How We Get Rooney to Sleep So Much

I get a lot of questions like, "How do you get Rooney to take five hour naps?" To be clear, she has only done that once or twice, but she is a really great napper and sleeper overall. We feel very lucky. I think as far as new parents go, we are exhausted but don't even understand at all what other people go through.

nursery wall art

I really hesitate to do this post because:

  1. My baby is not your baby.
  2. All babies need different amounts of sleep.
  3. What works for us may not work for you.

But, I figured it wouldn't hurt to share our experience so far with Rooney and sleep.

How We Get Rooney to Sleep So Much

  • Rooney has very clear sleep signs. She will yawn. If we see it once, we bolt to put her down for a nap. She will rub her eyes. Either with her hands, or sometimes we'll put a blanket on her and watch what she does with it. Sometimes she'll take it and rub her eyes with it. When we see that, we bolt and put her down for a nap. Sometimes she will lay her head down on the floor or bury her head into our neck. Lately it seems she is kind of outgrowing those sleep signs because she is so active and distracted. Now we go a little more by the clock OR when she gets up on her hands and feet (which takes a ton of energy, I'm sure!) she will make a certain fussy noise that we now associate as a sleep sign. We've also noticed that sometimes she will spit up if she gets overtired.
  • Sleep is a priority for us. This is clear with our "bolting" her to her room after she tells us she is tired. I've read about the benefits of sleep and how you can't make a baby sleep if they're not tired, but you can certainly force them to be awake if they're tired so you have to be careful and create an environment of sleep for them. Sleep is how babies process what they are learning. My sister gave me a book about sleep (Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child) that I read a little bit. There is some good stuff in there. We are always looking for her sleep signs. When she fusses, that is our default assumption. She is advanced for her age developmentally (and I am not just saying that) so I think it is fine that she sleeps 18 hours a day.
  • She plays hard when she's awake. For a baby, the best thing you can do to help them gain strength is to put them on the floor and let them exercise. She plays so hard because we don't put her in the car seat, stroller or Moby very much. She does a lot of independent playing on the floor with us laying next to her watching. We are just so amazed by her and want to see what she can do. She is on her tummy most of the time. This is a challenge when we want to change her clothes and diaper, but it has been amazing to watch her grow and get stronger. Sleep is a major part of growth so it is not surprising that she is so big (in her size and development).
  • Sleep products. She uses a pacifier to the point that it is now considered a sleep prop. This is warned against, but it has worked for us more than it has ruined us. She loves that thing. We have a few of them but we could use a couple more (one at day care, one in her car seat and one in her crib). We use a sleep sack now that she's outgrown the swaddle. Both of those have been great for us. We used a sound machine for months (just recently stopped using it). My parents bought her a room-darkening shade for the window, so her room is pitch-dark for all naps and when she goes to bed early.

We're new parents. We really have no idea what we're doing. But these things have proven to work for us, so we continue. I have researched sleep (Babywise Mom is a great resource) and REM cycles, but I know most of this is probably that we just got a sleepy baby, and God gave her to us because we couldn't handle anything else :) If sleep is hereditary then you should know that I also love to sleep and could probably sleep as much as her if someone let me.

What sleep tips do you have?


P.S. When to wake a sleeping baby.