I’m afraid to say it out loud, so I’ll whisper it: My baby is sleeping through the night.
It’s been happening for a few months now, but saying it, or even thinking it, could tempt fate, so I’ve told myself it’s just a phase. But this morning I realised that I couldn’t remember the last time he’d woken during the night, so maybe it’s time to admit it, to accept it, to wrap my arms around it and give it one big fat hug. My baby is sleeping through the night!
And now to help you with your wakeful baby, here’s exactly what I did – just follow my step-by-step guide, and within just two and a half years, your child may sleep through the night too.
1. At five months old, introduce a dream-feed – you’ve read about it, everyone else does it – why wouldn’t it work!
2. Pick up sleepy-baby at 11pm, while a little voice says “are you crazy?” and try to feed him. Wonder how far to go in your attempts to wake him. Go too far. Spend an hour trying to get him back to sleep.
3. Try again the next night – it might have been a once-off. Repeat.
4. At six months old, decide that the snoring of one particular parent is what’s keeping the baby awake, so move him into his own room, sit back, and wait for the first night of blissful sleep.
5. At 3am, stumble blearily across the hallway to pick up the crying baby, cursing yourself for moving him into his own room. Go over and back three times, then bring him into your bed, just like you were doing all along anyway. Try to sleep while being kicked in the face repeatedly.
6. The next evening, decide that last night was a once-off, and let him sleep in his own room again.
7. At 3am, step on Lego and swear in a loud whisper while running to pick him up in the middle of the night, before he wakes his big sisters.
8. Repeat nightly, for a long time, while living in false hope that the snoring was the thing. And anyway, dismantling the cot to move it back seems like a very thorough admission of defeat.
9. After six months of nightly stumbling and swearing, come up with ingenious idea to put a travel cot beside your own bed, so that after the first night-time waking, you can settle the baby in the travel cot.
10. Realise after first five or six hundred attempts that the baby does not like the travel cot, so give up on that idea.
11. Decide the baby’s feet are too hot. Of course! That’s why he’s waking up. Take a scissors, and cut the feet out of all of his sleep-suits.
12. Go to bed, excited about the full night of sleep ahead.
13. At 3am, pick baby up the crying baby and bring him into bed. Feel consoled by the fact that he does look cute in his little cut-off sleep-suits. Try to sleep while being kicked in the face repeatedly.
14. Download Wonder Weeks app. Now you know why he was cranky and wakeful last week! But you still don’t know what’s wrong this week.
15. Suspect that the early morning sun-rise is waking him up, and rush out to buy black-out curtain-lining, ignoring the little voice that’s saying “but the sun doesn’t come up at 3am?”
16. Carefully attach black-out lining to one side of each curtain. Realise you’ve put it on backwards. Curse. Take off lining and start over. Hang curtains, marvel at the darkness, and wait for sleep.
17. Get up at 3am when baby cries. Bang your knee against the cot, because it’s so dark in his room. Persevere with blackout curtains anyway, because some day they will work.
18. He’s now 18 months old and you’re getting desperate. Search sleep forums online and Google “my toddler will not sleep”. Read up on bimodal sleep. Decide that this is what the baby is doing – two periods of sleep punctuated by a period of wakefulness. That’s great! Oh, but there’s nothing you can do about it. Click to next website.
19. Hear from a friend that white noise is great for getting kids back to sleep. Download one of the gazillions of white noise apps that are out there. Charge up your phone and you’re ready to go.
20. At 3am, race into the room, phone in hand. Feel your way through the darkness, fumbling to switch on the app. Put the phone beside the cot, and sit on the nearby chair to watch the white noise in action. It seems to be working! The baby has stopped crying and is resting peacefully, eyes closed.
21. Gently ease yourself out of the chair, leaving the phone where it is. Put one foot on the floor, heading towards the door. Make absolutely no noise.
22. Sigh heavily when just as you touch the door-handle, the baby-with-superman-hearing starts to cry. Sit back on the chair. This is your new home. Enjoy the white noise.
23. He’s now two years old. Move him from cot to bed. When he wakes at night, get into his bed with him. Notice that the repeated face-kicking has abated. Fall asleep wondering why, and wake none the wiser.
24. Bravely transition to sitting on the floor beside his bed when he wakes, instead of getting in with him. Organise a cushion to sit on, and consider setting up a little drinks fridge and reading light. Do this for however long it takes (even if it’s four months). Eventually, sleep will come.
That’s it! Just follow these simple steps, and at two-and-a-half years old, *your child will sleep through the night.
*Or not – no guarantees
This post has also appeared on Scary Mommy – much to my delight because they have a LOT more readers than I do