Getting baby to sleep is a baffling and mysterious art.
Ask a million parents what the trick is and you’ll get a million different answers: rock the baby, bounce the baby, bathe the baby, massage the baby, rub baby’s nose, rub baby’s toes, sing baby lullabies, sing the blues, play Mozart, Chopin, Joanna Newsom, buy a white noise machine, a Sleep Sheep, blackout shades, spritz lavender on their sheets, dose ‘em with chamomile, warm milk, melatonin, let them suck on a whisky soaked rag – scratch that, wrong generation.
And when all else fails, let them cry it out (if you can handle the guilt).
The confusing and varied list goes on and on.
What works for one does not work for all, and none might work for the very unlucky.
To find universal truths about sleep, let’s examine proverbs of the ages from a new parent’s perspective. Take note, the following utterly useless nuggets of wisdom won’t actually help get baby down but, in the very least, might be of comfort to a weary parent.
“Babies smile in their sleep because they’re listening to the whispering of angels.” – Author unknown
Or because they have gas. Either way, it’s a great photo op.
“A mother’s arms are made of tenderness and children sleep soundly in them.” – Victor Hugo
But if she dares put the baby down, all bets are off.
“Do not wake up the sleeping bear.” – Swedish Proverb
Also known as, the colicky infant.
“Sleep with a woman and she will make sure you wake up.” – Basque Proverb
Because she’s been on duty all night and now it’s your turn to hold the baby.
“For babies grow up, we’ve learned to our sorrow, so quiet down cob webs, dust go to sleep, I’m rocking my baby, and babies don’t keep.” – Anonymous
The dishes are dirty, baby’s clothes smell like poo. Your house looks like shit, it’s sad but it’s true. Turn off that vacuum. Baby is sleeping. Try napping yourself, instead of housekeeping.
“Do not wake one who is sleeping; you will fall asleep yourself” – Swahili proverb
However, if someone is there to watch the infant while you sleep, then go for it.
“If all else fails, sleep with your mother.” – Catalonian Proverb
A point for co-sleeping.
“Don’t tell any more fairy tales when the child has gone to sleep.” – Burundian Proverb
Go watch something mindless on Netflix, instead.
“You may force a man to shut his eyes, but not to sleep.” – Danish Proverb
In other words, you can put your baby in the crib but they’ll scream all the same and once you switch them to a toddler bed, they’ll get up 15 times and run around the living room before you finally barricade their bedroom door with your body and collapse face-down on their floor, passing out from exhaustion.
“If the skin of your belly is tight, the skin of your eyelids can sleep.” Japanese Proverb
False. Any woman, whose belly has been rendered flaccid after giving birth, can tell you they’ll sleep just fine, if only the baby will let them.
“For some of us happiness comes while we sleep.” French proverb
True. Especially for new parents.
“Small children won’t let you sleep, bigger children won’t let you live.” Jewish proverb.
If parenting teenagers doesn’t already scare you, let this sink in.
“Eat in Poland, drink in Hungary, sleep in Germany, and make love in Italy.” Polish Proverb
Oops. This was meant for the “single, rested, and child-free” list in the travel section.
“Peace is the fruit of activity, not of sleep.“ – Unknown
Folks, this one is actually helpful. Tucker your babes out! Bicycle those chubby legs, fly them like Superman, do tummy time, ball play, dance with them in your arms like your life depended on it (because it does), or just suck it up and buy one of those horrific looking bouncy contraptions that play auto-tuned Yankee Doodle on a loop. Anything is worth getting your baby to PTFO.
“Sleeping people can’t fall down.” – Japanese proverb
To clarify: sleeping toddlers can’t fall down. Naps and bedtime are the only time Destructosaurus won’t bite the dust.
“Without enough sleep, we all become tall two-year-olds.” – JoJo Jensen
You will become sleep deprived. You will lose the ability to form coherent sentences. You will pour orange juice in your coffee instead of cream, wash the wools in hot water, put the car in drive instead of reverse. You will go ape-shit and have a full-blown temper tantrum in the presence of your already crying baby. That’s when you call it. Get grandma or the babysitter over. Buy some earplugs. Rent a hotel room. Get some sleep, for goodness sake! One night will do you a solid.
And for the win…
“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one.” Leo J. Burke
Precisely. See the “single, rested and child-free” section.