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How I night-weaned and sleep-trained my breast fed 14-month-old.

May 12, 2010

(That title? Above? The boring/overly explanatory one? With neither pun nor literary allusion? Yeah, well, desperate googlers trying to night wean your toddlers? You’re welcome.)

Henry  was 14 months on May 1st. He is still nursing. He has never been a good sleeper; if you’ve read this blog for long you are well aware of this. Before about a month ago, he had slept through the night a handful of random times, but  was generally waking 2-3 times a night (usually around 10 pm, 12 am and/or 2 am), at which time he was nursed and put back to sleep. He went back to sleep easily. He would then wake up at 5-effing-a-m most mornings, sometimes as late as 5-effing-fifteen-a-m. This means that, a year out from when this whole thing began, I was still sleeping in 2-3 hour chunks. NOT GOOD AT ALL.

So one fateful night (April 11th, to be exact) I had a little too much wine and fell into a deep snorey sleep on the couch while watching a movie with my partner. 10 pm and the baby starts howling. So Baby Daddy does what probably should have been done a million fucking years ago if we had been smart people, and goes upstairs, picks the baby up and comforts him until he stops crying, and puts the kid back in his crib. Whereupon said kid immediately goes right back to sleep, and BD closes the door.

And like that the spell was broken. OUR KID CAN GO BACK TO SLEEP WITHOUT NURSING! (I’m sorry, but I really do need the CAPS key for this. It’s warranted.) Since that night we just kept going.

We decided to night wean/sleep train in stages. You could argue this only served our own peace of mind, rather than necessarily benefiting Henry. You could probably go “harsher” than this and have about the same affect on the child, because no matter what there is a rough adjustment period for the kid; but I’m thinking our kid was ready. Your kid is probably ready. So you could go whole-hog-cry-it-out-extinction-etc. from the get-go. And if you are reading this? And you need someone to tell you it’s okay? I’m telling you. It’s okay. But, we did something else, something in phases, and we do dig our method, because so far it is working.

Stage One: Night weaning. We wanted to first get Henry adjusted to not eating (nursing) between bedtime and wake-up time, before we moved on to getting him to not require any other parental intervention. So initially, when Henry would wake up, his father would go to him (I, with the sleep inducing boobs, have typically been the night-time parent). He would pick Henry up, pat him and whatnot, and then put him back down again. It got to the point that the whole thing would take less than a minute, I am SO not joking. It would seem unfair if it wasn’t so miraculously freeing to myself. Because I drafted a blog entry about those early days of night-weaning, I’ll include those thoughts here:

  • First night (the accidental beginning to night weaning). Henry wakes up at the normal times (10, 12, 2), but goes back to bed with a few minutes of comfort from his father and very little crying. He does not nurse from 6 pm on. He wakes up slightly later than normal (5:30 am).
  • Second night. Henry wakes up a few extra times early on–once every hour between 8 and 11. He calms down more quickly than the night before, literally being picked up and put right back down. He wakes up at 2 am as per usual, but goes back to sleep easily after BD does the pick up put down routine. He sleeps until the unbelievably blissful hour of 6 am.
  • Third night. Henry wakes at 10 pm and 12 pm. He is starting to lean back toward his crib when he is picked up. He sleeps until 6:30 am.
  • Fourth night. Henry wakes only once, at 11 pm. He then sleeps through till 6:30 am.

Holy cow, right? I couldn’t believe it could be that easy. And ultimately it wasn’t, because there have been blips and regressions and such since then. Mainly: though the progression through the fourth night would indicate we would eventually just start sleeping through on his own, it didn’t happen that way. And we had traded one habit for another–we had determined that he could make it through the night without nursing (and with little protest), but he still showed no interest in making it through the night without intervention.

When we knew it was time to change strategy: Henry’s father runs the restaurant side of a popular bar-restaurant so he works days Tues-Sat and the back-half of the week he also works nights (sometimes he can be home by 10 pm, sometimes by 1 am). (Why yes, it WAS rough during the newborn period.) Luckily, we start night weaning on a Sunday, so the first four nights he was home to comfort Henry in place of me. This worked so well we were pretty fucking smug. Enter complications:

  • We seemed to have successfully broken Henry of the need to be nursed back to sleep. But he now had a new association–dad.
  • So, night five, the first night that dad wasn’t home for Henry’s initial wake up (which came around 8 pm, if my memory serves) I had to decide what I was going to do–I knew that we couldn’t “go back” and thus I couldn’t nurse him. I stupidly thought I could more-or-less replicate the circumstances of the last four nights and just go in, pick him up, pat him, and put him back down.
  • HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
  • When I went in the first thing Henry did was stop crying, a good sign! Then: “Dada?” I picked him up and hugged him close. “Dada? Dada?” *points at door* Starts to get insistent. “DADA.” Tears return. Tears escalate. Henry goes all boneless-tantrumy in my arms. I keep patting. Then, Henry gets an idea: *points at rocking chair* “Nurse? Mama? Nurse?”
  • FUCK.
  • I end up telling him I love him, putting him back in his crib, closing the door, and listening to him scream for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, however, he did go back to sleep. My heart and nerves were shattered, but he went back to sleep.

Henry’s father was thankfully home by the next wake-up, but something had broken–Henry didn’t go back to sleep as easily, he seemingly remembered that nursing was far superior to this daddy-patting business and was no longer content to go back to sleep with so little comfort. We decided to try a few other items from the sleep-training toolkit.

Stage Two: Introduction of a comfort object. Just a few days after beginning this process I’d written here about Henry’s lack of enthusiasm for comfort objects, despite our efforts in the past. But in conjunction with night weaning, we decided to drag out one of his many gifted stuffed animals and see if we could drum up some interest. We started acting like this blue homemade stuffed bunny (expect a post on Mark the Avant Garde Rabbit soon) was the most amazingly wonderful thing to carry around and snuggle and Henry, surprisingly, took the bait. I started bringing the thing to Henry’s crib and it became part of the routine. When I put him down in his bed and when/if he is visited by one of us at night, we make sure that Mark is in the crib and sometimes mention him to Henry to remind him that he’s not alone (I know, sounds kind of stupid, but it’s been working). Now, a few weeks later, the kid is attached. We can’t really know, but do think that this object has eased the transition as things have steadily improved, and recently he has started to sing (presumably to Mark) until he falls asleep at night, and chat (presumably with Mark) as soon as he wakes up (which is rather nice, as I wake up to a baby chatting rather than a baby crying, not that morning wake-up crying is all that tragic). Now, this is again swapping a habit for another habit, to a degree. I’m sure we’ll be kicking ourselves later if Mark becomes the magic sleep talisman and we need to somehow wean Henry from him. Things have great potential to go wrong, seeing as Mark is homemade and so less hardy, and irreplaceable. But, as a “transitional” object in many registers, we’re pleased with Mark’s role.

Stage Three: Ferber-like. Out of necessity (see: dad not always home, miracle “pick up, pat, put down” method no longer working) we decided to ratchet things up a bit and start “controlled crying” (this has so many names: cry-it-out, controlled crying, Ferber checks, “let cry” [a very carefully rhetorically selected phrase, that, to distinguish from the idea of "make cry"], probably more). Basically, upon waking Henry would be allowed to cry for 10 minutes. While we would allow ourselves to restrain each other from running to his room. And pace the sidewalk outside our house if one of us was at work. And tear our hair out by the fistful. Okay, you get it, listening to your kid cry is the worst thing ever, and you should understand that people who “can” sleep train are not evil monsters who are insensitive to their children’s needs.

