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My Daughter’s Love Affair

It all started when she was about three months old. I didn’t notice the change. It just crept up on me almost over night. I should have known it was coming. My daughter suddenly wanted someone other than me to help soothe her to sleep. And that somebunny was Bunny.

It started with a kiss

Desperately looking for the much promised ‘signs of tiredness’ at around three months, I noticed that she started putting soft things to her nose when she was looking a bit sleepy. To begin with, it was mostly inappropriate things, like our (very non-docile) cat’s tail, or a sock or slipper. In looking for something a little more suitable for a three month old to sniff on, I gave her a lovely little Jellycat rabbit a friend had bought us as a present when she was born. And so the love affair began.

Jellycat Bunny Rabbit

Snuggling with Bunny – where it all began!

With ears and arms that are just right for little hands to hold and snuggle ‘Bunny’ as he was creatively named has now become a part of everyday life. Oh, he’s been through the mill a bit – he’s been dropped and thrown, covered in food, and subsequently been through the wash a few times, even though his little label says ‘surface wash only’. As if!

He’s also got a friend who our daughter also shares her bedtime snuggles with. He’s called ‘Mr Bunny’ (see what we did there?) and also comes with a little comfort blanket, although she only has eyes and hands for his ears and arms!

Since the introduction of ‘Mr Bunny’ the two have been interchangeable, with each finding favour at various times. A bit like an emperor’s concubine.

Bunny’s been everywhere with us. He’s been to see her grandparents, to the seaside, to the supermarket (on more than one occasion – on some days). He’s been very kindly offered to her cousin – perhaps without realising the consequences if said cousin had taken a particular shine to him! He’s even been to the doctor’s. The lovely doctor chatted to my daughter about Bunny and pretended to listen to his chest when he was listening to hers. What an absolute star! Obviously, she looked a bit puzzled, but I had the sneaking suspicion it was more for my benefit. And I have to admit I loved it – I’m a sucker for that kind of thing!

The horror!

Jellycat Bunny

Morning Cuddles with Bunny

But obviously, Bunny’s adventures bring with them a certain amount of risk. I’m forever checking that he’s still in her pram, as I don’t want to face the bedtime when Bunny’s nowhere to be found. One of my favourite stories when I was little was Dogger by Shirley Hughes. Its beautiful illustrations belied the harsh truth that your favourite toy can go astray and life may never be the same again. That is, unless you have a nice older sister (who appears mean at the start of the book, but shows she has a heart towards the end) who retrieves Dogger from the nasty people who thought they bought him fair and square at a village fete. The horror!

With the intention of avoiding the Dogger situation at all costs, I wanted to secure Bunny to the pushchair. As useful as they are for extending hanging pram toys, it just didn’t seem right to use plastic linking rings to effectively tie Bunny to the pram. I pictured those horrid adverts about dancing bears with rings through their noses. Whilst a little far fetched, perhaps, for a soft toy bunny, I just couldn’t bring myself to attach Bunny to the pram with plastic rings round his neck.

Fifty Shades of Grey

Bunny Snuggles

Bunny Snuggles – still snuggling after all this time

So, on the quest for something a little more ‘humane’ I recently started using a Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie. The nice soft material velcroes gently around Bunny’s neck yet allows my daughter to cuddle and snuggle Bunny when we’re out and about. Even when she tried to (affectionately, I’m sure) launch Mr Bunny out of the pushchair today, she was most baffled and, I think quietly relieved, that he was still hanging on by his paws to her chariot, via the lifeline of a Toy Tie. (Albeit his comfort blanket was slightly greyed from getting trapped under the wheels whilst crossing the road! Thank God Mr Bunny’s ‘surface washable’ too – in the washing machine he goes tomorrow!).

The Toy Tie’s water and dirt resistant material makes it a practical pushchair accessory, whilst its beautiful and modern pattern means it’s something that people will no doubt notice and admire. It’s a practical pushchair accessory that looks pretty lovely too. The concept of the Toy Tie may well have slightly baffled my daughter to begin with, but it’s certainly going to be as permanent a feature on our pushchair as Bunny or his gentrified counterpart is.

Ruby and Ginger Toy Tie

Studying Mr Bunny and why he doesn’t fall off the pushchair!

How far do you go to keep your child’s favourite toy safe? Do you use anything in particular, or just wing it? We’d love to hear your views!

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To sleep, perchance to dream?

To quote The Smiths rather than more Shakespeare: I ‘haven’t had a dream in a long time’.  Largely because the erratic night time sleeping patterns of a certain little lady aren’t really allowing me to enter that deepest stage of sleep required to do so.

I don’t know what we’ve done wrong.  From six weeks until about seven months we had the dream child.  We could pretty much count on an unbroken stretch of eight hours’ sleep each night.  Things were rosy.  We felt human.  Things got done around the house. A website even got launched.

She slept once!

She slept once!

There is a light that never goes out

Then what happened?  I’m not really sure.  There was a cold in there somewhere which didn’t help matters.  The clocks changed.  Also, she became generally more aware of her surroundings (meaning a terrible weekend’s sleep for one and all at Easter when we went away). She began waking up a few times in the night and needing comforting back to sleep.

Then, around six weeks ago, she decided instead to wake up anywhere between 3.00am and 5.00am and take at least two hours to get back to sleep, completely messing up any semblance of normality in the day, let alone a blessed routine!

Meat is Murder

I spoke to our local health professional who said upping her snacks could help.  Poor child – I think she thinks I’m constantly stuffing her full of food, and whilst she’s not aware of the analogy, I can’t help thinking of the ‘gluttony’ part of the film Se7en. Anyway, three days on and a pot belly later, she’s still waking up.

On Sunday came the crunch-point.  A two hour session of getting up to try and get her back to sleep between 4.00 and 6.00 was the last straw.  Action had to be taken.  My husband and I had to actually discuss the problem at a time other than the wee small hours of the morning (not really a great time to discuss anything).

There’s more to life than books you know, but not much more

On Monday, having emptied our local library of anything with the words ‘baby’ and / or ‘sleep’ in the title (including one about 3-8 year olds – that’s how tired I was) I read up while she happily amused herself bashing some stacking cups together.  It turns out we have created far too many ‘sleep cues’ that she now needs to get back to sleep and she needs to learn to self-settle again.  (presumably she could do this between six weeks and seven months of age!).

Sing me to sleep

The books also suggested the controversial method of controlled crying or letting her ‘cry it out’. This is something that my head tells me is a great idea, but my heart really struggled with.  Every ounce of me wants to hug and comfort her whenever she’s upset or distressed.  But no, I had to be strong.

Except here’s the clincher.  She doesn’t wake up crying! She wakes up in the night wide awake and ready to play.  She sings.  She rolls.  She practices crawling.  She plays a merry tune on the bars of her cot.  And generally she has a lark!  It’s usually around 40 minutes to an hour of this before she even starts with crying which we can allegedly then ‘control’.  All this makes for two very sleepy parents, only one of whom can have the odd daytime nap to try and catch up!

We’re now on day three of no sleep cues and controlled crying.  Last night she didn’t even cry but self settled, albeit she was awake twice (I blame the rain for the first time.  It woke me up!). We shall see what happens on night time number three tonight.  Watch this space!

So please, please, please, let me get what I want – sleep.  Lord knows it would be the first time…..in a long time.

Do you have any suggestions that have helped get your children to sleep better?  What sleep cues do you use or have you had to abandon?

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