To resettle or not?
If your baby sleeps for forty-five minutes or so a stint, you may be advised to ‘resettle’ him. In my opinion, this can be a waste of time and energy and could simply create added stress as you spend all day trying to make your baby sleep instead of enjoying her. If your baby is happy when she wakes and seems ready to play, why not enjoy her company? After some time out and about walking in the fresh air, playing in the yard or at the park, she is sure to have another, perhaps longer, sleep as she becomes tired again.
If your baby is genuinely tired (and grumpy), one way to stretch his naps is to pre-empt his waking: forty-five minutes is the length of one sleep cycle, so perhaps your little one is moving between sleep cycles and arousing but is unable to move back into the next sleep cycle. So, instead of waiting for him to wake and yell, go in and watch him when he has been asleep for half an hour and as he comes up into a lighter sleep, put your hand on him and gently rock or pat him to help him move through this arousal into his next sleep cycle. After doing this for a few days, you may change his pattern so that he gets used to taking a longer nap.
Other options to encourage at least one longer sleep each day include either carrying your baby in a sling as he sleeps, or lying down with him and taking some much needed rest yourself. Then, as your baby stirs, you can either rock him, or if you are breastfeeding, nurse him back to sleep.
Pinky McKay, International Board certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) and best-selling baby care author, runs a private practice in Melbourne specializing in gentle parenting techniques. Pinky’s books (including ‘Sleeping Like a Baby), seminars and her free newsletter ‘Gentle Beginnings’ can be found on her website www.pinkymckay.com.au