Isaac is finally weaned off nursing at night!

Of course the title of the post makes it sound like I was more active about the process than I actually was. After making a bit of progress with night-weaning earlier, it was a bit of a stop-start process. Basically, Isaac got incredibly stubborn at times, and like all the months that went before, I was just too soft-hearted (and plain lazy) to see it through. Some nights Isaac would wake once and cry a little, but other nights he would wake more often. And it was easier to simpler nurse him when he woke so he slept for another couple of hours rather than fight with him, and have him wake up an hour later and then fight again. So we reached a steady state where he’ll wake up around 2-3 times a night (at 1, 3-ish, and 5/6-ish).

But! Around three weeks around, we began to see some changes in Isaac. First, he sometimes woke at 1-ish, would sit up and grumble a bit, and then just tumble over or snuggle into me and continue sleeping. Second, he started waking up less often, and dropped the 3-ish waking. Finally, over a few random nights, he would sometimes wake up and I would be too sleepy to nurse him in time, and he’ll cry a bit and continue sleeping. So one night, I decided to not nurse him on his waking. He cried for maybe 10-15 minutes, then slept. But what gave us the confidence to continue was the fact that he slept all the way till around 6, instead of waking up an hour later.

So over the past two weeks, I’ve stopped nursing him at 1 am entirely. He’ll cry a little a first, then less, and less. This was unlike his younger days when his crying would actually escalate — which was why we never got through any form of “sleep training”, however mild and gentle. He would actually cry more the second day then first, more the third than second and so on. By the fourth day we usually decide that it was simply not the right time and stop. But this time, he did fuss less and less, until the past few nights when he didn’t even cry at all! He still wakes for a bit at between 1-3 a.m., but he’ll just look for me, snuggle into me and fall asleep again promptly, all the way until around 6 a.m. (which is a fine waking time for me).

SO YAYYYYY! Finally our stubborn little baby is able to go an entire night without nursing! Plus, he doesn’t need soothing when he wakes! It’s been getting better over the past three weeks so I’m keeping my fingers tightly crossed that we’re finally onto that sleeping through the night thing for good.

It struck me though — that perhaps the readiness of a child is really important, and every child is different. I would have loved to have had a baby who slept through the night for twelve hours at a stretch at two months (which apparently, I was when I was a baby), but as it is, Isaac is a bit of a stubborn one, he’s needy and attached to me especially at night, and he’s just… different from other babies. Still, we’re getting there, and despite nights when I would scold him in between, I’m glad we arrived here rather gently. But I think I’m the one who has to re-learn sleeping through the night now because after all these months, I find myself waking at the times when he used to, even when he doesn’t wake anymore!

To end off, here’s a picture that illustrates how stubborn Isaac can be — he was completely exhausted, but just had to keep going and going, unless he literally dropped off mid-play on the bed in this awkward position!

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Night Weaning at 15 Months

IMG_7406Despite the angelic picture above, Isaac is generally a terrible, terrible sleeper. It went well until he was about three months old — he was sleeping for longer and longer stretches, up to eight hours one fine night, and then! With no warning, it all went downhill. The only saving grace is that motherhood makes true mothers of us all — I would never imagine that I can survive waking up every three hours, multiple times a night, for more than a year.

But it happened. I did. At 15 months, Isaac still wakes up every three hours to nurse on most nights slightly longer when he deigned to eat a larger dinner or to be considerate for once.

Of course, there were a whole multitude of factors at play. I think he is naturally a bit of a terrible sleeper because he’s such an active child, always wanting to engage with the world. And then, he never took to a bottle, or drinking milk from anywhere other than nursing — so when I started work, I did not want to stop night nursing if it meant he would have no milk intake at all. We are also co-sleeping, which some baby books suggest would result in more frequent night wakings because um, the enticing scent of milk would wake them up to feed. But basically it’s probably just because I’m a marshmallow mummy to a stubborn baby. And I just really really like snuggling with Isaac even if it means I’m hanging off the edge of the bed most nights.

