oh, wise internets, can you please help?

I have a confession: my son has never once slept from night until morning. Oh, sure, he’s slept for a five-hour stretch–the technical “sleeping through the night”–a handful of times, but when it comes to truly sleeping through the night, it’s been a no-go for sixteen months. Nearly a year ago, I started bringing him into bed with me more of the night so that our family could get some sleep. And as you may have guessed, while this no longer resulted in the frequent ups and downs, it was the beginning of a new habit: the all-night nurse-a-thon.

But we’re ready for that to change. It needs to change. I have a sneaking suspicion that if BG weren’t nursing all night, he’d actually sleep for longer stretches.

So this is where you, wise readers, come in. We’re ready for night weaning and getting BG to stay in his bed for the majority of the night. His current schedule looks like this:

7:00pm: BG goes to bed (nurses down).

10:00pm-ish: BG wakes up wanting to nurse and then goes back to his bed.

12:30-1:30: BG wakes up again, wanting to nurse, and more often than not joins me in the bed and does not go back to his own bed. He often nurses off and on most of the night, and while his wake-ups are very brief, they are plentiful.

6:30am: BG is awake for the day.

So, keeping in mind that we’re not going to be doing any cry-it-out in his crib by himself (it just doesn’t work for any of us), do you have any advice? What sort of night weaning worked for you or others you know? How do you get a sixteen-month-old to understand that “Na-Na” isn’t gone for ever; it’s just gone at night?

Thanks in advance for your valued advice. We are so desperate.


Filed under advice, Baby Genius, sleep

13 responses to “oh, wise internets, can you please help?

  1. I’m so hesitant to respond to this because you have so much more experience than I do and we’re still happily in the nurse-all-night phase at only 6 months old.

    But, I have noticed that if Aurelia can eat more in the late evenings, she doesn’t do a big feeding session earlier in the night.

    Perhaps BG could have a mini meal before bed? More than nursing. Or nursing + pumped milk. Or nursing + food.

    I’m sure others will have great advice. I admire you mama!

  2. bumblemama

    What are you wearing to sleep in? Does is have easy access to the na-na? Can he snuggle with your partner waaaaaayyy on the other side of the bed from you for a few nights?
    My guess is that if he’s anything like Esther he’s not actually eating at all but just using you as a pacifier. Since he’s so much older than she is, he doesn’t actually need to be eating at night, so it’s not a problem there (she wasn’t gaining much since she was content to just snack).
    Does he drink water from a sippy or straw cup? You could try having it in bed with you and offering it when he wakes…
    Sorry I’m not more helpful! We’ll be headed there later when Esther gets bigger! 🙂
    Try these lovely bloggers: http://totallysmittenmama.blogspot.com/

  3. I’m going to be following these responses closely! My 4 1/2 month old son has been doing the exact same thing for the past month or so. (Meanwhile, his twin sister has had no problem at all sleeping through the night.) I’ve been letting it happen because I feel guilty about having him in daycare. The amount he eats before bed doesn’t seem to matter either. As we’re in a 1 bedroom apartment, I don’t think cry it out will work for us either if we have any hopes of letting our daughter get enough sleep.

  4. J went thru this too, ESP at bg’s age. It was during the molar derby and I know that that frequent nursing soothed her pain.

    Do you give him any Tylenol or motrin?

    Also, maybe begin to wean him from your bed slowly. It may mean less sleep for you for a few nights, but I’ll bet if he spends more time in his bed he will (eventually…) sleep for longer stretches. I know you dont want to CIO but I’m sure there will be some tears, as he’ll likely be pissed about the closing of the all night milk bar. His frustration doesn’t mean you’ve failed or abandoned him…

    Keep us posted. I promise you this is not forever…

  5. Seconding what ohchicken says about him being pissed, and there will likely be tears whether you like it or not. We didn’t want to do CIO, but ended up doing Healthy Sleep Habits Happy Baby after the kinds where you go in every 5-10-15 etc minutes coming in backfired (it just pissed her off even more). We modified it – if she cried for half an hour, we went in and comforted her; if she cried for an hour, we went in with a bottle and fed her (this only happened twice).

