Sleep Training A Diva


When my baby was 7 weeks old smuggins over here knew NOTHING. “My baby is sleeping through!” I’d crow, skipping through the flat noisily at 11pm. In the daytime I’d put her down in her cot for a nap and walk out merrily, revelling in the silence of my sleeping angel child.

Fast forward to, yep you guessed it, teething and holy God were we in for it. At 5.5 months the appearance of The Teething Monster coincided with us packing up to move house and blithely saying to each other “Shall we use her room for box storage?” “Yes she can come in with us” “Oh yes that’ll be no bother”


So The Teething Monster arrived and my formerly awesome self soother transformed. It happened gradually you see, an extra long hand holding here, a night feed there, until at 7 months we’d been reduced to blithering sleep deprived maniacs at each other’s throats at 4am trying to get her to sleep after the 18th time of her waking up. Every time my husband turned over in bed she’d stir, every time she stirred we’d wake up, if we dared to speak she’d be bolt upright trying to pull herself up and if we left her she’d cry like her world was ending.
It gets worse. Our sale fell through. Yep. It took until she was 11 months old before we finally moved. By that time she was waking up approximately 378 times a night and at the stage where naps would only be considered if we attempted them at exactly the right time of day, precise location, hand holding position and astrological alignment. Our daughter had become a complete and total sleep diva.
My husband and I woke up livid, spent the day livid and went to bed livid. It was a dark, dark time.

Then the move happened and because of the angle of the door, the movers couldn’t get her cot into her new nursery. As soon as they left, knackered beyond belief, hungry, thirsty and still traumatised from another night from hell with baby JLo, I got out my screwdriver and got on my hands and knees. Silently, my husband joined me until (somewhat jubilantly) we placed the cot in the nursery, amid the boxes, and shut the door.
Needless to say, after mini Mariah was deposited in her own room that first night, we simply traipsed blearily 375 times into her room, down to the kitchen (now heartbreakingly 2 floors below) and back to bed, lying tensely waiting for the next cry.
It took 2 more weeks before we were mentally ready to sleep train her. One night after a particularly traumatising 4am conversation involving the word “aaaaaaarrrrrggghhhhhhh” we decided. Enough was enough.
We looked it up. We looked at each other and we silently nodded in solidarity. That beautiful little insomniac needed taking down a peg or ten.
Night one. A fresh DVD box set ready, we gave her a bath, warm milk, read her a story, and kissed her goodnight, turned on her dream sheep and got the hell out of there. What followed can only be described as intensely traumatic. There’s a very good reason why the sound of a baby screaming is used as a torture method. That shit is awful. She wailed, she screamed, she stood waiting for me to come back with tears and snot pouring from her little red face, sweat slicking her hair back like a Soprano, eyes wide and scared. It was dreadful. There was so much cortisol and adrenaline flooding my body that if a wild lion had walked in on me at that moment, I could have killed it with my bare hands.
Ten minutes later we suddenly turned to each other – the sound, the terrible, awful, gut wrenching sound…had stopped. Now to how check she was still alive whilst avoiding waking her…in a very old house with very creaky stairs (there was commando crawling involved).
She was asleep. Mission accomplished. That night she woke once, one visit from me and she was back down with not a murmur.
The next day we put her down, endured just 5 minutes of the noise from hell and that was it.
I woke up the next morning at 4am in a cold sweat, I ran into her room mentally rehearsing what I’d learned from my paediatric first aid app and there she was, sleeping peacefully like a soft pink cherub.
The next night just 3 minutes of moderate whinging and another full night’s sleep. Thereafter I’d turn her over after her story, kiss her goodnight and skip downstairs like a pilled up pixie high fiving myself all the way (my poor, traumatised husband conveniently had 3 work Christmas parties that week so missed most of it).
Aaaaaaand breathe. Sleep was once again mine for the taking, I could go to bed without a stomach knotted in dread at how long I’d actually get to sleep before she woke up the first time.
After that first week I would have gone on stage in front of the world and extolled the virtues of the so-called CIO method.
All sorted. Life was good again. Job done. Thank you and goodnight.