I think the “Ferber method” starts with smaller intervals–2 minutes, then 5 minutes, etc., but based on his age, his basic understanding of bedtime, bedroom, sleep, etc., his (assumed) understanding that we are still there on the other side of his door, etc., we figured the “10-minute rule” would best suit our purposes. Give him enough time to realize no one is responding, so we could gauge if he would just go back to sleep on his own.

I think a specific “plan of action” is really REALLY necessary for parents who are sleep training just so that they have something to focus on (and to displace their fears, guilt, etc. on to–for reals). When your kid is crying for you your brains are scrambled, your blood pressure spiking, your heart breaking. A rigid “system” is often necessary in the same way specific rules in a diet are necessary: to keep YOU on track, to give you something to stick to. And so that you can actually determine if something is working. So establishing that we were NOT going to go back to nursing at night was the first step, and the 10-minute rule was the next.

That said, we kept things a bit flexible, while trying to remain more or less consistent in our responses to Hank to help him understand what was going on. There are different kinds of night-time crying, and the nature of Henry’s cries would often determine our response. Instant screaming? A parent would go immediately. Henry has had night terrors before (lord help you if your kid has these regularly–they are SO not fun for anybody), so we had to rule this out. The slow ramping up cough-ing kind of crying (you know that cry? the weird cough-cry, that has nothing to do with actual coughing? what is that?) would be “ignored” (such a funny idea, that. like you can ignore your kid’s cries, really).

This is the thing about Stage Three, for those looking for a program they can actually follow: We really did go in (either immediately or after 10 minutes, depending), pick him up, pat him, tell him we loved him, say “night night” and put him down. And close the door. In other words, our night-time response to him was consistent, and brief. We’re here; now go back to sleep. And sometimes there were no tears at all. And sometimes there was chatting with Mark. And sometimes he sang himself the night-night song before going back to sleep. And sometimes he SCREAMED HIS FREAKING HEAD OFF.

…Or so it sounded, we couldn’t see his head separating from his body from the sheer force of his screams, because we are terrible, awful, neglectful parents who closed the door on their crying child. And we don’t have a video monitor, which some might say makes us even worse, as modern parents go.

Stage Four: Full “Extinction.” Who came up with that term? Could you choose something a little less scary and guilt inducing? Seriously? Basically this is the Marc Weissbluth deal, though don’t hold me to all this because I read all the sleep books when Henry was like 6 months old and still waking up 8 times a night and my memory of those dark days and all information consumed during them is…foggy. There is a lot more to that book, much like Ferber’s book, than what it gets boiled down to on the Internets. And though it makes me chuckle, the comparison of his “method” to the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie (“Set it and forget it!”) is less than fair. Though we obviously haven’t bought  in to any of these systems or Henry would have been sleeping through the night 6 months ago, or earlier.

All that said, the basic idea behind extinction is no parental intervention. No Ferber checks. After setting regular routines and making sure your child is ready and whatnot, you really do put the kid to bed at a determined bed time, and not go to him/her until the determined wake up time. Many friends of mine swear this is the least confusing for the child and I have to say there is some pretty tight logic to this.

But for Henry it seems to have really helped that we worked toward this. It was certainly less painful for us, in the long run, as we never actually made it to full-fledged extinction, as after the 10-minute rule phase he basically slept through the night. On occasion he would wake up, cry out for less than a minute, and was asleep again. So it was easy to not go, as I couldn’t physically make it upstairs to his room before the crying stopped. We did have a few instances where, after a check, he protested when we put him back down and continued to cry for about 20 minutes. At this point we did just let him go. The initial reassurance was just to let him know that when he woke up there were parents around, but after that reassurance it was time to go back to sleep. At that point we judged that going back in a second time was a really bad idea. It wasn’t teaching him anything.

But we never had the hours of crying that parents often do have to endure when sleep training. And that kind of extinction is what we would have done, if he was continuing to wake up crying multiple times a night and hadn’t responded to what we did in the other three stages. With the other stages we had firmly established with him that nighttime is for sleeping and not nursing, and that it’s okay to just go back to sleep without mom or dad checking in. And he went with it. But if he hadn’t started going back to sleep on his own with those easier (on us?) methods, it would have been where we went next. Because we weren’t going back. Because I needed to sleep after a year of hell, and Henry was ready.

Miscellaneous items:

