Jaxon has never taken regular naps. For most of his life, it has been nearly impossible to lay him down in a bed after he'd fall asleep nursing. He prefers to nap in my arms. We've made do with this, and he often took several shorter naps throughout the day. Some days he might be a little fussy from lack of sleep, but it was manageable.
Once he turned a year old, though, a lack of naptime started to become more of a problem. Fussiness turned into tantrums. We felt like we were hitting the "terrible twos" way early. But on the days when he did take a good nap in the early afternoon, we noticed that he was easier to get to sleep that night.
So last week, I decided that it was time to get serious about his nap schedule (I know, I know, finally, right?). The first thing I did was tell him he could not nurse during the day unless he was going to sleep. Amazingly, he caught onto this really quickly. On day 1, by 12 noon, he was begging to nurse and nodding his head "yes" when I asked if he was going to sleep. He nursed for 15 minutes, then fell asleep and slept for 2 hours. Success!
On day 2, we had similar results, though he didn't start his nap until around 1. Day 3, I was feeling a little lazy. I gave in and let him nurse during the mid-morning. He didn't take a nap until later that afternoon (3ish, I think). On Day 4, I went back to making him wait to nurse. I also pulled him off before he fell asleep and instead of letting him nurse himself to sleep, I patted his back until he fell asleep.
On Day 5, he nursed but pulled off before he was asleep and then fell asleep on his own! I had to stay with him, but I thought it was awesome that he was able to fall asleep on his own.
On Day 6, he nursed to sleep. Some days, it seems he is okay with being pulled off before falling asleep and some days it seems he is completely against it.
Day 7 was church. We also combined some family visiting with our Sunday and turned it into a very long day. Surprisingly, Jaxon still managed to take 2 shorter naps. He also didn't nurse all day until we got home around 5:30. That's the longest he's ever gone without nursing.
It has been really great having him nap each day. It really helps his mood and makes our afternoons easier. A regular naptime has also brought the unexpected benefit of a regular bedtime. As the week went on, Jaxon started asking to nurse to sleep at 8. He's typically been a night owl, preferring to stay up at least an hour after the other kids go to bed at 8. Sometimes it's 11:00 and he's still awake. For him, 8:00 is early. We're also noticing that he's waking fewer times during the night.
I really hope we continue to get good results with his naptime and I also hope that his nighttime sleep habits continue to improve. I still can't say he's slept through the night, but at least I am starting to feel like it's an attainable goal at some point in the future!
How old was your little one when they first slept through the night? Do you have any sleep tips for me?