Sleeping Through the Night at 11 Months

The elusive “sleeping through the night” is something most parents strive for from the day their baby is born.

While I was pregnant with baby J I was bombarded with horror story after horror story of just how awful babies sleep and well-meaning parents shared their insights into what worked and what didn’t work for them.  But both the goal and the message were clear as day…”baby must sleep through the night”….”baby doesn’t sleep much initially”.

I will never forget our hospital tour, when a weary-eyed dad stepped out of a recovery room took one look at our group and groaned “get your sleep now while you can. get your sleep now!”.  Not exactly the encouragement we as soon-to-be parents wanted to hear.

So imagine our surprise when baby J came out and slept for stretches of 5-6 hours.  We thought we’d hit the baby jackpot.  Then, somewhere around J’s 3 month birthday it all changed.  Our amazing little sleeper started to wake frequently through the night.  He would whine and whimper, and I willingly nursed him back to sleep because it was easy and I couldn’t bear to hear my little boy cry {I still can’t}.

By 7 months J was waking up one to two times a night for feedings, and I was exhausted.  If you’ve been a follower for a while now then you will remember that I night weaned him successfully off one feeding …only to be replaced by another night feeding later on.  I read every book recommended to me, tried every trick {well almost every trick…I never was able to do CIO}.  And yet nothing changed.  In the end I resolved myself to accept that this was our reality and that I would try to enjoy it instead of fighting back.

And then one night a few weeks ago I picked up my old neglected copy of “The Baby Whisperer”.  While I strongly disagree with quite a bit of the author’s advice in this book…and hence the reason its been neglected for months, I did read the chapter on infant sleep and something clicked for me.

Her advice is sound, relate able and based on common sense.  So I tried it.  As my son is 11 months I am well aware that his constant wakefulness is due to a need for comfort and closeness and not a nutritional satisfaction requirement.  He formed a habit, because of me, and now we were both paying the price for it with poor interrupted sleeps.

So when baby J woke up for his 4 am nursing session one Friday morning, I went into his room and he was standing up waiting for me.  I went over to him, gave him a kiss and a head pat and told him it was time to go back to sleep.  Then I gently helped him lie back down.  Of course he did not like this and got up again, only this time he began to cry.  I picked him up and gave him lots of cuddles and kisses.  I held him and talked to him softly until he stopped crying, then I lied him back down in his crib again.

On the advice of the book I let him get up time and time again, and each time allowing him to stand up fully in the crib before repeating the same routine {kiss, pat, whisper, lay down again}.  We did this together for almost an hour.  He did whine a bit, but did not cry again.  And finally about an hour after we started he didn’t stand up at all.  Instead, he sat up, looked at me, yawned, sighed, laid down again and closed his eyes.  I was shocked.

The next night I prepared myself for more of the same, but to my surprise it never came to that.  I heard baby J wake up at 4 am, I heard him whine a little, then I heard him babble away to himself, and then eventually silence.  When I checked on him he was fast asleep.  That was the end of the 4am feed.  Since then if he does wake up at 4 am he just talks to himself until he eventually sleeps again {I hear him, but I don’t go in}.

And what about the 11pm feeding?  Well he self-weaned himself off that one.  After we put an end to the 4am feed, I think he must have figured the 11pm nursing wouldn’t happen either because starting this past Saturday he stopped waking up for it too.

This has also helped out our nap a lot. Because now even when he does wake up briefly during his nap he just goes back to sleep within a minute or two and his naps are now lasting 3+ hours.

I realize this might not work for everyone, that there are different opinions on night weaning, or that in some cases the weaning might take longer than ours…but this is what worked for us.  And hopefully we don’t regress yet again!

all photographs are of an itty-bitty-baby J

 

Comments

  1. says

    I’m glad you found a system that worked! Funny enough, I can’t even remember how we stopped night feedings…isn’t that nuts? The next wake-up stage you’ll go through is little nightmares. D. had one of those last night. Usually they occur before we head to bed. I also wait until he stands up, or I can tell by his crying “Mommy!” that it’s a distress/scared call and not just “Ugh, I woke up, please come entertain me.” When that happens I rub his back until he lays back down (or like last night, begged to be picked up). Usually a lullaby will quite him down. If he wakes up again, I wait a few minutes longer to go to him.

    • says

      Thanks for the tips Laura, we’re not there yet but I’m sure it’s coming. Poor little guys and girls :(. Even I have some dreams now that are so scary and real that they wake me up.

  2. says

    Yeah it took the pediatrician telling me “You know she doesn’t need the night feedings nutritionally” to make me stop. Once Anna knew that nursing wasn’t an option at night, she started sleeping through the night! Of course as soon as you think you have it figured out, something changes: ear infection, cold, etc….What time does your son go to bed and wake up in the morning? Our issue now is Anna’s early waking time. I am really struggling when she gets up at 5am!!! Any tips?

    • says

      Lauren, J wakes up sometimes at 5 or 5:30 too but we don’t pick him up until 6. He just hangs out in the crib…chats to his stuffed animals and sometimes snoozes some more. Right now he is in bed at 7:30pm and out of bed at 6-7am. Somedays he wakes early some days he sleeps in. I’m not sure that’s much advice really. I might ask the girls in he forum a lot of them have been mommas for a while and are full of great advice.

  3. Sandra Miller says

    Love this post.
    Sleep is the greatest gift we can give our children.
    We did CIO at 7 months. It worked but was HELL!
    I think we are always sleep training our kiddos. It isn’t a one time thing.
    Thanks for the tips!!
    I agree with Lauren… when you have things figured out they CHANGE!
    Keeps us on our toes.
    :)
    http://www.plusoneweebean.blogspot.com

  4. says

    Arghhh, this sounds like us right now! My little girl is 10.5 months and started out as an amazing sleeper…but somewhere along the way (maybe around 8 months) things just got crazy. We’re letting her sleep IN our bed after the 2am wake-up now because I just can’t bring myself to get out of bed and into her room each time. But your post has inspired me that maybe it’s time to just try. I’ll assume it’ll take 4 days of no sleep for me and that way if it’s less then I’ll be pleasantly surprised :P

    p.s your blog is quite beautiful!

  5. says

    i stumbled across your blog today when i googled sleep training and weaning. its crazy reading your story really, it is like reading my own journal. it looks like our kids are two weeks apart. I have a little girl though. i would love to talk to you about your approach, your successes and failures with sleep training and weaning. maybe email would be best….if you do not mind. it seems our kids have the exact same sleeping patterns. i would love to know more and it would be great to talk to someone i can relate to.

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