  • Bedtime routine. Henry had a set bedtime and bedtime routine, in our case since he was 4 months old. If you’ve done any investigating of sleep training or sleep issues at all, you know that you cannot attempt to manipulate any of your child’s sleep habits if you don’t already have a routine in place. Henry is the champion of bedtime, actually–he initiates the portions of the routine himself if I’m running behind or forgetful. Like pulling out his pajamas or grabbing books himself, or pointing to the bathroom if I forget the important step or letting him turn that light off before we head to his room. Seriously, we have that detailed of a routine. It’s also flexible, as we don’t do a bath every night and we do skip some things depending on time, and this hasn’t seemed to upset him.
  • Early bedtime. You know what works for your kid, and many have tried the early bedtime and it has not worked for them at all. So I’m not going to try to preach the gospel of the early bedtime with the fanaticism that I know annoys many of you…
  • …Except the early bedtime is truly your salvation. Accept the early bedtime as your savior. There has been nothing better for Henry’s sleep than the early bedtime. He went from waking up 8 times a night to 4 times when he moved his bedtime earlier in the evening when he was much younger. And whenever we’ve monkeyed with his bedtime moving it earlier in the evening has ALWAYS had the desired effect of getting him to sleep later. That little infant sleep paradox has been entirely true, in our case. Again, I know us early-bedders can come off as TOTAL DICKS sometimes, and I totally believe you if this doesn’t work for your kid (or your schedule, or your family), but I will IMPLORE you to not knock it until you’ve tried it. BTW, Henry was going to bed at 6 pm when we started this. When he started sleeping through we moved it to 6:30 pm because we felt like he was getting too old for a 6 pm bedtime. He started waking up earlier, so we moved it back to 6, and he slept later.
  • Teething. Such a difficult issue to wrangle with when you’re thinking about sleep training. Henry has been teething more or less constantly since he got his first tooth, and was still cutting his molars when we started this process. You can make the decision how you like. You should be flexible if your kid is showing you he/she’s in pain and this is disrupting sleep. You might go back to nursing for a few days, or you might offer some replacement comfort. For us, Henry never seemed to indicate that teething was behind his wake-ups, and we didn’t alter our strategies. If you wait for all the teething and milestones and whatever else can impact sleep to be over? You’re just not going to sleep train. Because that’s the first years of your child’s life, uninterrupted. So my suggestion:
  • MOTRIN. Or generic Target brand infant’s ibuprofen, as we’ve always used (and thus luckily avoided the “particles,” whatever that means in the name-brand stuff). Once your kid is over 6 months this is something you can use for pain relief. It lasts 6-8 hours instead of the 4-6 of acetaminophen (though it doesn’t seem to take the fevers down as effectively as acetaminophen, if you have teething-related fevers). For any night that we are going to attempt to ignore crying, we have given Hank a dose of ibuprofen before bed. This makes sure that he has the pain relief he needs if his teeth are bothering him, and it eliminates for us a potential reason for waking. We can tell ourselves it’s okay to let him work it out, because we know he has some help with the pain (if that’s the source). You may have your own opinions about managing pain in toddlers, but dosing Henry for those few weeks worked for us. We have ceased doing so, as he’s sleeping now and not showing signs of teething. I’m just saying cover your bases if you’re going to let your kid cry. For him/her and for you.
  • Daytime calorie intake. One thing you might worry about when sleep training is if your kid has eaten enough during the day to not be waking up hungry. It’s another in that list of fears you go through while listening to your kid cry. Are they hurt? Teething? HUNGRY? And it’s the fear that probably breaks your heart the most. I’ll just say this–we paid pretty close attention to what Hank ate and how much milk he drank during the day in those initial two weeks when he was still waking up, and you know what? There were no discernible correlations. And now? He can eat two strawberries for dinner and still sleep all the way through the night. There may come a time where he’s going through a growth spurt and wakes up asking to nurse or something, and we’ll assess things then, but for now, we’re pretty sure that his intake during the day is not affecting his sleep at all, so we do not live in fear of his performance at dinner affecting his night’s sleep, nor did we worry he was hungry when he woke up. This is one of the nice things, I think, of waiting until your kid is a year to sleep train (not that I’m necessarily saying you should). I’m not freaked out anymore that he’s going to starve, I witness that his eating/drinking fluctuate, and he can communicate with me (a little) so he’s not such a scary inscrutable and always hungry mystery.
  • Treat the early am wake-up as a night-waking. This is the best advice I ever got, and I cannot remember if it was from a sleep book or a friend. But it really, really helped me out in approaching the early am hours. We decided on a reasonable “wake up” time: 6 a.m. Wake-ups before then have been treated as night-wakings. So our response to a 4:45 a.m. waking would be the same as to a 12:35 a.m. waking. In the early stages, comfort and back to bed. In the later? 10 minute rule. Then extinction. This one is hard, because you get stuck in the “If I let them cry, then what if they don’t actually go back to sleep, but just cry until 6 am? Do I go get them then?” Our answer is yes. Day 1, it seems weird. What am I teaching them? Because they aren’t going back to sleep, just crying until I get them. But the second day, the kid might decide it’s not worth it, and go back to sleep. Then the next day, just go ahead and sleep till 6. And that my friends, is worth your trouble. We didn’t have to deal with this exactly; we did have early a.m. wake-ups that we treated like night-wakings, but were lucky and never had the hours+ of crying. And for the most part, once he was sleeping through the night Henry started sleeping later and later. Which makes no sense, right? When he was being nursed 2+ times a night he would wake up at 5. When he was no longer getting those calories he would sleep until 6:30 most mornings. Doesn’t make sense but sure makes life easier. Shrug. Setting a reasonable wake-up time is another way to keep you, the parent, on track. When it’s between 4 and 6 it is really tempting to read the wake up as hunger or ready-for-the-dayness and you just have to stick to your guns (unless you truly believe it’s hunger or a diaper or whatnot, it’s not outside the realm of possibilities). That said, after some rigidity to get Henry used to the whole sleeping through the night thing, we now trust that if he wakes up at 5:45 am, which he does on occasion, that he’s ready to be up. Some days he sleeps until 7, some days until 5:45. If he starts waking in the 5 am hour routinely, we’ll re-assess.
  • Nursing to sleep. One thing I really like about Weissbluth’s book is that he doesn’t go after nursing to sleep like most “sleep trainers” do. We do not see nursing in the last step in the bedtime routine as incompatible with Henry’s understanding of how to sleep on his own (nursing throughout the night, however, was). We nurse for 15 minutes in the dark in the rocking chair before I put him down for the night. Sometimes he falls asleep at the breast, but rarely. Some of the time he’s sleepy, and is out like a light once I put him down and he cuddles into his blanket and Mark. Most of the time he’s calmed and drowsified by the nursing, but his eyes are wide open when I take him from the breast and put him in his bed. And he “puts himself to sleep” as they say, meaning he goes from awake to asleep on his own. Half the time he does this by singing, which is unbelievably adorable.

Conclusion. We are a month from beginning this process. Henry sleeps through the night. All the way through. Most nights we don’t hear a thing from 6 pm to 6 am. Some nights we hear him roll over (small house, funny acoustics) or kick the sides of his crib and mumble before settling back in. Very rarely he cries out, these days, and like I said before he’s done crying before a minute or two has passed. At this point, if he were to wake up crying for more than a few minutes, one of us would go check on him, because it would be out of the ordinary. What’s one of the best things about being here, on the other side. Aside from actually sleeping myself which I can’t begin to thank the universe for. I’m no longer living in fear. Fear of wake ups. Of every noise. Wondering when it’s going to happen. Staying up late just to avoid being woken up five minutes into sleep. Fearing leaving Henry with my partner or a babysitter at night because what if he wakes up and wants to nurse? Etc. Now he might wake up. And it won’t be the end of the world. Even if there is a little crying.

Ultimately the real training has been of US. My partner and I have an entirely different relationship to Henry’s sleep now. And it’s not a pscyho-disciplinary one. Like I said, we are very flexible. But we have a basic framework in place that we are comfortable with and that he seems to understand (at a rudimentary level). Nighttime is for sleeping. In his bed. In his room. By himself. Not for playing or eating.

He’s taken to it well. I’m not afraid to tell the Internet about it because even though things will inevitably change, I think we’ve made great progress. I can only say to you, if you are struggling with this stuff: good luck. Send me an email if you want to talk strategy or just commiserate. I’m not an expert, but it worked. (So far.)

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87 Comments leave one →
  1. May 12, 2010 4:51 pm

    I’ve been contemplating sleep training lately. Last week I got 4 comments on the same day questioning the fact that Jackson still wakes up to nurse 2 (sometimes 3 depending on bedtime) times a night and is 8 months old. The whole “he’s big enough” “he’s old enough” “why isn’t he sleeping through the night” shebang. Yay for making me feel like a bad parent!
    My gut has been that he’s fine, he’s just still night nursing–in part because he doesn’t nurse that well during the day–and that 2 extra wakeups at 8 months isn’t unheard of. But seriously 4 comments on the same day and I start questioning myself.
    All that to say–after reading your account, 1)I feel better about his current schedule and 2)I like the approach you took and will probably do similar when we DO get to a point where I’m more worried about it. I think your mix of techniques is probably more realistic than being hardline about one option over the other, and it sounds really common sense and logical. So just like I’m rereading your posts on feeding now, when J gets a little older, I’m thinking I’ll be back reading this post.

  2. May 12, 2010 5:35 pm

    Wow, this is impressively detailed, and I hope it helps some of the sleep-deprived among us. And to you and BD, congratulations. This is seriously awesome.

  3. May 12, 2010 6:51 pm

    Thanks for this. I’m planning on night weaning in a few weeks after our Memorial Day trip, so I’ll re-read it then. Right now I can’t fully concentrate, because A. has decided for the second night in a row not to go to bed easily, and I had to leave him crying in his crib for a few minutes, because I just COULD NOT TAKE IT.

  4. May 12, 2010 8:39 pm

    Great great great post. I totally agree with you on so many points. (our 14 month old also love her early 6:30 bedtime and complains when she is not promptly put to bed). :)

    One additional thought though, from someone who sleep trained like 6+ months ago… It will regress and change back and forth. A will have weeks where she sleeps in until 7am and then go through a week where she will sleep until 4am and we will have to endure the screaming until 6am unless we go get her (like you, we have a 6am is reasonable philosophy). However, I think you very clearly have anticipated this possibility- I am just sharing with everyone else that every baby- sleep trained or not- goes through ups and downs of good and bad sleep behaviour. (Google the ‘wonder weeks’ for a great explanation of why).

