...one of the most relaxing ones I have ever made.
Especially when it comes to the bedroom.
In his bed.
Even though his bed looks more like crib.
Well is a crib.
And he is the only one in it.
When I started my new job with Roo one thing I really wanted to establish quickly was a good nap routine; which in return will hopefully help him establish good night time sleep for his parents. The first couple days I eased into it. Rocking him to almost sleep, going in a few times as he cried and fought sleep - to sooth him. Basically just letting him get used to me and our new routine (that is what I was telling myself anyways).
Week 1 went great and I realized that Roo is a dynamite sleeper, like he absolutely loves his sleep. Like any baby he fought going to sleep with every fiber in him at first but once sleep consumed him he slept wonderfully! But somewhere in the middle of week 2 he started crying longer and harder before falling asleep. My little 5 month old started the game and I quickly needed to end it.
You all know the game, we have all done it once or twice in our life.
Put baby down.
Baby spits out pacifier and starts crying.
We go in, put pacifier back in, and sing one more song.
Baby spits it out again and cries harder, this time we sooth baby - might even pick him up.
Then by some miracle we find the magic sleep spot, slowly, ever so gently put baby back in his crib, attempting to angle it just right so we can lay him down, while holding the pacifier still in his mouth, and hold our breathe in hopes he doesn't re-wake up.
After 2 days of this game I needed it to stop. It wasn't healthy for Roo nor good for my sanity. Commence operation sleep training. I spent week 1 on the job rereading sections of a few sleep books* that I found helpful and focused on the sleep goals & habits pertaining to Roo's age group. The first day of training was a little rough. I remember tracking that he talked to himself for 15 minutes, fussed for 10 and cried for 5. Each nap that day he went down quicker and more quietly.
Day 2 - morning nap he seemed to realize I wasn't coming in anymore and fought it pretty hard. This is when I found discovered my bedroom life saver - the timer on my phone. Part of my hesitancy was I would hear Roo cry for a minute and start to question if I should try to re-sooth him or put his pacifier back in. My hesitancy and inconsistency during nap times for week 1 was causing a habit to form in which it told Roo that I would sooth him to sleep.
Once I found my timer I started setting it for 15 minutes. 15 minutes of babbling, talking, or crying was not going to harm Roo in anyway, shape, or form. With video monitor in one hand and timer in the other I waited. 12 minutes after I sang Roo a song and laid him in his crib he was asleep. The few minutes before he zonked out were when he cried the hardest, but by this point he was already 1/2 asleep. If I had gone in there to sooth him it would have re-woken him up.
Day 2 with timer again - 3 naps with timer set, each time he has fallen asleep before the 15 minute timer has gone off. I am now starting week 3 of setting a timer when I lay Roo down. Some days I turn the volume off if he is crying harder then others (I can still hear him muted through the ceiling and watch him on video). Other days he is out cold before 2 minutes goes by. Only once in the past 3 weeks has he fought sleep more then 15 minutes - and the grand total for that day was 20 minutes. He was extremely overtired by the time I laid him down that day.
I share this with because it worked for Roo and me, not because it was a miracle drug or guaranteed to work in every situation. I believe works so well is that it allows me sometime to calm down and not feel the need to rush in to help him. It keeps me from feeling like a bad nanny who is letting her nanny-kid cry it out. Having a timer also allows Roo the freedom to figure out how to sooth himself to sleep so when he wakes 30 minutes into a nap he doesn't need me or a pacifier to sooth him back to sleep. It gives him the freedom to learn to sleep well and me the freedom to decide, after observing him, what he needs most after 15 minutes, me or more time to try to fall asleep.
If your nanny-kid is struggling to fall asleep for naps or in the middle of the night give a timer a shot. It may work or it may not. Either way it will help your sanity. It will give you 15 minutes to figure out what the baby needs instead of rushing into a room not fully paying attention to the fact that the baby may still be asleep while he is crying.
*Side note: the older the child the harder it is to sleep train and the longer you may need to set a timer. Check out "Healthy Sleep Habits, Healthy Child" by Marc Weissbluth, MD and "BabyWise" by Gary Ezzo and Robert Bucknam. I use a combination of these two practices for my sleep training foundations.