Babies are born with an instinctive ability to ruin your evenings, syas Cat Neilan.
They switch from happy-smiley-kicky delights to Demogorgons when you so much as think of putting the oven on. They can sense when your partner is five minutes away. They have read the TV guide to find out what time Bake Off starts. All this is with the sole aim of ruining your evening with blood-curding cries that make your hairs stand on end and leave you embarrassed to leave the house in case you catch a knowing look from one of the neighbours.
But it doesn’t have to be like that. Sure, the baby has the big guns, but like all guerrilla fighters, you know the territory and can use it to your advantage. No need to buy expensive white noise gadgets when your home comes ready supplied with the best weapons for this battle.
1. The humble handheld vacuum cleaner
You’ve tried singing, jiggling and shush-patting but the best you can get is a low level growl. Dinner is getting cold but every time you put him down the shrieks start up again. The handy vac really comes into its own when you’re trying to eat. A quick hoover of the area around the baby will stop him in his tracks. If you keep it on for a few minutes, you can even buy some time after you’ve switched iit off. It won’t send him to sleep but it will buy you some time to gobble down your dinner and pretend to care what your other half did that day.
2. The extractor fan
Your baby is wailing and you realise you’ve failed at motherhood once again because you missed the “tired” window and have jumped straight into the “overtired” twilight zone. He is immune to your shhing, primarily because he can’t hear it over the top of his cries. But there is one sound that is even louder than him. Switch on the extractor fan (levels two or three only), stand under it while stand-walking and if the gods are with you, you’ll have a sleeping baby in a few minutes. Also to be used at lunchtime, when scoffing peanut butter on toast while standing up.
3. The washing machine
He’s fed. He’s clean. Your partner is merrily snoring away. But for some reason your little bundle of joy just won’t join his dad in the land of nod. Quieter than the vacuum or the extractor fan, the washing machine really comes into its own after the 2am feed. The 12 minute rinse spin gradually lulls him to sleep better than any lullaby I’ve come across yet. As for getting up the creaky stairs afterwards, you’re on your own.
4. The kettle
You’ve got him sleeping but you’re pretty sure it’s not going to last for much longer. The kettle is too light to break down the super wail but it definitely knocks them back out when they’re on the brink. Make sure it’s filled so you get a nice long build up to the boil. And if that still doesn’t work, at least you can make a coffee to keep you going until morning....