The Longest Shortest Time

EPISODE #11: Nap Boot Camp


Kate Bowman-Johnston had naps figured out. All she had to do to get her daughter Adelle down was nurse her, hold her tightly in her left (not right) arm, stop nursing and place the tip of her finger in Adelle’s mouth, then jiggle Adelle until she fell asleep. And sit there and sit there until the baby woke up. One day Kate decided she’d had enough of the football-hold-finger-sucking-jiggling method, so she instituted Nap Boot Camp. By the end of the week, she promised herself, Adelle would be able to nap in her crib. Find out if she got it to work—and what happens when a “no-cry” mom and a “cry-it-out” mom compare notes on sleep.

Sleepy Kate, out and about

Sleepy Kate, out and about

Adelle's first night in her big-girl bed

Adelle’s first night in her big-girl bed

Kate is a librarian and is very well-read in parenting books. Here are her suggestions for sleep-related reading if you opt for the no-cry route, with the caveat that she takes some of the advice with a grain of salt.

She also follows Ask Moxie, who she values for this philosophy. And Isabella Granic of Child of Mind, a developmental psychologist who writes about sleep among other parenting issues.

UPDATE: For those of you who are curious about my own approach, there was no science behind it. I didn’t read any books because I was too tired; the very little I read I gleaned from the internet. Really, I followed my gut. At about 6 months, I started letting Sasha cry for 5 minutes, then 10 minutes, then 15, then 20 for naps . . . until I could eventually put her down without any fussing. A month or so later I started trying the shut-the-door-and-don’t look-back technique at night. But that was the start of cold season. Sasha was sniffling with something or other for a solid two months and I didn’t force the crying when she was sick. But once she was healthy (and not teething), we tried again. We’d let her cry when we put her down and again when she woke up in the middle of the night. After a couple of long, tiring weeks, she started sleeping until 5 a.m. Then 6 a.m. Now she sometimes goes till 7:00. One thing I want to add: no matter how much crying Sasha had done during the night, she always woke up cheerful. If that had not been the case, I wouldn’t have persisted.

UPDATE #2: Listen to my follow-up interview with Kate, in which I confess to cringing when I hear myself in this episode!

Top photo: Andrew Hood

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