Thursday, March 22, 2012

Night Weaning

      I decided to night wean Flintstone when he hit 18 months.  While I love nursing him and see nothing wrong with night nursing well past 18 months, this seems like the right time for us.  Flintstone has woken up to nurse at midnight and 4am every night like clockwork for the last year or more.  Before that, it was even more often, and before he was born, I had to get up at least twice a night to pee from the 4th month of pregnancy on.  So I haven't slept more than 4 hours at a stretch in over 2 years.

     The whole process was less painful than I thought.  We did two nights a couple weeks ago, but he got a cold, so I waited a week or so for him to feel better.  Even though he wasn't very sick, I didn't want to aggrevate whatever bug he was fighting with the stress of weaning.  Plus, I wanted to cuddle my  bug back to health.  After about a week, we tried again.  The first night he was pretty fretful, but never for more than a few minutes at a time.  Every night from then on was less and less an issue.

      It's been about a week, and last night when I laid down with him, he whined just a little, but quieted down really quickly for his story, then laid calmly for a few minutes and promptly fell asleep.  Then he didn't wake up again until after 5 this morning!  I'm so happy for my little man.  I think he'll sleep better, too once he really gets the hang of this new arrangement.

      For anyone who's interested, here are a few more details on the progression of our sleep/nursing arrangement from the beginning:

      For the first few nights after he was born, Flintstone slept in a crib pushed up against and basically level with our bed.  We slept straight through the night not long after he was born, but only one time.  Usually, he wanted to eat every two hours.  And it didn't take me long to figure out how much easier it was if he just slept in the bed with us.  I did a bunch of research and determined this arragement to be not only safe, but very beneficial to both of us, and from that point on, Flinstone slept in the bed with us and nursed on and off throughout the night.

      Once we established a bedtime routine (dinner, maybe bath, change clothes, brush teeth, three stories), I would nurse Flintstone to sleep, then put him down in his crib next to the bed where he would sleep until midnight.  On his first waking, I would bring him into bed with us.

      As he started getting bigger, though, he started to become a bit of a wild sleeper.  His favorite position was "H is for Hell:"

      To be more specific, he would usually start out doing "Snow Angels," and gradually make the progression to "H is for Hell,"  all the while with his face close, if not connected to, my chest, and his feet seeking MacGyver out.  And Flintstone 'kneeds' his feet in his sleep - just like me.  My feet are rarely ever still, even when I'm sleeping, I rub them together, or I rub them against anything they come in contact with - like MacGyver's feet or a pillow shoved down there to keep my feet away from MacGyver's feet ;-).  Unfortunately for MacGyver, the kneeding feet are quite a bit more distracting when they are jammed into your chest, belly, neck, or face.

      Flintstone was also a fan of "The Stalker."  Which I always thought was SUPER cute, because he would break into the biggest grin the second you opened your eyes.

      Anyway, even in our massive king sized bed, somehow we always ended up in "H is for Hell," with Flintstone's feet treating MacGyver like wayward bread dough.  Actually, we discovered that when we were out and about, or on a trip or something, MacGyver could easily help put Flintstone to sleep by holding onto his feet, or letting Flintstone put his feet up against MacGyver.  It was kind of cute.  And kind of wierd since it only worked with MacGvyer.

       But the feet wars oovernight got old fast, and we decided to move Flintstone to a mattress on the floor in our room when he was round a year old (I think - I honestly don't remember what age it was).  I would lay with him, nurse him to sleep in his bed, then go about my night.  I would go to bed with MacGyver, and when Flintstone woke up, I would go lay with him and nurse him back to sleep.  About 50% of the time, I'd fall asleep too and spend most of the night, or the whole rest of the night, in Flintstone's bed.

      The night weaning is the beginning of a slow process to move Flintstone into his own room.  First, we'll complete the weaning, as we have been.  The bedtime routine has only been modified a little in that now, after he's changed into his pajamas, I nurse him fully before brushing his teeth and laying down with him to read a story.  He doesn't get to nurse during the story anymore.  I still lay with him until he falls asleep though.  And throughout the night, if he wakes up, I go lay with him and cuddle him until he falls asleep. 

      Once he's fully night weaned and sleeping through the night without waking up; I'll slowly transition away from laying with him to sitting with him.  Once he's fully accustomed to that, we'll start doing the routine in his room.

       I realize I've made it sound like MacGyver has nothing to do with this, but we've made all these plans together, and at least one night a week, MacGvyer executes the bedtime routine, always starting with a bath because Flintstone loves to take a bath with MacGyver.

      And that, folks, is our current baby sleep plan.

       Did you read yet about what happened with my coffee this morning?  Check out my last post if you missed it.


Emmy said...

Sounds like you are figuring out a good process that works for you. I would bring my babies into bed with me if they tried to wake up too early, otherwise I just couldn't sleep comfortably with them in bed with me

Katherine said...

We had our oldest son sleep with us, because of the ease of nursing him at night. But then he never left. I used to joke that we would wake up one day and have a 5 year old in bed with us. And then when he turned 4 and was still sleeping with us, I stopped making that joke.

So our second son slept in a bassinet right by the bed. I could just roll over, pick him up, nurse him, and then put him back. Let's just say all of slept better with that arrangement. And my second son has always been the better sleeper. Some of that is just them, though.

I must say I'm a little envious that you have been able to breast feed that long. I only breast feed for 9 months at the longest. :(


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