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Getting the Baby to Sleep

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"The cats nestle close to their kittens,
The lambs have laid down with the sheep.
You're cozy and warm in your bed, my dear.
Please go the fuck to sleep."

Babies, they cry a lot. They don't seem to want to sleep much either. In fiction, whenever there is a crying baby there is a parent (or babysitter) at their wit's-end who is prepared to do anything to get the infant to quieten down. And we do mean anything. Often this is something really inappropriate, or at least hilariously out of character. A funny dance, a song you really shouldn't sing to children, strapping the crib to the wing of a 747 jet!! These care-givers are going to try it. They've tried everything else. Often this ridiculous measure is the only thing that will quieten the infant down.

Just how bizarre will, of course, depend on the baseline-reality of the work itself. A wacky and bizarre work filled with egregious violations of common-sense and the laws of physics will naturally have a more outrageous stunt than a work that is mostly realistic. The basic principle will remain, something that goes beyond what the character(s) would normally do, or would be considered sane by the rest of the cast. Please note this isn't just a baby fussing and not sleeping with the parent worrying, there must be the silliness element too.

A Comedy Trope and as such always Played for Laughs, if it is played for anything else it is not this trope. Compare "Getting Ready for Bed" Plot and The Compliance Game.

No Real Life Examples, Please!.


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  • An advert for Volkswagen's Start Stop features a father trying to get his baby to go to sleep by driving around and being repeatedly thwarted by the Start Stop feature switching off the engine every time he gets to the traffic lights.

    Comic Strips 
  • Baby Blues is a comic about parenting, so of course this has been the subject of multiple strips. Oldest child Zoe, in particular, has performed stalling tactics such as tying her shoelaces into massive knots, making Darryl search the whole house for all her stuffed animals, and even latching onto Darryl's face while kissing him in attempts to not go to bed.
  • One story arc of Curtis had Diane agree to look after a friend's baby and be driven to her wit's end when the baby just wouldn't stop crying no matter what she tried. However, it turns out that the baby is as quiet as a perfect angel when not in Diane's arms — Greg, who's able to take care of her without a single peep from her, has a good laugh over how the baby apparently just really doesn't like Diane for whatever reason.

    Fan Works 

    Films — Animation 
  • Storks: Diamond Destiny apparently dislikes sleeping, and Junior tries "manually" closing her eyes several times. It gets to the point that a fight scene is willingly made as quiet as possible (by both sides) to avoid waking her up.
  • In The Rugrats Movie, Baby Dil won't stop crying at all after he leaves the hospital. An exhausted Stu and Didi are finally able to get him to sleep by making up a lullaby. However, because of all the energy they're forced to spend on Dil, this leads an upset Tommy to feel neglected.
  • In Incredibles 2: Bob attempts to get his baby son Jack-Jack to go to sleep by reading him the book "Doozeldorf". However, every time Bob puts him down, he somehow manages to get out of his crib and turns on the TV. Eventually, Bob gives up and decides to watch TV with Jack-Jack till he falls asleep, only for Bob to fall asleep while Jack-Jack watches the movie.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • The three-part '50s-era song used as a lullaby in Three Men and a Baby.
  • In the Vin Diesel movie The Pacifier, Diesel's character (a Navy SEAL reluctantly assigned as a babysitter) has to learn the "Peter Panda Dance" (and the song that goes along with it), which is the only way to little Peter to go to sleep.
  • In Mary Poppins, when Jane and Michael refuse to go to sleep, Mary Poppins sings, "Stay Awake", with lyrics that encourage the children to do just that.


    Live-Action TV 
  • Friends, Rachel decides to wake baby Emma up on her first day home from the hospital, resulting in a crying fit so loud and long that Phoebe can't hear the voices in her head anymore. The only thing that can calm Emma down is Monica, and only Monica, holding her while doing a bouncing dance and chanting a silly song.
    Monica: I can't believe it! She's asleep! I got her to go to sleep! I have actual magical powers!
  • Doc Martin:
    • Season 5 Ep 3, Louisa is so desperate to get her baby to sleep she does all sorts of bizarre dances, and even gets arch-stick-in-the-mud Martin to do one too.
    • The next episode reveals Martin is willing to place the baby in a car and drive right out to the middle of the moor as a way to lull the baby to sleep.
  • In Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Miles finds the only way to get new baby Kirayoshi to sleep is to place him in the computer-pit of the Station's bridge. Or hand him to Worf. It is debatable which is more silly.
  • Up All Night: the parents can't get their daughter to sleep at all because of a loud party. Their solution is to call the police to get the party shut down, then quickly infiltrate the party so it looks like they weren't the ones who called the police. The irony is that baby Amy falls asleep immediately in the arms of the coworker they call in to babysit. Guess all they needed was to have Calvin hold her...
  • Murphy Brown — Murphy's son only stops fussing when listening to Barry Manlilow.
  • In Stargate Atlantis, Teyla can only get her son to sleep by continually walking around Atlantis. Keller says that when she was a baby, she would only sleep in the car, so her parents had this habit of driving around the block at 3 AM.
    Teyla: Hmm... that would be lovely. At least I'd be sitting down.
  • In The Golden Girls episode "Not Another Monday", when Blanche, Rose, and Dorothy can't get the neighbor's baby Frank they're babysitting to stop crying and sleep, Rose mentions she used to get her children to sleep by singing "Mr. Sandman". The three try it, and turns out it works on Frank too.
  • Angela and Hodgins spend an entire episode of Bones trying to get their newborn son to fall asleep, to no avail. Sleep-deprived Hilarity Ensues. In the end, only granddad Billy Gibbons' guitar playing has any effect.
    Cam: Uh, is she trying to get on the platform with a buy-ten, get-one-free yogurt card?
  • How I Met Your Mother: Marshall and Lily insist on singing Marvin a very elaborate, prop-filled lullaby every night before he goes to bed.

