Is Nap Time Turning Into Playtime?

Photo Credit: Donnie Ray Jones

My infant’s nap time used to be so peaceful…for me.

What was once a process of taking a sleepy, heavy eyelid baby, and for the most part plopping him down in his crib has now turned into a delicate dance in our household.  To be clear, I’m a terrible dancer. [Video evidence redacted]

It’s said with age comes wisdom, apparently that rings true even for our 9 month old.  He has now taken to the crib equivalent of the old tin cup along the jail cell bars, taking his hand and paci and running them up and down the sides of his crib.  No doubt in despair he has to take a nap and leave all of society behind for a short time.

The process used to be pretty straight forward, put him in the crib, pat his back for a few moments, then slip out the door for a hour and a half or more of pure bliss.

Now after going down, he’ll pop back up, stand up, then start the crib 5k walking around the perimeter for a few minutes, occasionally dropping his paci to the floor and letting out a pterodactyl cry, which is the cue my few moments of bliss are over.

But like I said, with age comes wisdom and us parents are slowly battling back to take the lead.  I have now decided to let him wonder, explore, contemplate, in his crib and decide when he wants to nap.  Training him to know that dad won’t come running for every little thing.  While the naps at times have been shorter, we are now starting to see the results of this process (and it is just that.)

He goes up for nap time approximately the same time each day, I’ll spend just a moment “encouraging” him to fall into a pleasant slumber and then exit.  More often than not, he doesn’t follow my encouragement.  But that’s ok, the time he spends exploring around the crib I believe is teaching him to learn how to play independently, spark creativity, and understand mom and dad aren’t always available to entertain me.

We’ve now seen our “strategic plan” starting to materialize elsewhere now as well.  He’s now perfectly content playing alone with his toys, while dad does a little writing, cooking, or other tasks.  Mom can now spend a few minutes of downtime, keeping an eye on him while he tosses toys about and plays quietly (mostly.)

We’ve also adopted this strategy when he wakes up in the morning, or from his naps.  We allow him to spend a little time alone to explore and get comfortable with not needing the parental units immediately after waking.  I’m not here to say it’s easy, at times it can be hard to resist the urge to go and sweep him out of the crib right away.  However, the results we’ve seen have been positive.  Encouraging us to forge ahead, and continue to reap the benefits as he grows leaps and bounds.

What is your strategy for naps and sleeping?  Do you rush in or build a little “alone time” into the process as well?  Share your thoughts in the comments section below.

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