After the longest seven months of my life, we finally have reached my favorite milestone: sleeping 12 hours straight. To you mamas who still nurse at night for longer than seven months, you are made of sterner stuff than I. I was losing my mind night nursing past three months. I was having a hard time carrying on conversations past five months. I kept wondering if whomever I was talking to was offended by the glassy look in my eye. By six months, I was the walking dead. I live in Atlanta, so I fit right in. But I desperately wanted to join the living.
I don’t know why, but the cry it out method is always the first one I try to get my girls to sleep through the night. It has not proved effective with any of them. They can outlast my patience on any given night. They’ve got all night and nothing important to do in the morning. Ruth would scream for two hours every night when I put her down and then sleep through the night. I let the poor child do this for four months, such was my slavish devotion to cry it out. Finally, I decided enough was enough and sang her to sleep before I put her down. She went right down without a fuss and slept like an angel all night. I decided that singing to her for five minutes a night was infinitely preferable to listening to screaming for two hours. With Rose, I already had a toddler to take care of, so I only tried cry it out for three nights. It was just as unsuccessful as it was with Ruth. She was crying for hours and still wanting to nurse all night. And whenever I nursed her, she would spit up all over the place. Nothing is less fun than cleaning up vomit all night. I desperately appealed to my husband for ideas. The saintly man spent one long night popping a pacifier into her mouth every time she fussed, and just like that she was night weaned at four months.
As I outlined in this post Wren really had me stumped. As usual, cry it out had failed me. I was too exhausted to have a screaming child keep me up all night anyway. When she was six months, I decided to switch her to a two nap schedule so that I could have all three of them sleeping at the same time in the afternoon. I also started feeding her solids. To recap, I was still exclusively breastfeeding her every three hours and following the feed, wake time, short nap schedule when she was five months old. When she turned six months, I switched to four nurses a day (when she wakes up in the morning, after her morning nap, after her afternoon nap, and her night nurse before she goes down for the night), and solids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She immediately went from waking up every 2-4 hours all night long to nurse, to only waking up once a night to nurse, usually at any time between midnight and 2 am. It was life changing.
I had been putting her down for the night at 7:00 pm, because she would get ridiculously cranky and drowsy by 6:30 pm. But one weekend I noticed she had slept through the night for 12 hours without her night nurse. What the heck did I do differently?! I finally figured out that since we were out and about having dinner with friends and family all weekend, Wren didn’t get to go to bed until 8:00 pm or later. So I switched her bedtime from 7:00 to 8:00 and voilà! We finally have our 12 hour sleeper. It is a little bit difficult keeping her happy for that hour before bed time, but totally worth it for a good night’s rest for the whole family.