Sleeping (Badly) in the Bed we Made (Badly)

We still “put” Boobaby to sleep, by which I mean that she falls asleep cuddling on a lap, and then we lower her 20-month old sleeping body into the crib ever-so-slowly.


Not the best sleeper. Note the sacrificial baby doll in the foreground.

I know, we’re insane. A baby Boo’s age ought to be able to put herself to sleep. We tried letting her cry it out once, and four minutes later neither of us could stand it. So this is what we do.

Until yesterday, that is. After story and lullaby (I’m in a phase of all-Sinéad O’Connor lullabies at the mo’), Boo very distinctly asked to be put into bed, and, moreover, she wanted to be with the doll she’s named after Buddy Boy.

Great! I thought. She wants to put herself to sleep!

No such luck. She lay down and started pawing at the mattress like a kitten on caffeine. I tell her to close her eyes and she starts beating her stuffed Buddy Boy against the slats of the crib. I stroke her back and she starts to kick. I try the old cuddle and milk routine and she pushes the bottle away and insists on getting back into bed.

I try lullabies. I try disengaging by sitting nearby with my eyes closed. Boo takes no notice; now she’s trying to disembowel the doll.

Finally, I tell her to go to bed, kiss her good-night, and…

I leave the room.

And she cries — not “cries it out,” because the crying doesn’t end. But, after ten minutes, her sobbing has faded to where it’s mostly for show. (Stage bawling is one of Boo’s many theatrical talents.) Combined with her other anti-sleep strategies — sticking her legs through the slats, knocking on her own forehead with her knuckles, pulling on her hair — she can effectively remain awake forever.


"Silence is the sound you hear after the baby falls asleep."

So I go in, pick her up, rock her for 45 seconds, and she’s asleep.

It’s frustrating that Boobaby can’t put herself to sleep. I guess it’s encouraging that for two days running she’s asked me to let her give it a try. But I still feel like I’ve failed her by not helping her with this sleep stuff months ago. I’m going to chalk it up to learning: she’s taking steps forward, and so inevitably, she’s going to have a few slips back.

Argh. Developmental reversals are more maddening by far than development that hasn’t happened yet.