    Anyway, Congrats to you and your great approach and great plan! Sure yeah, not for everyone. But when it works, it works. (with some hicups that are still way better then the alternative).

  5. May 12, 2010 9:43 pm

    This is awesome.

    I’ve been toying with the idea of night weaning for a while now, especially since I’m having mystery pain in my left breast when she nurses. I like that you don’t discourage picking up when you do go to the baby. She seems to need that in order to calm down. I also believe that nursing is fine for a bedtime routine. Charlotte is the exact same way. She nurses last thing before bed, but goes into her crib awake and puts herself to sleep. Once in a while she’ll cry for a minute or two before settling down. The biggest problem is the night-wakings. I’m going to try tonight to not go to her right away, and if I do need to go to her, to not nurse her. I know it’ll work. And since the night nursings haven’t been putting her back to sleep anyway, I figure this can’t be any worse than that.

    I might be taking you up on that email thing. I might be needing some reassurance…l

    • Alicia permalink
      July 14, 2012 10:44 am

      i loved reading this and found it helpful; thank you.
      i myself am trying and wanting desperatly to ween my 14month old daughter…who still wakes to nurse/sooth herself back to sleep… and comfort during the day….and still sleeps with me….
      none of it has been going easy. Im really done doing this but she is far from being done. I have been back and forth on going cold turkey and letting dad deal with it and see what works but I can’t bring myself to do it. I see those blue eyes looking at me like, “dont you love me” as she stands in front of me pulling at my shirt and i give. UHG!!!
      this has been helpful and will try some cause i wanted to be done with this at 6 months, that turned into when she gets teeth(she has 10 now), that turned into just till her first bday… everything kept turning into something. *sigh*

      • Lori permalink
        December 27, 2012 1:07 am

        Alicia I’m with you my little one still sleeps with me and I am so ready to be done with the night nursing but she isn’t! So I keep saying ok at a year ok at 13 months and now it will be 14 months!! Do you intend to keep letting her sleep with you? My lo has never slept in her crib and I think the weaning will be much harder any ideas?

  6. May 12, 2010 9:47 pm

    HELPFUL. HELPFUL. HELPFUL. Thank you. Seriously.

  7. firstsmilesandtears permalink
    May 13, 2010 8:14 am

    If my mom hadn’t helped us in the beginning with night training, who knows where we’d be now. The issue is being so delirious and willing to do anything for a few more minutes of sleep. I offer a huge “Go, Team!”

  8. May 13, 2010 9:53 am

    Thank you for this post. It is very timely, as I read it between 1am and 4am while my almost-9-month-old screamed in 5-10 minute (my limit for screaming) chunks. I, too, have a breastfed baby who is up 2-4 (usually 3) times every night to nurse. He has never slept through the night. Well, unless you count a week or so of 6 hour chunks back when he was 3 months old. Three wakings would not be a problem, if he would go right back to sleep after nursing (which he normally does). I stay home, so can sleep when he sleeps if I need to, and generally we do fine with this routine. However, it’s when he is up for reasons other than hunger (like, an hour after he goes to sleep, for example), or when he refuses to go back to sleep after nursing–these times cause me much distress. Like last night, between 1am and 4am, while he alternately screamed, played, or stared blankly at the wall, regardless of 1am and 3am (desperate) nursing. I do struggle with the “milestones” issue; he is teething (just cut the top two this week), recently figured out how to stand but doesn’t seem to know how to get down, and has been making a massive poop every morning upon waking after a screamfest-crappy-sleep night, which leads me to believe he is having some digestive issues (but WHAT???). So I guess I will just have to do as you have done, and wait until I feel he is ready, “milestones” or not…then forth we shall go! I’m glad to read it is working out for you…it gives me hope!

  9. May 13, 2010 2:45 pm

    Just discovered your blog through RambleRamble- great post. I am past the sleep training phase (thank god) with my son but used Ferber methods, which worked wonders. reading this brings back memories- now mine is dropping his only remaining nap (Nooooooooooo!!!) and about to say bye bye to night-time diapers.

  10. May 13, 2010 8:12 pm

    Dude. Brilliant. Thank you.

    I’m fairly sure that all those sleep books were written by people with extremely limited (if any) evidence on the normal sleeping patterns of breastfed infants because there is no way that all of our kids are freaks. It’s so very helpful to hear about what other people have done since no one I know has gone through anything remotely similar.

    I’ve come to pretty much the same conclusions as you did with my 8 month old daughter. She’s still up 3-4 times per night to nurse and she’s never slept longer than 4-5 hours without feeding. She was sleeping with us until this last month when we moved her into her crib before she managed to launch herself off the bed kicking herself to sleep (I get bonus guilt points for moving her out rather than putting the bed on the floor or buying those hideous bed rails. Yes, I chose aesthetics over my child’s comfort). In moving her to the crib we had to basically go through a form of sleep training where she no longer got nursed to sleep/pre-sleep lying in our bed. It’s still in progress and we’ve tried to stay flexible for the same reasons you mentioned (e.g., teething). It’s definitely toughened me up for the next stage, if necessary, of getting her off the boob during the night. You are a saint for doing it for 14 months. I’m praying she night-weans herself before then but if not it’s going to be so nice to have this post/your experience to refer to.

    • liv permalink
      January 21, 2012 2:23 pm

      Ditto: Dude. Brilliant. Thank you.

  11. July 1, 2010 8:45 pm

    I wish I had read this 6 weeks ago! What’s interesting is we came to nearly the same conclusion. Lulu now sleeps through the night, though later (7:45-7:45-8:15). It has completely changed our lives, her sleeping in her OWN crib in her OWN room and WITHOUT nursing. What amazed me most was how not painful it was after just a night or two. It was like deep down she was desperate for her own space and the routine and everything.

    Anyway, yay for sleeping babies, even if it doesn’t happen until after they are a freaking year old.

  12. Mandy permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:50 pm

    Thank you, thank you, thank you!!!

    My little darling will be 14 months in a few days. She is completely weaned from daytime nursing, but I just haven’t felt ready to be done alltogether yet. I nurse her at bedtime as part of our routine, but don’t nurse her to sleep. She has been going to bed in her pack and play in our room for 2 plus months, but she nurses all.night.long. She doesn’t let go at all, and I’m not kidding. I will wake up in pain and she cries while I switch sides. I’ve struggled so much wondering if she is getting enough calories during the day, but she drinks plenty of whole milk and eats a lot so I feel almost certain she is.

    Tonight is our first night of night weaning, even if I could decrease the feedings I (and my husband) would be so happy. I’m terrified to even go in there to start this! She is sleeping in her actual crib in her (shared with 5 y/o sister) room and the plan is for me to go in and sleep in sissy’s bed and deal with this alone since daddy goes to work at the butt crack off dawn. I plan on taking a sippy cup of water in…and maybe some anxiety meds! Eeek!

    Thank you again for your post full of hope!

  13. Mandy permalink
    August 30, 2010 11:51 pm

    I’d like to add to my post above (that I clearly didn’t proofread before submitting) that she falls asleep on her own for a few hours and THEN wakes up, gets in bed with us and nurses through the night…

  14. Allison permalink
    September 1, 2010 2:47 pm

    I can totally relate. Thanks for the helpful, detailed post. I found you via my latest google search “how to night wean a 12 month old”. My little rock star likes to nurse 2-4 times in the middle of the night and I’m finally done. D-O-N-E. I know I should have been done MONTHS ago but I know I’m not good at letting him cry. We’re going to give it a shot this weekend…when my husband will be able to do the check-ins. I’ll let you know how it goes. Enter nervous laugh here.

