I would love some feedback on this situation I may be in. My current charge, baby J, is 10 weeks old, and I have been with him since day one. Neither of his parents have any experience with children, so they're pretty much just figuring it out as they go (like most new parents). I have him from 9-5, 6 days a week.
Lately he has been having difficulty napping. He does the typical baby routine; sleep for 30 minutes and then wake himself up at the end of his cycle. And this is one persistent kid. After waking himself up he doesn't usually scream or cry like I've seen in the past. Instead, he just wakes up and stares at the ceiling. He will literally lay in bed awake for an hour or more. After staring at the ceiling for a bit he starts to drift off, and right before he falls asleep he jerks himself back awake and starts to cry. He cries/fusses for a bit, and then settles back into staring at the ceiling until he starts to fall asleep again. This happens over and over. If we pick him up and start playtime he gets fussy again quickly, which tells me that 30 minutes is definitely not enough. I've been working on this issue. I know that he needs to figure out how to go back to sleep on his own. I do a variety of things; jiggle his crib, leave him to work it out alone, sing, shush, occasionally pick him up if he gets really agitated. Honestly, nothing works. It just takes him a long time to work through it. The past few days we've had a few successful naps where he slept for 30 minutes, fussed for another 30 minutes to an hour, and then fell back to sleep for 1-2 more hours. When he's out at that point, he sleeps wonderfully, and I can definitely see a difference when he's well rested. But it does involve some crying, and it's not quick. I can tell his mom doesn't feel totally comfortable with the fussing.
He sleeps great for her at night. Typically 6 or 7 hours in one stretch, and then another 4 after feeding. When she has him in the evening she doesn't ever put him down for a nap. He catnaps in his swing and in her arms, and I'm sure he does so happily. But I can't do that during the day. Sleeping for 30 minutes and being extremely tired/grouchy in between is not going to work. She wants to talk about it, and I'm starting to get the feeling that she's going to ask me to find another way for him to sleep for naps, i.e. in my arms. Now let me explain that in my last infant job, which was also my first real job with an infant, the parents wanted the same thing. The baby either slept in her parents bed, or in someone's arms. For every.single.nap. I spent most of every day holding her while we walked around until she fell asleep, and then I sat on the couch holding her for hours. She had to be rocked/walked to sleep, always accompanied by crying, and it was completely exhausting. I know that I can't do that again. Every parent is entitled to raise their children the way they want, and I know not everyone feels comfortable letting their child fuss it out. But I also know that I can't spend 5 hours every day sitting motionless on the couch to make sure that the baby doesn't wake up while I hold him. I also realize that J could grow out of this phase at any time, but I don't want to get him so accustomed to being held that he's unable to sleep in his own crib, if and when he gets over the 30 minute hump.
How do I go about talking this through with the parents? I like this job and I want to keep it. They don't have a set childcare method and they listen to me when I explain things, so it's not as if I'm a cry it out advocate trying to work for people who practice attachment parenting. Parents, how would you react to this? Does anyone have more tricks I can try that might get him to sleep on his own without so much time and fussing? Thank you for any input you can share! - Anonymous
at 6:35 AM