When I tell friends that my infant Katie is already sleeping through the night, and that her sister June, now 3 1/2, was doing the same thing at Katie’s age, I can’t help but flinch because I get the sense these sleep-deprived moms and dads want to punch me in the face.
“How in the world do you get an infant to sleep through the night?” they ask, aghast. “Johnny still wakes up twice a night, and he’s almost two!”
As much as I want to pat myself on the back for my superior baby-whispering abilities, I know it’s not that (I wish). The reason my kids sleep through the night as infants is because I totally cheat: I give Katie (and June before her) a big ol’ three ounce bottle of formula right before bedtime — a baby night cap, if you will — which knocks her out cold until 4 to 5 a.m.
I feel kind of guilty admitting that I’ve already reverted to formula this early into babyhood since that’s not what a diligently breastfeeding mom is supposed to do (you could say I’ve absorbed way too many messages from the lactation-only crowd). I guess it stems from the same reason I opted for the epidural: I could experience the visceral pain and suffering of childbirth, but why? I could sacrifice my sleep and sanity to a two-month-old, but why?
I really enjoy breastfeeding, I love the bonding aspect of it, and my pediatrician tells me its the most nutritious thing for Katie right now, but I’m also very pragmatic: I’ll do whatever it takes to get my kid to sleep through the night, and if that means breaking out the can of Enfamil, that’s what I do.
And when she wakes up for that 4-5 a.m. feeding, I keep it all business. I don’t turn on the lights, I don’t speak to her. I don’t change her diaper (unless she needs it). I pull her into bed with me where she quickly nurses. As soon as she’s done, I swaddle her up tight again, stick a pacifier in her mouth and lay her back down in her bassinet. She may fuss and wiggle for a bit, and sometimes I have to get back out of bed to reinsert her pacifier, but 99 percent of the time, she falls back asleep until 7 or 8 a.m. Wa’am, bam, thank you, ma’am.
So those are my “secrets” for getting my babies to sleep at night (and it’s not even really that much of a secret). Now, I realize that by writing this, Katie will never, ever sleep through the night again as soon as I publish this post, but for right now, formula is my go-to ploy.