Lucas is now 100% night weaned. I thought I would never say that! When he was sleeping horrible about a month ago I shared some sleeping through the night myths of mine. So many of you left great tips and suggestions is the comments section (thank you!) and it was clear that I’m not the only one dealing with a non sleeping child- even at 9 months old. Our sleep situation has improved dramatically in the last month, and even though he is night weaned, it doesn’t mean he’s sleeping through the night. He wakes up once or twice now and goes back to sleep fairly easily, but I’m crossing my fingers that by his first birthday and with more “training” (is there a better way to explain it?) he won’t wake up until morning!
I want to explain how I night weaned Lucas. This is what worked for me. Of course each child is different so what has worked for us may not work for you. However, I do think we can all learn from each other and personally, I think the best way is to take bits and pieces from every book, blog or article you read and make your own version of “sleep training.” You know your child and your parenting style better than anyone else does.
If you’re a nursing mom, I think you know what I mean when I say that night weaning is hard. Really hard. You tell yourself that you are not going to feed your child tonight because you want to break him of night nursing, but then 3am falls. You’re exhausted, your breasts are full of milk and all you want is your crying baby to go back to sleep. You know that giving him what he wants takes less than 5 minutes, while soothing and crying can take much longer.
I believe night weaning should occur whenever you feel you and your baby are ready. For me- it was when Lucas was about 7 months old. ** edited to add this:
Looking back now, I actually think 7 months was right on the edge of being too young. Doing it again right now at 10/11 months seems much better. Please don’t wean your babies too early! Nursing at night is
normal, but at 10 months I don’t think its necessary as much. ** I knew he was waking up out of habit, not because he was hungry
. It simply became a habit for him. I successfully night weaned him when he was, I believe, 7 (ish) months old. It only took about 3 nights of weaning and “training” for him to go from waking up 3-5x a night to waking up just once.
When he did wake up, he feel back asleep very easily after giving him his pacifier.
Now, remember my situation is a little different. It went from normal to worse to awesome. He was night weaned at 7 months, but then we moved and he was sleeping with us and in his pack n’ play in our room for 1 1/2 months. This created a lot of bad sleeping habits and lots of waking up at night. As soon as we moved into our new house just a couple weeks ago, he was back in his crib in his room and sleeping much better. So he was night weaned. Then he was nursing every few hours. Now he’s night weaned again. Get it?
First I want to back up and explain how we night weaned him when he was around 7 months old. This process was hard as I remember it it, but also very short and most of all- it worked. Basically, my husband took over night duty for a couple days. Every night when Lucas started to cry, my husband would go in his bedroom, pick him up and rock him back to sleep. Lucas cried a few minutes even when my husband was holding him, because he wanted me. He wanted me and he wanted milk. It was so hard not to go in there and just give him what he wanted (and sometimes I did) because I knew it would be a quick fix. It would make him happy, he woud go back to sleep and my husband and I could go back to sleep ourselves. But, I tried very very hard to let my husband take care of it. As soon as I walked in and gave him what he wanted, we were back to square one.
So my husband would rock him, bounce up and down with him, walk him, soothe him and do whatever he could until he was asleep. Once he was asleep he put him back in his crib. I remember some nights this took a while, about 30 minutes was normal, but eventually Lucas learned that waking up did not mean he got milk.
This worked. If I remember correctly, it took less than four nights of this. And mamas, when you first start night weaning (if you’re used to nursing all night) your breast will probably become very uncomfortable and full of milk. Ah, I remember this so well. Waking up at 5am- I hope you’re hungry baby! They’ll simmer down eventually, don’t worry.
This entire process took less than a week.
For us, it really wasn’t about teaching him that night time isn’t for milk or nursing, it was about breaking a habit. Babies don’t necessarily wake up because something is wrong or because they’re hungry, they just wake up. They haven’t learned how to roll over and fall back asleep yet, so they cry out for us. It’s then our job to come in and teach them how to fall back asleep.
Having my husband take over a few nights really helped. When I had to do it again, after the weekend was over and he went back to work, I walked in his room, soothed him in bed, gave him his pacifier and walked out. Then I waited a bit and did it again. And again. And again. I was up for an hour some nights, going in and out of his room, waiting longer each time, soothing him but not picking him up or nursing him. It worked eventually!
So that was then.