Except 2 weeks later she got a bug.

Then it was Christmas.

So here I sit after 3 weeks of Sleep Diva’s return, back on day 1 of training. This time I invested in a video monitor which is currently sitting on my lap finally displaying a sleeping baby. This time was worse than the first time with an hour and 50 minutes of repeating the scream-lie her down-shh-exit cycle and I fear the older she gets the harder it will be to re-train her. For now though, it’s finally quiet.

But if a wild lion walks in now, it’s dead meat.

Dear Santa

Please bring all new mums the following…

1. Ewan the dream sheep by far the best thing I have. It was recommended to me by a friend before I had the baby. I have been using it since birth – it is amazing. It now elicits a pavlovian sleep response in my child; she hears the lullaby, she closes her eyes and turns her head to sleep. She wakes up in the night, I turn on the white noise, she goes back to sleep. Magical.

2. Sangenic Nappy Bin sh*t happens, but I don’t want to encounter it any more than I absolutely have to. Unlike others, this is easy enough for any old sleep deprived moron to use. It even has a cutter to release the bag once its full.

3. Avent Microwave steriliser I feel genuine love for my microwave steriliser. Wash your bottles, teats and dummies, bung them all in here (forget the neatness on the picture, I don’t even have Avent bottles!) stick them in the microwave, done. You will sterilise about 4 times a day, you can’t be messing around with sterilising solution and plugging things that hold scalding water into sockets.

4. Graco Evo travel system I went shopping for this with my husband after a 25 hour journey home from Australia to try and simulate the levels of tiredness we might be dealing with when trying to operate one of these travel systems in “real life”. This was the only one I could walk straight up to and operate straight away. I don’t want to have to read a textbook of instructions and sit a mechanical engineering exam to collapse a bloody child transportation device! It is also light enough to lift into the boot one-handed with shopping and a baby.

5. Boots milk powder dispenser you wouldn’t think it so hard to invent a blasted dispenser for formula would you? I have 3 and 2 of them are STUPID beyond belief. Either the formula doesn’t come out unless you tap it sideways forwards backwards and stand on one leg (Avent) spilling powder all over the work surface in the process or the opening dispenses formula from other compartments meaning your child gets one super concentrated bottle, one medium one, and one crap one – unless you tip it all back and measure it out again, which, frankly defeats the bloody object of having a dispenser in the first place (Brother).

6. MAM teats & dummies I was told by so many people that these were the only teats and dummies their baby would suck properly, that I bypassed everything else and went straight for these. I bought some Dr Browns bottles as well but use the MAM teats with them.

7. Baby Gym it doesn’t have to be this particular one, this is just the one I have. I have clipped all manner of toys onto ours using extra rings (tip: buy them in Poundland). Keeps her occupied for longer than anything else I have tried.

8. Whatsapp with a group of same-stage mums. It’s 3am, you’re awake, your partner is snoring, your baby is grizzling, you have on pyjamas covered in puke, snot, spit and maybe even a little wee (quite possibly even your own), and you need a laugh, or just to know someone else is awake out there, send a message (complete with autocorrect errors and typos) to your NCT or other mum friends and get a response! It’s magical. Even in the darkest of times, someone will probably be awake, also covered in fluids and wanting a chat.

9. NUK bath thermometer I don’t know about you but I have no idea how to tell temperature with my hand or elbow or any other part of my body for that matter. I have baths that are hot enough to boil a lobster so this thermometer saves me from cooking my child every time I use it. It has handy markers for “Cold”, “Warm” and “Ideal for babies”.

10. Digital forehead thermometer I use this all the time. She rarely actually has a temperature but it makes me feel at ease knowing she doesn’t. Especially as she can sometimes be grizzly and feel hot in the night. I keep one in her cot and one in her baby bag just in case. Mine also has a fever alarm, but it’s a talking one and I seem to have got it stuck on Spanish mode and can’t (be bothered to) change it back to English but it has a digital read-out and light. I have actually come to love the way she starts with “temperrratoora” so I don’t really mind.