But last night, something most interesting happened! Without very little hullabaloo, Isaac went for eight hours without feeding!

It started randomly, a few nights ago, when after nursing in the middle of the night, Isaac refused to sleep and kept tossing and turning and asking for more milk. Nothing would soothe him — patting, shushing, singing… At some point, I was completely knackered and ill-tempered and went into a stern, nagging tirade along the lines of “What kind of baby are you? Babies are supposed to be able to fast for at least seven hours at night. You are just waking up for fun! Do you know how inconsiderate that is? Adults need to sleep too!” Then at some point, I realised that Isaac actually fell asleep!

Over the next few nights, I started using the stern voice in the middle of the night whenever he’s already nursed and nothing else worked to send him to sleep. And! Isaac actually fell asleep to the nagging. (Which in retrospect, is completely unsurprising =P)

Anyway, last night, he had his last nursing session of the night, and then spent half an hour flipping around and refusing to sleep. So it struck me that perhaps I should do the stern voice nagging — and lo and behold, he actually fell asleep after less than one minute of nagging.

That was at around 9 p.m. Then he woke at 1 a.m. and started to fuss a little — but stopped when I said “Isaac go to bed! It’s time for sleep? What kind of baby are you…” Without nursing!

The last phrase in particular, appeared to be a magic phrase because when he woke at around 4 a.m., I basically said “What kind of baby are you?” which led him to sigh, snuggle into me, then fall asleep!

I suspect of course, that it’s too good to be true and I’m very sure it will stop working this very night and Isaac will continue to torment me with multiple wakings until he is 15 years old.

But it is also very amusing — because nothing I read ever said to nag at your child sternly to send him to sleep.

Which is, the point of this entire rambling, that books are references but every child is different and the strangest of things may end up working for your child. For Isaac, jokes about the stern voices and motherly nagging aside, I think what helped him sleep was simply the fact that he was ready for night weaning, on his own terms.

When he woke up again at around 6 a.m., I realise that my breasts weren’t all that full, which signalled to me that he’s probably been comfort latching for a while, with very little milk intake. But now he’s ready to give up the latching, and I’m satisfied that it wouldn’t affect his nutrition so perhaps it’s time to start the weaning proper.

But of course, this morning at 6 a.m., I could see his face in the dim light, and he had such a happy smile looking at my chest (what a little pervert right!) that I gave in and let him nurse, after which we both fell asleep with him snuggled in my arms before we woke again to a lovely Sunday morning =)


Isaac the Energizer Bunny

Whenever others comment that Isaac is a clever boy, I always hasten to point out that he’s not really very clever. His language development is weird and definitely not ahead, and he’s really not particularly fast at cognitive skills either. What he is though, is very very active.

For instance, we were out with him last night for a Christmas dinner and by the time he was bathed and ready for bed at home, it was close to nine, almost four hours since his last nap and definitely past his usual bedtime. After nursing, he was so tired his eyes were fluttering close, but he decided HE JUST HAD TO GET UP. So he sat himself up, eyes blinked open, and started clambering around the bed! It was clear that he was really tired because he would stumble like a drunkard at times, and sometimes mid-climb he would rest his head and look like he was going to fall asleep in some awkward position. But no, he would not rest. When Ning tired to put him down and pat him to sleep, he resisted, then cried the house down.

In the end, we laid him down again, turned off the lights and I laid beside him without any form of communication or interaction with him. Of course, he got up again, happily chatting to himself, but falling over very often because he really was very very tired. Then, finally, after a few stumbles, and half-asleep moments, he fell on his back after one attempt to stand up, tried to flip onto his stomach so he could get up, BUT FELL ASLEEP MID-TURN! It was quite hilarious. It was obvious to us that he was already exhausted beyond words, but he just had to exert every single last ounce of energy before he was content to rest. So Ning and I have come to joke about our little ‘jock’ who is not particularly bright, but so determinedly active!