  15. Amber permalink
    September 1, 2010 10:37 pm

    So I Googled 14 month sleep breastfeeding and this came up. Thanks for being so thorough. I have a 14 month old son who falls asleep breastfeeding, hence the search. He has never ever slept through the night. He wakes SEVERAL times a night and needs his yummies to go back to sleep. My son and I co sleep, my husband was kicked out due to his snoring, thrashing, and waking up early. We tried CIO when he was 6 months, sort of. We our him to bed, let hom cry for 5 min, my husband scooped him up, and that was it. The whole family is traumatized. He cried 15 more min, then 20 min to calm down. He then started having nightmares.
    After 14 months of no sleep, I’m ready for a change. I just need support! I have to get him on his own bed in his own crib, and stop feeding him at night. Oye! I plan on reading this a few more times. When I put him in his crib, he stands up! How do I handle that?

  16. Sandy permalink
    February 8, 2011 11:46 pm

    WOOOW! Firstly KUDOS..to BD, Hank n U :) Great job done, guys..and then…
    A BIG THANKS (couldnt help the caps…!) for being sucha thotful momma :) Hug :)

    I managed to wean off my baby pretty easily too…and now, the mind has started planning on how to get him to sleep through the night. I knew this… and have been kinda guilty of it…and after readin ur post realize it even more…I neeeeed to have a set routine for him…while we do have one… we are a lil too flexible.. :(
    Am gonna keep u posted on our progress!

    Go Momma Gooo..!

    Love and a warm hug from a momma of a 13 mnth ol rokkstar :)
    Sandy

  17. Davida Gray permalink
    August 14, 2011 10:25 pm

    Please send me your email!! This is the first internet post (that I read in its entirety) that is similiar to my situation…

  18. Sarah lorde permalink
    August 25, 2011 9:20 am

    Thankypu so much for this amazing post. Ian at 9 months of night wakings & in at my wits end. Reading your account & success of night weaning makes me feel like I have the strength to do it to. Thank you again

  19. crisitna permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:47 am

    Thanks for this detailed account. I really need to sleep train my 12 month old, as I am sleep deprived and she contantly gets up during the night. I am also trying to wean, which has proved to be difficult. Have any of you had any challenges sleep training at this age- ie baby can now stand up in crib? Will it be harder? Will the baby hurt herself in the crib? I keep avoiding letting her cry, but it’s getting ridiculous. She sleeps with my husband and I in our bed and gets up consistently through the night. The boob is the only thing that gets her back to sleep. It’s got to stop;please help and support. Amber. I just read you post.. any luck.. is he stil standing up?

  20. October 26, 2011 9:26 am

    Thank you. It’s helpful for me to hear in detail how other real parents are creatively, responsively, effectively dealing with night-weaning. My son just turned 2 and he still nurses 1-3 times during the night. He associates nursing with sleeping, for naps and at bedtime, and every time he wakes up at night. His crib is side-carred to our bed. I’ve always been a very flexible sleeper and I barely wake up all the way when we nurse at night, so it hasn’t bothered me enough to consider sleep-training. I kind of figured he would just magically start sleeping through the night at some point and he has slept at longer intervals without any type of training on our part, but I’m starting to think it’s maybe going to take a solid boundary drawn by me to get him to consistently sleep all night. I really appreciate all that you have shared here. Thanks!

  21. cat permalink
    October 31, 2011 9:56 pm

    My baby girl is 14 months and has always been a night waker, usually every 3 hours to breastfeed. She slept through thte night the first 4 months, and at 5 months things just changed. She went from her sleeping all night in her crib to her sleeping (read kicking us in the heads) in our bed so I didn’t have to get up so much. I do not fall asleep easily so this plan only worked for her!

    We just returned from a trip a few days ago and I made huge move of putting the crib in her room and deciding she would only sleep in there, but it’s awful. I’m weak… every time she cries I get up to nurse or rub her back or hold her… and for the last three nights she has been up for a few hours at a time. Well, I found your post this afternoon and it gave me strength to start a similar sleep training program.

    Tonight was night one, and after breastfeeding her I put her in her crib awake at about 7:25 and by 7:45 she was asleep. I really hope I can be this strong later when she wants to feed. I cluster fed before laying her down so I felt good about her being very full.

    Thanks again. Your honesty and sense of humor were just what I needed. I’ll keep checking in on your blog!

  22. kristen hunter permalink
    December 1, 2011 12:47 pm

    in the middle of the night, cranky and exhausted by my 12 month old waking up again, I googled up what to do and found this blog. The next night we put him to bed at 6:45 rather than 8:00 and he slept till 6:45!!! It seemed counter intuitive but on night #1 of sleep training we succeeded! We’ll see what happens tonight. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. Aloha

    • kristen hunter permalink
      December 1, 2011 1:13 pm

      I am curious how going to bed early will effect the twice a day nap schedule. Gavin was going to bed at 8:45 and waking up twice during the night and awake by 6:00. He took two naps for about 1 1/2 each. Did you find with your earlier bedtime and solid sleep that he only needed one nap?

  23. andi permalink
    December 10, 2011 2:58 pm

    thank you thank you thank you!!! i was a late night googler and did Night One yesterday (having my husband get her and no all-night nursing). my 14 month old girl wakes up 2-3 times before 4 am then from 4 until 6:30 or 7 when we get up she refuses to even be unlatched. and bites. and screams. and sometimes won’t even sleep while latched. enough is enough! last night i stayed in the living room and husband “managed” her all night. by the third wake-up at 3 she screamed til 4:30 then stayed up another hour refusing to sleep. he stayed with her. let’s see how tonight goes!!!! if it doesn’t work we will try the 10 minute plan. thank you!

  24. December 28, 2011 6:11 am

    Generally I don’t read article on blogs, but I wish to say that this write-up very compelled me to check out and do so! Your writing taste has been amazed me. Thanks, very nice post.

  25. January 18, 2012 12:36 pm

    Outstanding work. Detailed and honest. I’ve only scanned it now but we’re pretty much exactly where you were at 12 months I think. Once we’ve absorbed all the info we’ll be doing what you’ve done in some form or other. Will report back…

  26. Misty permalink
    January 23, 2012 7:21 pm

    I am at a point where I feel helpless when I read such success stories! Will my 15 month old ever sleep through the night? We (my husband and I) have had no sleep for I-can’t-remember-how-long! We co-sleep with the kids. We have a almost 3 year old who had no issues with sleep and slept through the night at 6 months! Our second one – breastfed up until 8 months, and bottle fed now wakes up 2-3 times in the night for a feeding. He eats quite well during daytime, so I’m not sure why he still demands a bottle :(

    We have started sleep training 3 night back. We completely stopped giving him any bottle when he woke up. Just pat him back to sleep. It’s not going well unfortunately. He demands a bottle, and gets very angry when he doesnt get anything :( After which the whole night is a nightmare. He will wake up 4-5 times in the night and we look like zombies in the morning unable to focus on anything.

    He goes to bed at 8:30pm – 9pm. No, the early bedtime did not work :(

    Wakes up at 1:00am – Parent pats and puts him back to sleep. He does OK

    Wakes up at ~2:30am – Same routine, but he is annoyed this time. Restless sleep.

    Wakes up at 4:00 am – same routine. He starts screaming :( Restless sleep again

    Wakes up at 5:00am – Screams. We give in and give a bottle :( Sleeps till 7:00am

    We are at our wits end! Desperately seeking any tips or advice from you.

