Lay you down to sleep

Last night, we changed our daughter’s sleeping arrangements. Up until now, she’s been tightly swaddled every night in a muslin sheet. That keeps her arms by her sides, which means she isn’t startled awake by the surprising movements of those limbs, and swaddling her is an almost universal panacea when it gets to bedtime.


No good thing can last forever, and at some point she needs to be able to sleep without somebody wrapping her up so tight that she can’t move. Like, say, when she’s 24 and living in a studio apartment in Manhattan with some quirky neighbours and a predilection for cupcakes.

Therefore, yesterday we abandoned the swaddle and replaced it with a ‘sleep sack’ which is rather like an infantile sleeping bag: looser, with room for her to waggle her arms. Which, of course, wakes her up.

Eventually, she’ll learn to self soothe. Eventually. Until then, I’ll probably be using a lot of one-word sentences.

We put her down for the night. Her recent modus operandi has been a 45 minute nap, a short bellowed demand for more milk, another 45 minute nap, more milk, then a good few hours of sleep.

Last night, she did ten minutes on, ten minutes off, until late, late in the evening. We weren’t dumb enough to abandon swaddling right away, but as in all things, never retreat, never explain, never apologize. We just used the swaddle to wrap her arms, and hoped it was part of the adjustment process.

Well, I hoped. I was sleeping in the spare room, so I could retain enough brainpower to work today, so I got some sleep. At six this morning I woke, did half an hour of Spanish vocabulary, went for a mile and a half run, came back, checked on wife and child, and was surprised to find them both sound asleep.

Only an idiot wakes either a sleeping child or a sleeping mother. I retreated and waited for them to come round, which they did about 8, something of a record in these parts. Then off I scurried to be industrious.

This evening, repeat. Except this time, our child was enraged by her bath, unsatisfied by only having an entire bottle of milk to drink, and then unconvinced by the concept of sleep. So the same as Sunday night, only more so.

Apparently this only takes a week or two to adjust. Or a month. Or just enough time until she works out how to crawl.

Still, in a few short years she’ll have learned how to answer back, and all this will seem like a paradise of obedience and placidity. Oh boy.

(I’ve conducted testing tonight, and I’m now fairly sure she prefers books about squid to reviews of books about the Bretton Woods agreement in the London Review Of Books. But I also learned that gestational diabetes may in part be one of the mother’s body’s defence mechanisms against her unborn child / parasite, so perhaps she was trying prevent me finding that little gem in the LRB. She’s not dumb, I’ll give her that.)

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