Tuesday, 21 August 2012
At almost exactly 4 months of age, McKenna hit the dreaded 4 - month sleep regression. She refused to nap, wouldn't go down at night without a fuss and woke frequently throughout the night. Trying as it was, I took comfort in the knowledge that "this too shall pass"... except that it didn't. McKenna is now 8 months old and still fights sleep. It can take up to 2 hours to get her down at night, and then she will wake every hour (or more!) throughout the night. This makes for one very tired mommy the next day.
Being very much against cry-it-out methods, I did some research and came across Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution. I read it cover-to-cover as soon as it arrived in the mail, and went to work charting her naps, sleeping patterns, and how many times she was waking during the night. It was time-consuming and frankly, pretty depressing. McKenna's sleep was actually worse than I had thought it was. However, I was determined to put an end to the bedtime battles, and now felt that I had the tools I needed to do so with confidence. There would be no crying, no hurt feelings, and no guilt on my part. The first couple of nights I focused on helping McKenna learn to fall asleep without nursing. Instead of nursing her to sleep, she was given a bottle and her father was given the task of helping her to sleep. When she woke throughout the night, I nursed her each and every time, but instead of allowing her to fall asleep at the breast, I carefully broke the latch before she fell asleep, so that she fell asleep on her own. We did this for a few weeks, while at the same time, implementing some of Pantley's suggestions regarding naps and making sure to differentiate between night and day. We also made a concerted effort to adopt a predictable bedtime routine.
And...it didn't work. While McKenna can now successfully go to sleep with a bottle, her night awakenings were not impacted in the least. While Pantley's method was indeed gentle and without tears, it was not the right method for our family.
I have now decided to try Dr. Gordon's method for night weaning, in the hopes that, by removing her food supply (which she really doesn't need at 8 months of age), she will begin to sleep for longer stretches. While I have no issue with nursing a hungry baby, she is definitely not waking every hour due to hunger. Gordon suggests choosing a 7-hour stretch (e.g., 11pm - 6am) and helping the child learn that between these hours, nursing is off-limits. They can wake and nurse at 10:59 and 6:01, but between the hours of 11pm and 7am, they will not be fed. Obviously though, exceptions have to be made when baby is teething, sick, or under a lot of stress. I am going to give this method a try; however, I think 5 or 6 hours is more reasonable for us. While I know that she doesn't NEED to eat in the middle of the night, she is a growing baby, and she tends to be too busy throughout the day to drink much. Plus, with the way she has been sleeping the past four months, a five-hour unbroken stretch of sleep will feel like I have won the lottery!
Wish me luck!