Sleep

Dot writes: Prawn is asleep. He is a binge sleeper, a bulimic sleeper. For days he stays off the sleep wagon – indeed, yesterday he largely resisted the soporific powers of his buggy – and then comes a day like today when he behaves as though my milk contains tamazepam. He is on his third substantial nap since lunchtime; it’s now ten to eight and he dozed off at the breast at about 6.30. He has slept today for at least three and three-quarter hours since getting up late at about 8.45. I do hope this isn’t preparation for partying all night, but they say sleep begets sleep.

I have rather precise figures on Prawn’s sleeping because I am keeping a sleep log for him, a record of all his short and long naps, daytime feeds and small-hours suckings. Although today makes it sound like we are the luckiest and most rested parents around, yesterday by 5pm I was ready to fall over and brain myself for exhaustion. The previous night (Wednesday night) he’d got to sleep between 9.30 and 10 in the evening (it is sometimes hard to decide when the real transition comes from sleepiness to sleep), and then he woke at 1.10, again at 3.10, again about 5 (I’d stopped looking at the clock so carefully) and then at 6, crying hard with a stuffy nose, so that I had to get up and make steam to clear his tubes. What is more, those 1am and 3am feeds weren’t just quick, one-breast-and-down-again-affairs – no, he lets me just about drift off after the first side and then he wakes up again and wants some more. We’ve had quite a lot of this sort of thing recently. So last Friday I bought Sears and Sears’ The Baby Sleep Book, and I am following their advice in keeping a sleep diary. The idea is to start by observing one’s baby’s existing sleep pattern before encouraging it into a better groove. Sears and Sears advocate the gentle, attachment-parenting approach to sleep management. I hate the thought of plonking poor Prawn somewhere to cry it out (and where would we plonk him?) though I am occasionally tempted by the thought of a big mallet. However, judging by Prawn’s pattern so far, the mallet may in fact be the only realistic way of introducing regularity.

Sears and Sears don’t propose a rigid programme. They say you must work out what’s best for your baby. Two comments: a) this hardly needs arguing. People are different; babies are different. But b) isn’t this a bit like saying ‘although you have bought our book, you actually have to solve this one yourselves’? No wonder people run gladly into the iron embrace of Gina Ford.

Updates to follow.

P.S. 8.30pm now, and he’s still asleep…

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