Let me preface this by telling you that I only have two kids. So I’m pretty much talking out my ass.
That said, my honey and I have picked up a few tricks along the way concerning babies, toddlers, preschoolers and sleep. I feel like the difference between parenting the first baby and the second one is that everything we thought or said the first time ended with a question mark. With the second baby, our thoughts and ideas end with periods.
Trick #1 The Feather Ruffle
I don’t remember which of the umpteen sleep books I read this in, but check it: if your baby keeps getting up at the same times every night, try sneaking in about an hour before they usually wake up and “ruffling the baby’s feathers.” You actually wake the baby up out of whatever level of sleep he or she is in, but not all the way. This changes the sleep pattern ever-so-slightly, and they forget to wake up at their regular time. Cool, right? I like to just run my hand down his back a little or ruffle his hair.
Pros: 1. It might actually work. And if you can get it to work three nights in a row, you may be in the clear. 2. Your sleeping baby is so cute.
Cons: 1. You still need to wake up. But since the baby doesn’t wake up all the way, there is no putting back to sleep involved. 2. It might not work — because babies are tricky like that.
Trick #2 The Dream Feed
You probably know about this one. But basically, you take the baby out of the crib at 10 or 11 pm, and give the baby a bottle while he’s still asleep. What is this a trick for? Well, when baby is first learning to sleep through the night, you can tank him up one more time before his long fast. We are currently using it on Trucker, even though he’s 18 months old, because he’s been waking up a lot and won’t go back to sleep unless we feed him. Which, you know, we were kind of sort of supposed to stop doing a long time ago. For some reason, when we remember to dream feed him around 10, he doesn’t wake up.
Pros: 1. This is a nice place to sneak in a bottle for the non-lactating mom when baby is still a wee one. 2. It sometimes works. 3. Your sleeping baby is so so cute.
Cons: 1. You need to remember to do it. This may not be hard for a raring-to-go non-lactating mom looking for some bonding time. But for moms of a second baby who is 18 months old, and I speak mostly for myself and my honey… well, we keep forgetting to do it. And when we forget, we don’t sleep so well. 2. Once your baby has teeth, or at least I think this is the case, one is supposed to avoid the baby sleeping with milk in her mouth. Am I right on this one? Well, that brings me to the next trick:
Trick #3 The Water-Milk Switcheroo
If your baby is drinking from a bottle, and she insists on waking up a couple of times a night to drink milk, pull a one- two- switcheroo on her. Just put water in the bottle. Many babies will not bother waking up when the milk thrill is gone. Not Trucker. Hence the dream feed. But at least I lose the milk-in-the-mouth guilt.
Pros: If it works, you get to sleep and you save money on milk!
Cons: Your baby might just get mad and refuse to go back to sleep. So. Good luck with that.
Trick #4 Wait a Week or Check the Teeth
Sometimes babies just go through developmental milestones that make them lose sleep. (I’m pretty sure adults do this, too. At least I do.) Sometimes, you’ll have a hellish time for about a week, then baby will get back into his groove. And sometimes, baby’s gums just hurt like hell. If he’s getting a tooth you didn’t know about, some tylenol or teething tablets or whatever pain-relief regimen you choose may be in order.
And that’s my unsolicited assvice for the day. Good night and sleep tight, my people.