Can I get my 11 month old to sleep through the night?
December 1, 2013 5:10 AM   Subscribe

Very sleep deprived mom here at my wit's end, hoping you can help with strategy. Tried many different things without success. Baby wakes up 3-7 times a night to nurse back to sleep, has never slept through the night. Should we night wean? Sleep train? How to do this without too much pain and stress on either of us. Scared to sleep train, but really really really tired.

My 11 month old baby wakes up many times at night to nurse. On a good night she will sleep 4 hours, then wake up every 3 to 3 and a half hours. On a “bad” night, which is more often, she sleeps about 3 hours, then is up every 2-3 hours. She has never slept through the night, but only a few times for a 6-hour stretch. She goes to sleep at around 7 or 7:30, then wakes up at usually 6-6:30 for her last nurse, then sleeps until 7 or 7:30. During the day she naps twice, around 10 and 1, for about an hour each time.

She is very attached to me, and for the past month or so she has been nursing very frequently during the day (teething? Comfort? Growing a lot?). She eats solids often during the day, but doesn’t take in a whole lot yet (probably because she nurses so much).

When I have been away, my husband has been able to put her back to sleep by rocking for comfort, then patting her on the back in her crib. But when she is hungry and I am not home, she seems to wake every 20 minutes or so. We used to co-sleep (bed-share) part-way through the night (after the 3-4 hour stretch), but we gave that up because it became unsustainable when she would get to our bed, wake right up, and then be up for an hour or two, driving us crazy. I have tried sleep training a couple of times, but I haven't been able to tolerate her crying if it escalates too much. I am getting to the point though, where I'd be willing to if it would work.

I am scared to sleep train her because I don’t want her to be hungry at night, or scared, although I know now she is trained to be hungry because she has been eating at night for so long. BUT she is going to start daycare in a month, which is going to be hard for both of us, and I know I will be tempted to co-sleep because of missing her. So if I could get her to sleep through the night now, it would probably be the best thing, so sleep is well established before starting daycare.

I’m also worried that when she starts daycare, I will be weaning her during the day. I don’t want her to reverse cycle to get milk, or to wake up even more often at night to eat.

Right now we have a good bedtime routine and she goes down for the first stretch of the night without any crying or resistance. I put her into the crib after a long nursing session, but she is still awake, just very drowsy.

Some questions:

Is there any way to “gently” sleep train with this situation?

Should we have my husband handle all her wake-ups for a few nights? Would that help?

Would it be possible to comfort her adequately during times of teething or illness, without nursing at night?

Do you think her schedule (naps, sleep time) is causing the problem?
posted by valmonster to Health & Fitness (23 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Your daughters sleep schedule sounds very similar to my 13 months old and she has had this sleep schedule for several months. My daughter goes to bed around 6.30-7 and gets up around 6.30 or 7. (With no wake ups at night unless she is sick with an ear infection for example) She also naps twice (sometimes only once) for about an hour a piece. So I don't think that is the issue.

When we were working on getting her to drop the night feedings, we would give her a few minutes when she woke up to see if she settled back down (this was back around 4 months). A lot of the time, she did! I was just jumping up and rushing to feed her because I didn't want her to hit full meltdown. On the times I needed to get up to help her sleep, I would give her a paci and see if she would go back to sleep on her own and pat her back a little. She often fell asleep with just that. It was a gradual process for us, slowing dropping one feed at a time.

Is she eating enough during the day? At 11 months, she is capable of going longer than 3-4 hour stretches if she is eating enough during the day. At that age, my daughter was having about 24 ounces of formula a day and three meals and two snacks with cups of water with the snacks. And shockingly, she ate a lot! We would pick her up from daycare and she would have had two servings of everything! But I think you are right in that she is somewhat trained to eat at night with that many feedings. After all, if you always eat lunch at noon, you tend to find yourself hungry at noon. Your body is expecting it.

Now if you think she is nursing for comfort, I would try having your husband try to get her down when she wakes and isn't able to settle herself or try a paci if you use one.

