Solving the Sleep Conundrum

Know what it takes to get your baby sleeping where he should be sleeping? A spell in hospital, and a lot more milk.

I had my first – and hopefully last, for a while – introduction to the children’s Accident and Emergency department on Friday. Henry once again failed to weigh anything more than an anorexic gnat, and his jaundice was getting to the point where it looked like he’d been Tangoed. A kind doctor referred us to the hospital, and after a few hours of having his temperature taken and gawping, horrified, at the gurning presenters on CBeebies (is it always like that?!), we were admitted for the weekend. Henry got a snazzy blue and green cot with a motorised mattress, and I got a plastic fold-up daybed and a migraine.

Let me just say that the loveliest doctors and nurses in the world are all sent to the children’s ward. Without exception, everyone we met was wonderful. It wasn’t nice watching them put tiny baby drips into his tiny baby hand, nor waiting for hours to catch a urine sample, standing poised with a pot over the relevant equipment. But they established fairly quickly that there wasn’t anything more wrong with him than a giant appetite we weren’t appeasing. We supplemented his feeds with expressed milk and formula, suppressed his throwing up with anti-reflux medicine, and in no time he was getting pinker by the minute and growing a thoroughly respectable double chin.

We learned several valuable things in Side Room 18. The first was that a stuffed-full-to-the-gills baby will lie happily until he sleeps, sodden with milk, without needing to be rocked or given a dummy.

Bleurgh. Too. Full.

The second was that a wide, flat mattress is not the ideal surface on which to persuade a baby to sleep. Instead, the magnificent night nurse Eunice introduced us to The Nest. Roll up a towel lengthways into a sausage, and place it in a U-shape at the bottom end of a pillow case. Cover the pillow case with a thick blanket and, behold, there’s a little sleep-friendly space for a baby to feel safe in. We also elevated one end of his mattress to encourage his milk to stay down where it belonged. The change was instantaneous. And here I was just rolling up two sets of pajama bottoms at either side of him, and wondering why it didn’t work. THE WORLD NEEDS TO KNOW OF THIS. The world also needs to award Eunice a Nobel Prize, for which I will be nominating her immediately. And don’t think I won’t, because I will.


The third was that all food in hospital includes either the word ‘mince’ or ‘casserole’, or both, and that consumption of the same will do terrible things to your insides. This is by-the-by, but an important lesson nevertheless.

It is the truth.

Since we were discharged, Hennersly has fed and fed, then lain quite happily in his little half doughnut until he falls asleep by himself. And stays asleep, while I potter around actually doing useful things, or sleeping myself. Not a moment too soon, because I’m spending one hour in every three feeding him, which is no help at all for the eye-bags situation.

Seriously, Eunice? NOBEL PRIZE. I’m not kidding.


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