    It sucked, I won’t say it didn’t, but it was through quickly, and now she’ll sometimes fuss for 10 minutes or so, but she goes to bed SO easily.

    As for having him understand that nursing is not for overnight, I’ve had friends have success (both with this, and with “you can’t get out of bed until…” when the kids are older) by using a light. They sell some specifically for it, or you can get a cute light at I.kea or something and set it on a timer. What they did was they said “until this light comes on, it’s night, and there’s no nursing at night.” So, they’d explain it, and while the baby/kid was learning, if they got up and wanted to nurse (or get up and play) the parents would say “the light’s not on” (or the light is on moon, or whatever, depending on what light you get), “no nursing until morning” or something along those lines.

    Good luck.

  6. Ladybellefly

    Is his crib in another room? We just got our fifteen-month-old night weaned finally, which has meant that she often sleeps through the night now (not always, but it NEVER happened before). What ended up working for us was having my partner handle all night wakings, no matter what. I nurse her down at night and then I don’t set foot in her room until the morning. This was a months long process that entailed much backtracking and crying for both she and I, but I finally reached a point where I couldn’t take it anymore, and I don’t know if she sensed that or what, but she’s been sleeping well for over a week now and instead of screaming when my partner goes in instead of me, she now makes an angry sound, then flops back down in her crib and goes back to sleep without even being picked up. Shocking. I honestly didn’t think this day would come until she was two or older. Also? The extreme sleep deprivation and stress of the situation took over our whole life . . . and now it’s all coming back. Wow. Sleep is the key to everything. It really is. I wish you all kinds of luck and fortitude!

    p.s. You might take a look at Jay Gordon’s stuff if you haven’t already. http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html

  7. Excited to read more of these comments. Jackson is 11 months and although he sleeps in his crib at night he is following the same eating/sleeping pattern you mention above. The logest stretch we have gotten at night is 5 hours.

    Thanks for the post. I don’t feel so alone 🙂

  8. Jen

    Although chunk doesn’t sleep through the night, he does go to bed around 7 (after nursing) and I don’t nurse him again before 4:30ish. Keep in mind that he frequently gets up prior, but nursing is not an option. Therefore, if he happens to wake up around midnight (for example) Tiff goes in and comforts him, puts him back to bed with no milk. It works for us most the time, but being sick doesn’t help…. He is looking for comfort, not
    nutrition. Also, for awhile during a growth spurt, I would give chunk 3-4oz while reading books and getting ready for bed prior to nursing to make sure he fills up. Good luck.

  9. Darn it my comment got eaten by my phone. Bee had a similiar schedule. We basically took them out one at a time starting with the one that bugged me the most. F would soothe her and offer water. She sometimes picked her up but mostly bum patted shushed her in the crib. There was crying at first and f would stay for up tp 10 min and then take a couple min break and go back in. After a few nights she slept through that time. We also stopped bringing her to bed with us once she was six months. None of us were getting any sleep once she was there. Good luck!

  10. Kim

    The “No Cry Sleep Solution” worked great for both of my kids. I wasn’t into the whole cry it out thing either and it worked great. It took some patience actually doing the steps suggested, but when I buckled down and did them? They slept. And both of my kids (youngest 20 months now) have been sleeping through the night, in their own bed/cribs since I used the techniques (about 6 – 9 months for both of them but I think it works at any stage). I did it earlier than 16 months because I didn’t have the lovely patience that you guys do…but it works. Good luck!!

  11. I don’t have any suggestions for you because you know we did CIO with our twins. BUT, I just wanted to say good luck. I hope something works for you and FAST because I can’t imagine the sleep deprivation you must be feeling. Kudos to you for being able to manage it this long. I would have died by now from what you’ve described! You all deserve long nights of uninterrupted sleep.

  12. poppycat

    Oh man, I don’t know how you do it. Bug sleeps in the bed but I don’t nurse him at night excepy for the really rare occassion he needs it. We use a binky and sleep wrap to keep ours asleep but you can’t do that with a toddler I suppose. I have nothing helpful to offer but I want to wish you luck and a good nights sleep.

  13. reproducinggenius

    Thank you to all of you who chimed in with great advice and support. We are formulating a plan and will be carrying it out in the coming weeks. I hope we all survive! I’ll keep you posted.

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