Getting it right is critical for every parent and not just so we can sleep easier

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The last few nights have been a bit frantic for us as the baby has been having a few sleeping issues.

Well I say baby, but she is nearly two years old. Most children by that time are happily sleeping soundly through the night – giving their long-suffering parents a nice 12-hour break from their loud lungs. In fact most children are doing this from about eight weeks old.

You would think by the third child you would have this sleeping business licked. But sadly not in our case. Now the other half and I are operating in a strange haze brought about by sleep deprivation.

When we had our first baby we were told by many well meaning people – mostly our respective mothers – that “routine, routine, routine” was the only way.

So we did this and as a consequence our little angel was able to sleep through by about 10 weeks old, never waking once in the night, much to the envy of many of our friends.

Baby two – well he was a boy and boys are much easier anyway in my experience – and he was able to sleep through the night by three months old.

So we naturally assumed that baby three would be just the same as the others. We were after all “the best parents ever”, having been so great at getting our first two children off to such a flying start.

We would boastfully tell each other it was of course because we were so much better than the other parents who “gave in” to their wailing children at the drop of a hat.

And for the first year and a half of baby three’s life she was good as gold. Sleeping through; eating well and just a general delight all round.

But something happened in the last few months and we just don’t know what. Regularly a few nights a week she wakes screaming as if she is in absolute agony and whatever cuddles and soothing she gets she doesn’t seem to calm down. Instead her screams just seem to get louder and louder.

It is only when we give in and take her downstairs that she finally calms down. She starts smiling and chatting away to all the toys which she has been separated from for the past few hours while “caged” in her cot and her apparent agony she was suffering from moments earlier has totally evaporated.

Now we believe she has worked out that by doing this she gets both her parents entirely devoted to her without any rival input from her elder siblings. That and the fact she has the run of all the toys .

So now we are at our wits end how to nip this little episode in the bud, as we need our sleep and this is clearly not happening while she dictates and gets her own way. But get it right we must.

Getting it right, right from the start is critical for every parent. Especially as research shows this has a knock on effect on how well children do in school.

Sheffield City Council is currently reviewing all its early years services in order to get it right for under five-year-olds. For more information visit: www.sheffield.gov.uk/earlyyearsreview