I haven’t written much about Benton’s sleeping habits in the last year. The reason for this is because I find the question “Does he sleep through the night?” eternally irritating. But it is understandably common. The only reason I am writing this now is because someone out there may relate to our scenario and find our experience helpful.
For those of you who really don’t want to read a long drawn-out post about baby sleep, I totally understand. Come back in a week or so. Bye for now!
Everyone look at our beautiful nursery with this lovely crib:
Isn’t it lovely? It makes me laugh. SO MUCH LAUGHING. We didn’t use it beyond changing diapers. So.
When we brought little Benton home from the hospital, we had a bassinet-type thing set up in our bedroom for him to sleep in for his first 3 months or so. Like most first-time parents, we knew very little about what our newborn would be like as far as sleeping goes. Actually, I’m sure there are parents of multiple children that still have no clue what their new baby will like in the sleep department. They are all very different. That being said, I am not going to pass judgement or tell you what method YOU. SHOULD. USE! That is clearly silly.
We didn’t read many books or articles about any sleeping methods early on. I don’t think I knew the acronyms STTN, CIO or even what co-sleeping was. All I knew was that we had a tiny human that was used to living inside me, and was now supposed to live on the outside. He was just getting used to the world, and seemed most happy when being held by mama or daddy. He also was used to being fed 24 hours a day when he was growing in my belly, so learning to only eat part of the day was also a big deal I’m sure.
During the first night of sleep, we brought him into our bed because newborns are the most snuggly thing I can think of, and we wanted to love on him all the time. The bassinet suddenly seemed far away, even at the end of the bed. We may have tried the bassinet a few times, but I just didn’t sleep well if he wasn’t next to me.
If I needed to check on him, I could simply open my eyes and not lift another muscle of my recovering body. If I needed to feed him, he was right there, no need to get up awkwardly trip over our cats in the night. I feel back asleep much easier after each nursing session than I would have if I had to go sit in a recliner. Eventually, we both learned to sleep through the nursing sessions. This is just what felt right. And it was also super easy.
He was a “good” sleeper. Months 0-4 I got stretches of 6 hours without much interruption. Things were good. Even now, I can count the times that he has woke up in the middle of the night for anything other than nursing. He is not the type to just sit up and expect nighttime entertainment. We are so lucky there.
Month 4 hit and he went through a sort of awakening. He no longer acted like a fetus baby and was much more aware of his surroundings. Everything seemed to reset, and we were hit with the 4 month sleep regression that some babies go through. This was also the time when the queen bed seemed to be getting smaller and smaller, and the crib was looking good. Talk about the dumbest time to try to transfer Benton to a crib. Ahh, well. Needless to say, the crib transition failed for us.
Month 5-12 have been OK. We now sleep in a king bed, which was a total game-changer. For months, B has had access to nighttime nursing and dreamfeeds whenever he wanted. This works for me because I can doze through them and I don’t really feel exhausted during the day. B is comforted during the night and doesn’t fuss or cry.
Present day? This is not working for me anymore. I have become a ridiculously light sleeper in order to respond to B’s nighttime needs. Everything wakes me up and it is often hard to get back to sleep in between the hours or 3-4 for some reason. Then from the hours of 4-7, he is restless and seems to need to be latched on the entire time. So I am basically awake at 3 a.m. Um, not working. Benton needs an alert caregiver in the day, and I need brain cells and sanity.
Enter the idea of night weaning. I have thought about this for a few months, but only now am really comfortable with implementing it. He is eating a lot of solids and drinking a combo of whole milk from sippy cups while still nursing a few times a day. He is learning things very quickly and can understand basic concepts more easily than a young baby can. There is also a clear difference between a whiney cry and a painful cry. I feel like the nighttime nursing is more of a pacifier than nutritional at this point.
However, I am not discounting the importance of nighttime comfort for a baby/toddler, but it would be nice to teach him to rest easy without my boob in his mouth. I have been the solo-nighttime parent for more than a year now. At this point, it would be nice to sleep for more than a couple hours at a time. Or it would be great if I could put him to sleep and possibly leave the house once and awhile after he is asleep. Right now I am still tethered to bedtime and nighttime if I don’t want B to go into hysterics and leave Justin or a sitter with zero tools to comfort a screaming overtired toddler. Not to mention, the stress of leaving him far outweighs any benefit of me getting out of the house for social interaction.
Someone sent me this article awhile ago about night weaning for co-sleepers. I read it and it made sense to my mama heart and mind.
So far it is going really well, although the hardest part may be yet to come. I am taking notes on each night to keep track of how it is working. The next couple posts I will share our (hopeful) progress.