Help! Parenting tips for getting babies to sleep solo

As he scarily edges closer to his first birthday, Albie appears to have taken the lyrics to S Club 7’s hit Don’t Stop Movin’ literally.

He’s crawling, rolling and shuffling around like he’s drunk gallons of Coke and scoffed packets of Percy Pigs.

New nappy time now appears to be the perfect opportunity to perfect his crocodile death roll impression, while the changing table has morphed into Tom Daley’s practice diving platform.

And all this hyperactivity is causing extra headaches at bedtime.

Bedtime? Nah!

Once a life-saver for us exasperated, co-sleeping parents, our bed has gone from being the fail-safe snooze station to an intriguing soft play centre.

The barrier on one side of the bed, with a pillow stuffed next to it for added fortress-level protection, has become a viewing platform for the sheer drop between it and the bookshelf.

If he hasn’t fallen into the abyss, Albie’s now learned to procrastinate more than a university student whose dissertation deadline is approaching.

He reminds me of the older relative who, understandably lonely, would often keep coming up with vague stories as you were about to leave, just to keep you there a little longer. “Do you know matey down the road,” they’d say. “You know, oojamaflip, married to so-and-so,” they’d helpfully add. “No, who the hell are you on about,” we’d enquire, to find out that whoever they were had taken his dog to the vets two weeks ago.

Albie is just like that but less of the flaky stories and more giggles and babbles. His favourite game is to pull out his dummy, raise it out in front of him like he’s about to give us a rendition of Shakespeare’s ‘To be, or not to be’ business. Having dragged that out for a bit, he’s on to kindly offering us a suck of the dummy, before turning over and exploring the other end of the soft play zone.

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We’ll repeat this process a few times until he finally gives up the ghost, or wears himself out with a hissy fit which probably sounds to the neighbours like we’ve starved him for days and sat in front of him tucking into a giant tub of baked beans (his favourite). He might also chuck in a poo, offering him chance to repeat the death-roll changing nightmare once more.

Obviously, his new love of movin’ presents a slight safety hazard for his continued occupancy of our bed, so we’ve served him with an eviction notice and claimed back the unauthorised soft play centre. We hope he might try some of the ornaments we bought prior to his arrival, also known as a cot, crib and travel cot.

We have been letting him fall asleep in bed before moving him on to his crib, sneakily so he’s none the wiser.

Poole’s Soft Play: Dangerous…and not a soft play centre

Efforts to do otherwise have failed spectacularly before and one evening we discovered he would happily scream at max volume for a good 90 minutes (not out).

For the last two nights, we’ve managed to put him down in his crib, knowing full well of his location, and eventually settling him down.

He’s not thick, though, and he’s still registering his objections to us leaving the room while he’s not firmly in the Land of Nod. As a result, his bedtime is much later than an average tot’s, given at least one of us needs to sleep with him for a while until he’s asleep.

Our ultimate goal would clearly be settling him down much earlier, and without too much fuss. It seems pointless planning to decorate his future bedroom if we have to share the lion pillow for the night!

How do we get to this stage? Should we continue gradually as we have done until he’s used to falling asleep in his crib from the start, or buckle up for a few weeks of hell, forcing him to get used to nodding off on his own? We welcome your thoughts!

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