    • Rebecca permalink
      March 11, 2012 6:46 pm

      To Misty – I don’t know the chances that you’ll even check back here to see replies but my question is whether your 15 month old is possibly thirsty and needs a quick drink of water at the first waking (1am).

      I’ve got 3 kids and the older two, who are now fantastic sleepers (though we had exactly the same issues as in this blog for the first 15 or so months until I bit the bullet and night weaned!) still will sometimes wake at night and want a drink. (On a tangent – an interesting thing I’ve noticed is that they’ll often have nightmares when they’re very thirsty/dehydrated – my first response to nightmares now is ‘here have a big drink’ (then pat pat, you’re ok now, bad dream is all over).)

      I don’t think there’s any way he’d need food in the night but even adults sometimes need a drink.

      Apart from that, I found with the first two there was really no easy way and it was just a matter of persistence and telling them over and over again “sleep time now, no more milk, yes I know you want milk but no more milk” about 1 million times. They understand a lot more than you think especially at 15 months!

      That said, I’m now facing trying to do the same with my 10 month old who is a shocking night waker just like her siblings – it wasn’t bothering me much until recently cause I’d give her a quick feed and stick her back down but now she’s decided I’m her dummy (pacifier) and she doesn’t want to let go. It’s very, very hard whatever age you do it, especially if you have a determined child. But soooooooo worth it in the end – for the baby too I must say when they start getting an uninterrupted night’s sleep!

      Anyway thank you so much for this fantastic post, it has renewed my faith all over again that it is possible and worth it.

  27. January 24, 2012 9:31 am

    Ha! I’m one of the googlers who you predicted would be glad to find this post. :-) My son is only 8 months, but otherwise, my story is much the same. Like you, I’m trying to do a gradual sleep training thing, and stage 1 (which I just started) is night weaning. I work outside the home, and I think Jr gets about half of his nutritional intake between 10 and 6 a.m. right now b/c he prefers the breast to his bottle (who can blame him, right?). So I have my work cut out for me, but your results are very encouraging! Thanks.

  28. February 20, 2012 1:55 pm

    Oh my god ..this was so helpful..I don’t feel like I’m the only one now!
    My 12 month old girl….co- sleeps… And wakes to nurse a few times per night…So ready to sleep train..just didn’t quite know where to start. Or maybe we do know, we are just scared! Thanks so much…yawn!

  29. MummyGems permalink
    March 11, 2012 1:49 am

    Oh my god, you are a star!! I came across your blog after googling (as you predicted) 14 month old breastfed baby not sleeping. What an invaluable read!!
    My lil boy regularly wakes at least 3 times between going to sleep from 7 and getting up at 6. Some nights, like last night I feel like he’s sucked my nipples off!!!

    I’m seriously dreading starting the night weaning but it needs to be done. Especially as I’ve found out in pregnant again (oh my god!). I need at least a few months decent sleep before the newborn baby routine again.

    So thank you so so much for all your honestly and humour xx you make us all feel normal!!
    There is all the support in the world to breastfeeding but f all when you want to stop and so much negativity when people find out your still feeding past a year.

    Hopefully come next weekend I’ll be night feed free and might even dare to go out of an evening!!

  30. Jen permalink
    March 12, 2012 2:38 pm

    Love what u wrote. Have a 10 mo old boy who is up a lot at night.

  31. Lena permalink
    April 1, 2012 2:53 pm

    fantastic. especially the part about not demonizing the nursing before bedtime…you’ve given some great advice, tips, and reassurance without being judgy and i genuinely feel better about life after having read this. thanks, thanks and more thanks!

  32. Christina permalink
    April 5, 2012 6:31 am

    Hi – love the detail! Great to hear others are feeding all night too, not just me. I have a 8 month old girl. Wanted to ask, would you have weaned Henry earlier? I really think my little one is hungry as she doesn’t nurse much in the day, even if I try force her! She also nurses almost to sleep at nap times and bedtime. I’ve tried to stop her but I’m now just going with it.

  33. Joeye permalink
    April 16, 2012 12:04 pm

    I love this! I have a 14 month old daughter who wakes up around 6 times a night. Her older brother slept 12 hrs straight from 6 months on, so this night waking is new, and getting OLD fast! I miss sleep. I am hoping to try your routine, and I really hope it works! Thank you so much for sharing this!! I want to stop the once a night nursing and just get her to sleep.

  34. Kathleen Donnelly permalink
    May 11, 2012 8:42 am

    I really like how detailed your post was I’m wondering if you can give me some advice on how to get my 10month old daughter on a proper sleeping scedual. I recently went to Alberta which had a 2hr behind difference, she instantly went on that scedual but now she won’t adapt to our time again. She is still nursing and teething and I’m having difficult just getting her to sleep at a decent hour. She refuses screams stiffens kicks rolls whatever she can to even get out of my arms when I try to put her to sleep. Currently I’m not even able to get her to sleep in my arms until 11PM! She’s contantly waking up at night and the moment I finally calm her and lay her in her crib she’s intantly awake. I cannot seem to break night nursing or even getting her in her own bed. I’m not quite sure what to do I’ve tried everything and nothing seems to work. Thanks for reading
    Kathleen

  35. May 14, 2012 4:26 pm

    I literally got teary eyed from reading this post and some of the comments. I have a nurse all night long (up usually 3-4 times, sometimes 6 times a night and nursing back to sleep most times) 12 month old and I can feel the sleep deprivation seeping into my bones. It has taken me this long to commit to making a plan to night wean and try to get him sleep better, and was planning on having his dad go to him for every wake up for 2 weeks (pick up/put down), then decide the next step from there… thank you for this post. It made me so happy! Oh, and I cracked up at the reference to desperate googling. Jess

  36. Sarah permalink
    May 14, 2012 4:26 pm

    This is years later, but we have the same exact situation and I seriously thank you for your post. We’ve just decided to night weaning with dad and this was exactly what I needed to read. Our feelings are parallel with yours and the process you used is the perfect combination I was looking for. I am OK with crying it out, but I prefer to do it in stages just as you did. Our little lady has used my boobies for comfort and she hasn’t taken to any other lovie because of it, but I think we will give it a try as you did. Again, thanks for your post… and yes, I found you from a google search! ;)

  37. May 18, 2012 8:13 am

    You are brilliant. So glad I discovered your blog, and this post especially, today. Thank you! xx

  38. Tracy permalink
    May 20, 2012 10:02 pm

    Similar to what I did with A but now we have N and they share a room so letting N cry for a bit wakes up A. Total nightmare, sleep training is not going well this time! Any tips from people with kids who share a room, how did you sleep train??

  39. niki permalink
    July 18, 2012 1:10 pm

    Omg this was a life saver! It’s so good to know that i am not alone. Thank you so much!

  40. erica permalink
    July 18, 2012 11:14 pm

    I could seriously hug and/or kiss you. Maybe that’s 13 months of crappy sleep talking… But seriously, thank you! I was not very strict with my son about sleep from day one. With my work schedule we do bedtime about 830. I just weaned him but up until then he’s been sleeping in our bed. Your post not only seemed to mimic Gage’s story, but you didn’t make me feel like crap for not doing this sooner. And you didn’t suggest closing did and turning up radios and leaving him on his own for 10-12hrs. I literally printed this off so at 2am my husband doesn’t bring Gage to our room so he’ll sleep. And something to read when every fiber of me wants to go pick him up. Thanks again!

