Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's War in the Nursery - and I Intend to Win

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

It's War in the Nursery - and I Intend to Win

Article excerpt


After nine months of sleep deprivation at the hands - and lungs - of her infant son, Alison Roberts turns to the experts for a lasting solution

BEFORE I met night nanny and sleep-training expert Brenda Hart, I'd had one night of unbroken sleep in nine months. One night.

And what did I do that was so special on that single evening, to get baby to sleep through? Why, I drank four glasses of white wine, passed out on the sofa and slept so soundly I failed completely to hear him wake up and whimper - the cue that usually had me running to his cot two or even three times a night.

Then I met Brenda and learned how to ignore my baby. It has been a painful lesson, but the results are promising. Brenda works for Night Nannies, a London agency that claims to be able to "cure" all sleep problems in a healthy, full-term baby within, on average, three nights.

If we followed her regime with unwavering dedication, by the end of the week Joe would go to sleep with barely a sniff, and then sleep like, well, a baby - and we, oh joy, would get our evenings back.

There are a number of very common sleeping problems, says Brenda, and it seems that we have most of them - from baby crying out repeatedly in the night to baby waking at 4am and refusing to go back to sleep.

In our favour, we had never used a dummy; to our shame, we had never put Joe down in his cot while he was still awake and thus allowed him to "learn" how to get to sleep by himself.

This parental indiscipline - feeding or rocking a baby to sleep before lying him down - is apparently the commonest root of all problems. "It's not Joe who has to change," Brenda tells me really quite sternly. "It's you."

First of all, she says, ditch the baby monitor. "You don't need any of these modern gadgets," she says. " Monitors, video cameras, tapes that play womb sounds - they stop the baby from sleeping."

It is Brenda's view that sleep problems are a very modern phenomenon, born largely of overprotective parents who cannot bear to let their baby cry even for a second. The working mother, determined to be the best possible mum when actually at home, is often the worst offender. …

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