Thursday, 9 April 2015

Is Night Weaning The Answer?

Ever since Paloma stopped sleeping through the night at Christmas, I have had a feeling that it may have something to do with the fact that she eats very little solids. I am sure that many sleepless nights were caused by teething and the colds she caught over the winter and changing seasons, but I think there were also more than a few nights that she woke up to nurse because she was hungry. And it's not that we haven't been trying to feed her - I feel like we've tried everything! Tricking her to take a bite by playing the airplane game, purees, finger foods, mesh feeders and pouches. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. Many times we thought we figured it out, only to have her refuse in disgust what she loved a few days before. I don't know why she prefers to breastfeed instead of solids, but all I can do is continue to try my best to get her to eat food. Andino and I discussed it and we think we might try to night wean her, in the hopes that by reducing her nighttime calories, she'll increase her food intake during the day. Makes sense, right? We'll probably start tonight so wish us luck. There's no guarantee we will actually follow through with it, though. In all honesty, we will need to be super dedicated to not giving in when she's crying and I just don't know if we are there yet. I do hope we are successful though, because at this point I feel like it's best for the family. More uninterrupted sleep and more solids for Paloma. Our plan is to start with a chunk of time and go from there. Like, no boob between the hours of 10:00 p.m. and 4:00 a.m.

My favourite website for baby sleep schedules is the Baby Sleep Site. I definitely don't follow their advice for sleep training, but I like that they give a sample schedule for each month of the first 2 years and so far it's been pretty bang-on with Paloma's natural cycles. It was there that I read about the 8,9,10 month sleep regression. Although Paloma's sleep started going downhill at around 7 months, I figured she was just going through this common sleep regression and decided to wait it out. She started to turn a corner last week, right after she got over a bad flu bug. She took two naps over an hour each and slept 7 hours straight, up for a feed then back down until morningish two nights in a row. I was so relieved to think the sleep regression was behind us. But then, for the last two nights, she was back to her every 2 hour antics, which is what made me decide to start night weaning her.

I thought about sleep training back in February when I was at my wits end, but I couldn't do it. And then she would sleep really well for a few nights and I'd be glad I didn't make her cry it out. And I'd catch up on my sleep and be really happy with the way things were going for a few weeks. And then inevitably, I'd hit a wall of sleep deprivation and find myself at 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. wrestling my 20-something pound fussy (hungry? sick?) baby and feeling like the whole situation wasn't fair and getting mad that I wasn't asleep. Then the next morning I'd feel guilty that I got mad. That I angrily said to her Just Go To Sleep! the night before.

So while I admit that I had a few nights where I wished  that she would just fucking sleep, I think my stress comes, for the most part, from perceived outside pressures.  I often find myself feeling like I need to justify why she doesn't sleep through the night anymore. Why I decided to co-sleep for most of the night, why I keep my T.V. turned down really low when I've finally gotten her to sleep, why I'm still breastfeeding all the time. Why I'm so strict with what food she eats (she eats so little solids that I really, really want her to eat healthy, nutritious things when she does eat instead of empty calories.) But I'm working on another whole post about this topic of stress and judgement. So for now, I'll leave it at that.

Anyone ever night-weaned their baby before? Tips? Suggestions?


  1. Ah yes, sleep. The great debate that causes everyone stress. Honestly, I think it's a matter of finding something that works for you and your family. For some that's sleep training. For others, it's something else.

    If you haven't already, you may want to talk with Paloma's pediatrician about sleeping through the night. We did and found ideas that work for us (sippy cup/bottle of water when they wake to get them off of milk), but our situation is very different from your's. Hence your ped may have suggestions that will work based on the fact he/she knows Paloma.

    What ever you decide, I wish you all the best. And no guilt. You're doing an awesome job with your daughter.

  2. I have no advice but I wish you luck! And I hope you don't get too stressed, but a bit of sleep deprivation can make the most level headed parent ever feel like they are losing their wits, so you're only human if you feel exasperated. You are a wonderful mom to Paloma! I will be following to see how it goes.

