Adventures in sleep training: failing but winning

Before having Ben I tried to prepare to train him to sleep just how the books said he should. I read “Baby Wise” which was enormously helpful in getting him to sleep through the night. He was sleeping eight hours at a time by 2 1/2 months at night. I tried to follow the book to a tee from the moment he was a newborn. A summary of what the book says is that you should schedule your baby’s feeding times every 2-3 hours and lead them to eat at these times instead of just letting the baby tell you when they are hungry. This is called “parent directed feeding.”


I tried to do that starting from in the hospital, looking at the clock and feeding him every 2 hours. I eventually did it every 3 hours once I discovered that he just wasn’t that interested in eating every 2 hours. I did this all day and all night until his two week check up, when the pediatrician told me he had gained enough weight to where he didn’t have to be woken up at night to feed. I let him sleep on his own but it got to where I had trained him to be hungry every 3 hours, and he would wake up every three hours at night like a clock! The next step in the book was to try and load up the feeding in the evening so he would get the same amount of milk, just more in the evening and less throughout the night. Starting from about 4 pm, I would feed him every 1-2 hours until bed time. My last feeding would be a 4 ounce bottle of pumped milk. I found that the last evening bottle would really fill up his tummy and help him sleep through the night. After doing this for about a month,Β he was sleeping from about 10 pm to 5 am! This was a success! Everything was working out great and he was falling asleep on his own until he was about five months old.

The key to good sleep: being milk drunk

Another thing that the book said to do was to avoid having sleep props and to make them learn to self soothe and fall asleep on their own. This means no nursing to sleep, no lullabies, no rocking to sleep, or they would come to expect it to fall asleep. I was good about doing this until recently. He had trouble falling asleep for naps, so I would nurse him to sleep and cuddle with him on the couch while he took his naps. It was so nice to take naps with him but probably a mistake! Unfortunately, his habit of having to be nursed to sleep has transferred over to having to be nursed to sleep to go to sleep at night! Why is this so bad you ask? What if I had to be away one night and my husband had to put him to sleep? He can’t just whip out a boob!Β πŸ˜€ This last week was our attempt of trying to break him of his habit of being nursed to sleep. This is pretty much what happened.

Night one: Crying uncontrollably like he had been dropped on his head. As soon as I shut his door Hell ensued. Two minutes later, I’m back in his room, nursing him to sleep. Fail.

Night two: Put him down in his crib. Upon leaving his room, wailing. Went downstairs and attempted the “cry it out” method. After 15 minutes, husband says he will develop life long psychological trauma and think nobody will ever love him. Go upstairs and nurse him to sleep. Fail.

Night three: People are supposed to come over tonight and I just do not have the time or energy. Nurse to sleep and right to bed! Fail.

Night four: Hell, it’s just easier to nurse him to sleep! I give up, who is it really hurting anyways! Fail.

Night five: It’s way past his bed time so I nurse him in his room in the rocking chair. The cat and the hubby are playing and he keeps looking up and laughing. He may be delusionally tired? Either way, it doesn’t look like he’s going to be nursed to sleep. I hug him and kiss him goodnight and so does my hubby. To our surprise, he goes to sleep on his own! Win.

The verdict: I try my best to do everything by the book but there is no substitute for what my baby really needs: love. I realized that it wasn’t the nursing he needed to go to sleep, its just the warmth and connection he needs… or maybe we just got lucky that last night. Haha. He won’t always be this little and he definitely won’t always be breastfeeding. When the day comes that we actually have to break that habit, we will deal with it then! Until then, I will just enjoy the little things instead of trying to be “perfect.” πŸ™‚

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