This week we finally took the plunge. After a half hearted start in March (purely because I was booked on a girls weekend away in Tbilisi that didn’t happen because of corona) this July has seen us, well me, work on stopping breastfeeding the baby to sleep at night.
19 months old and still breastfeeding hey. But it works.
Or rather it was working.
The problem with him associating breastfeeding with sleep meant that I couldn’t leave the house in the evenings. I was the only one able to put him to bed. The only comfort when he woke. The only way he would go back to sleep.
No big deal right. There’s nowhere to go. (Oh how true that is). Except it wasn’t the case that he would go down like clockwork at 7pm and not be heard of again until 7am.
My children are sleep thieves
Like his older brothers before him, this one is yet to sleep through the night. Again, I KNOW.
Yes I am exhausted. I pretty much run on various forms of caffeine and a win, was, sleeping for more than four hours in a row.
It’s a long time to be a human comforter.
And it all came to a head one night when I had the audacity to go out for a walk. Can you believe it?
10 minutes into my walk he woke up.
In fact in total he screamed for nearly three hours. No amount of rocking, jiggling, cuddling, walking, comforting, would in fact comfort him.
He did not want my husband. Oh no.
He did not want me to try and shush him back to sleep.
In the end I caved around 10:30pm and fed him back to sleep. At that point we decided that we needed a new plan.
To fall asleep at night without breastfeeding
So we set a date of the Fourth of July and thus began our journey into stopping breastfeeding to sleep.
We’ve decided to keep it pretty simple so far. Only changing one feed at a time because, quite frankly, in the middle of the night it’s just easier to get in the double bed with him (I haven’t woken up in my bed in about three weeks but that’s another story), and I enjoy our nap time snuggles.
No. For us the first feed to go is the bedtime feed.
Step One: Change up the routine
First things first, we needed to change it up. No more bath, PJs, snuggle in the feeding chair.
Now we bath, PJs and head downstairs to watch CBeebies bedtime stories and collect our milk cup. Then we walk back up the stairs, into the room, into the sleeping bag, into the cot with the music light playing.
Some nights we read a book. Some nights he chews on the cover of a book.
Then he sleeps. Ha. Eventually.
Leading nicely to…
Step Two: Don’t have unrealistic expectations
Despite having done this twice before, I naively thought that I knew better this time. That we wouldn’t have crying. And he would quite happily lie down, roll over and sleep.
Now doesn’t that bite you on the bum?
It DID involve crying. He was ANGRY. Ohh so angry. And why wouldn’t he be? I was refusing to give him milk. My husband couldn’t give him milk. What was this milk in a cup?!??
The first night took me 90 minutes to put him down, in his cot with him, and he was already exhausted.
The next night was my husbands turn and he had a solid 50 minutes of “mama” shouted at him.
Each night since has been better and better. These days he’s now better for my husband than for me, probably because he hopes that I will cave and hand over the milk (and yes, I’ve been tempted.)
Step Three: wait and pray he will sleep through the night
The best we’ve had is from 6:30pm until 4:00am so far. And even then the middle one woke up so my sleep was broken. Not to mention that I panicked around 2:30am when he HADN’T woken up, so got up to check on him and nearly woke him in the process…..
I do know eventually he will get there.
And I’m hopeful that one day the three of them will sneak off downstairs to watch the tv that we say has to go off when we get up so we can sleep past 5am.
But in the meantime I’m just glad someone else can put him to bed.
Baby steps right?