Preying on the desperate? Exploiting people's deepest hopes and fears to extract money from them? Selling them snake oil at a massive profit? If you're an enterprising Nigerian prince or Uzbek lottery winner, have I got a business idea for you - stop sending scam emails, start selling sleep aids for babies to desperate parents.
Picture the scene, it's 4am, you've had forty minutes sleep in three bouts since 5am yesterday and over the crackly monitor comes the familiar half coughed cry just as your head hits the pillow... Trust me that I'm speaking from experience when I say that there is NOTHING you won't buy if there is a convincing enough blurb about it helping get your bundle of joy to close their eyes and sleep for more than thirty minutes at a time.
Elephant nightlight that projects patterns on the ceiling and plays a choice of different melodies and found sounds? Got it. Seahorse nightlight that glows and plays five minutes of lullabies when you squeeze its oddly shaped plastic tummy? Got it. Skulls of four unicorns attached to a mobile with strands of mermaid hair that gently vibrate when a north wind passes across them on a full moon? Amazon were out but it's top of my wish list.
The problem is, no matter how many you buy, and trust me, I've bought lots, they aren't going to magic your colicky, teethy, full of cold, learning to roll over, or just generally wide-awake at 3am baby back to sleep the night they arrive.
But, there might just be a way they might just help... And without even asking for your bank details, or soliciting a cheque for a strangely precise amount of Zimbabwean dollars, I'll share how.
First, you only need one thing (really you don't even need that, but as you've already bought eight, you might as well make use of one). Secondly, you probably need about two more weeks of still-shockingly disturbed sleep I'm afraid. Lastly, you need a routine. You know that already right - it's what everyone says. But dammit, it does genuinely work*. Whether the sleep aid you've chosen is a teddy bear, a night light, a lullaby playing on a CD player in their room, or some uber gadget that serves all three of these functions, make it the last thing your baby encounters as you put them down after their bedtime routine (ours runs: bath, cuddle, feed, story, seahorse gets turned on, bed). After a while - ten days to three weeks - that association with sleeping will get ingrained, and when they start awake at 3am, all you will need to do is push the button and walk away.
That still sounds like you're going to be getting up at 3am, and sometimes 4am and 5am too - and guess what, until they naturally decide to sleep through, you are. No snake oil sleep aid is going to magically turn your fractious three-month old into a sleeping 15-hours straight thirteen-year old. And if you believed it would do, I'd check to make sure your email spam filter is turned up pretty high.
If you want to know how my eight-month-old is sleeping this month, you can follow my adventures as a stay-at-home dad at http://www.280days.co.uk
*until they are colicky, teethy, full of cold or learning to roll over