wakeI REMEMBER when waking up on a Saturday morning with a headache and sick in my hair used to mean I’d had a good night out…

But those days are gone.

Life with our firstborn meant that instead of a trip to the pub on a Friday night my husband and I would spend half the evening trying to get our baby to sleep and the other half doing nothing. And I mean literally NOTHING.


For the first 18 months of my daughter’s life, a typical Friday night for us meant watching television with the subtitles on, (but nothing too funny should we accidentally laugh out loud), talking only in whispers, eating dinner with plastic cutlery  (to prevent any knife and fork scraping sounds), no walking (floorboards are too creaky), no talking, and if you must go to the toilet do NOT under any circumstances flush the chain… All in an attempt to keep our light sleeping and lively little one to stay asleep. Even in this quiet ‘paradise’ we would sit on edge waiting for the inevitable moan, gurgle or cry that would mean another trip upstairs to sing, shush, rock or feed her back to sleep.

THIS is not quite how I had pictured parenthood.

I had visions of getting the baby tucked up in bed by 7pm and then opening a bottle of wine while the husband and I blissfully shared stories about our new bundle of joy – happy in our baby bubble.   After all, they say (the writers of the many baby books and websites I had read) that babies will sleep at least 16 hours a day, right? Wrong. Our little handful did not want to go to bed at night and she fought sleep during the day. In fact, if she had her way she would have stayed awake all the time.


And it was not just us.

There were other victims out there experiencing the same thing. A friend of mine works nights and he would climb out of the window when he had to leave for work late to avoid closing their noisy front door –  a major Baby Waking Risk. And that is what we do. Once the baby is finally asleep we must risk assess ALL actions.

A relaxing evening bath? Risks: tap running, splashing, extractor fan. Too risky.

Ordering a takeaway. Risks: Opening and closing the front door, the delivery person may have a loud voice. Too risky.

Friends over for the evening. Unless they are happy to climb in the window, not use the toilet and sit with us in silence then there is NO chance.

Instead, once the baby was in bed I would tiptoe down the stairs with bare feet and sit in a sombre silence, praying for a few minutes of respite before she woke up again. But no matter how hard we tried there was always the unexpected, unpreventable noise. A knock at the door, a laugh, a sneeze, a cough. All massive Potential Threats to the Peace. Or, the most evil of all. The telephone. If, god forbid, it ever rang, we would look each other with fear in our eyes, then glare at the phone.

“Who the hell is calling at this time?” I would whisper through gritted teeth and shake my head in disgust, cursing the caller for daring to ring at such an unreasonable hour…usually just before realising it is barely 8pm.

ANOTHER BABY LATER… Now a whole baby later and not much has changed. We have moved to a bigger house, where the bedrooms are further away from the living area so there are less Baby Waking Risks. But at the same time we have a second baby to worry about so Potential Threats to the Peace are greater.

Our eldest daughter finally goes to bed before 9pm most nights but now we have Baby Two, we are back in phase one of the bedtime battle anyway. We still use subtitles, speaking loudly is not really a problem as by the time we have put the babies to bed we are too knackered to talk; and we live in a bungalow without creaky floorboards so walking is now permitted.

As for takeaways, telephones, films and friends for dinner that will all just have to wait.  But that’s ok. I have come to accept that for the forseeable future I won’t have the time or energy for anything much other than caring for the girls. But with one hyper toddler and a new baby making our house a very noisy place I have learnt to appreciate those very, very, very quiet nights….

Does anyone else have a light-sleeping baby? You might need my Survival Guide! What are the Potential Threats To The Peace in your house? Feel free to comment or join us for a chat on Facebook!

25 thoughts on “HOW NOT TO WAKE A BABY…

  1. Brilliant post, very true to my life at the mo, first time owners of a sleep thief, we have a 5month old who hates sleeping during the day, we also have two noise machines a Lab and a King Charles the slightest movement of the post box sets them off like two crazed lunatics, it’s usually the post man at the same time baba refuses to nap, everyday I tell myself I must put the dogs out before babas nap…I’ll never learn!!???? iv also taken to kicking my husband during the night telling him his snoring will wake baba!!!

