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Night-Weaning and the Cry-It-Out Wars

baby cheeksFuzz is about to be 10 months old. We still co-sleep from about midnight to 8am. He sleeps in his crib from about 7:30 to midnight most nights, usually without waking up. Once he’s in bed with me, he wakes up to nurse several times (a good night would be 3 or 4) but just for a few minutes before he goes right back to sleep. Most nights I’m happy with this, even if towards the wee hours he gets up a number of times. I can always tell when he’s ready to wake up for the morning because that’s when he doesn’t cry, he just sits up and smiles.

I’ve always been very conflicted about when to night-wean. With my first, I tried it at 8 ½ months, only to start again a few weeks later, then again at 11 months, and then finally at around 13 months, we were able to stop the nighttime feeds. This time around, I’m not going to even attempt it until Fuzz is a year old to save myself the aggravation and head/heartache.

I find it so interesting that doctors and authors have wildly differing opinions about when is the best time to night-wean. Doctors like Weissbluth and Ferber claim a baby doesn’t need to eat during the night after 4 months. Dr. Sears and Dr. Jay Gordon feel it’s inappropriate to night-wean before one year. Here’s a quote from Dr. Jay Gordon’s website:

I don’t recommend any forced sleep changes during the first year of life. Probably the only exception to this would be an emergency involving a nursing mom’s health. There are many suggestions in books and magazines for pushing “sleeping through the night” during a baby’s early months or during the first year. I don’t think this is the best thing to do and I am quite sure that the earlier a baby gets “non-response” from parents, the more likely he is to close down at least a little.

I happen to have babies that wake up a lot at night, which I confess, is less convenient than if they magically started sleeping through the night on their own at 8 weeks, or 8 months old, for that matter. However, they are what they are, and although I’d love them to sleep 11-12 hours in a row, I know that’s just not who they are right now (although, check in with me again once they get to be teenagers).

I’m just not sure how anyone really knows what is the best way? I mean, if you put two five-year-olds next to each other, would you be able to tell which one was Ferberized at 4 months and which one nursed and co-slept until 3years? How does one really know? And wouldn’t it really depend on the baby’s (and the parents’) personalities what is really best for everyone? I admit that with my first, I felt like I was going crazy from lack of sleep. But, even with my best efforts, multiple times, my child simply didn’t sleep through the night. He’s going to be three in a few weeks, and he still wakes up at least once.

It took me 8 or more months to accept that Fuzz has just as stubborn a personality as the Shnook, (perhaps even moreso) and to realize that I really do get the most sleep when he sleeps with me, despite the multiple wakings. At least I don’t have to listen to him scream for multiple hours on end, anymore.

On the whole everyone is happy. Eventually, the whole sleep issue will be a thing of the past and I’ll beat myself for caring about it so much. That’s what I’ve heard, anyway.

When did you stop feeding your baby in the night? Did you have to sleep train or did he/she just do it on his/her own?

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