Here’s an admission about probably my biggest fail at being a parent.
Are you ready?
I have never, in eight months, managed to get my daughter to have a proper bedtime.
It’s not the only aspect of parenting in which I feel I have no control and absolutely no idea what I am doing, it is probably up there as one of the most difficult parts though.
When she was very tiny, before we had worked out that her milk allergy was causing so many of her problems, her dad and I would take turns to stay awake and hold her upright. If we laid her down she would scream and scream, and her wind was just horrendous.
Gradually this got better, she could sleep on her back. By this point she was a few months old. I would start the evening by giving her a bedtime feed in the rocking chair in our bedroom, before placing her in her cot. We got a few hours, and then she would wake up.
Back to the rocking chair I’d go, nursing her back to sleep, before carefully putting her in her cot. And this continued. Until I became so exhausted that I brought her into bed with me, and my husband relocated to the spare bedroom.
Pippin has always been a frequent and long feeder. Which is perfectly normal. I didn’t realise this and I spent so much of those early months trying to get her into some sort of routine – which was ultimately completely pointless for us.
Napping really wasn’t going much better. All the mum’s who had babies around the same time as me were like “I got so much done during his nap time.” whilst I was drowning in a sea of dirty undies from eight weeks prior. I was committing the massive sin of allowing my daughter to fall asleep on the breast. Which wouldn’t have been such a massive problem if I could just put her down afterwards!
As I am typing this Pippin is asleep in the bed next to me. Next to me is where she sleeps, where she has slept for most of her life now. (I don’t need lectures on the safety – we try and do it as safely as possible.) This is just what works for us. She is still waking to feed fairly frequently in the night, maybe five or so times now.
I have had lots of advice about how to stop this, as has my husband. Some of my favourites include:
- Don’t feed her in the night. (What am I supposed to do, leave her crying then?)
- Leave her to cry, she’ll soon get fed up. (Ah, so that’s a yes then)
- Give her some rusk in her bottle. (She doesn’t have a bottle!)
- Give her solids to “fill her up” (This was around the three-month mark)
- Stop breastfeeding
My absolute favourite piece of advice was given to my husband. We should put some whisky on a dummy and give it to her, apparently it will knock her right out. It worked for all four of this individual’s children.*
I’m not quite sure what it is we need to stop. Pippin appears to be thriving, and I’m happy doing it this way because it works for her and for us. I think I would have been happier with things a lot sooner had I just accepted them for what they were and not tried to fight them. Sometimes I do wish she would just go to sleep alone, and I do get cross about the whole thing and wish we’d just got her to sleep in her own cot. I know though this isn’t forever and, when she does sleep in her cot, I miss cuddling her. I also wake up about 50 million times just to check she’s breating. Which is completely typical!
*I hope I don’t need to point this out, but folks, do not give your babies whisky. This is bad parenting. Bad. Babies should not have whisky.