Why You Should Take The Time To Let Your Baby Nap on You

Sixteen years later and the memory of it still makes me smile.

From the moment your baby is born, life revolves around sleep.

How many hours should he sleep? Should I wake her to feed her? How many naps should he have? When will she sleep through the night?

For the record, doctors consider six hours of consecutive sleep as sleeping through the night. That means if you put your baby to bed at 8 pm, he’ll wake up at 2 am ready to do the Lionel Richie and party all night long. In the meantime, you just want to climb aboard the dream weaver train and reach the morning light.

Essentially, you and your baby’s nocturnal habits have two different playlists.

When we brought our first newborn home from the hospital we had an entire nursery set up for him. A simple navy blue and beige theme with a teddy bear wallpaper border. It took me months to find stuffed bears that matched the border, but I finally did. The shelves the bears sat upon were stained to match his crib bumpers. The room was perfection.

We needn’t have worried though because he didn’t actually sleep there for an entire year.

The first six weeks he slept in a Moses basket beside our bed. Then he got his first cold and we discovered, completely by accident, he would sleep for six hours straight if he was buckled into his car seat.

We latched onto this new discovery like drowning victims to a life raft. But before you attempt this yourself, DON’T. A few years later we discovered there have been deaths of babies who were left to sleep in car seats. I still have nightmares over what could have happened.

And then there was naptime. For the first little while, he would fall asleep in the baby carrier as we paced around our small townhouse. We would then attempt to manoeuvre him out to transfer him to the crib, which inevitably resulted in “The Kramer.” 

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Fully awake and crying we would then start the whole process over again. 

One day after he had fallen asleep against my chest as I shuffled grooves into the carpet, I was simply so exhausted I laid down on the couch and discovered he could easily be removed from the carrier. In what I considered a miracle, he stayed asleep on my chest. We both slept well that day.

Thus began the daily routine of daytime napping with a warm, snuggly baby on top of me, chest to chest, a spot of drool growing on my shirt beneath his open mouth. I can’t count the number of times I breathed in his sweet smell. Even now, I can still remember how his soft newborn fuzzy hair felt brushing against my lips.

About two weeks later, my husband had the day off and walked in on our daily ritual. Thus began the fights over who would get baby naptime. 

This makes it sound like we were incredibly devoted parents, but the reality is, in a lightbulb moment, we both realized whoever napped with the baby got to sleep while the other person had to do chores.

Those daytime naps lasted close to a year. I’d be lying if I said there weren’t times when I got frustrated because there were things to do, things I couldn’t do with a baby asleep atop of me. But for the most part, I took advantage of them all.

And I’m glad I did because eventually those baby toes you nibble while doing endless diaper changes grow into smelly feet you no longer recognize. Now there are times when I attempt to kiss the top of my son’s head and he moves it away. This is why you need to take advantage of the newborn stage, and the lack of neck control.

When our second son came along, things had changed a bit. His room was painted blue and we taped garbage bags to the windows to stop any light from coming in. We stressed less with the second because we had more confidence in our abilities. You learn as you go.

But one thing didn’t change. He too napped on us for the first year.

Sixteen years later and the memory of it still makes me smile.

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