As for your concern about comforting, yes, I promise you can comfort her without nursing. My daughter usually sleeps through the night but when she is sick (she is on her 3rd ear infection.. Thanks daycare) or teething, she might wake a few times at night. Because she usually sleeps through, on those nights I know she is hurting, I don't hesitate to pick her up, snuggle with her in the rocking chair and help her sleep, or give her Tylenol. I don't hesitate because a night or two of doing that won't break her good sleep habits because it's the exception, not the norm.
posted by polkadot at 5:59 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Babies cannot be "trained" to be hungry. Your daughter is simply... hungry! I am all in favor of night nursing and co-sleeping, but in your case it actually sounds like your daughter is not taking in enough calories, plain and simple. It would be counterproductive and IMO mean to try to "sleep-train" a baby who is hungry. Instead, why not think in terms of "solid foods training"? By 11 months, your baby should really be eating an actual dinner (pureed if necessary if she hasn't enough teeth yet for chewing). If she eats a more calorie-dense meal at say, 5:30, and has a bath time and quiet time, night nursing (for comfort) should very soon dwindle to once or twice a night, rather than "many times."

My advice (which is what I did with my son when he was a bit younger) is to gently withhold nursing when the baby asks for it in the late afternoon. It will make the baby cry a bit at first (be sure to hold and comfort her), but very soon she will accept larger portions of solid foods that will become a filling dinner. Breast milk is wonderful, but quite simply not enough calories for an evening meal.

As for weaning -- well, you can pump so your baby can have 2 or 3 breastmilk portions during the day, and actual nursing can become a morning and evening thing. That can last indefinitely (my son nursed that way until he was 2 1/2) The fact of being in daycare will create an environment of eating solids, you know. It should actually help this process along.
posted by RRgal at 6:04 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I was in the same position when my son was 11 months or so. I would offer to you that you don't have to accept sleep training as an all or nothing thing. About that time my son was getting up every 2 hours to nurse. We decided that we were going to limit that to every 4 hours. So I would nurse before bed and anytime in the next four hours if my son woke up, my husband would rock him back to sleep. In four hours I would nurse him if he wanted. Then we would have another period.

It actually was fine. We had maybe one escalating crying episode and then after that we were fine. Since he was spending longer times between eating he was getting more milk at each feeding and it would then progressively hold him off longer.

So my suggestion would be set a specific amount of time between feedings, it will really be ok! I was super nervous about doing this myself, but going from 2 hr intervals of sleep to 4 hrs was SO awesome.

I would expect this to all go out the window once you go to daycare possibly.
posted by aetg at 6:30 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Unless your daughter has a medical condition, she is not hungry during the night in a meaningful sense. She is using your boob as a soother, not a food source. As for loneliness, yes, she might be lonely, but, as our pediatrician told us very early on with out first child, your number one job as a parent is to teach your child not to need you.

There are as many approaches to parenting as there are parents, but I hereby give you permission to put in earplugs and let her cry. We have sleep-trained our children via something similar to what I see described as the Ferber method. When it is bed time, after a good feeding, put her down in her crib. Then, if she cries for more than 10 minutes straight, one of you should go to her and provide physical contact, patting or rubbing her back, but not pick her up and especially not nurse her. Your husband can absolutely do this, letting you sleep, in another room if necessary. She needs to learn to go back to sleep on her own, and she won't do that if a little bit of crying always gets her the boob.

At 11 months old, there is nothing wrong with letting her cry.
posted by 256 at 6:37 AM on December 1, 2013 [23 favorites]

Unless your daughter has a medical condition, she is not hungry during the night in a meaningful sense.

