Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Toddler Sleep Plan, Night 4

As I mentioned last night in my oh-so-eloquent explanation of our plans for night weaning and process of coming to that decision, we are in the middle of a plan to night wean William. I do believe in extended breastfeeding, and during the daytime that's going swimmingly, but at night it was getting a little out of control. This is taking place in the confines of a bed-sharing situation and Brian and I were united and our decision to make some changes so that all of us could be better rested. This article, Sleep Changing Patterns In the Family Bed by Dr. Jay Gordon, is the plan we decided to take to make it happen.
In it, he breaks down a process that goes from nursing all night on cue, to having a 7 hour window of no nursing while keeping the breastfeeding relationship the rest of the day unchanged. To me, this was the most rational and compassionate method I found, and logically, it seemed like it would work! It was important to me that we never "abandon" William at night to cry alone, but the other source of inspiration for me, The No-Cry Sleep Solution is a misnomer because when you're changing a toddler's ingrained habit, and his favorite of all favorite activities, there will be crying. But we are there with him the whole time, speaking soothingly, rubbing his back, singing or patting. 
The first three nights were about shortening each nursing episode so that we stopped well before he fell asleep and he was able to fall asleep without nursing. The first night he rebelled at one point, carrying on for an hour and a half. Besides that, it was a much more reasonable 15 to 20 minutes of calming him down and persisting in the idea that that nursing session was over and he could, in fact, go to sleep.
The fourth night, last night, I expected to be significantly harder, because instead of nursing briefly then stopping, there would be no nursing from the hours of 11-6. I doubled up on my night shirts to be less accessible and really tanked him up before bed. I was worried for nothing it turns out! The longest he was up last night was only 20 minutes and only about 8 of those were spent in serious crying/complaining. He woke up 2 other times and was back down in less than 15. I expect the 5th and 6th nights to be even better, little by little. 
The change that comes in 7-10 is the type of soothing that you offer. Instead of holding him, we're just supposed to pat, but Will can't stand to be held or cuddled when he's angry anyway, so all we're doing is rubbing and such and saying nice things. I do think we'll try to cut out the multiple verses of The Wheels on the Bus Brian has had to sing each night. What is it about that song that immediately gets him to lay down and breathe deeper? 
I feel reassured by the changes that are taking place of our parenting decisions all along. I do feel that we're teaching William that he can trust in us to always be there for him. To rely on people for comfort rather than things, and that we respect his needs and don't think he's just trying to manipulate us. I did a ton of reading on this topic because its really the only one that was causing some anxiety around here and chose to do nothing because I couldn't find a solution that spoke reason and love to me. 
Don't follow advice just because  it comes from the expert because you will most assuredly be able to find another expert saying the opposite as evidenced by the great sleep debate. Instead, research, then follow the advice that you believe you would if there weren't any experts. Your instincts and values will lead you to a much better decision than if you try to go with popular wisdom on every parenting topic. You and I might arrive at very different conclusions, and I think that is perfectly natural and normal. It's parenting with integrity. 
I'll be sure to let you know when/if we can call this plan complete! 


Brooke said...

Sounds like it is going well! Hopefully everyone will be sleeping well soon!

Lisa G. said...

I hope things are still going well!! We are just beginning a modified version of sleep training. I never had this issue with my other two since their worlds weren't turned upside-down with a cross-country move! But we had to finally bite the bullet and work with Roman rather than let him nurse all night too. He was put to sleep at 8:30 and always woke up by 9:00 or 9:30 to nurse. Then again at 10:00 or 10:30, so and so forth until he would finally settle in. Recently though, he has been waking up multiple times all night and it is getting worse :( Tonight I put him in his room and every time he started crying, I went in, hugged him, rocked him and kissed him until he was happy, then left again. It took over an hour (I HATE hearing him cry so I went in a lot!), but he finally just laid down and was quiet without any crying. I would love to hear an update on how William is doing! Is he nursing more during the day? Did your Christmas plans change up his routine so you had to start over? Are you sleeping better??