My son is a champion at inflicting sleep deprivation! He is almost 14 months old now and still not consistently sleeping through the night. I wouldn’t mind too much if he just stuck to one method, at least I would know what to expect then. Each evening as we trudge up the stairs to bed (at 9:30pm after having propped our eyelids up with cocktail sticks for the preceding hour) we ponder which tactic Stripe will employ that night. Here are a few of his favourites:
1. The “frequent wake-ups” technique
Wake up often throughout the night, at least every hour! Maybe every 20-30 minutes some nights if you’re feeling especially mischievous. When you’ve just been born, the parents expect you to do this so they don’t appreciate all the effort that you’re putting in. However, there’s a rumour in the parent world that “it’ll get better by 6 months” so if you can keep this method going past then, they’ll be thrilled!
2. The “just as the parents are falling asleep” technique
This one is really fun! When they put you to bed, go without a fuss. Settle down with a happy sigh and drift off to sleep. Enjoy a few hours rest until you hear the parents come up the stairs. Stay still and quiet so that they think you are still asleep. This will lull them into a false sense of security and they will probably dare to fantasise about an undisturbed night’s sleep. They’re going to love this!! Once they are in bed, wait another half an hour to give them time to fall asleep. If yours are anything like my parents you’ll be alerted to their unconsciousness by their snoring!
This is your moment! Let loose your loudest, bloodcurdling scream. The kind where they’re convinced you’ve got a limb stuck through the bars of your cot and come running to your aid all bleary eyed and confused. It’s up to you where you go from here. Either smile sweetly and settle back down to sleep, refuse to go back to sleep until you’ve had a) a cuddle, b) a nappy change, c) a bottle d) all of the above, or you could even employ my third method…
3. The “staying awake for hours on end” technique
This is my current favourite. It doesn’t matter which time you begin, my favourite is 2am. It’s a very simple technique, you just wake up and stay awake! The parents will try all their tricks to get you to go back to sleep but you must resist. Even if they resort to giving you milk, drink it anyway (who doesn’t like a midnight snack?!) but refuse to sleep afterwards. If they try and make me stay in my cot I cry and cry but if they let me in their bed I just play for 3 hours until I get too sleepy. Don’t worry about being tired the following day, the parents will let you have a lie in!
4. The “wake up call” technique
Timing is everything with this one. You want to do it 30-60 minutes before your parents usually get up for maximum impact. You don’t need to put too much effort in, just make enough noise to rouse them from their slumbers! Parents are generally rubbish at getting back to sleep so close to getting up time so they’ll really appreciate the early wake up call!
5. The “nap sabotage” technique
Sometimes, if you’ve been really successful at methods 1-4, the parents may attempt to get some sleep whilst you are napping. Nonsense! They should be busy sterilising bottles, washing the huge pile of laundry you’ve created that morning, or searching for the missing puzzle pieces that you’ve slid underneath the TV unit. They don’t have time for a nap! To help them out you’re going to have to sacrifice your own sleep. Not all of it, you might as well get half an hour while they’re tidying the living room and getting comfy in bed. Once they’re nice and settled, that’s the time to wake up! They’ll try and get you back to sleep but make it clear that it’s not going to happen. I like to play with my mummy’s face or pull her hair, she soon gets the message.
I’m pretty sure that you can’t die from baby and toddler inflicted sleep deprivation although it doesn’t feel like that some days! I just repeat that old mummy mantra “This too shall pass” and console myself with the fact that when Stripe is a teenager, I’m going to get my own back by using his own methods against him!