It’s nearly 1:30pm. She’s been up since 10am. Her eyes are red; she’s squirming and grizzling on my lap. At a week shy of six months old, she still needs regular daytime naps, but lately she’s been resisting sleep for hours at a time. The unfortunate result is a chronically-overtired, unhappy baby and a stressed-out mama who can’t get anything done. Today, I decide, things are going to change.
I take her to her cot, and slip her into her sleep suit. I shut the curtains and, following Mum’s advice, grab a toy (a pink hippo) with a music box installed. I pull the tail/drawstring and “It’s a small world” tinkles out. The plan is to play this every time I put her to sleep, by way of a nap-time ‘cue,’ since we have such an irregular schedule that a timed routine would be useless, and even using her cot as a cue wouldn’t be helpful as we are often out and about.
She rolls onto her side and I put my arm across her body to stop her rolling over (the result of this would be that she’d drop her dummy and start wailing). I stroke her back with my thumb while bracing her body with my hand and arm. I can just see her eyelashes, showing me if she’s still awake. For several minutes I kneel there, arm across her body, pulling the string on the hippo when it stops.
Then finally – success! She’s peacefully snoozing. I ease my hand away from her body and slowly stand up, backing away quietly lest I make a sudden noise and wake her. The next challenge has begun: making sure she sleeps long enough. Forty-five minutes later I hear the first peals of crying; she’s awake but not ready to get up. I resolve to leave her in her bed, and repeat the same process as earlier with the hippo and the arm across her body. It takes some time – she plays with the hippo and squirms and pulls her dummy out – and I almost give in, but eventually she drifts off again. So now, here I sit, blogging and eating lunch, and feeling well pleased with myself for sticking it out and making sure Miss Amelia gets her beauty sleep!