We received this question a while back from fellow Baby Buncher Celeste.
Q: I am trying to find ideas on how to put my baby (3 1/2 months) to sleep for her morning nap. She is more finicky and requires a little time of being held before transferring her.
I've tried everything I can think of to keep my toddler (2 years old) occupied and he resists all of my ideas. My poor daughter is so overtired by afternoon nap, she has trouble sleeping then. My son is the type of toddler that can't really be left alone, as he is into everything (even in the living room which is as baby proofed as possible).
Here is what I have tried:
-Putting him in his crib with special toys or watching a movie
-Bringing him in the bed with me and the baby, but he kept waking her up
-Put out a special activity (play dough, water color painting book, etc.)
-Carrying the baby with me constantly (she wakes up from the noise after 30 minutes of sleep)
These have all ended with the same result. My toddler screaming and crying, which means he is unhappy, the baby can't fall asleep, and I am frustrated. At this point I'm all out of ideas. I've searched everywhere for advice on this and am convinced you will have a HUGE market with your book idea. If you have any ideas, please let me know.
A:(from Cara) My oldest was into everything as well and I could not buy time (even at age 2) with a special toy or video either, but my youngest fell to sleep a lot easier and didn’t require much holding like yours does. And I totally get what you’re saying because my third (now almost 6 months) requires a little holding to wind down, and I am constantly shooing my big boys out of the nursery so I can settle the baby. Fortunately, they are 3 and 4 now so they understand the concept of waiting 5 or 10 minutes, but your 2 year old is too young for that.
And unfortunately, you are in a weird time frame window because your 3 ½ month old is just a tad too young to expect her to try to settle herself. In another month or two, you should be able to let her fuss for 5 or so minutes and see if she can settle herself rather than always be lulled to sleep by you (provided you are comfortable with the “letting her fuss a little” approach).
(from Linda) I do agree with Cara on the age thing. I would bet by 5 months or so your baby falls into a good morning nap pattern. I used to have the same problem with my youngest. Fortunately, my oldest was totally stuck on DVDs so that was what I used to keep him occupied while I got my little one down. I used to strive for 2 days of really good sleep for my youngest morning nap by hosting play dates frequently so I had others around to occupy the older one while I spent some time to get her to bed. Ultimately what helped was preschool for my oldest. He went to school 2 mornings a week (so I had ample time to get her down) and then 2 mornings I would do playgroups which gave me time at home to get her down or plenty of time in the car for her to sleep a bit.
Each month will get easier for you oldest. Keep retying things to distract him because you'd be surprised what changes for them. As your youngest gets older as well.....each week does make a difference, she'll be easier to settle. Once I learned the particular swaddle my youngest wanted and the "right" sway for her I could get her down in a flash.
And.....we totally get the 30 minute thing. That is another post coming. If you can just get them sleeping past that 30-minute mark you're GOLDEN. Why is that?
If anyone has other ideas for Celeste to try, please chime in here.