Sleep, it’s an issue dear to any parents heart. I’m oh so familiar with a catnapping baby. It is hard work. Our youngest lad is a chronic catnapper. He snoozes in 40 minute blocks, you can set your watch by him. The biggest lad also catnapped and NEVER grew out of it. We tried everything the experts suggested. Resettle? Not having a bar of it. Remove the sleep props? Done, no dummy, no rocking or feeding to sleep, he still cat napped. Don’t rush into the room and he might go back to sleep? Sure thing, not once did it work. Shorter awake time? Catnap. Longer awake time? You guessed it, catnap. After months of excruciatingly painful efforts to get our eldest to sleep for more than a sleep cycle, I gave up. My sanity was much better for it. Accepting that the biggest lad was a catnapper seemed almost revolutionary. Yet I still felt like I’d failed some kind of parenting test because I didn’t have a ‘good sleeper’.
The youngest guy is very like his oldest brother in many ways. One of those ways is an aversion to sleep. At the ripe old age of 9 months, the baby is a seasoned catnapper. Honestly, I struggle with it. I can cope with multiple night wakings. But frankly I find catnapping hard work. Here’s why.
1. You can never get anything done
When you have a catnapping baby you have a very small window to be productive. I’ll mentally give myself a list of jobs to do. If I get one job completely done, it’s a miracle.
2. There’s never any downtime
Even when I think, screw the house work, I am going to have a cup of tea, I won’t have finished the tea before the catnapping baby wakes. You can’t properly relax when the baby sleeps for such a short time. Plus it takes me longer to get the baby to sleep than he actually sleeps. It is maddening.
3. You have very little time to devote to the bigger kids
When there are other kids in the house, a catnapping baby makes it hard to spend time with the bigger kids. There are some activities that are just simpler without a baby crawling at your feet or held in your arms. Painting, cooking, play-dough aren’t really baby friendly. But it is hard to enjoy the process of baking when you’re bossing the big kids about and saying things like “if you want to cook chic-chip cookies we have to hurry up and do it now“!
4. A catnapping baby requires constant attention
A baby that catnaps is a tired baby. They don’t get enough sleep so when they are awake then need lots of attention. They whinge. They need to be carried around, or always engaged. Basically, a catnapping baby is a demanding baby.
5. Everyone has advice for you
As a parent, especially a new parent, people have lots of advice. To a parent of a catnapping baby the advice is not helpful, its infuriating. The last thing you need is people telling you that your baby is overtired or needs more sleep. Really? Trust me, the parent of a catnapper knows their baby is knackered. They would like nothing better than a well rested baby. But there is no magic trick to make that happen. The helpful advice makes an already worn out parent feel awful. Oh, and sleep when the baby sleeps? Useless, just as you nod off, the baby wakes. You end up feeling groggy and gross.
There is loads of information out there about how to get a catnapping baby to sleep longer. Give it a go, It might work for your child, every baby is different. But, don’t slavishly try to get that baby to sleep longer. If you feel yourself losing touch with reality, give up. At some point you may need to embrace the catnapping. For many babies, catnapping is a phase. It wasn’t for my eldest son but maybe the little guy will one day embrace a long nap. I can dream!
What do you find tough about a catnapping baby?