How To Get A Baby To Sleep

This is a speech I gave many years ago for Toastmasters. I’ve decided to post it due to an interesting Twitter exchange as follows:


Here’s the speech where I play the role of a trainer for a post-natal class!

Welcome to today’s post natal class. Today we’ve come to the hard part. You’ve calculated feeding formula in your head and changed nappies in your sleep. Now we’re going to learn how to put baby to sleep. And still stay awake.

Did you all bring your baby dolls ? I have.

But just something to remember…

What’s an alarm clock ?

English: The face of a black windup alarm clock

It’s a device for waking up people in a childless household.

Almost always, the alarm goes off once one has fallen into the deepest sleep. Then one finds that the quality of post-natal sleep is great . It’s just the frequency is rare.

So here are some helping tips : what not to do : to get you through “those sleepless nights with your bundle of joy”.

First thing, never ever rock baby to sleep in a rocking chair. It works too well. You fall asleep first.

First baby, first hour…As every new parent knows, the only method that is said to work is the rhythm method. But you have to find the right rhythm. First child, first hour is very gentle, almost as if grandma has the child. As the hours wear on and you don’t find the magic formula, the rocking becomes faster and faster until. WHEN WILL THIS BABY EVER GET TO SLEEP?

One child I would walk the hall sentinel style until he just was starting to fall asleep. He seemed to wake up just when I turned to go the other way. Now he is older I do the same thing and then hold him up , “are you asleep yet ? “

And he remembers, he’s three. I wish I didn’t.

Or catch baby’s eye and slowly , slowly close your eyes. And he or she does too. Or he is supposed to. By which time one is a micro centimetre from total sleep. Problem is you don’t know if the baby is asleep.

The other problem is now you really can sleep standing up. One combats this side effect by leaning against something like a cold hard brick wall.

So in desperation, put him in pram and rocked.

First standing up and pushing pram back and forward. Just like mowing the lawn. Sleep inducing for the male of the species as mowing the same blade of grass over and over again.

Next hour, next baby, then sitting down and pushing pram back and forward. Then lying down and pushing with foot. One knows one’s tired when you can’t move a pram with your big toe. Not without falling asleep anyway.

Inglesina Otutto Pram

Or holding the child’s hand. This meant lying down on the floor next to the cot or bed. Then I would wait for the grip of the hand to loosen and the breathing to become steady. Once I was asleep, the baby must be too ! The side effect of this was that I can sleep on any hard surface (with my hand in the air!).

The hardest child was lulled to sleep by talking shop.

As I work in information technology, I decided to explain the intricacies of computer software and hardware.

And it worked ! Only problem is that six years later the child in question wants to take apart the computer and put it back together again and he wants the administrator password of the computer !

But the best thing I learnt was this. Once you’ve gotten through putting a baby to sleep, you develop a calm and peace even in the most vexing crisis. After all what else matters ?

One response to “How To Get A Baby To Sleep”

  1. When our kids, now parents themselves, were little and wouldn’t sleep I used to take them for a drive. The car was a noisy old banger but it did its job. Home again, unload baby and go to sleep for a couple of hours at least.


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