Just another post about weaning from breastfeeding and #sleep.

Sorry to those followers who like to hear new stories about my goings-on. This is old news. We’re trudging through the challenging and sad territory of weaning from breastfeeding with a toddler who has only ever been able to sleep through breastfeeding.

It’s been about a month since we night weaned again (I say again because we night weaned a few months ago but that attempt only lasted two weeks). There have been two – maybe three – nights where I’ve broken down after hours of middle-of-the-night wakefulness and nursed my toddler back to sleep. Other than that, she only nurses twice a day – to sleep for nap, and to sleep at bedtime. She has handled the night weaning well for the most part, and doesn’t ask for milk through the night anymore. Thankfully, there really weren’t very many tears over the change. Occasionally when she’s having a rough time with a cough or congestion, an itchy rash, or being overtired she’ll ask politely for milk, but when I calmly say “no milk until bedtime” she doesn’t ask again. She has unlimited access to hugs, kisses and cuddles, as well as warm mint tea for that belly-warming feeling.

The first time we tried night weaning, she ended up sleeping through the night for the first time ever. I thought night weaning was our golden ticket to better sleep. I thought she was only waking so much at night because she had become conditioned to get milk at those times, and by de-conditioning her, she’d no longer wake. But last night, not unlike every other night this month, she woke up 5 times and stayed awake from 1am until 3am. And then she was up for the day at 4:30. She’s at daycare right now, but I’m just waiting for the call that she needs to come home early to sleep (she does half days and has her nap at home with me after lunch).

We’re just as exhausted as we were when she was an infant. It has me aching to spend a night in bed with her, letting her nurse freely through the night, so we all get a good sleep. But we keep hoping that eventually she’ll figure out how to fall back asleep without milk, and we don’t want to drag this process out by taking a step backwards.

This experience has reinforced my decision to not sleep train her using conventional methods – it’s right for some kids, not right for others. She’s the kind of kid who will stay awake ALL NIGHT LONG to get what she wants. In the crib, she would have cried for hours. In her toddler bed, she can get up and get a stuffed animal she wants, she can come and get me from my room without crying for me, she can easily remove or get another blanket… I’m happy we waited to try independent sleeping (without nursing or co-sleeping) until she was actually independent. I think she would have been awake just as much had we done it earlier, but she would have been a lot more distressed about it.

So life now is a waiting game, and we’re just trying to survive while we wait. We’re doing what we can to help her sleep – cuddles, reassuring cheek kisses, lots of rest through the day – but nursing through the night is no longer a tool in our toolbox. We want to see this through.

Wish us luck…

Advertisements

My baby is sleeping through the night…

I know that a lot of parents will curse my name and stick pins in a voodoo doll of me for this blog title. Let me start off by admitting that I know the folly in making claims like this – once you let the words escape your mouth, your child is bound to stop doing whatever it was you bragged about them doing. Nevertheless, we’ve had a rough first 6 months of sleep and I really want to take this win and shout it from the rooftops. 
My baby has always been a high-needs baby when it comes to comfort. Laying her down in the crib was always met with screams that sounded like she honestly believed she was being abandoned behind a dumpster somewhere. We used the No-Cry Sleep Solution to guide our “sleep training” efforts, but I took what I wanted from the book and left the rest. We worked for months on positive sleep associations and a solid routine that worked for everyone, but I bed-shared and nursed to sleep because that’s what worked for my baby. I didn’t think of nursing or cuddling to sleep as a negative sleep “crutch”, because it felt so natural and so right. But there we were at 5 months old and my wife and I were starting to wonder if I’d ever be able to go to bed later than 6pm or if we’d ever have our marital bed back. I pushed for us to keep following the baby’s cues and wait until she seemed ready for more independence before pushing her out on her own.

Last week, one week before turning 6 months old, she started falling asleep after nursing (in my bed), and I could leave the room and she’d be fine. So one night I tried moving her – asleep – into her crib. She stirred, woke ever so slightly to see that she was in a new place, but was so sleepy and relaxed that she rolled over and conked out again as soon as I laid her down in the crib. She stayed like that for a couple of hours.

The most amazing part was that when I went into the room to tend to her wake-ups, all I had to do was put my hand on her chest and kiss her cheek and she fell asleep again. We didn’t teach her how to self-sooth; it seemed she had just developed the ability to self-sooth overnight – like that sleep regression had matured her brain and made her into a more mature sleeper. 

Now, a full week later, she has gone for longer and longer stretches. I still put her to sleep in my bed by nursing, and then I go downstairs for the evening and transfer her when my wife and I are ready to come up to bed. Last night she slept from 7pm-2am (I gave her a dream-feed and put her in her crib at 9:30), nursed at 2:30am, and slept (still in her crib) from 3-6:30am. 

I know it has only been a week. I know she could make a fool of me by tonight. I know 6 – 9 months is a common “happy place” for baby sleep and then you get hit with more sleep regressions. But right now I am revelling in the glory that is getting a good night of sleep.