Spend the first six months of parenthood in your pyjamas trying to get your baby to sleep, trying to get some sleep and trying to get stuff done on barely any sleep.
Establish a good bedtime routine. This is key to everything. Babies like to know exactly what to expect. So that they can do the exact opposite.
On discovering that, apparently, everybody else’s baby sleeps through the night, take approximately one month to read baby sleep books, search the internet for baby sleep solutions and visit the health visitor on a weekly basis convinced something must be wrong with your child.
After spending three weeks wandering around the house like a pyjama-wearing zombie, you decide you must sleep train baby.
Too exhausted to sleep train baby. Postpone until the following day.
The next day you are still too tired.
Four days later you slightly less tired so start sleep training.
Put the baby into her cot ‘drowsy BUT not awake’ (the golden rule of sleep training).
She immediately screams her head off. Tell her calmly, ‘it is sleep time’ and leave the room.
Baby screams even louder. Immediately return to her room and pick her up.
Wonder if she might be teething.
Tell husband about possible teething and both decide to postpone sleep training.
One week later commence sleep training.
Husband puts baby down, she screams. He leaves the room.
She screams even louder.
Discuss how long we should leave her. Five minutes maybe?
Tell husband you are going in.
Husband points out that it has only been 45 seconds.
Inconsolable screaming now.
Discuss possibility that she might have banged her head or been sick.
Go and get the baby.
Both fuss over her and feel guilty for leaving her to cry.
For three minutes.
Decide to research a different sleep training method in the morning that does not involve crying.
Baby then stays awake all night to make it clear she was not happy about the sleep training attempt.
Forget about plan to sleep train baby.
One week later pass out in Sainsbury’s from exhaustion and vow to definitely sleep train the baby.
That evening put baby in her cot sleepy but awake.
Baby immediately screams.
You pick her up, cuddle her, then just as she is looking comfortable in your arms – put her back in the cot.
She immediately cries.
Pick up, cuddle, put back down.
Repeat this process until you are too tired to pick her up, cuddle her and put her back down.
Text husband. I CANNOT DO THIS ANY MORE! IT IS YOUR TURN ON THE BABY.
Husband continues with the pick up, put down process until he can barely stand (or his smart phone runs out of battery.
You take over and carry on until you are on the verge of a nervous breakdown.
Take the baby into your bed for a ‘few minutes’.
You and the baby fall asleep for the remaining hour of the night.
The next day you decide to find a sleep training method that involves less effort.
That night put baby down in cot but do not leave the room. ‘Gradually retreat’ to a seat next to the cot.
Baby throws out her dummy, then screams for her dummy. You give her back her dummy.
Repeat ten times.
She continues to cry but you tell yourself she is perfectly ok. You are right next to her.
Try singing a lullaby but she can’t hear it over her screaming.
Compromise by stroking her head over the cot bars.
Baby is now even more upset because she thought you were going to get her out.
Attempt to fob baby off by giving her a teddy. She throws out the teddy.
Try to give her a cuddle through the bars. Get arm stuck. Baby holds on to stuck arm for dear life.
Baby bites arm.
Finally wiggle arm out and the baby is in full blown tantrum mode.
Baby bangs her chin on cot.
You lift her out and give her a cuddle.
Postpone sleep training until tomorrow due to chin injury and bitten arm.
The next day the baby is a little bit grumpy. Decide she might be coming down with something.
Put off sleep training just in case.
The baby turns one and you realise you have barely slept in an ENTIRE year.
Make the decision that you must absolutely sleep train the baby that night.
Husband takes the baby up to her room.
Ten minutes later he returns downstairs.
Husband confesses he did not put her down ‘drowsy but awake’.
“She fell asleep on me, ” he shrugs.
Have a row with husband about the importance of putting her down ‘drowsy but awake’.
Decide it is pointless doing sleep training tonight as husband has ‘buggered it up’.
Sulk with husband for two days then decide to definitely, definitely, start sleep training. No. Matter. What.
On the third night of very gradually retreating nowhere baby sleeps for five hours straight.
Believe you have turned a corner.
Tell everyone you know baby is practically sleeping through the night.
Announce on Facebook that baby is practically sleeping through the night.
That night the baby wakes up TWELVE times.
Discover you are pregnant and vow to sort out baby’s sleep ASAP!
One month later you have not gradually retreated any further than the chair beside the cot. And the baby is still waking up most of the night, every night.
Realise you are actually more exhausted than before you started sleep training.
The baby doesn’t even scream now. She just stares smugly, throws her dummy out or sings. But should you even think about moving your chair an inch further away – she unleashes hell.
Get more comfortable chair.
Try putting baby to bed later.
Still she wakes.
Try putting baby to bed earlier.
Still she wakes.
Quit sleep training.
Stop Googling about the baby not sleeping, stop worrying about the baby not sleeping and accept that your baby is not sleeping.
Resign yourself to that fact that after a two-year battle the ‘sleep thief’ has won.
Then happy in her victory (and by now suitably exhausted) the baby will finally, finally, finally SLEEP…
We didn’t bother trying to train our second sleep-hating daughter. We were far too tired.
Instead, we used a combination of simple techniques including ‘Get The Baby To Sleep By Whatever Means Necessary’ and ‘Sod It. Just Let Her Sleep In Our Bed’. We still didn’t get a lot of sleep but it was far less stressful!