  3. Night weaning was life changing for me. Literally. Not only did I get more sleep and feel way more rested and able to care for him during the day, but I felt a relief to know it wasn't ALL on me if he woke up at night. We just started slowly extending the time frame. First no nursing until 11, then 12, then 1, then so on. We never made it past 6 (even though he technically goes back to sleep until 7:30). So no, no nursing between bedtime and 6am. We all sleep so much better. He still wakes up one time at night and comes into bed with us, but that's our choice because we like some bed sharing time and he's asleep as soon as his head hits our nursing when he comes in. Sometimes though he will sleep straight thru in his crib til 6. Seriously, he went from hourly wake ups to waking one 0-1 times per night. Like I said, life changing!! Also, the process was not that hard to wean him. We just sang or cuddled him back to sleep. I think he was ready.

  4. We were nervous about eliminating the nighttime bottles as well. We thought there was no way they could go that long without eating! Our pediatrician said exactly what you did - they will make up for it during the day - and she was right. They ate the same amount, just all during daytime hours.
    We struggled with getting the girls to eat solids, as well. They just really weren't interested at first. Paloma will get there. One day it will just click and she will realize that solid food will also fill her up when she is hungry. For her, breastmilk is sustenance and this other stuff is just weird flavors in her mouth.

  5. "Just go back to sleep!" I could have written this exact post a couple of weeks ago when Pickle went through a phase wanting to be fed every 90 minutes. I was a total zombie.

    I'm not sure more solids during the day make that much difference as I read that babies under 12 months need a certain amount of calories from milk over a 24 hour period irrespective. Pickle eats 3 big solid meals and day and snacks but was taking short milk feeds during the day. I thought this was because she wasn't hungry but then she'd keep waking for feeds at night, clearly hungry. I now think she wasn't eating due to distraction/more interesting things to do. I started taking her into a separate, dim, quiet room to feed her during the day. She's feeding for longer and I think this has helped, but she was still waking to eat two or three times a night. And then it wasn't like she was even that hungry - she'd just latch for a couple of minutes and then do that stretch thing she does when she wants to be put back in her cot, roll over and go back to sleep.

    So we are now trying to night wean. Mr Duncan offers water when Pickle wakes and settles her back to sleep. We are pushing the feed time back by 15 minutes every second day like JustMe describes. It seems to be working - on Wednesday she went from 7pm-3am without a feed, and then slept through to 7.30. It is dependent on Mr Duncan doing the settling. If I get involved, like last night because Mr Duncan was working a nightshift, Pickle has a meltdown until fed.

    I'll be happy when we consistently get back down to one proper feed a night. Pickle is still under 7kg (~15lb?) and I worry more about her weight than her sleeping such a long stretch without eating.

    I wish you all the best and hope Paloma lets you get some more sleep soon!

  6. Oh man, I've had my share of nights where I have said the very same thing, "JUST GO TO SLEEP!" Only I added another word or two into it, which I'm embarrassed to even admit and always feel so guilty that I could talk to my babies that way. Sleep deprivation is no joke. It is HARD. I'm sorry Paloma hasn't been a good sleeper. I always try to remind myself that this period is only temporary. Even if it feels like forever, even if it lasts a few years, it's still such a short time in their life really. We WILL make it through! Night weaning sounds like a perfect plan. I hope it works. Fingers crossed! Just remember that you are a great mother. It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. Paloma loves you. And ion loves you. Your family is all that matters and what works for you, is the only thing that counts. Who cares how other people made it work. You can take people's advice, research your options, and the. Parent the best way you know how for YOUR family.

    1. Please excuse my typos. Stupid phone.....

    2. Try rocking the child in your arms to sleep.
      Try a soft lullaby.
      Sleep is so important to mothers and their babies children kids baby child toddler.


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