Spinoff Parents editor Emily Writes has not slept for a long time, but suddenly her son who hates sleep has started to sleep through the night. She explains how it happened.
For the last almost two years my son has been exceptionally committed to never sleeping. It wasn’t just that he woke many, many times a night. He also didn’t have naps during the day, woke exceptionally early, and found it difficult to go to sleep at night. So some might say I don’t know shit about child sleep.
But actually, in the last month he has slept through the night four times. So now I am a qualified sleep consultant.
Here’s my excellent advice on how to get your child to sleep through, based on the six times in two years my son has slept through the night.
We have a strict routine – dinner, book, bath, bed. We have adjusted the time we put them down by half an hour over the last year or so. Here’s what I know: Three of the times my son slept through the night were after we followed the routine to the letter. The other three times the routine went out the window and he slept through the night. So I would recommend having a routine or not having a routine.
We used white noise two of the times he slept through the night so white noise might work for you. Or it might not because all of the other times it didn’t work. But do you count from the times he slept through or not?
Maybe be on a boat
The first time he ever slept through the night we were on a ship in a cyclone. So you know, see what you can do about that.
Co-sleeping has saved our sanity 100% of the time we have co-slept. It has also made me lose my will to live after being kicked in the kidney and screamed at and farted on 100% of the time. So I would recommend doing it or not doing it 100% of the time.
Sleeping pills have helped me sleep through the night. You’re not allowed to give kids sleeping pills. I checked.
Not being on wake-up duty
Five of the six times he has slept through my husband has been on duty which is grossly unfair and a great injustice.
Not having anything planned that night
If you want to go out because it’s your anniversary your child will not go to bed. If you have too much wine pretending you’re 18 again your child will wake up 56 billion times. If you have a bad sleep, that’ll be the night your child wakes so often you feel like you’re entering the pits of hell when you walk into their room. For some reason, if you fall asleep watching TV your child will sleep through the night.
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The floor bed worked four out of six times! Lots of room to stretch out. It also might not work because he had a floor bed for ages and it didn’t work. And then it did work like six months later. Almost like sleep is a developmental milestone…hmmm.
Singing ‘Stairway to Heaven’ in monotone
Definitely helped because that song puts everyone to sleep.
Always putting them back in the cot
Did not work ever. If your child doesn’t want to sleep in the cot they’re not going to. Burn the cot. Smash it with an axe. Actually, donate it to charity – don’t scare your neighbours. They have to put up with crying all the time (you and the baby) and they had to deal with that time that you stood outside in labour screaming at your husband to PACK THE FUCKING BAG IT IS COMING OUT I AM NOT HAVING THIS BABY ON THE FUCKING DRIVEWAY AHUUUUUUUUURRRRRGHHHHHHHHHHHH (weirdly specific). Or the time right after that you screamed “MY VAGINA IS BURNING IS THAT THE HEAD IS THAT THE HEAD?” (also, quite specific – adapt as needed for your situation).
Just asking them to go to sleep
Totally works. LOL no it doesn’t. Fuck that noise. Who gives this advice? Like honestly. Of all of the advice, this is the worst.
Often necessary. Also heaps of noise also works. So either quiet, silence, noisy, loud – one of those things might work. You could maybe try all of them and just see. Once a fart upstairs woke up my baby downstairs and then on Guy Fawkes’ night he slept for like four hours in a row. He also slept through an hour long flight including takeoff and landing despite the fact that me breathing wakes him up at home.
Acceptance that sleep is a developmental milestone and your child will just sleep when they can and they’re not out to upset you they’re just being a baby and this is what babies do and it sucks so hard but honestly they will sleep through one day I promise
This is the best advice you can take. Really. And it sucks that there is no magic bullet. No spell to be cast. This is it. Babies are all different and some are good sleepers and some are bad ones. And the ones who sleep just sleep – there isn’t a trick. You’re not doing anything wrong by ignoring advice that doesn’t feel safe or respectful. You’re not a bad parent because your child doesn’t sleep. You don’t need to do things that just feel wrong to “teach” them to sleep. In my experience of having a child that NEVER sleeps I can honestly tell you that babies will sleep when they sleep. It’s that awful and simple. It is so bad, honestly I know. But we did nothing differently with our son. There’s no reason why. No sleep aid that changed anything. No point where we knew why it has been the way it has been. He has just started to turn a corner. He does not sleep every night. But one night helps us through one week. He can do it, and he’ll do it again. It will be the same for you. One day, your baby will sleep. And you will sleep. I promise. And when you’re in it it just feels like that doesn’t matter. Because right here, right now you’re exhausted beyond measure. I know that. But I promise you, when you start to see the light without a sleep deprivation headache thudding away, this feels revolutionary. Nothing you did caused this. Your baby isn’t bad. There’s no reason for this. It was just luck. A spinning wheel that landed on No Sleep For You. It’ll all change soon. I promise. Until then, you’re not alone.
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