We are having trouble getting our 5 1/2-month-old twin boys to nap in their beds. We don't have trouble at bed time, but nap time has become a battle. I rock them each for about 10 to 15 minutes before I put them down because I don't have the luxury of always rocking everyone until they are in a dead sleep. Everyone starts to cry as soon as I put them in their cribs and try to sneak out of their room. Sometimes they will fall asleep after about 10 minutes, but it kills me to let them "cry it out" much longer than that.
They were about six weeks early and have just started sleeping through the night most nights, but I have heard that daytime sleep tends to become organized later than nighttime sleep. They started cereal with fruit in the mornings, and veggies at night about four weeks ago. I want them to learn to nap in their cribs now before they become mobile in the hopes of preventing more problems in the future. Should I even be fighting this battle at all, or let them sleep wherever they drop off? Are they too young to be expected to take organized naps?
Sleep issues are very common in infancy, but your instincts are good.
Adjusting for six weeks prematurity, your boys should 'act' about 4 months old. Most infants this age are taking two naps per day and sleeping an eight to 10-hour night, and are fairly organized in terms of sticking to a similiar sleep scdedule from day to day (though certainly some children take longer with this than others).
Are your children really tired at their naptimes? If so, your ritual of rocking them until they are sleepy but letting them actually fall asleep in a crib is the right strategy. This way, they associate sleeping with being in their cribs (not your arms or a car seat) and are more likely to get themselves back to sleep there if they awaken.
It's OK to let them cry a little while in protest—10 minutes is reasonable. Twenty is acceptable too. If you do go in to comfort them, make it a short vist. Calmly reassure them, but keep the stimulation to a minumum. This approach helps them get into a sleep 'rhythm' more quickly.