My second baby does not like to sleep.
The first time around we tried everything.
The second time around we tried everything else.
Turns out everything and everything else do not work on my babies…
However, after spending YEARS trying to get babies to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep, I have a pretty good idea of how not to do it.
Here are a few techniques I have tried along the way that will definitely NOT get your baby to sleep:
1. THE ‘ROUTINE’
It is vitally important that you establish a consistent bedtime routine that is routinely consistent at bedtime. The baby will consistently not go to sleep at bedtime, but at least you have an established routine.
2. DROWSY BUT AWAKE
It is essential that you put your baby down in the cot drowsy but awake. Then wait for her to scream because you put her down drowsy but awake. Pick up non-drowsy wide-awake baby, comfort and put down. Pick up, put down, pick up, put down, pick down, put up……wait, am I picking or putting? Continue until you pass out.
If there is a God, I imagine he has better things to do than help me get my baby to sleep. But there have been a few desperate nights when I thought he might be worth a go.
If you make my baby stay sleep, even for just a few hours, I promise I will go to church every Sunday (except next Sunday as it is my friend’s birthday and I have a thing one weekend in June). Actually, can we make it every other Sunday? Keep her asleep ALL night and I will even throw in a christening.
Following extensive shushing, singing, rocking, feeding and trying to get your baby to sleep by whatever means necessary, try to appeal to her softer side. Do not be too proud to beg your baby to go to sleep (exhausted tears of frustration optional).
‘Please go to sleep. Have mercy on my tired soul. Please, please go to sleep. PLEASE!!’
So you have tried all of the above but your baby is STILL awake. Time for extreme measures. Attempt to bribe your offspring to go to sleep.
‘You can lick my phone and I won’t stop you. Those delicious looking bits-of-crap on the floor you have had your eye on? They are ALL yours. But only if you GO TO SLEEP.’
No more Miss Nice Mummy. Wine o clock has been and gone and now all you want to do is to go to bed. Time to tell your baby who is boss.
‘If you do not go to sleep right now, I have a Gina Ford book and I am not afraid to use it.’
The baby smiles up at you. They can smell an empty threat a mile off.
Hiding under the covers and pretending you can’t hear the baby cry seems like a good idea at the time, but it will only make things worse. Much worse. The longer you leave her the harder she will scream. The harder she screams, the longer she will stay awake.
8. NOT GETTING THE BABY TO SLEEP
You need a wee, your lullabies have turned into a creepy monosyllabic droning noise and your back aches so you give up and retreat to the living room. ‘She’ll soon tire herself’, you think as you sit down. She immediately screams.
Pick baby up. Screaming stops. Sit down with baby. Baby screams. Repeat three times.
Now you are screaming. ‘What do you want from me?’
Your bundle of joy doesn’t want to be asleep; she wants to be awake. But only in a dark room with you. Therefore, you can either stand up holding a screaming baby in the living room, or stand up holding a baby who is not screaming in the bedroom.
You go back to the bedroom.
Tell your partner it is his ‘bloody turn.’ Give him the baby and head for the wine. After one gulp and five minutes of continuous screaming for mummy, angrily retrieve the baby from partner. Spend the next ten minutes considering whether partner never being able to get the baby to sleep is good enough grounds for divorce.
Take pictures of your sleeping baby looking unbelievably cute.
Forget to turn the flash off.
Now they are awake and really pissed off.
Thanks to Google, parenting advice is available 24 hours a day. This is a good time to type in ‘how to get a baby to go to sleep and stay asleep when they do not want to be asleep?’ You won’t find the answer but you can enjoy reading about all the things you are doing wrong.
12. CO (NO)-SLEEPING
The Sod It, Let Her Sleep In My Bed method is popular among the sleep-deprived. You have read all the lovely articles about how babies sleep better with their mothers. Sounds great, right? However, what they don’t tell you about is the hair-pulling, the kicks to the ribs and the fact that some babies think co-sleeping is one big pyjama party.
I did eventually work out How To Get My Baby To Go To Sleep And Stay Asleep When She Did Not Want To Be Asleep. It turns out that you just have to wait (and wait and wait and wait)…until they are not actually babies any more.
I don’t know how to teach my baby to sleep. But I can provide comfort and security until she feels confident enough to sleep through the night without my help. And she will. Eventually. Won’t she?!
What techniques do NOT work for your baby? Or maybe some of these do work for you- that would be brilliant?