  • The Tim Minchin's song, "Lullaby" is a song sung by parent who is getting more and more desperate as their crying child won't go to sleep.
    I don't know what else I can do to try to hush you
    My heart says "I love you", but my brain's thinking "fuck you"
    And hoping a child trafficker will abduct you
    At least then I'll get a few hours in bed
  • The song "Go to Sleep" from the Arthur album Arthur and Friends: The First Almost Real Not Live CD (or Tape) is about D.W. trying to get her baby sister Kate to sleep using what she describes as "the world's most powerful lullaby." It's a hard rock tune with her basically shouting the lyrics the entire time - "Go to sleep! Go to sleep! Count a sheep! Don't make a peep!" and so forth. The song ends with her mother, Mrs. Read, telling her to keep down the racket because Kate needs to sleep, only to find to her surprise that Kate is sleeping.
    D.W.: (to the listeners) I know what my sister likes.
  • The Tom Smith song "1000 Hats" is a song set to the tune of "1000 Miles" that goes through a seemingly endless number of Dr Seuss references until the last line reveals that the singer is telling bedtime story after story until his child goes to sleep.
    And thank Dear God, my kid's begun to snore

    Puppet Shows 
  • Dinosaurs: Earl does the Mating Dance to get Baby to sleep.
  • In the Donkey Hodie episode "Yodel Bird Sitting", Donkey Hodie, Purple Panda and Duck Duck use several unusual methods to try to get the Baby Yodel Bird to sleep, all of which helped them sleep when they were younger.
    • Donkey Hodie plays a game called Quiet Peek-A-Boo, which Grampy played with her, to help the baby sleep.
    • Purple Panda uses a slow dance called "The Dance Of The Nap Nap", which his mom used, to get the baby yodel bird to sleep.
    • Duck Duck reads a poem about naps to the baby yodel bird.

    Video Games 
  • Stage 3 of Parappa The Rapper spin-off Um Jammer Lammy is all about making an entire nursery of babies to sleep. The singing itself is made by the babies.
  • Another Code: Towards the end of the game, after Ashley reunites with her father, Richard tells her she used to cry a lot as a baby when she was separated from her mother. Richard would toss her up in order to calm her down and by the time he managed to get her to sleep, he was the one who wanted to cry.

    Web Animation 
  • Dragon ShortZ Vegeta and Nappa struggle with this in episode one when Bulma leaves baby Trunks in Vegeta's care for the first time.

    Western Animation 
  • The Simpsons:
    • Apu and his wife have octuplets in "Eight Misbehavin'". Apu has to strap on a body harness, which simulates teats on a sow, as the only way to feed them and keep the babies all quiet.
    • The episode "Fland Canyon" has Homer trying to put Maggie to sleep, eventually resorting to telling her a story from the past. In one scene, Homer managed to subdue Maggie, only for Marge to loudly ask "Did you put the baby to sleep yet?".
  • In the Classic Disney Short Fathers Are People, the baby cries in the middle of the night, and Goof— er, George gets up for "the bottle". It turns out to be a martini which George promptly drinks, and the baby somehow shuts up at that moment.
  • In two of the Roger Rabbit Shorts, Roger trying to get Baby Herman to stop crying sets the plot in motion. In "Tummy Trouble", it's giving him a rattle, which Herman swallows, leading to the two going to the hospital. In "Roller Coaster Rabbit", Roger goes to get a balloon for Herman after the one he had flew away, and Herman wanders off in the meantime.
  • One Popeye cartoon had Popeye and Bluto trying to get a crying Swee'pea to laugh. Naturally, it leads to an Escalating War, and Popeye reaches for his spinach... only he opens a can of onions instead, causing him and Bluto to cry. Swee'pea sees them crying and laughs.
  • In the Thomas & Friends episode, "Thomas the Babysitter", Thomas has to deal with a baby on his train, who cries every time the train comes to a stop, but calms down and goes to sleep every time the train moves. This initially gives Thomas the idea not to stop at all, but Annie and Clarabel are horrified at this, reminding him that he has to stop at every signal and crossing gate so all of his passengers will be safe. Towards the end of the episode, Thomas talks to Sir Topham Hatt about a request to miss his break to make a journey without stopping, which Sir Topham Hatt finds a wonderful idea. This journey gives both the baby and his mother some much-needed sleep. At the end of the episode, Albert, one of the workmen, congratulates Thomas on looking after his wife and son for him, and decides to name his son "Thomas" in honor of that day.
  • The Loud House: In "It's a Loud, Loud, Loud, Loud House", the kids tear the house apart trying to search for a hidden stash of money. In one scene, they look for the stash in the room that Lisa and Lily share, and notice that Lily's taking a nap—the oldest kids make their chaos silent to avoid waking her up.


Video Example(s):



Vegeta and Nappa finally get Trunks to sleep but it doesn't last.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (8 votes)

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Main / GettingTheBabyToSleep

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