Getting my daughter to sleep every night is the hardest thing. She’s tired, I’m tired, Mom’s tired. Everyone’s tired. It’s the point where a band would go on “indefinite hiatus.” That, or stick at it long enough to develop a seething hatred of each other.
So you can see how much I very much won’t let that happen. It’s why I’ve had to adopt a whole slew of baby sleep tricks to make sure my daughter gets her beauty sleep. Some are more metal than others, and a lot of them don’t work all the time. But they’re all designed to help keep the band together.
Every night is a heavy drinking night. No – not for me! I get droopy-lidded after a single beer. But my daughter, now she can knock ’em back, like Lemmy on a binge-drinking stint. The idea is to get as much tryptophan as she can stomach flowing through her so she’ll conk out as soon as she hits the bassinet. Half an hour of feeding right before bedtime is usually enough to get her head lolling, but the more the better. We might pay for it in early AM poops later, but that’s a risk we’re all too willing to take. Sometimes you getting the night started is the first victory in a long night’s war.
Bouncing slash rocking is supposed to recreate the womb environment, make babies feel secure and safe enough to fall asleep. I like to think the intense g-forces at which I rock my daughter rattles her insides so much she’d rather will herself to sleep than endure it any longer. I can’t help it; I can’t be expected to have a metronome on me at all times.
I’ve read that Bob Marley’s “Buffalo Soldier” is a near-perfect tempo to rock a baby at. But who wants to have that stuck in their head every time baby needs to go down? Not this Mostly Metal Dad. Pantera’s “Walk” suits me just fine, and my daughter seems to appreciate the slightly higher tempo anyway.
My daughter resisted pacification at first. But as they say, “resistance is futile.” Honestly we just reached a point of desperation where none of the usual baby sleep tricks were working. That’s when you turn to the Forgotten Magicks, those methods you tried early on to no effect that now seem too good to be true. Putting a pacifier in her mouth now gives her a proxy nipple to suck that works so well I wonder if I somehow signed some infernal contract one bleary, sleep-deprived night. There’s not a website where you can check that, is there?
The Sh-ilver Bullet
Babies can be real monsters sometimes. You never know what supernatural immunities they’ll develop to render all your other tricks useless. That’s why you gotta have a secret weapon, and shushing happens to be mine. It’s not a failproof solution, but it has a cumulative effect when stacked with other techniques. I’ll rock her, make the “sh-sh-sh-sh-sh” sound in her ear. It doesn’t always get her to sleep, but it calms her down. Sometimes.
I really wish this technique were more metal. I mean, it’s a far cry from screaming something cool and tough like, “Die! Die! Die!” which would be problematic for a number of reasons. Still, it sounds like a silver-haired school teacher quietly scolding a student, when what I really want to be saying is, “SHUT UP JUST FUCKING CALM DOWN RGHRGHRHRHRH”
“Stroking” is not a very metal word. Unless you’re talking about stroking the blade of your sword before you do battle or some other power metal fantasy-inspired lyric, I’d rather never hear about stroking ever again. But getting a willful baby to sleep by stroking her face? Okay, I’m willing to don my chainmail.
This technique is seriously black magic. It’s less a physical act than some mind game that convinces my baby she’s tired. Running my fingers from between her eyes and down the bridge of her nose is a more compelling subliminal message than the satanic undertones found in a Judas Priest court case. Sure, it won’t take when she’s on alert or freak-out mode, but like most mental warfare it works best when she’s already weak and tired.
Give Her the Finger
You can do it the way you know best, of course; that as good as civil disobedience. But my daughter’s pretty alert already; she may realize the message her old man is trying to send to her and end up scorning me with her very first words. How will I explain to the wife if our daughter’s first utterances are a squeaky “fuck you” brought on by months if flipping her the bird? No, I’m talking about something else entirely.
Giving her a finger to suck on as a transition into bedtime worked wonders her first month of life. She eventually graduated to the pacifier, but there are times when I think the ‘ol finger is the last line of defense I have against the horrors of a sleepless night.
My daughter is growing. I guess babies do that? They’re a lot like mold in that way, you just let them do their thing and soon enough they’re sprouting their own personalities. But it means I’m constantly having to alter my how I attempt to get her to sleep.
All these tricks reminds me of adding new drum fills to my player’s toolbox. (Drumming, remember when I used to do that?) It’s an apt comparison, except instead of enhancing a song I’m helping teach a tiny, undeveloped human a basic function of life. Like anything, I guess even sleep has to be practiced first.