Sleep training

30 Sep

This has been a big month on the sleep front. One day, I just couldn’t handle it anymore–we had gotten into a routine where every night I’d feed babe, put him to bed, and rub his back until he fell asleep. It allowed him to sleep in his crib without fuss, but I had to spend so much time doing it.   Sleep had deteriorated from 4 hour stretches when he was 6 months old to 2 or 3 hour stretches (thank teething, motor development, and social development for that…).  That meant I was feeding N many times every night.  Late into the night I’d usually just bring him to bed with me.

But somewhere between tooth 7 and 8, side-lying, all-night nursing stopped working for me.  I spent weeks leaking blood into my milk at every feeding. My nipples were back to cracked and peeling–and achy from the internal damage N was causing with his tight grip. I’m not sure exactly what the problem was, but it came down to a poor latch that damaged me, not unlike our nursing troubles when he was a newborn.

Well, I was done.  At a year old, I figured he needs a bit more sleep. I need more sleep.  And he can handle a bit of crying.  Crying has transitioned from “waah! it’s hard to be a baby! console me mom and get me the thing i don’t know I need” to a more frustrated “aaah! I don’t want to go to bed! I want to hang out with you guys! Aah! I’m too tired to handle life! I want to play! AAAAh!”

So, we tried a good ‘ol “cry it out.” I’m not a big fan of sleep training–I think our culture places really high expectations on the sleep patterns of babies–that they need to sleep through the night at just a few months. That they should follow some strict pattern. I’m a much more natural parent–I like to go with the flow, follow babe’s cues. . and just find what works for us.  And co-sleeping, all-night nursing was no longer working for us.

So, the first night we went through our nightime routine. Food. Bath. Quiet play. Nursing. Kisses. Turn on sleep sheep, turn on glow worm. Turn off light. Say “sleep, sleep, sleep” and instead of rubbing his back, I told him what a big boy he is, and that I’d be nearby. I kissed him. And I left.

He was so mad! He cried angry cries and sad cries.  Dad went in after about 5 minutes and confirmed that it was time to “sleep sleep sleep” (the verbal cue we have been using since he was just a few months). N cried some more. And after another 10 minutes, silence.

And he slept for 7 hours.

The next day, same routine. He cried for 10 minutes, max.  The next day, less than 5.  It’s been about 2 weeks now, and today he went to bed laughing with a smile on his face. I said sleep sleep sleep and left–not a peep from him.  He now wakes once at night–around 2:30 am and again around 8am.  We now feed on the futon/couch we put in N’s room, sitting up with him on my lap so I can make sure he’s latching correctly.  Sometimes he’s up for the day at 8, sometimes he’ll go back down for an hour or two. Much better than a month ago! We’re all much happier with the extra sleep!

I think we were so successful because I follow my baby’s queues. . . I could tell he was getting more independent and could transition to his crib. He wasn’t as hungry nursing at night so I could tell it was a comfort thing and not a nutritional thing. I am so happy to have N in his own room and finally be able to sleep in our comfortable bed with my husband all night. My hips are thankful. My nipples are thankful they’ve been saved from the all-night snack bar 🙂

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