Yay, finally some gentle nightweaning success!

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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

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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!

Transitioning away from sleeping in a carrier

 

asleep in a woven wrap
asleep in a woven wrap

 

Since he was born Jack has been falling asleep for naps and bedtime in a baby carrier probably 90% of the time. I did it because it was easier to get him to sleep and stay asleep, and I enjoyed walking around with him because I could look at my kindle to pass the time or talk on the phone.

At 15 months, my husband had been wanting to transition him to falling asleep in bed, so my mom was visiting for a week and agreed to help me. I had tried several months ago but it took Jack hours to sleep and was too stressful for me to stick with it. This time though, I think he was developmentally ready and it was so much easier!

Our plan was to do our night time routine (book, diaper change, nurse in bed), play a lullaby on repeat in our room (he sleeps with us in a sidecared crib), keep the room dark, and not let him off the bed. If he cried I would hug him or breastfeed him but not let him leave the bed or carry him. I think this method is similar to the “crying in arms” technique. There is no way I would feel comfortable leaving my baby alone to cry, and even a few months ago I felt really upset about not picking him up if that’s what he wanted.

The first night we let him get really tired and put him to bed at 10pm. He was overtired and cried for a few minutes and then nursed. He alternated crying, nursing, and crawling around in the crib for about 45 minutes before he fell asleep. It was way better than the last time I tried which involved 2 hours of lots of crying (all with me hugging him). The next day we did bed time at 9 and it took about 30 minutes with just a little crying, and the days after that have been just a little crying and then nursing for 20-30 minutes. I’m glad Jack can go to bed without needing to be walked around now, and especially that it felt like he was ready for the change. The next step will be trying to get him to wake up less at night to nurse, but I’m worried that will be really hard!

Bedtime routine update

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I’m pretty proud of myself that I’ve stuck with the bedtime routine since late December, so about a month now! Every night I read a book or two to Jack (while he tries to eat it or climb off the couch), put on his night time diaper and pants, and rub some coconut oil on him as well as some oil with lavender essential oil. Then I breastfeed if he seems hungry, and lastly walk around with him in the carrier until he falls asleep.

The routine definitely hasn’t hurt, but it hasn’t made bedtime magically super easy either. I try to start between 7 and 7:30, but he’s often not asleep in bed until 8:30. I don’t mind walking him around all that much because I look at my kindle while I walk and think of it as extra exercise, but I sometimes get frustrated if I keep walking and then take him out to feed him and then walk again and breastfeed again… But I’m sure as he gets older it will get easier. I keep hearing around 2 years old things get a lot easier with sleep.

Having the crib sidecared to our bed has been working great. I know my husband wants him to be in his own room, but I love the baby snuggles, being able to make sure he’s breathing whenever I want, and mostly not having to get up from bed to nurse! My friends who did cry it out still feed their babies once or twice a night, and the idea of walking to another room at night and back seems pretty horrible to me.

So while things are far from easy, I’m so glad I never let Jack cry all alone and I’ve taught him that I’m always there for him during the day or at night :) I want him to feel like he is loved all the time, and I’m sure when I’m old I won’t regret losing a few hours of sleep in order to have a great trusting relationship with my child and have gotten hours of extra snuggles at night.

New years and new bedtime routine

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Happy new years from me and Jack! I am not doing anything and hope to be asleep by midnight… oh life with a baby.

Poor Jack is getting 3 molars now, so his sleep has been majorly messed up. Over the last few weeks either he wouldn’t fall asleep until 9 or 10, or would wake up in the middle of the night for an hour or two.

I decided to try a bedtime routine (since I’m not letting him cry so there aren’t a lot of other options). I tried halfheartedly before but felt that when he was younger he didn’t really notice so I got lazy.

Here’s our new routine: (has worked pretty well for 2 days now)

-Read book(s)

-Change into night-time diaper (pocket diaper with extra stuffing)

-Put coconut oil on, and use some oil that has lavender essential oil (lavender may help sleep, or the scent could become an association with bedtime at least)

-Get in the tula carrier and get walked around with dim lights while mom sings

hopefully it helps!

Sleep update at 10 months

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We have been doing some form of co-sleeping with Jack since he was born, and using the “wait it out” alternative to “cry it out.”  At first we side-cared the crib to the bed, but he ended up always sleeping glued next to me and not in the crib. Eventually when he was a few months old we took off the crib and he slept between my husband and I. At that point we kept the crib in the bedroom as a playpen type area. Recently, now that he’s crawling we put the crib back as a sidecar (with the toddler rail up) so that it’s harder for Jack to crawl off the bed at night.

This has been working pretty well. I slide him over into the crib after he breastfeeds most of the time, and sometimes he sleeps next to me if I’m worried he’ll wake up if he’s moved. He has more space that way and doesn’t end up sideways and kicking someone in the face. I think it also might make him gradually eat a little less at night because it’s less easy to just breastfeed while I’m half asleep, but we’ll see.

When he was a few months old Jack was sleeping about a 5 hour stretch early in the night, but for the last several months he has been waking up every 2 to 3 hours (sometimes more). He often wakes up every hour towards morning. At least he sleeps from about 7pm to 7am and really easily falls back asleep after he eats unless he’s teething. I generally don’t feel that exhausted unless he’s teething and I need to walk around with him at night. That’s one reason I really didn’t want him in the crib with the sides up- I feel like if I have to get out of bed at all it wakes me up more and I really feel it the next day.

At this point I’m not trying to change his sleep since he keeps getting new teeth every week to every few weeks. We tried to stop using the carrier to put him to sleep, but that resulted in bedtime taking hours of lying there with him and then when he started teething I gave up and used the carrier so I wouldn’t go crazy, so all that stress was for no reason.

Maybe after he gets his molars and we have a break from teething for a while we’ll try to set up a better nighttime routine and gradually decrease the eating at night by cuddling him to sleep instead.  Facebook has been a great source of support with wait it out groups, since most people I know use cry it out. I’m really glad to have those groups and also that all our parents never did cry it out so that we have places to talk that are understanding.