Tuesday, February 25, 2014

how I night-weaned my one year old

Baby asleep in a shoe from my Tumblr, Too Sleepy

So this post is probably not going to be of interest to anyone not a) currently in the throes of night-weaning and b) desperate for information or at least a sense that they are not alone. But since I wrote yesterday about the method we are using to help Peanut sleep, I thought I'd record our experience of night-weaning him in excruciating detail.

For my non-parent friends who read this because they are wonderful supportive people: night weaning is the process of stopping your child from waking up in the night to feed. Unsurprisingly, this is an extremely fraught topic, with a lot of people making wildly different claims about when and how this should happen. Six months seems to be a magic number in a lot of this advice, as the age when a baby can go through the night without a feed. I think it's absolutely pointless to pick a number and expect all babies to conform to this. I know babies who have 'slept through the night' at two months, others who needed much longer. Peanut had trouble putting weight on during his first six months and there was no way he could sleep through the night at that age. He probably could have been night weaned at ten months, but I was gearing up to go back to work and chose to wean him from day feeds (he eats solids like a champ). At eleven months I went back to work and wasn't going to add the stress of night weaning to the stress of separation. But at one year (well, one year and two weeks) it was definitely time. Getting up to feed him several times a night and then trying to have intelligent conversations with adults the next day was just too much of a strain. He wasn't feeding like he used to when he was younger, when he would latch on like he was starving and feed with all his focus until he passed out. Now he would turn around and try to grab his dad, look at me and smile, pull off and try to stand up. It was TIME.

Gosh, look at that long paragraph of justification! It is so hard not to be defensive when I talk about sleep.

At the same time as night weaning, I have been trying to help him to fall asleep on his own. I know he can do this because he used to be a champ at it, and it's definitely been getting better. I am down to using minimal intervention (go in, sit on floor, shush till he calms down [about a minute] and then sit there or lie down until he puts himself to sleep).

Night One
So, using the method I wrote about, I decided to start night weaning on Thursday night. Peanut's sleep had been crappy for ages and I was at the end of my rope after a marathon session on Wednesday night when he was up from 10pm to 12:30am and nothing would put him to sleep, including feeding. I was feeling strong and determined, but I guess Peanut heard me talking to his father and using phrases like "end of my rope," "completely exhausted" and possibly "pack my bags and run away" because on Thursday night he slept from 6:30pm to 4am. That's NINE AND A HALF HOURS.

This strengthened my resolve, because it showed me that he could definitely sleep without feeding in the night.

Night Two
It took nearly an hour to get him to sleep tonight. He only cried for a little while but then I lay on the floor for ages while he stood up, looked at me, sat down, stared at the fan, lay down, turned over, scooted around, fell asleep, woke up, stood up, ARGH. But eventually he fell asleep.

He slept till 1am, which was great because he had been waking up at around 10 every night for his first feed. I went into his room and sat down with my earplugs in and sang softly. When he realised I wasn't going to pick him up, take him into bed and feed him, he went nuts. He screamed like he was in agony, thrashed around the crib, banged his head on the bars, and generally tried his best to break my heart and make me feel like a terrible mother. After a while he calmed down and tried to fall asleep, but he couldn't quite make it. He kept waking and crying. By 2am I was exhausted, he was wide awake and getting very upset, and I couldn't take it any more. I took him to bed and fed him.

He TOTALLY was not hungry. He fed for a minute and then tried to roll over and see what else was going on. He even managed to twist over and pat his dad on the back to try to wake him up. He was completely calm and happy now.

So once he was finished feeding, I picked him up and took him to bed. I gave him a cuddle and put him down wide awake. I thought I would be sitting up with him for another hour so I left the room to go to the toilet.

By the time I was done, he had shouted out a few times but had gone quiet. I crept back to bed, heard him turn over in his crib and babble and... go to sleep.

He slept in till SIX. This is the latest morning we had had in a long time. It was amazing.

Night Three
Peanut went down easily (I sat by his crib for less than ten minutes) but woke up at 10pm. I went in and sat down, determined not to feed him. He wasn't crying as hard as the night before, by which I mean he was just crying like he was seeing everything he loved being destroyed as opposed to crying like he was being fed into a garbage disposal. He lay down and tried to go to sleep many times but kept waking up after a few minutes and crying some more. You guys this went on for AN HOUR AND FORTY MINUTES. There are Hitchcock films shorter than that. By the time I finally left his room I was sore from lying on the floor. But HE WAS ASLEEP WITHOUT FEEDING.

He was up at five and I let his father sleep for an hour before I went in and woke him up, because I am a saint. (Then I went back to bed.)

Night Four
Peanut woke up at 10pm and went to sleep after just 5 minutes. He woke again at 11 and it took a bit longer, maybe half an hour. (I fell asleep on the floor). But he wasn't screaming hysterically, he was mostly sleeping but then waking up again. He then slept till 5:30am which (I can't believe I am saying this) is almost luxuriously late.

Night Five
Once again I lay on the floor for half an hour to get him to sleep, but he did it on his own (ie no singing, patting etc). Then HE SLEPT UNTIL 4. Even better, we heard him cry out once at 8:30pm (my blood froze in my veins let me tell you) but he went back to sleep on his own! This is progress!

So when he cried at 4am, I thought he was up for the day but wanted to at least try to put him back to sleep. (4am is NOT morning. It is NIGHT.) I sat down and within 5 minutes he was asleep!

To be continued...

1 comment:

teriyakibroth said...

I think you're doing great!