My little baby boy has slept in my arms since the day he was born. It’s been the most beautiful, comforting and lovely experience to have this special time with him. During the day my attention is split between him and his toddler sister, so I felt like this one-on-one time was really good for him. But, all good things must come to an end and I recently decided it was time to night wean my co-sleeper.
He was napping in his crib and sleeping part of the night there, too. When he awoke around midnight for a feed I would just bring him into bed with me and let him eat to his heart’s content until the alarm (Baby J) went off in the morning. This was fine until he was 8 months old and I realized he wasn’t really eating in the night anymore but was rather just having a few sucks here and there. I knew that for his and my quality of sleep it was time for him to sleep without me.
But night weaning a co-sleeper was new to me. Baby J didn’t co-sleep, and she slept through the night at a very early age. But I approached the night weaning in a similar way and it actually went surprisingly easy and fast. Potty training Baby J went easily, too…do I just have magical unicorn babies?!
Here’s how I night weaned my co-sleeping baby:
one: I cold turkey stopped breastfeeding at night, but I didn’t cold turkey snuggling with my boy. I just thought that would be too abrupt and cruel. So, for three nights whenever he cried I would pick him up and walk around his room singing lullabies until he fell asleep on my shoulder, then I’d return him to his crib. It was very exhausting but at least I knew he didn’t feel like I abandoned him. By the third night it took hardly no time for him to fall asleep.
two: for the next three nights rather than walking around the room I sat holding him in the rocking chair. This was fantastic because he fell asleep really quickly. But…so did I! I was so tired from the last three sleepless nights that I just couldn’t stay awake. He was officially night weaned from breastfeeding at this point and was getting better and faster at falling back asleep, but we were essentially co-sleeping in the rocking chair. So now that I knew he didn’t need milk and was able to get back to sleep, it was time to cut the cord.
three: for the next three days I let him cry for incrementally longer periods before going in to him. The first night was 3 minutes, the second was 5 and the third was 10. I would go in and sing lullabies while patting his bum and gently touching his neck with my fingernails until he fell asleep. It took about 20 minutes each time the first couple nights but by the third night he wasn’t waking up very much and was taking no time to fall asleep. It was still exhausting for me to stand over his crib for 20 minutes throughout the night, but I was making great progress.
four: now that he was completely weaned from the night nursing and could fall asleep without being picked up, it was time to let him self soothe. I had planned to let him cry for 15 minutes before going in to repeat my step three strategy, but honestly it never got that far. When he woke up once or twice in the night he’d fall back to sleep on his own within 10 minutes. I would still wake up to the sound of him crying and of course it wasn’t easy to leave him alone for those minutes, but it honestly wasn’t long and it didn’t happen often. So this was awesome.
five: somewhere between 10-14 days after beginning the night weaning, Baby K slept through the night. And he’s continued to do so ever since. What a victory! Of course, on the very first night he slept all the way through, Baby J woke up needing to go to the bathroom. So it wasn’t a full night’s sleep for me just yet hahah! But, it’s happening more and more that they both sleep all night long. Occasionally my boy will wake up in the night for a few moments but he goes back to sleep quickly by himself. Now an important note on the timing of my breastfeeding: I am not ready to wean him yet, this was just a strategy for improving our sleep. Baby K is asleep by 8 pm, but I actually wake him up at 11:30 pm for a dream feed. That way I’m still in bed by midnight (I’m a night owl) and he’s still getting lots of milk. There was one night where I fell asleep early and missed this dream feed. He slept through the night without it (fabulous!)…but boy oh boy was I engorged! So the dream feed will continue for now until I am ready to pump it instead.
So it’s been a busy month for us full of big changes. We potty trained Baby J and we night weaned Baby K. I am officially ready for some adult time (haha, what’s that!?!). Let me know in the comments if you weren’t a co-sleeper with your first but were with your second, too!
Matching Mama Bear Nursing Shirt, Sister Bear T-Shirt and Baby Bear Onesie: A homemade baby shower gift from my friend! The nursing shirt was from Amazon (the pink one) and she printed the images on them.
Lovebird Necklace: This was a gift from my husband years ago and I don’t know which Esty seller he got it from, but I found it here by Twisted Silver Design!
Navy Stars Crib sheet: Pottery Barn Kids
Babyletto Harlow 3-in-1 Convertible Acrylic Crib: West Coast Kids
Camera: Iphone 5s for the selfies and the others were an Olympus O-MD E-M10 Mark II with 14-42mm IIR lens