by Claire on Tuesday 31 July 12.
Most children have a bedtime routine that helps them to nod off. In our house it's normally pretty simple: milk, a story, a song and a cuddle. I say normally, because this week it has been anything but normal. My almost-two year old has decided that she wants to shake things up a little.
When I talk about my children's sleeping habits with friends I always describe my two as good sleepers. And they are - as long as they're in my bed. I'm not ashamed to say that co-sleeping has always worked for us, partly because I breast fed two hungry little guzzlers for several months.
My eldest is four now, and he will happily sleep all night in his own bed, but several nights a week he will sneak into mine in the early hours of the morning, and I just don't have the heart or the energy to send him away. Sometimes I wake up and he's already curled up next to me, quiet as a mouse.
His little sister is not so quiet about it all. After she's finally dropped off (which can take up to an hour, with me going into her room to settle her back down in her cot every 10-15 minutes), she normally sleeps for around four hours before she wakes up and wails. At this point, the crucial decision has to be made: do I bring her in with me, or spend the next couple of hours trying to calm her down? I don't really have to tell you, do I?
Since becoming a parent I've read lots of different theories about co-sleeping and how to get baby to sleep through the night. I tried controlled crying for one night and just thinking about that experience now sends a shiver down my spine. Maybe I'm just a soft touch, but I know I'm not the only mum to struggle to leave her baby crying.
I recently came across a really good website, AskDrSears.com, which is packed with parenting tips. 31 Ways to Get Your Baby to Sleep and Stay Asleep is a great article because it has many practical tips but is also an empowering, reassuring read. I imagine if I had read this when my eldest was a newborn, things might have been turned out a little differently. But only a little.
"Just as daytime parenting is a long-term investment, so is nighttime parenting. Teach your baby a restful attitude about sleep when they are young and both you and your children will sleep better when they are older."
"If your current daytime or nighttime routine is not working for you, think about what changes you can make in yourself and your lifestyle that will make it easier for you to meet your baby's needs."
"Stay flexible. No single approach will work with all babies all the time or even all the time with the same baby. Don't persist with a failing experiment. If the "sleep program" isn't working for your family, drop it. Develop a nighttime parenting style that works for you."