  41. Becky permalink
    July 21, 2012 9:19 am

    Yep. I am with the rest of you. Exhausted by constant nursing and night waking. Also concerned my son (also a Henry), is not getting the consolidated sleep that he needs to feel rested. Thank you for being so detailed (teething, full tummy, etc) I think you answered all possible stumbling blocks for me! Let’s see how this goes….

  42. Susan permalink
    July 29, 2012 11:03 pm

    Thanks for being so realistic, honest, and not a purist one way or the other. It’s really refreshing to hear this story in honest language. Some of our early successes happened by accident also during the days when we were still trying to be pure about no crying. Like consoling him for hours before finally leaving him alone in the crib sobbing “just for a minute” only because I had to pee so badly that I had no choice. And then realizing that the house had gotten quiet before I had a chance to finish my business! We still haven’t figured it all out, but I guess we’ll get there eventually.

  43. Jaimie permalink
    September 9, 2012 9:28 am

    This is my situation with my 11 month old, wakes up 2-3 times and up for the day at 5am! I would love to try your approach but my concern is she doesn’t want anything to do with her dad when he goes in her room at night, it actually makes her cry harder. I’m the only one that can comfort her and she will calm down but cry and cry if I put her back in the crib without nursing

  44. Crystal permalink
    September 22, 2012 2:53 pm

    WOW! I have to say that you are a very smart, loving, and brave mother! Thank you so much for posting this! I have read every book over the last month to make sure I wouldn’t “damage” my 11 month boy by sleep training him, and after reading this I feel like I have the confidence to do something about my family’s sleeping problem! I also love the comment about you no longer having the constant fear!(that part brought me to tears) thank you thank you thank you

  45. hulkmapa permalink
    September 22, 2012 10:07 pm

    thanks A LOT! also thanks to everyone who has posted here. My partner and I have been struggling with our sleep. can’t sleep in the same bed cuz partner snores and kiddo is so excited to see her on the nights we do try to sleep in the same bed that when she wakes she starts patting her other mother on the back and looking around excitedly.

    We haven’t slept in the same bed for a year, I haven’t had a full night’s sleep in 18 months (last 3 months of pregnancy were restless). This post has given me the confidence, humour and acceptance needed to try and sleep train. gonna move the crib out of the bedroom, into kiddo’s room and start with my partner doing the night routine the next night she doesn’t have to work!

    thank you for the details, your humour and everyone for your shared experience.

    #lookingforwardtoafullnightssleepOMGwhatisthat?

  46. teresa permalink
    September 27, 2012 6:51 am

    hello everyone I’m a grandmother who just got custody of my 20 month old grandson. I’m having to rearrange my life style for my bundle of joy. He is currently not sleeping thru the night he wakes up at least 3 times for his sippy cup. He doesn’t sleep in his own rm he sleeps with me and his grandfather bcause we don’t have an extra bedroom. I’m vesting him a bed and putting it in our room until we can move hopefully soon. We both work so we help with the sleepless nights any help is welcome

    • teresa permalink
      September 27, 2012 6:52 am

      If anyone has been thru this please help

      • Stephanie permalink
        December 6, 2012 8:16 am

        Teresa – I think with a 20 month old whose life has just been turned upside down by moving from his parents’ to his grandparents’, patience is required and it is NOT recommended to leave him crying!

  47. Jill permalink
    October 16, 2012 10:03 am

    I am so glad to have googled this! My son is 15months old and nurses whenever he needs to nap, including throughout the night. He sleeps in our bed from when he wakes (normally between 12 – 2 and stays with us until morning. I really need a decent sleep! So tonight I’m going to get this going! I’ve never been one to let the kids cry it out, I can’t handle it, however, I’m game for giving it another go. My only issue is that when I try, (and this happened with my eldest too) they would make themselves sick – only after not attending them after 2minutes!! We’ll see how it goes. Thank you for all the tips and the laughs I got reading your post.

    • Anon permalink
      November 3, 2012 9:27 am

      Teresa sleep training would not be recommended especially in your grand holds case as separation from his parents may be causing the night waking and not responding to the walking may cause more anxiety x Hang in there, you’re doing a great job x

  48. Sara permalink
    October 24, 2012 10:26 am

    Thank you so much for this! I am starting this with my almost 11 month only Friday. I printed this out and I think this will work! :) xoxo

  49. November 30, 2012 7:23 pm

    From a mother (and a desperate googler) trying to get advice at 2 in the morning about my screaming, not sleeping baby.. Thank You!

  50. samantha harp permalink
    December 7, 2012 8:58 pm

    mine just turned 13 months and still wakes to eat once or twice or 3 times if i cant lay her back down, she goes to bed at 7, althought the past few nights its been 630 bc shes a wreck by then. im super ready to wean and night wean and this post gives me confidence that i can do it, im gonna have to kick my fiance awake when i hear her crying so he can go in instead of me but im ok with that lol. she hasnt really ever taken to a lovey so im hoping once shes night weaned she will take to one, that alone will make my day. currently she is waking every hour to every 2 hours or sometimes 3 and yea i feel like zombie mom most days, i am so ready to sleep like a normal person again i can taste it! thank you for this for reals.

  51. Jocelyn permalink
    January 7, 2013 9:16 am

    Just wanted to send you a quick note to say thanks. Reading this while lying there trying to decide if we were ready to night wean…gave me the confidence I needed. Little man was obviously ready because there was really only a couple of rough nights. Last night (about 2 weeks after starting) he went to bed at 6:30 and I had to wake him at 6:30 this morning.
    Thanks again for the great post!

  52. Sarah permalink
    January 7, 2013 10:48 pm

    Thank goodness I found you! Our situation is pretty much identical and I have been struggling with CIO and reducing/stopping night nursing. It’s been haunting me, really. This is my second child and I thought, “oh, I’ll be fine. I know how to handle wake-ups and sleep training.” I was wrong! Every child is so different and our responses to them are too. I felt confident sleep training my little daughter when she was 6 months old and yet, here we are, Nathan sleeping poorly and demanding to nurse at 14 months.

    I’m tired and want a snippet of sanity back. I also know my little Nathan deserves the gift of sleep and I have to help him find it, and quickly. Your plan/your methods are exactly where we are at and I appreciate seeing your experience lined out. It will be a strong presence in my weak moments.

  53. Amanda W permalink
    January 10, 2013 12:17 am

    Oh my goodness I’m going through what you were living and have started looking into sleep training when I came across your blog. I am at the point, I am so ready to do this.. I did ni ni time,I laid her down and she cried for 1/2 hr. My husband went in to console her for a bit, I didn’t. That’s how ready I am. You made me laugh so hard when I was reading this! This was extremely helpful too. Thank you for writing about your experience… having a baby is intense sometimes. I take comfort in knowing that other people are out there that are or have gone through what I am going through, I’m not alone. Thank you so much!
    Amanda

  54. January 14, 2013 12:52 am

    wow. i felt like i was reading about my son, miles. he is crying as i type. thank you for sharing. i feel less alone.

    • April 23, 2013 9:37 pm

      Same here, but with my daughter. She is crying now, as I am typing :(

  55. Jamie permalink
    January 22, 2013 11:53 am

    Awesome post. I am on my fourth child and you would think that I would know better–I have nursed all of my children beyond a year and had my twins sleep trained at four months. I thought I was a pro at this by now. But my 10 month old baby, who has been my “easiest” child of all of them in every other regard, has been the toughest nut to crack when it comes to nursing. We call him Barney because he reminds us of a barnacle. He would be attached to my breast 24-7 if it were possible. And so, at 10 1/2 months he is STILL waking every 2-3 hours at night to nurse and is up for good at 5:30am every morning. Thank you for this much-needed refresher course. I now know exactly what we have to do to nip this in the bud!

