By Charlene O'Hanlon
When I was pregnant with my youngest, I received as a gift a
decorative door plaque that read, "Baby Sleeping - Be Quiet or Babysit."
At the time I thought it was a cute tchotchke and playfully hung it on
the door of the nursery. It wasn't long after his birth that I started
using that as my mantra, shushing everyone from the neighbor with the
loud truck to the lawn guys with the leaf blowers down the street.
It wasn't so much waking my youngest as it was getting him to sleep
in the first place. Especially at night - Little Man would fuss and
fight the sleep he obviously needed until he would literally go limp in
my arms (which scared the wits out of me on more than one occasion).
Eventually, my husband and I learned a few tricks to get him to sleep
Rock 'til he drops: Our wooden rocker got a lot of use
in the first three months, when our baby could do little more than
squirm around in my arms. There were countless times when the motion of
the rocking chair coupled with a rhythmic "shush shush shush" was enough
to lull him to sleep. Of course, sometimes it took the better part of
an hour's worth of rocking and shushing before he nodded off. But once
he did, he was out.
The baby shuffle (a.k.a., the perp walk): When the
rocker didn't work (or my bottom was tired from sitting), often my
husband or I would walk back and forth down the hall leading from our
bedroom to the nursery, singing the shushes and gently bouncing him in
our arms. Rarely, however, did the baby shuffle work for me; my husband,
on the other hand, was so good at getting our baby to sleep doing the
perp walk that I began to call him the Baby Whisperer.
Make some (white) noise: Occasionally, especially when
he was fussy, the only thing that would relax our baby was some good
old-fashioned noise. At the sound of the vacuum cleaner, his cries would
cease. Put on some white noise, and he'd be happy. And once he relaxed,
sleep wasn't far behind. I think in his first six months our vacuum was
used more to calm Little Man than to actually vacuum the rugs.
Take a drive: When all else failed (and occasionally
they did), we'd strap him into his car seat and take late-night driving
tours through the neighborhood. We were careful to stay in areas without
a lot of ambient light or outside activity, lest he get even more
excited. Our outside excursions were the last resort only because we
knew they were a sure thing - we didn't want him to get used to the idea
of going out late at night. Consequently, we only did this when we had
to pull out the big guns.
Of course, every baby is different (a friend of mine had a baby who
would only nod off to the "Today's Hits" playlist of online radio), and what worked for
me might not work for you. But if you've exhausted all your methods,
grab the vacuum. You might get baby to sleep while getting the dirt out
of your rugs. Talk about multitasking!
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