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I saw this link recently to a really nice little article on infant sleeping. Like a lot of articles it doesn’t really say much that doesn’t seem little blinding common sense but sometimes it just takes the right slant for things to drop into place.

When you think about infant sleep patterns as a biological imperative, it makes me wonder once again how we as a society (and I include myself wholeheartedly in this) have found it so easy to be sold a pup by these “infant sleep experts”. I suppose the basic premise of the sales pitch is that people fundamentally want an easy life, and anyone promising to pave the way to the nirvana of “through the night from 6 weeks” is basically on a gravy train.

In my head though it feels similar to the rise of the epidural.

Don’t get me wrong, I get it, I really do. Someone dangles this magic carrot in front of you and tells you that they can make your life instantly more comfortable with no nasty side effects that you need worry about then why wouldn’t you take them up on it? Except there are scores of sayings telling us that nothing is ever truly free and we all seem wise to that fact, except when the person offering the freebie is a so called expert.

Epidural to take your pain away? Of course it’s safe! Nope, no side effects here, move along, nothing to see. Your baby a bit drowsy and slow to get going? Nope, no ideas. Hey look over there, a nice Bounty Pack full of freebies!

OK so that is a very glib take on things and epidurals have helped a lot of women. My point is though, do women get the chance to make an informed choice about the effects of an epidural, or are they given a sales job for the benefit of the professionals attending them?

And does the same apply to sleep training? If you were given a balanced picture that told you that there was a way you could train your baby out of waking, but that doing so would have certain consequence, would you make the same choices? I’m not sure I would. If I had taken the time to associate shorter sleeping cycles and frequent waking with the biological imperatives of a newborn I think my parenting of Alfie would have been very different.

No actually, I know it would have been.

And mention of my son brings me neatly onto my mini rant – soft play centres.

People, do not use these places as a crèche!!

Alfie and I met up with some friends yesterday at a local play centre and had a pretty good time romping about. I did struggle a little lugging myself around after him but he enjoyed himself and we adults even had a few minutes to catch up when the children were persuaded to stop for snacks and drinks.

Not long before lunchtime Alfie was in a ball pool in the toddler area playing quite roughly with another similarly aged, but much larger child. I didn’t mind a certain degree of mutual clothes pulling but I was standing right there and as soon as Alfie put a toe out of line he was removed and told very firmly that what he was doing wasn’t on.

You know why I did that? Because I’m a responsible parent. That means despite being tired, pregnant, hot and bothered, I was there supervising my child rather than sitting at a table sipping a latte and hoping my toddler was going to act like an angel of his own accord.

It is the most ridiculous idea to take a young child to one of these places and expect that of them: Soft play centres are like kiddy amphetamines and you can’t seriously expect a toddler to be that over stimulated and still to regulate their own behaviour.

Well clearly the mother of Alfie’s playmate/ victim did because she was nowhere to be seen, which meant that it was me who had to step in and grab her son’s arm when he wrapped his chubby little fingers in my boy’s hair and ragged his head repeatedly up and down unto the ball pool until he was absolutely screaming in pain. When I prised his fingers off Alfie he still had a load of his hair in his hand and Alfie was in pieces.

I was SO angry.

Not at the child, but at the parent.

WHERE. WERE. YOU?

I’m actually glad that they didn’t make an appearance at that moment because I’m not sure I would have trusted myself not to have been extremely rude. I hadn’t seen a parent the whole time the boys were playing and there had been a few tussles that I had broken up. I don’t want to be that horrible over protective mother who won’t let their child get involved in rough and tumble because Alfie is more than able to handle himself, and is often the one getting told to calm down and be more gentle. There is a line though, and when my son is being properly hurt I draw that line and feel somewhat murderous to any who cross it.

Which is exactly why I don’t go to those places more often.

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