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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Magic Sleep Fairy

Harriet will be 6 months on 18th March and we were resigned to thinking she was a 'problem' baby. (I don't mean staying out all night, dying her hair bright pink and tattooing her neck with a spiders web). I mean not wanting to get into a sleeping/feeding routine and not really knowing what she wants or when she wants it. We also thought she would
n e v e r sleep through the night.

Today is 8th March, the sun is shining and it's warm outside and as the great Bob Dylan once said 'the times, they are a-changing'. For the second time today, Harry has gone to bed and fallen asleep without any fuss or crying. That's not all, but last night, Harry slept through til 6.50am without waking for attention or a feed. It's been a long old time, but I think we've got there.

Our one saving grace has been Alison Scott-Wright - THE Magic Sleep Fairy. She doesn't have a magic wand. She doesn't have fairy wings either or a halo. Okay, she's not really a fairy, but she can work magic with babies and she certainly worked miracles with Harry!

As you may be aware, for the last two years, I have written reviews for children’s
books for Early Times, an independent publication in the South West aimed at parents with children aged from birth – 4 years. I also write a column ‘Just Ask Jewels’ in the same publication, offering honest, down to earth advice on the mother and baby experience and includes excepts from this BLOG.

I was sent Alison's book to review, The Sensational Baby Sleep Plan. Initially, I thought it would be yet another self-help parenting book containing nothing I didn't already know and would only fit one type of baby. However, as I started reading this book, I realised I was very wrong. Alison's winning formula, The Reassurance Sleep-Training Technique is the just one part of the book, but there are alsorts of topics covered in this book such as; Sleeping, Feeding, Gastro-related and dietary-related intolerances, covering all types of babies, quoting questions from other parents, always providing a response. It's really well written too. Easy to understand and is jammed packed full of information and techniques. So, I wrote about how great I thought Alison's book was and then carried on with my hectic life.

Getting back to Harry, I have to be honest, Jerry and I had come to the thought that she just wasn't a routine baby and our lives would be unorganised as far as she was concerned. A sad fact, but we were looking forward to when she would start school. Even friends would sympathetically say that maybe she was more independent than Drew and just didn't like being in a routine and she would sleep when she wanted. For two very organised control freaks, this was something Jerry and I couldn't deal with very well and although I tried to accept it, I lost the plot.


After being talked out of leaving home at 37 with just a small suitcase, I remembered A
lison's book. Chapter 1 'Sleep Matters' talked about why babies should even have a routine. Alison compared our lives to that of a baby...

'Getting out of bed, washing, dressing eating meals, going to work, taking children to school, shopping, cleaning and so on, right through to going to bed at the end of the day, are all little pockets of routine and within each we follow a similar sequence of actions. The actual events may not be exactly the same from day to day, but we still have our basic 'routine rituals' that keep us on track. If the pattern gets interrupted or disturbed it can throw us out of sync and make us forget for a moment what we should do next! Putting a similar basic daily feeding and sleeping pattern in place for a baby will give him/her a sense of security and reassurance.'

I promise I won't quote the whole book, but I have to say that the 'Establishing positive sleep habits and bedtime practice' section talks about how important it is that a baby gets enough rest to aid their cognitive and physical development. Without enough, a baby can become irritable, fretful, factious and difficult to feed. This was Harry all over. Crying when she was put in her cot, crying when she woke up, crying when we tried to feed her and not taking the whole feed. A general annoyance really.

There's no magic circle secret to Alison's Reassurance Sleep-Training Technique, but you do need to be in it to win it, so there needs to be consistency from both parents and anyone else who looks after your baby. There's no space for half-hearted attempts. So after reading what we needed to do, I removed the cot mobile and the musical lullaby thingy and all toys from the cot. The first step of the technique. I felt awful, but Harry would be going to bed to sleep, not to play. Then I got ready for the tears and screams and there were lots...let me assure you.

I won't bore you with the bits in the middle but whether your baby is one week or 5 months old, if you want to find out how to get YOUR baby sleeping through the night, I would definitely recommend buying a copy of Alison's book. At nearly 6 months old, Harry is living proof Alison's technique works and sanity in the Hartell household has been restored.
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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Sick!

Well, you can see by the date of my last post (Jan 17th 2010), that I'm been somewhat distracted...

It's been a month of illness after illness with both Harry and Drew. I won't bore you, but we've had all substances from all orifice's. It started off with Harry having suspected Bronchiolitis AGAIN, swiftly followed by a bout of sickness and diarrhea for them both. Hot on the heels of the hershey-squirts was Drew and Harriet teething - simultaneously! Harry now has two front bottom teeth through and she's not even 6 months!! Its been THE most draining time since they've both been born. For everyone.

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