Meet Benjamin. He is 8 months old and getting ready to crawl. He is a smiler. He is sweet. He loves to eat. He loves his brothers and his daddy. He really loves his mama. He loves to nurse.
And he loves to wake up throughout the night for some milky snacks. As a matter of fact, he likes to stay pretty much physically attached to his mother via the mouth. All. Night. Long.
And it is I who created this deliciously sweet baby monster. And I did it fully aware of all the remedies. All the warnings. All the consequences.
But he is just so darn adorable and sweet. And I have to work in the day, so I miss out on so many hours of time with him. Night time has been a way for us to reconnect. To bond.
But I’m tired. I’m beyond tired. And I’m ready now for my full night’s sleep. He is 8 months old. It is time.
So I’ve come up with a plan. Starting this Friday night, the first night of my two-week long spring break, Benjamin is unknowingly entering a two-week baby boot camp called Operation Sleep through the Night. I’ve come up with the exercises and the two-week plan based on all the mommy knowledge I have gained from both experience, friends, and the bazillion books I read with my first child, Kanan—(who was sleeping through the night by 5 months, to my then disappointment. Oh if I only knew the future!)
I’ve read all the books and the methods from every angle and perspective. Baby Wise. Baby Whisperer. The No Cry Sleep Solution. Cry it Out. The Ferber Method, Dr. Sear’s Attached Parenting and the Family Bed. You name it.
This is my plan:
We will work in four day intervals. I have learned that it takes 3 days to train a child. So we have three days for each phase and then one day of “rest” to sort of affirm the training and maintain consistency before bringing in the next big change. If crying is going to be involved, both Benjamin and I need a day to just get the most amount of sleep given the new circumstances. By the end of the two weeks, the goal is for him to be sleeping through the night in his own crib in the kid’s room, right next to his two older brothers who share the bunk bed.
Phase 1—Sleep in own bed. This is what has contributed hugely to the problem. Benjamin has a cradle in our room where he starts the night. But once the first middle of the night waking takes place, my tired bones find it so much easier to just nurse him while lying in my bed. Unfortunately, that leads me to fall back to sleep and not wake up until he wakes again….next to me. Where my movement wakes him. Where his movement wakes me. Where he can smell me. Where I’m a quick at quick access. He used to have a pacifier. He won’t take one anymore. Why when he can have the real deal? Days 1-4 Friday, March 22nd-Monday, March 25th—Sleep in own bed (the cradle in our room). Mom does not have to go to work. So I will deal with the fatigue and nurse him upright in the rocking chair after which I will return him to his cradle. If he puts up a fight and decides to scream his bloody head off for longer than a few minutes, I will save myself and my husband from the pain by putting him in the Pack ‘n Play in either the living room or the office so he screams are a bit more distant and hopefully won’t wake his brothers either. One baby crying is bad enough. Three kids crying is not an option. If I fall asleep through his cries, so be it. If I don’t then I will go in at half hour intervals and rub his tummy and whisper hushes to him and then return to my bed. Past experience shows each night will involve less crying. Day four should involve acceptance to the new way.
Phase 2—No more Breasts. Bottle for Food.Part of his desire to wake and eat, is the comfort and connection he gets from breastfeeding. Unfortunately, the continuous nursing has also created in him a veracious appetite at night. I don’t know how much he is eating. Just 4 ounces spread out throughout the night? 16 ounces spread out? Who knows! All I know is he is nursing often and sometimes, they get really sore! So we need to wean him of his need to pacify himself with my breasts and return to the pacifier, but appease his hunger. Thus—the bottle.
Days 5-8, Tuesday, March 26th-Friday, March 29th. I will pump before bed. And use the expressed milk to feed him in the night. If he just wants to be pacified, I will offer the pacifier. If he downs the bottle at the first middle of the night feeding and wakes to eat again I may need to pump again in the middle of the night to prepare for the second feeding. I have no idea what to expect because I don’t know how much he is eating. For all I know he won’t even accept the bottle or the pacifier. In this case we have a long few nights and the process might jump forward a few phases. Again, CIO issues will be resolved in the Pack ‘n Play at 30 minute intervals if I cannot sleep through it.
Phase 3—Cut down to One Feeding. Days 9-12 Saturday, March 30th-Tuesday, April 2nd. Pretty self explanatory.
Phase 4—No More Feedings. Official Sleep through the Night Countdown in the Crib. Days 13-16, Wednesday, April 3-Saturday, April 6th. Baby will sleep in his crib in the kid’s room. Any waking will be only solaced with a pacifier and some tummy rubs. No picking up. CIO in Pack ‘n Play– if needed in the living room or office so as to not wake up the kids.
The Goal—Day 17—Sunday Night—the night before I return to work. Baby will go down to sleep in his crib ideally and not wake up, if so, easily solaced with a pacifier if needed with no inconsolable screaming. Hopefully, he can just sooth himself. We shall see.