08:44 Hayley Brockie-Dunlop 0 Comments


Eb in his beloved Cocoon-A-Baby, before he grew out of it (SOB!)

I'll put my hands up here. Before having a baby I couldn't for the life of me understand why parents got so worked up over their baby's naps. Granted, little Elliott has always enjoyed his sleep and early on established a bit of a reputation as the baby who always seemed to be in the land of nod, but I always figured that if a baby needed to sleep it would sleep. And if it didn't sleep, it would make up for it later on in the day.

And then it happened. About three and a half months in, Elliott missed out on what had apparently become one of his regular daytime slumbers (I hadn't been keeping track, which seems preposterous looking back on it) and, that evening, ALL HELL BROKE LOOSE. What I hadn't realised until two hours into a marathon screaming session is that babies tire VERY QUICKLY. One minute they're happy as larry giggling and playing, the next there's a shift in the atmosphere, they're rubbing their eyes and they want to be asleep. Like, immediately. And if they get too tired, it's actually MORE difficult for them to fall asleep as they get themselves so worked up about it.

The worst thing? Unless you have a magical super-baby with special powers, it's incredibly unlikely that they will even be able to fall asleep without help from mum and/or dad. It's bonkers. A young baby usually needs to be moving in some way in order to fall asleep, to replicate the sensation of being in the womb; a parent's rocking arms is the optimum place, if not then the buggy or a sling will (hopefully) suffice. As long as they're moving, nice and snuggly and can constantly touch or see you, so you're the last thing they clap their eyes on before they finally succumb to the zeds.

So now I'm that person who will resort to anything to ensure their baby gets the sleep they need during the day to make the other parts of the day less screamy. The person who frantically pushes the pram back and forth in a shopping centre while their friend has nipped to the post office. The person who walks up and down the same stretch of pavement absentmindedly "shushing" in the vague direction of the buggy. The person who sways or bounces on the spot with a baby strapped to them. The person who has begun to think seriously about whether or not to leave the house if a scheduled rendezvous suddenly clashes with a new nap time. The person who hopes that every nap reaches beyond the current standard of 35 minutes so I can actually get something done that doesn't involve sterilising an ever-growing arsenal of plastic paraphernalia, or continuing on my apparent mission to turn our spare room into a fully operational laundry (though, of-course, the longest naps inevitably take place at the precise time you need to be leaving the house).

It would be easy to turn this into an epic blog post about babies and sleep. But, frankly, every baby is different and what works for us (including white noise, dummies, a sling, a touch of controlled crying and - in the earlier months - a lifesaving thing called a Cocoon-A-Baby) might not work for everyone else. 

I guess, then, that this is more an explanation for my non-parenting friends about why I'm suddenly more flakey about meeting up, why I use the word "nap" a lot and - when I do make an appearance with the baby - why I appear to be expending a disproportionate amount of my energy reserves on getting Elliott to sleep. No, it's not the end of the world if a baby misses out on one of its daytime kips, but babies are a whole lot more pleasant for everyone to be around - and tend to sleep much better at night - if they get the sleep they need during the day.

Becoming increasingly flakey is actually really hard for me to come to turns with, since my reliability is such an inherent part of my personality. But being a parent, I now realise, is about sacrificing little bits of yourself to make the little human you've created the best possible little human they can be. Weaning is the current challenge as I'm having to sacrifice the very substantial bit of me that enjoys ready meals and takeaways. But that's a blog post for another time....