You're Getting Sleepy: Bok, bok, bok.

Parents know: if you can figure out how to get your kid to sleep, you've solved what could be the world's second biggest problem (behind the threat of Nuclear warfare or a Conservative government in Canada, your choice). They sleep, you can sit down and relax (or sleep, if that's your thing) and feel human for an hour or so.

And so a little dance takes place each and every time your infant has fed and had a little active time, when it's time to get your child to sleep*. Parents learn about optimal swaddling technique (I favour the burrito-wrap), timing (so as not to wrap too early, or to let it go too long when your kid is starting to freak out from being overtired), rocking and/or walking technique, and putting-the-kid-down-in-the-crib. Master any of these things, and you're well on your way.

*I should apologise for my constant talk of getting kids to sleep. But I won't -- mainly because it seems like this role will be the essence of my earthly existence this year.

Just so that any readers don't get the wrong idea, it's not so much as though the parent is imposing sleep upon the infant. It's more like a tacit agreement:

Kid: Hi daddy. I'm feeling both tired and irritable. Can you help?
Dad: Let me try something ... how's that?
Kid: WAHHH! (= "not good")
Dad: Hmm... how about this?
Kid: wahhh... wah.... (= "not bad, not bad...keep going")
Dad: Excellent. Just close your eyes and peacefully drift off to sleep.
Kid: [slowly closing eyes, and then opening REALLY WIDE again as if to abandon the idea of sleep]
Dad: Shhh.... it's ok, it's ok...[thinking: c'mon, kid... daddy's getting tired here]

Of course, it's in the interest of the parent to engage in some sleep-assisting activity which is not too terribly taxing on the parent, but still gets the job done. Murphy's law applied here would yield that the more intricate the maneuvers performed by the parent, the more likely the child will fall asleep, as long as you keep it up and don't even think about changing up the pattern.

Getting the child into the crib/bassinet is another story. Often what keeps the kid asleep in your arms is a sense of security, of complete protection -- something lost when the child (though still swaddled) is alone in the crib. Figuring out when the child has done most of his/her twitching and thrashing is key. Putting the child down too early can results in starting again from step 1 (sometimes you'll get lucky and when you pick the child back up, he/she will drift off quickly again, but then you have to decide when to put him/her back down again).

As I said, tricks and techniques are many and varied, but I re-discovered something that may make life easier around my house last night, and it most resembles a method of hypnotizing chickens, as related to me by Mr. Cormie, my grade 12 biology teacher. I do not recall all the details of the procedure, but it involved holding the chicken tightly and slowly letting go of it, until you feel it move -- at which time you hold tightly again. This is repeated until the chicken no longer moves or struggles when you let go. My fuzzy and fading memory tells me that after a few minutes, the next time something touches the chicken it wakes up and freaks out, which is NOT what happens to babies.**
**this statement has not been evaluated by the children's aid society or the federal government.

So this procedure worked last night. Once. It was only attempted once, so I like to think it's worked every time. I also think it worked with the older brother at one time, but life's been a bit of a blur since he was born, so we often find ourselves reinventing the wheel, as it were. Add one more trick to the arsenal of sleepytime techniques.

Incidentally, Mr. Cormie's story about hypnotizing chickens involved one hypnotized chicken in a university biology course on "dissection" day. Needless to say, one person got an awful scare when they touched their specimen.

Posted bythemikestand at 9:01 AM  

2 stepped up to the mike:

Sassy said... 1:27 PM, January 18, 2006  

I'm going to use your blog as a manual when we ever have children.

BTW, late hugs/warm fuzzies are always accepted. :) And I don't know how I forgot about the Sherriff...that was a trip.

themikestand said... 11:37 AM, January 19, 2006  

I'm flattered, but even on the second kid, I don't feel I've got a strong hold on things. The learning and re-learning seems endless. Skills you think you mastered with one kid often don't work on the other kid and you're forced to improvise.

Instead, perhaps it's
a) a warning of the perils of parenthood, or
b) a reminder that you can feel helpless doing something that seems so basic.

Either way, it's nice to be useful.

Post a Comment