Yay, finally some gentle nightweaning success!

1.sleepy

 

I think it’s because at 23 months now, Jack has finally gotten all his baby teeth, because he started miraculously sleeping through the night recently! Just a few weeks ago he was waking up every 2 hours all night, and now it’s often times just 1 wake up, and a few nights ago he slept 11 hours without nursing! I’ve been in such disbelief because I’d basically resigned myself to the fact that I’d have a 4 year old who still woke in the middle of the night and came into my bed.

I have been (kind of inconsistently) using a gentle technique of picking 1 or 2 wakeups and nursing a little less time than Jack wants. He has never been soothed by getting patted or being sung to or anything which is kind of sad for me, so the best thing I tried was unlatching him and just rolling over and pretending to be asleep. He would usually say “more” and fuss for a few seconds, and then would go back to sleep. If it kept going longer than maybe 20 seconds or so I would turn back over and nurse him because I didn’t want him to get too upset and really get awake. I did this most nights once or twice for several weeks and saw no change.

Then one night he woke up 2 hours after bedtime as usual but I was so tired that I didn’t want to nurse and thought I would wait a few seconds before nursing on the off chance he would go back to sleep. He ended up just going back to sleep on his own, and then sleeping for 4 more hours which was a long stretch for him! I tried again the next few nights and for some reason not feeding him that first time seemed to be the key to getting longer stretches all night.

We also got the Nursies when the Sun Shines book which couldn’t have hurt, but it arrived after the longer stretches had already started. The book is really sweet though, and has beautiful illustrations. Jack loves it and likes pointing to the cat.

In general, I think this is more of a “wait it out” success story than any technique because I’m pretty convinced it was the constant teething that was really making nights rough for us. Also Jack is finally eating more solids so that’s got to help as well. But nursing him a little less and seeing if he could go back to sleep on his own seems to have helped too, so I wanted to share in case someone else is in a similar boat.

Hopefully this post doesn’t jinx us for tonight!

Thinking about night weaning options at 21 months

9.3

 

Jack is 21 months old now, and we are thinking about trying to night wean (again). I am fine waiting until Jack does so naturally but my husband wants to do it now, so we are going to try a gentle and gradual approach. I have read so many different approaches to it, so here are some of the ones I was thinking about (I tend to overthink things a lot, and want to minimize sadness for Jack and imagine what I would prefer if I were in his situation). Any of the things we choose would NOT leave Jack to cry alone, ever. However there will likely be some crying because Jack is very “spirited.” The crying is always so hard on me especially because he doesn’t like me to touch him so I can’t hold him, but at least a loving parent will be with him to support him, so I think of it as crying in arms, not cry it out.

1. The method I’m going to try first is having Jack wait longer and longer periods until he can have milk. I think I will start at his first wake up after 11pm, so that eventually the goal is him sleeping from 9:30 to the morning without his every other hour wake ups. I will start with a few seconds of him waiting and gradually increase it to a minute, then eventually longer and longer. The goal is that at some point he will fall asleep during the wait and get more and more practice sleeping without nursing. I will tell him that the milkies are busy making more milk, but we can have some later. I think that makes sense to me, and also doesn’t rely on him understanding about the day versus night which I don’t think he does yet. I like that he knows he will get to nurse eventually, and that I can feed him if he gets too upset. I just hope he is able to wait long enough to fall back asleep…

2. My next option in case that never works is nursing him to sleep and then making him a little to see if he can go back to sleep on his own while very groggy. (If it didn’t work, I would nurse and  barely wake him the next time). Once that worked consistently and Jack was a little more used to falling asleep that way, I would try to nurse him to 95% asleep and take him off my breast to see if he could fall asleep, and then keep shortening it.

3. The next option I would try is letting him nurse a little and then refusing to nurse again until he sleeps and wakes up again. I tried this several months ago and only was able to get him to sleep in a baby carrier but then he would wake when I put him down and get upset again.

4. We tried once having my husband put Jack to bed, but that was a disaster several months ago. This could be an option if nothing else is working, but I feel bad having Jack lose not only his main way to get to sleep but also his favorite parent. I think if we tried this I would set a cutoff for how many minutes he could cry and then I would come back and we wouldn’t do this method any more.

Even though Jack waking every 2 hours is kind of tiring, it’s not that back because we cosleep. I’m really not looking forward to having him possibly get upset at night and then be up for hours because he gets all riled up :( I hope by some miracle he can just so gradually get used to something that there are no tears!

Night weaning attempt #1: fail

11.17

I can’t believe it, but Jack is going to be a year old soon! My husband and pediatrician had suggested not night-weaning completely, but decreasing the number of night feedings for a while now, and I finally gave it a more serious try the last two nights. I kept putting it off because it’s so easy to just roll over and breastfeed at night, and then Jack goes right back to sleep (we cosleep with a crib sidecared).

My pediatrician who is pretty nice suggested picking one feeding (I chose the next one after 1am, so around 2 or 3am) to get rid of. He said try to pat the baby back to sleep or use another method besides nursing, and after a while the baby will learn to sleep though that feeding because he doesn’t have a reason to wake up and won’t expect food.

That makes theoretical sense, and I know Jack will got 4 hours without eating often during the day, so it seems reasonable that he doesn’t necessarily need to wake up every 2 hours at night for a short nursing session. However, I was really hesitant to try to mess with his eating and just naturally feel that he is doing what he needs to get enough calories or whatever.

Anyway, I tried two nights ago and last night because I felt like I should, and it did not go well. Both times he fully woke up after a minute or two of rooting around and being patted (which never works for us). He started crying really hard, so I walked around with him and put him in the carrier until he fell asleep, but as soon as I transferred him to the bed he woke up again and got really upset. It broke my heart to hear him that upset because of something I was doing :( I was also super tired and I hate having to get out of bed, especially multiple times, during the middle of the night. I ended up feeding him both times after a while, but it took a long time for him to calm back down and fall asleep, and he woke up a lot the rest of the night.

The following day, I was exhausted even though I napped with him. Waking up and walking around really messes with my sleep, while just waking up and feeding him in bed is not a problem.

I hope that I can try again later on and maybe he’ll be more ready. I can see how a method like this could work better for a baby who is easy to soothe, but Jack is more of a high-needs baby who easily gets very upset and doesn’t calm down quickly, even with my help (let alone by himself!) At least I’m so thankful we are cosleeping which makes breastfeeding at night really not a big hastle, so I don’t mind waking up every few hours for the next few months :)