In between was the bad sleeping habits and now we fast forward a couple months later after weeks of horrible sleeping and here we are. Lucas is in his own room again and in his own bed. I had to night wean all over again. It was much
easier and faster this time around. Even the first night of sleeping alone he only woke up twice! I think just being in his own space and in a more comfortable bed really helped. From the first night we were in our new place I kept track of his sleeping habits so I could see if what I was doing was working. There is definitely a pattern to things here.
Bed at 7:00pm
11:00- Wake up. Cry for a few minutes, dad goes in and gives him pacifier- falls back asleep
1:30- wakes up. Cry’s for 5 ish minutes and falls back to sleep on his own.
8:00- wakes up for the day
12:00- wake up, cry and pacifier back to sleep
4:30 am- wakes up, I nurse him and back to sleep (opps! I was half asleep and not thinking!)
7:00- up and back to sleep
8:30- up for the day
He cried for a few minutes before I went in to his room each time. I didn’t jump up immediately when I heard him. I wanted to give him a chance to fall back asleep on his own if he could. Sometimes we inhibit this by going into their room too quickly!
12:00- cried for a few minutes feel back asleep on his own!
4:30- cried for a few minutes. Went in to soothe, gave him his binky and lovie. He feel asleep after I left the room.
8:00 up for the day
5:30 am- woke up. YES! This is a record, I can’t even believe this happened. Nurse and back to sleep
8:00- up for the day
Bed at 7
not sure- forgot to look at clock but woke up twice.
Bed at 7:30
1:30 Wake up- binky and back to bed.
5:30- wake up- binky and back to bed
8:30 – up for the day
This is how its been the last few days. He wakes up twice normally but goes back to bed pretty easily. Now that he is completely night weaned I’m still working on getting him to sleep the entire night. When he wakes up, I wait longer and longer before going in to give him his pacifier. Like last night, he woke up around his usual time (1:30) and he wasn’t really crying, it was more like a yell or whine. I don’t want to sleep! MOM! Come in here now!
It’s hard to explain, but it was a mix between a cry of a baby and a yell of a toddler with an attitude. Eventually I did go in his room and give him his pacifier, but the point is, I didn’t go in there immediately.
Compared to his previous days,he is now a great sleeper. I consider waking up just once or twice amazing and it’s a heck of a lot better than the old days, so I’ll take it.
I think there are several factors that have played into this, resulting in him sleeping much better. First, his room is the warmest room in our house. This works out really nicely, and I’m glad it’s this way because our bedroom is the coldest! His room is warm and toasty and very comfortable. His room is also the darkest in the house. It’s in the back of our house, away from any street lights and we also have curtains up.
Lucas has a lovie (a little dog) that he has had since he was a baby. He often will hold it and cuddle with it while he sleeps and my goodness is it adorable. He has a pacifier at night which definitely helps and right now I’m not even thinking about when or how we’re going to wean him from that. Another thing that I think has been great for Lucas is a relaxing music CD. He has had the same CD playing in his room since he was a couple months old. This CD plays at every nap time and every time I put him to bed. It’s an hour long and consist of songs I pulled from itunes and a Fisher Price CD. Not only does this CD signal the start of sleep time, but it helps drown out other noises in the house. I highly recommend a CD or maybe another sound machine in your child’s room!
It’s hard to say of course if one factor or a change in something small can make much of a difference, but I can at least see the differences from his room now compared to our old house. Maybe these things helped, maybe it’s a simple coincidence, either way I hope it gives you a few new ideas to try.
I hope you’re able to pull a couple ideas from this and find something that works perfectly for your family! I hope a few things work for you, I know all too well what it’s like to not sleep at night and what it’s like to feel frustrated that you’re baby isn’t sleeping. One last thing I want to add is that sometimes we do too much and by leaving them be they might be able to go back to sleep faster.
There are nights when me being in his room and trying to soothe him actually made it worse
. He will be crying, I go in to soothe him, give him his pacifier, pat his belly/back, and try to get him to calm down. He is still crying and no matter what I do he won’t stop crying. I’m begging him, honey shhh go to sleep. come on baby, goodnight.
He won’t stop crying. Then, I get frustrated and walk out and what do you know- he falls asleep 10 seconds after I leave!
It’s funny (except not really) how that works sometimes.
I hope this post has helped some! One day we’ll all look back on this and smile. Our kids will be in high school and they’ll be waking us up at midnight when they come home for curfew! Then they’ll sleep in till 11 the next morning and we’ll wonder how we ever made it through the “easy” years of parenting a baby who can’t talk back or wear their pants too low.
And as many wise people always tell me, this too shall pass….. Just let them be little.