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The only tip you need if your baby is not sleeping

Carlotta Cerri

Last night Emily woke up every 30/40 minutes from 2.30 to 6am. At 6am she was wide awake, smiling and chatting away (I have to give her that, her happy attitude makes everything much easier!), but I was determined to put her down again and get some more sleep. At 6.50am, after 50 minutes of intense conversations, she fell back asleep. At 7.26am she was back up and ready for the day.

Last night comes after several (tens of) crappy nights (pardon my French!). And when I say crappy, I mean ridiculously annoying and highly frustrating, to a point that often I lay in bed fantasizing about washing my hands of the kids and checking into a hotel room to get even just 4 hours of uninterrupted sleep. Yes, that crappy!

This morning while eating my breakfast in zombie mode, staring at the void, I thought out loud, “How much harm can sleeping pills do to a baby?”. Yes, I’m that exhausted! And no, I’d never ever give sleeping pills to my children.

But that made me think back at all the times in these almost two years when my friend Amanda would tell me that Gabriel “didn’t sleep again last night”, and every time I’d tell her “It’s just a phase, it’ll pass!”. Back then I had never really experienced sleep deprivation the way I’m experiencing it now: Oliver was never a great sleeper, but he was always a decent one, waking up every 3-4 hours and going back to sleep in within minutes.

Now that I now what it means to have one better night in months, now that I have read the whole internet, tried everything acceptable under the sun, and spoke to many many mums about lack of sleep… well, I’d tell Amanda exactly the same thing. Because even if I hate nights at the moment, I hate going to sleep tired knowing that I’ll wake up as (or more) tired, I think I now know the one and only secret for a child’s sleep—and if you’re not sleeping either at the moment, sorry, you’ll be greatly disappointed:

Go with the flow.

That’s it, folks! I believe there’s nothing else to it. You can try whatever you want—as a matter of fact, I’d still like to try some camomile to see if it relaxes her, and I’m so tired I even thought of trying homeopathy even if I don’t believe in it at all—but nothing will make a difference, not the three-minute trick that worked on Oliver, nor the magic pillow that worked on my friend’s baby.

Because babies have their own times and their own (sometimes mysterious) needs, and they learn at their pace, you can’t force the learning. Ever. And no children—none, not even those who “sleep through the night”—sleeps through the night, and if you don’t believe me, please please read this old post.

I tried for two years to create a night routine for Oliver so he’d be in bed by 7pm:  was consistent with it, but I never managed to put him down before 9.30/10pm. One day, a few months ago, he skipped his afternoon nap and asked to go to sleep at 7.30pm (yes, he ASKED!). He’s now sleeping every night between 7 and 7.30pm, 12/13 hours straight. HE did that, not me.

So even when it comes to sleep routine, like in everything else baby and child related, there’s one and one rule only: follow the baby.

Good luck everybody (and to me too!).

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