This post is made possible by the generous support of Arms Reach Concepts makers of ARC cosleepers.
After Dreaming about sleep for years, The Piano Man and I decided to try Dr. Gordon’s method for sleep changes and the family bed and blog about it. You can read about night 1, night 2, night 3, night 4, night 5, night 6, night 7 and the one month update. I also answered one round of questions about our experience here and a second round here.
Originally I tried to answer all your questions in one post but it was too darn long, you can find more questions here. Much too long for sleep deprived people to read any way. So I broke it into two parts. I need to make it clear, I am not an expert, not a doctor, and have no background that qualifies me as an authority on the subject. All I have is my experience as a mom and what I’ve learned along the way. I’m happy to share my opinion with you but please keep in mind it is just that, my opinion and based on my own personal experience.
What do you do if baby just screams bloody murder when DF/DH/partner goes in to settle them? Do u finally give in and give em the b@@b?
First I would try to sooth them without the breast but with cuddling with me. Sometimes I think it works great to have the non-breastfeeding partner to do the soothing when night weaning. Other times I think the child becomes confused, not only do they not get to breastfeed, they don’t get their mommy. There is a significant bond between mother and child and that bond still needs to be honored. Smunchie still wants me at night, even if it’s me without the bobbies. Honestly, I think being denied access to the mother could be traumatizing if her presence is truly what the child needs.
If that still didn’t work and if the crying crossed the line of what I can comfortably accept as just expressing anger into feeling abandoned or betrayed then I would nurse. I would do so because I would have to consider that my child is responding this way simply because they are not ready to night wean. In Dr. Gordon’s plan he warns that there may be a few nights that are really rough but by this point most parents would be doing this they would know the difference between angry cry and totally confused, scared cry.
Could you have coped with this method on your own, or do you think it worked so well because you had the help of your husband on the *worst* nights? (Single mother here, trying to work out how best to go about on my own)
Yes, I do think it would have worked on my own. There were a few nights that I did it completely on my own because Squiggle Bug needed The Piano Man. The hardest part for me on my own was staying awake enough to follow through with the plan and not just nurse so I could try to sleep.
Do you regret not night weaning sooner? Also, sometimes my 12mo will wake up and be up for 1.5-2 hours at time. Does night weaning help with this problem also?
Part of me wishes we had tried it sooner but only because I was feeling so incredibly burned out as a parent and getting sick of breastfeeding. Those feeling have completely lifted with the night weaning, not that I always love breastfeeding but I am enjoying it more and can relax to be more in the moment. However, I’m not convinced that earlier would have been right for Smunchie and would not have ended well. So I don’t regret the decision to wait until I felt she was ready. Yes, the night weaning has helped with the extended night waking/play time thing too.
Not sure if you could answer this one, but I was wondering what age would a baby/toddler wean himself the night nursing, if the parents are not actively trying to encourage him/her to stop nursing in the night. I have a 11 months old that wakes up 6-7 times a night, to nurse, If i do not nurse her she is crying in a very panicky/distress way. We co-sleep and we do get our rest for the time being, but would be nice to have a bit of a perspective.
Usually between 2-4 years old if it’s on their own.
I’m curious how you arrange the sleeping surfaces in your bedroom?
I don’t have any pictures of my bedroom or I’d show you. It’s a tiny room with not a lot of room once the bed is in there. Our queen-sized bed is against one wall with Smunchie’s pack-n-play directly across from it against the opposite wall about 2 feet from the end of our bed. That’s usually where she starts out and stays until her morning waking any more but when she was waking she’d end up in bed with me. Often, even still, The Piano Man ends up in Squiggle Bug’s room sleeping with her as she still wakes during the night.
What foods do you offer that you think help with more sleep/less waking? Sometimes I wonder if dinner wasn’t substantial enough when my 11 mo old wakes in the middle of the night. Why almond milk? i’m feeling the pressure to start cow’s milk but I, myself, don’t drink cow’s milk so I’m hesitant to offer it.
We go for high calorie, high fat and high protein foods in the evening. Rice and beans are a favorite with some avocado, Greek yogurt, meat (providing Smunchie will eat it, often she won’t), nut butters, cheese, quinoa (she LOVES this), eggs, veggies in a “cream” sauce (we use Greek yogurt for that usually), hummus (I make several varieties including traditional, black bean, white kidney bean, etc.) avocado with anything, and almond milk. As to why almond milk, we’re an omnivore family but Smunchie doesn’t like cow or any other mammal milk but mine but she loves almond milk. I like that it is a good source of protein and is yummy. Since we have no nut allergies in my family I don’t have to worry about giving my kids nuts after 12 months.
We offer a cup of water usually with her meals and she drinks almond milk because she doesn’t like any other milk. Smunchie still nurses often, several times a day. She’ll continue for a long time still, a couple of times a day I’ll offer her a cup of water and in the evening she gets a cup of almond milk as we read stories. But it doesn’t replace me, not by a long shot, she wants to nurse often!
What’s your bed time routine for Smunchie? How do you get her to go down without breastfeeding her to sleep?
Because I have older kids or used to be on-call to attend births I always felt like I had to be sure my babies could go down without the breast. Here’s what works for us. Around 7.15-7.30 or even 7.15-8.30 (flexibility is crucial in our family, the reality of having older children with activities) we start getting ready. A story or two (usually French selections daddy reads) with Smunchie and Squiggle Bug on the couch while Squiggle Bug drinks a cup of milk and Smunchie a cup of almond milk. Then brushing teeth and getting into pajamas. After giving good night kisses to the entire family we split up, The Piano Man taking Squiggle Bug and Smunchie is with me. On night’s that he’s working I work it out on my own. I nurse Smunchie for a bit while reading to her but I haven’t let her fall asleep consistently on the breast for a long time now so when she’s done she sits up and we read a few more books. Then I say a little prayer with her, we snuggle, I start singing something and stand up, she hands me everything she wants in bed with her (usually a couple cooks, her lovey and her doll and sometimes random things like shoes), I lay those down and then she reaches for me. We stand just outside her bed hugging while I continue to sing and then I lay her down. I stay in the room singing for a bit until I can hear her settling and then I tell her good night and slip out.
I can’t stress enough that being flexible and figuring out what works for your family, not following a set schedule of what someone has predetermined your child should be doing at what age is crucial for the night weaning experience to be free from trauma. Please don’t take what I’ve shared as what has to work for everyone. Thank you for letting me share our journey with you.