  2. Is it terrible to admit hubby and I brought wireless headphones so we could watch TV without it making a sound that would wake little Miss I’m not going to sleep ever?? (She’s a 8hrs a day baby, 6 on a bad day and 10 on a bloody good one)
    The bakery down from my house asked if I set my alarm to get fresh hot bread each morning… No I was up already for 2 hrs and got bored and hopeful that a walk might cause her to sleep. (It doesn’t but I punish myself each day with it)

  3. The worst is when people (often those without babies, or with babies who are already in their 30s so they have forgotten) tell you that you should stop all this risk assessment because babies have to learn to sleep through noise. And then I have to explain that, well, it depends on the environment she fell asleep in and if there is noise when she falls asleep (miraculously) then great, but if you suddenly start talking loudly when the rest of the house is quiet then she will certainly wake. Because that is NORMAL. Sorry, had to rant!! Love your site. 🙂

  4. And don’t forget the risk which remains once all the other risks have been mitigated: HOUSE TOO QUIET. They can also sense *stealth*.

    (This is totally true: you have to insinuate yourself through the house as if you are a bonafide part of the air. This is not sneaking. If you sneak you will set off their Stealth Trigger.)

  5. Loved reading this, I feel your pain! My first boy was a good sleeper – it was nothing I did or didn’t do he just liked sleep. Lucky me! But all this did was lull me into a false sense of security that all babies were as somnolent as him. My second… well, he doesn’t like sleep at that much. He doesn’t nap for more than 30 mins at best (he’s six months old now) and now he’s eating some solid food he’s doing better at night, but I’m still up before 6 every day. Good grief, I never thought 8am would be a luxury lie-in! And that’s only if the other half is prepared to get up on a saturday and take the munchkin after his morning feed. Sometimes he moans he’s too tired, I’d like to tell him he doesn’t know what tiredness is.
    My first never kept me up all night, my 2nd has done it regularly. The most annoying thing of all is that just as he’s settling into better nights, my oldest will bring back some horrible bug from pre-school and we’re back to waking every two hours and he’ll only drop off again after a feed. Putting him down and getting him to stay asleep is 50/50 at best. Chicken-pox was the worst. There are few things more miserable than a 4 month old with chicken-pox, apart from being the mother of a 4 month old with chicken-pox. He pretty much didn’t sleep a wink for a week.
    There’s one thing that’s guaranteed to wake him from his occasional daytime nap. It’s not the door-bell, the telephone, the vacuum cleaner or even my older son. These things do wake him, but it’s not a guarantee.
    It’s me sitting down with a cup of tea and a book. Every. Single. Time. I bought a new book on my kindle four months ago and I’ve read the first three pages several times now and without fail the little fellow will be screaming by page 4.

    • Ha ha that did make me laugh! The joys of having a toddler plus baby! The annoying thing is they never get one at the same time but one after the other so we have a good two weeks of sleepless nights and grumpy children! Then when the kids are finally bug-free and well again – I bloody get it!!

      I recently finished a book I started when my eldest was one years old. Two years ago!

  6. I thought i was the only person in the world to assess noise risks!! I have such light sleepers, they wake if i drop a tissue! All my friends can do stuff when their kids are asleep, even hoover, and I’m stuck creeping around. Thanks for making me smile once again with your excellent writing!

    • God i know – i daren’t even check on my baby because the sound of my flipping breathing seems to wake her up!! My eldest was the same until she turned two – now weirdly it takes a lot to wake her up!

  7. I sympathise. Last year I put a note on the door at Halloween telling people we aren’t giving out sweets so please don’t knock. My friends though I was being evil. I was just trying to survive another night. Didn’t want people constantly knocking as that would set off the dog which in turn would wake up my LO who still is a horrible sleeper.
    To years of peaceful sleep(hopefully one day) x

  8. I have no words ej… You know them all, and besides I’m too tired to be able to spell correctly. X

  9. Sounds like Izzy! I will always remember my brother in law coming round to help me while Darren caught up on a bit of sleep. By 10pm Darren was still well away and Sam said he would stay until either Darren woke up or Izzy nodded off so I could sleep too. It was 7am when finally Sam left as neither of us had the heart to wake Darren since I had to be up to feed anyway and Izzy clearly had no intention of sleeping. She would have one hours nap, between 4pm and 5pm every day and wake with the sound of Darren coming home. Poppy only sleeps fractionally more than Izzy did by day and neither of the girls likes their own bed/cot! I thought it was just us but while I am sympathic to your plight I am so glad you have also been run ragged by your little owls! 🙂 xxxx

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