Sleeping Aids

I have always found that the best sleeping aid is wine, white not red.  Failing that anything alcoholic.  Small would not drink alcohol so we had to find something else.

A good trick when Small was Very Small was to wrap him tightly in a swaddling blanket.  Apparently this replicates the feeling of being in the womb and provides Small with comfort and reassurance.  It seemed to work with our Smalls.

Motion was also excellent for putting Small to sleep.  There are escalating stages of motion therapy:

Stage 1 – Rocking

A rocking motion was a great trigger for sending Small off to sleep.  Though it seemed strange, the faster the rocking the more effective it was, at least it was with our Smalls.

In the early weeks we found a rocking crib very useful.  We also invested in a rocking chair, which was great because we could sit down get some rest ourselves.  Without these devices we would have had to do the work manually using the calming techniques listed under Calming.

Stage 2 – Pushchair

When rocking failed to put Small to sleep, the next stage was the pushchair.  Very often a push around the block (a few times) would do the trick.  Again, our Small liked to move fast.  The main dilemma was, once Small was asleep, did I try to move him into his cot?  He would sleep longer if the manoeuvre was a success but if he woke I faced another few laps of the neighbourhood.  If it was a night sleep then there was no option, he couldn’t sleep for long periods in the pushchair.

Stage 3 – Car

When stages 1 and 2 produced no results, or it was raining and cold outside and I wanted to bypass stage 2, then the next option was the car.  Two of our Smalls would invariably fall asleep in the car (the third never slept in the car).   I became unduly familiar with every twist, turn, lump and pothole in the crazed network of lanes within a 5 mile radius of our house, lanes that 95% of people in the town were not even aware existed.  The car trip would always work for Smalls 1 and 2 but moving them from the car to their cot was akin to defusing a bomb.  Well, not that akin, if it was I would be dead a hundred times over.

Indeed, whatever method had been used to induce Small to sleep, often the trickiest part was the transfer into the cot/crib without waking him up again.  With much trial and error I developed a generally fail proof technique.

First I had to move the sleeping Small onto my shoulder, keeping a firm pressure on his back.  This was particularly tricky if I had encouraged Small to sleep using the pushchair or car technique.  I often had to carry out a secondary rocking session once Small was on my shoulder to re-settle him.

From cuddle on shoulder to easing Small into the cot was the next tricky stage.  With firm pressure on his back, I gently leant over the cot until Small’s back was as close to the mattress as I could bend.  Then, sliding a hand between his chest and mine, I applied a slight pressure to his chest and eased him onto the mattress.  I would then allow him to settle with one of my hands on his back (against the mattress) and the other on his chest.  All this gentle pressure harkens back to the swaddling blanket, replicating the comforting pressures of the womb.  Then, gently, oh so carefully, I eased the hand between Small and the mattress out, keeping the other hand in place, gently pushing Small onto the mattress.  When Small had settled, I slowly, oh so slowly, eased the pressure of the push, timing each reduction in pressure with Small breathing out.  Once I had no pushing pressure it was time to slowly withdraw the hand, again timing movements with breathing.  Despite the feeling of euphoria when my hand was free of Small I had to refrain from doing a jig: I still had to get out of the room.

I had mapped the minefield of Small’s room in my head; I knew every squeak producing floorboard and my questing toes could deftly avoid these threats (and any squeaky or rattling things dumped around) as I made a phased withdrawal to the door, being ready to return to Small at the slightest twitch to apply a hand to his chest to resettle him.  Once out of the room I would gently swing the door closed.  Now I could jig.  But not on the squeaky floorboard outside the door.

Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.

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