  56. Lisa permalink
    February 9, 2013 6:15 am

    Thank you
    I have read MANY of these blogs and I have never replied!!
    But this is great…I am at the moment…as you say… Staying up late because I know I will be up soon anyway…feeding!!!
    However…tonight is our 2nd night of night weaning and I’m hopeful…. Last night went well…daddys taking over… He works away so it’s been over a year now on my own 90% of the time and ive tried everything…..I just need sleep…. On average 4 times a night….10…12…2….4!!!
    I’ve read so much on ” they will sleep through when they are ready” bla bla and I was all for it…we bed share and I would love to continue that but right now….I’m exhausted…. And I’m turning into ” mean mummy” and that’s not me…and it’s not good for anyone…so the way I’m looking at it is ” little pain for alota gain”!
    Something’s got to change??
    Anyway thanks for the laugh…great writing!!

  57. Christy permalink
    February 15, 2013 11:34 pm

    thank you for posting this. by the end, i was literally in tears from relief…and hope. someone does understand what i’m going through…and is alive to tell about it on the other side.

  58. Alex permalink
    February 28, 2013 10:50 am

    Love this post! I went through the same and this approach is so helpful. What did you do to wean off nursing entirely? I have to do this now and she’s not happy about it (14 months).

  59. Sara permalink
    March 13, 2013 1:18 pm

    Thank you so much for this!! I googled and found this entry and its exactly what I needed. My husband and I are at the beginning- desperate for sleep after almost a year of 1-2 hour chunks. Sometimes you do need permission/reassurance/someone to hold your hand because you think you’re going to scar your kid. Thanks for being what I needed to make a plan and bite the bullet and just start. Maybe I’ll have a few glasse of wine to kick start our party…

  60. bianca permalink
    March 13, 2013 4:39 pm

    hi, wow thanks for all the info! I have an 11 month old who is currently co sleeping (well sort of, she is in a side cot and rolls over to me for feeds through the night and rolls back after she feeds).

    I’m curious as to how many feeds your lo has through the day? I’m working 3 days/week and she prefers breast over bottle so I think she’s feeding more through the night to compensate. I would like to cut down to a morning and an evening feed as suggested by my gp. Anyway just wondering what your advice as a night sleeping mum would be :) thanks in advance

  61. Amy permalink
    March 25, 2013 11:37 am

    Thank you for this post! I have a six month old that is getting in the habit a waking two or more times to nurse. I am going to try most of your suggestions today. I needed a plan and yours seems reasonable enough to try. I got a kick about your did you comments because they are so true! I have an two year also. I just have one question for you do you think 6 months is too young for a Mark?

  62. March 25, 2013 5:42 pm

    Thanks do much for this post and the google friendly title. My hubby and I tried your tips and within 3 nights our 13 month old son went from waking up 2-3 times a night to sleeping through the night. THANK YOU!

  63. Lenora permalink
    March 28, 2013 1:17 pm

    Thank you for writing this! I am at 12 months, not sleeping through yet, but am excited to give these techniques a try. I have one question though- if he sleeps 6pm to 6am, does he also nap during the day?

  64. March 31, 2013 7:51 pm

    Omg this almost made me cry out of hope that my 15 1/2 month old could soon be sleeping soundly through the night. He is still breast feeding and unfortunately his crib is next to our bed so he wakes up when we come to bed and he’s in our bed nursing the rest of the night. Not by choice. Lately he goes crazy when I put him in his crib to nap or go (back) to sleep late at night and I don’t know what to do. I do think teething is a factor but also just the age. Thanks for the hope!

  65. Kayte permalink
    April 6, 2013 5:43 pm

    THANK YOU for posting this. As the mother of a 14 month old night feeder this is good to know.

  66. April 23, 2013 9:35 pm

    I have got to say that this is one of my favorite articles on the topic… and I even paid people help me sleep train my 10 (now 11 mos) old without much success. We are finally at the stage of “kicking the night habit” (I nursed her once a night, sometimes twice up to now). We are hoping that it will really help her understand that night is for sleeping.

    Parts of your article made me smile, while others… well, since my brain is overtired and foggy from a year of sleep deprivation, I could not decide whether to laugh or cry.

    Thanks for your post and honesty. There might still be hope for us. I might yet get a full night’s sleep before throwing myself off the roof of my house or deciding to sterilizing myself ;).

    I am glad I happened onto your article even though it was not what I was looking for tonight. Seems that I NEEDED it :).

  67. Jenny permalink
    May 30, 2013 8:28 pm

    I am so ready to try this with my 13 month old son. My biggest fear is that I don’t have the husband to help at night because he wakes at 4 am for work and I guess he’s just not as supportive as many husband’s. I can wake for work when my son wakes. My son still sleeps with me in his bedroom. I haven’t sleep in my own bed in months. It’s this possible to do without the help from a spouse do you think? I sure how so. My son is so attached to me. He will be a screamer I know this. Any thoughts world be wonderful

  68. Bridget permalink
    June 5, 2013 8:00 am

    THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    On so many levels, this post just saved my sanity.

    Can I ask how you handle naps??

  69. Jodi permalink
    June 6, 2013 1:16 pm

    Um, are you me? Seriously, do I exist in some parallel universe where I am organized enough to have a blog (and I have a child that now sleeps?). Thanks for the excellent play by play and honesty. So totally don’t know where to go with our second child and her sleep madness. Our first daughter was a dream—-slept through the night from 10 weeks on. No joke (and no, I’m not mis-remembering and making this up). We were lulled into thinking we totally ‘got’ how to make a good sleeper. Turns out she was just born that way, and 2 years later her sister was born completely opposite (in an evil parallel universe, perhaps. The one where I write this blog). Anyway, thanks again. We will persevere…. :)

  70. Jess permalink
    June 17, 2013 3:22 am

    Thank you! This post is so so helpful to our current situation! It is 4:17am and I am listening to my little man fuss himself to sleep. We have been debating on night weaning to reduce night waking & weren’t sure about how to do it. Your son’s sleep habits are very similar to my Graham’s habits. I also really like the phases method. We already have him nursing a few min at bedtime and self-soothing then. Now we need to (after 16mo of this 12am 3am 5am crap) finish the training.

    Again…speaking as an exhausted and worried mama…thank you so much for sharing!

  71. Tania permalink
    July 22, 2013 2:04 am

    wow I realise this was written several years ago now, but I am another desperate, nursing mother of a 10 month old, who always gets the same answer when I complain about being woken up usually 3 (but lately 5-6 times) a night: it’s because you are still breastfeeding! So, they just make me feel like it’s my fault and that I have no one to blame but myself.
    I have been nursing my son to sleep from day 1, and we have a long established night time routine. I put him in his crib when he’s already asleep, but lately he has sometimes put himself to sleep (also singing!) in my arms. The past month he is not wanting to nurse a lot during the day, and I also work outside the house, so I worry that he needs the night nursing to get full/to get proper nutrition. But sometimes he only suckles for a short time, not really swallowing any milk.
    I am wondering if 10 months is too old to start the same routine?
    Thank you so much for this post, and the comments – they made me feel so much less alone!

  72. Laura permalink
    July 23, 2013 7:10 pm

    well said. love your style. needed some support here because daddy is putting baby to bed tonight for the first time. i waited a year…oh well. thanks!

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