- Michelle Crouch, freelance writer