I’ve been pretty adamant about not wanting to implement any sort of sleep training with Abby, and just letting things progress at her pace. Especially when she was still an infant, as I don’t believe any baby needs to sleep train a baby under a year old. And while 14 months is still *little* in the grand scheme of things, she is definitely a full blown toddler in movement and in attitude, and no longer my squishy little infant baby anymore. But, her night time nursing would suggest otherwise.
To be honest, I’m just plain tired of nursing her at night. Now, let me clarify….I am not tired of nursing all together. In fact, I still enjoy watching her little eyes stare up at me when she nurses and, it’s even more cute now when she tries to identify body parts at the same time, but…I’m really tired of having a squirmy toddler attached to me all night. So, while we are night weaning, we are not fully weaning. I actually think that our daytime nursing sessions will be more important than ever once we stop the night time ones. So, I will still let Abby continue to self-wean at her own pace (which, typically will happen after age 2).
After reading through one of my favorite breastfeeding related sites (The Leaky B@@b), I came across Dr. Jay Gordon’s article on sleep patterns and night weaning. Now, I’ve read Elizabeth Pantley’s No Cry Sleep Solution, which has some great ideas, and actually helped us create a bedtime routine, but, her methods didn’t really have much impact on me when it came to night weaning. Dr. Gordon’s recommendations seemed simple, and only required 10 days. Now, of course, I don’t expect to go from 3-4 wakings a night to zero in 10 days, but, the shortened phases helped structure our plan, which was nice. The gist of it is this: Pick the hours that mean the most to you at night (we chose 11pm-6am), Nights 1-3, shortened nursing sessions and no nursing until after baby falls asleep and reawakens. Nights 4-6, no nursing, but use whatever soothing techniques you need that help. Nights 7-10, limit the degree of soothing techniques used (more back pats, less holding/rocking, etc).
So, we’re on Night 5.
And, as a caveat….I don’t recommend doing this if you are going to be sick. I picked up a virus from Miss A over the weekend, and the worst of it fell on the first night with no nursing, last night. Terrible, really. So much so I called in sick to work, and am typing this up from my bed (and plan to take a nap just after I post).
Nights 1-3 were not that terrible. Abby woke up at her typical times, and seemed to do ok with the shortened feeding sessions. The first night, she fussed for about 15min after I unlatched her, but went back to sleep each time. By the 3rd night, there was zero fussing after I would unlatch her.
Then, Night 4 – by far the biggest change. And, so far, the worst night. The first time she woke up, it took her about 30-40min to finally settle down and go back to sleep. She seemed to have taken up sleeping ON me. She still really seems to want that constant contact with me even if she can’t nurse. So, she climbed on top of me and tried to sleep. At around 2:30am, she woke up again, and this time, she could not settle back into sleep. She rolled around our king sized bed for a good 2 hours. Climbing on me, rolling off me, sleeping on Ash at the foot of the bed, sleeping next to Steve, rolling back on top of me again. Extremely exhausting. Then, she woke up again at 5:30 (only about an hour after settling down), and then again at 6:15. At 6:15, we nursed, and she stayed asleep until we had to wake her for school.
She has to be exhausted today. But you’d never know it. She’s as cheerful as she ever is in the morning, and has been in a great mood all weekend. I just hope tonight isn’t as bad as last night…