method of lizzy

preservations… for posterity

Nighttime Parenting

Cosleeping (whether bedsharing or roomsharing) could never be best if all participants do not feel comfortable with the practice, and this is always the best time to stop. If anyone involved does not wish to cosleep, then cosleeping should never be forced. Dr. James McKenna, Sleeping with Your Baby

There is no right or wrong place for babies to sleep. Wherever all family members sleep the best is the right arrangement for you and your baby. Dr. William Sears

I co-slept with Calvin until he was about eleven months old. I loved co-sleeping very much: there was nothing quite like snuggling up with my baby and knowing that he was safe and sound. He would wake at night to nurse, and a minute after latching him on I would drift back to sleep. When I woke in the night I could lay my hand on him to make sure that he was all right. Almost every night I slept pretty well.

Things were so good that I didn’t even understand the big deal about night-weaning. We were all pretty happy with our arrangement, and I was fine if it continued indefinitely. I read stories of night-weaning that happened when the mom told the baby “the milks go good night when the sun goes down” and I figured that would be me, too.

That was before things started going downhill. I can’t say when it began to happen with regularity, maybe around the time he was seven or eight months old. He was nursing more than he did as an infant, but even worse was the very frequent night-wakings. If he woke up for more than a minute or two, he was destined to be awake for at least two hours. I tried a lot of different things, but I became convinced that night-weaning was probably going to be the answer. Many pediatricians and lactation consultants (Jay Gordon and my own pediatrician among them) recommend night-weaning no earlier than 12 months. A bit begrudgingly I accepted this, and I decided to wait a few more months before making any changes.

Things went even further downhill when he was eleven months old, and I decided that I just couldn’t take it anymore. To be perfectly honest, the nighttime issues were starting to make me feel resentful. I was having trouble sleeping because I was so anxious that he would wake up, and then I was having trouble sleeping because he continued to wake up, sometimes for long stretches. I devised a night-weaning plan: my husband would sleep with Calvin for several nights until he became used to the idea of no longer nursing through the night. We picked a weekend to do it.

And then I changed my mind. I decided that what needed to change was the co-sleeping. Co-sleeping meant a lot to me, but it didn’t seem to mean much to Calvin. As long as he could nurse, he really didn’t care where he slept or who was next to him. Co-sleeping had also been a matter of convenience in the earlier days when I knew that he needed to nurse very frequently, but I now knew he could go longer between feedings. So my plan completely changed: we would stop co-sleeping but we wouldn’t night-wean.

The first three or four days were rough as he got used to the change. I don’t think this would be too much different than the protests he would have made about night-weaning. I continued to nurse him on cue past a designated time (my husbanded handled any wakings before 2am, I handled them after that point). At first he continued to nurse twice a night. A few weeks later it became once a night. Now it’s sometimes once a night, and other nights he sleeps through the night.

By the way, the first time Calvin legitimately slept through the night was one day after his first birthday.

How do I feel about co-sleeping after all this? I still think that it’s great. There are still some days that I want to snuggle up with Calvin for a nap. Sadly his sleep associations are so different now that he usually doesn’t want to do this. I look forward to the day when he is a little older and we can all nap together. I am really glad that we co-slept in those early months and I will do it again with subsequent babies.

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September 22, 2009 - Posted by | all things baby, parenting

3 Comments

  1. I have many friends who co-sleep and they really love it. However, for some of them, they are co-sleeping with much older children and don’t know how to break the habit.

    I think you did a great thing with Calvin. It was better for both you and him. It is very hard to break the cycles once it starts. But it is that way with anything in life.

    I am guessing that you are still nursing. Do you plan to do child-led weaning?

    Comment by Michelle M. | November 11, 2009

    • Yes, we are still nursing at 14 months. Right now I am planning on doing some form of child-led weaning. I kinda figure that he will wean when I am pregnant again – not sure when that will be.

      Comment by Liz | November 11, 2009

  2. Oh, and I found your blog through a comment that you left on another person’s blog 🙂

    Comment by Michelle M. | November 11, 2009


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