On nightweaning and schedules

by Ginger on June 18, 2010

in Mom Thoughts, Oh Baby!

In addition to all my big life altering plans, this week has been a time of change for the kiddo.

That’s right, we’re talking getting on a schedule, night-weaning, and sleep training. Dun-dun-duuuuuuunnnnnn.

I really wasn’t sure about the night weaning. I mean, he’s only 9 months old (mah baaayyyyybbbbeeee!), and there is so much conflicting information about whether breastfed babies can or should be night weaned this “early”. Add in the fact that I secretly like the drowsy sweet middle of the night nursings (if not the waking up), and that I worry about his intake during the day, and the ever present concern about supply, and I really have pushed this off for a while.

But something has been nagging at me to do this for a while–I don’t know if it’s a mommy thing, but I’ve felt for a while that he would do better without the night nursings. The thought was if we could break the night nursing, and get him to sleep through the night, he might not nap so weirdly (sometimes 3 hour naps, sometimes none!) during the day. If he wasn’t napping so weird, we might be able to get him on a better schedule so that N.C. would have some clear (er) ideas of when he would be able to work during the day, and we could figure out Jackson’s eating schedule a little better if things weren’t so willy nilly. In my head, everything was kind of tied to those two night nursing sessions.

So, with the blessing of our pediatrician and much gnashing of teeth by me, we set out last Friday to change things  up. We decided to drop the night nursing sessions, instead only going in to soothe the kid if he woke in the middle of the night (which he had been doing with increasing frequency, and increasing screamingness prior to this point). We figured the weekend would be a good time as I wouldn’t have to function at work if he just went ballistic. My caveat was that if he didn’t calm & go back to sleep after two soothing sessions, I’d take that as a sign that he wasn’t ready, at least for that time, and nurse him.

That first night, he started screaming at his usual time. There was soothing, and rocking and all that jazz. The kid got calm, then we put him down and he screamed again. For 3 minutes, before he passed out.

Four hours later, he started screaming again at his usual time. There was soothing and rocking and all that jazz. Again, he got calm, then we put him down and screamed some more. For 2 minutes.

The next day, we worked on a new schedule with wake up times, nap times, bottle/nurse times and food times more clearly laid out. And then that night, we tried again. And at his normal time, he screamed–for a minute or two, and then went back to bed. Not another peep until four hours later, at his normal time, when he cried–for a minute or two, and then went back to bed.

Since then, we’ve not had a night screaming session once. A few times he’s woken up a little and whimpered or fussed for a minute or two, before passing right back out. But mostly, he’s been going down at night, and staying down until somewhere between 6-8am (I’m not worrying too much about wakeup time just yet). And he’s been teething this week, so if anytime should be harder, it should be now (right?). I took the relative ease with which he settled those first two nights as the proof that he was ok without the night nurse, though I am being a little more anal retentive about his bottle/nurse ratio during the day (not that I should be worried, the kid is in the 89th percentile for weight, he’s obviously growing like a freakin weed).

And the theory was right–he sleeps through the night now, which makes the schedule during the day more reliable, which makes everyone work better. We’re still not ever going to be a strict schedule family–that just doesn’t work for us–but having a little more of a guideline is working better for N.C., makes it easier for me on the weekend to know what I’m supposed to keep to, and lets the kid have a little more routine.

And sleeping through the night isn’t bad either.

The Sweetest June 18, 2010 at 1:37 pm

Woo hoo! Aren’t you glad you did this? Wonderful. And, if you had waited until he is older, it might have been harder to do.

NotJustAnotherJen June 18, 2010 at 5:25 pm

Way to know what works for you and going with it. I see you are a learner too. Three cheers for more sleep!

Alexis June 19, 2010 at 7:30 am

Great job. I think the night training stuff is far tougher on the parents than the kid! The whole sleeping/eating thing is really tricky, but you seem to have nailed it in one. I think these things are very instinctual, but it is so hard to trust those instincts when we have all this “science” at our fingertips. Anyway, hooray for sleep getting on with life!

Perpetua June 19, 2010 at 8:33 am

That’s awesome! Congrats! E still eats at night (once between 11 and 1, and again between 4 and 6), but we’ve decided to keep this going for now since he’s a skinny baby.

Kate June 19, 2010 at 10:32 pm

Woo hoo! Way to stick to those mommy instincts!!! Yay for more sleep!!! (can you tell that I am excited for you?!) 🙂

Elizabeth June 20, 2010 at 2:22 pm

I’m glad it worked out for you, and I’m sure the extra sleep will do you all a world of good!

Nilsa @ SoMi Speaks June 23, 2010 at 8:51 am

Screw the research – you observed your little guy and listened to your gut. Seems clear to me, you’re doing the right thing for your son and your family … and no one can argue with that!

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