Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Night Weaning

This past weekend we took the plunge and finally night weaned Esther. This post is mostly for me so I can remember and not wait so long to do it with our next baby. Also unrelated pictures from the duck park the other day. 

It took about 6 months of waking at night with Esther before I finally got used to it and realized that getting broken sleep was part of my life now. Once I accepted that she wasn't going to sleep through the night anytime soon things got much easier for me. I napped everyday with her and felt like I usually got enough sleep. However, I always told Leland (who wanted to night wean her earlier) that once she turned one, if she wasn't sleeping through the night then I would let her cry it out, so that's what we did. 

Since about 4 months when we originally trained her, Esther has always been able to fall asleep on her own. Most the time I lay her in her crib she goes to sleep with less than 5 minutes of fussing/crying. So going to sleep on her own wasn't the problem, she just needed to break the habit of waking during the night for comfort (because at this point it obviously wasn't about nutritional needs anymore).

Around 11 months we tried to "gently" night wean her. Instead of me feeding her when she woke up, Leland and I would lay with her in our bed for 10 minutes or so. About 10% of the time she would fall asleep in the bed, if she didn't fall asleep we would put her back in the crib, and about half the time she would go to sleep with no crying, the other half of the time she would scream and we would give her milk (in a bottle if I was at work). This obviously didn't work to get her to sleep through the night, but I think it did make it a little easier on her since she had gone 12 hours at night a few times with no milk.

After Esther's party weekend she got on a really bad schedule of waking every 1-2 hours at night for no good reason. That's when we decided it was time for her to sleep through the night. We started the first night by letting her cry for 30 minute intervals when she woke up before going in and holding her/comforting her then putting her back in the crib. This probably wasn't the best of methods, after an hour and a half of crying I gave in and fed her, but it wasn't a complete fail because she slept for 7 hours after that feeding. 

The next night we decided to not go in at all when she cried because it would just make her madder and then she was even further from going to sleep. The second night all was going well until I got home from work and just had  to go in and check on her/cover her up (it's a mom thing). Well I woke her up and she cried for 40 minutes before going back to sleep. The third night she woke up and cried maybe 30 minutes before going back to sleep. 

The fourth night she regressed a little and I ended up bringing her into our bed to try and get her to sleep, I didn't feed her and she ended up falling asleep on her own in the crib with no crying. Then last night (night 5) she slept for 11 hours without waking up at all, and then at 6:30am I fed her and she went back to sleep until 8:30! So hopefully she is officially night weaned now. I am a little worried about how things will go when she is teething or when we aren't at home, times when she usually wakes a ton at night and I nurse her to get her back to sleep, but I guess we'll deal with that as it comes. For now I am glad to have my sleep back!

It was really hard to listen to her cry, but a lot of her crying was either mild fussing or mad screaming. Only a few times it was her little heartbreaking sad cry, and those were the times when I just had to go get her haha. Also she is the lightest sleeper ever, so a lot of the wake-ups were my own fault for going in to check on her and accidentally waking her up. **Note to self: get a camera monitor with the next baby so this won't happen.**

For future reference here is Esther's current schedule (roughly):

6:30-Wake up and nurse, go back to sleep
8:30-Wake up for the day
11:00-12:30-Nurse and then nap time
3:30-4:30-Nurse and then second nap
6:30-7:30-Bedtime routine, nurse and then bedtime

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