The mom has said that's she's taking in solids, but not much. At 11 months old, solids need to be a pretty substantial part of her diet. My kids might have been a little ahead on average on tooth development, but by that age they ate mainly the same food we did. If she is subsisting primarily on milk, I think the most likely problem is that she is meaningfully hungry, and the solid food intake needs to be ramped up. I would really work on getting more solids during the day, and make her last evening feeding a mixture of milk and baby cereal, either spoonfed or put in a bottle with a large enough opening to let a pasty mix pass through. If you aren't seeing better results in a week, think about other options, but I shudder at the thought of letting a baby "cry it out" until you are positive she has the calories she needs.
posted by Pater Aletheias at 6:50 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

People don't like to hear this, but there is no way to get out of the exhausting situation you're in without some discomfort on someone's part. One night of sleep training was all it took to get my son to sleep through the night. It was not a fun night, but we were all so much happier once we all started getting sleep (after all, it's exhausting to her to wake up all night, too). We didn't let her cry for 10 minutes -- that just feels way too long when you're in it. We would:

-- go in as soon as he cried the first time, rub his back and hold him
-- go in as soon as he cried the second time time, just rub his back
-- go in as soon as he cried the third time, stand right near him
-- go in as soon as he cried the fourth time, stand further back

. . . then further back, then further back. Eventually it went to just opening the door and looking at him, so he could see we were there and everything was OK; then waiting 30 seconds before opening the door, and by then he was reassured it was all OK and that he could do it himself.

Straight up ferberizing seems cruel, but there is a middle ground where you teach them how to comfort themselves, so they only wake you up if they truly need you. This really helps them to get all the sleep they need, as well as yourselves.

If the above doesn't help, then probably more solid foods and less nursing would be in order as well.

As a side note, the single best piece of advice I ever got on parenting an infant was put them down for their naps before they seem tired. By the time they seem tired, they're already wiped out and may be too wired to fall asleep. When we started doing that, it changed all our lives for the better.

Good luck.
posted by ravioli at 6:57 AM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Is there any way to “gently” sleep train with this situation?

Yes. At 8-11 months, what's going on with a child developmentally is that she's acquiring object permanence and getting her first real taste of separation anxiety. There is a great, non-dogmatic baby sleep book called Bedtiming by Dr. Isabela Grancic and Dr. Marc Lewis, that has examined all of the current research, and says ANY of the popular sleep training methods can be appropriate if they are carried through consistently, but that much trouble can be spared by applying the method at the right stages of the child's development.

However, I sense from the way you wrote your question you are not comfortable with the idea "sleep training" because you have some pre-conceived notions (based on current USian culture?) that it is harmful to children. So helping her learn her own sleep cycles and doing this consistently might be a challenge for you. A first step for you is don’t immediately run into her room. Babies are capable of learning things, and what they need to be able to learn to sleep through the night is to connect to their sleep cycles on their own without anyone else interfering. This is another part of the education for the child; it won't happen right away. But you keep doing it consistently, over time ... If the baby keeps crying, after a few minutes (use a timer so you aren't tempted to run in so soon), go in, pick her up, feed her a bottle, do whatever she needs - except do not nurse her! But give her a chance to learn and grow.

Should we have my husband handle all her wake-ups for a few nights? Would that help?

Yes, because that is the only strategy you seem to have had any real success with so far. Is there any good reason he can't handle her wake-ups for more than just a "few nights"? If you stopped night nursing, that might also help your daughter to stop using your breasts as sleep aids.

Would it be possible to comfort her adequately during times of teething or illness, without nursing at night?

Yes - will she take a bottle or sippy cup? Does she like to be held and rocked? Is there any reason you can't give her Baby Orajel and ibuprofen for teething?

Do you think her schedule (naps, sleep time) is causing the problem?

Probably - have you tried to move her bedtime earlier? Is her room dark enough (black out shades, no nightlight)? Is it reasonably sound-proofed? (fan, white noise maker?). Do you have a consistent bedtime routine - i.e. dinner, bath, story/lullaby, bed (putting her to bed when she is drowsy but awake)? Consistency and having some sort of a bedtime routine are the keys here. You might also try talking to her as if she can understand you - "Now you're going to close your eyes and sleep in your crib all night long, and we'll see you again in the morning, and you can nurse then - Good night, love."

At 11 months, a predictable biological nap rhythm is in place at about 9am and 1pm. If you move the bedtime substantially earlier and shorten the intervals of wakefulness between the naps, you should see regular and long naps with no crying as she goes down. Try moving the bedtime earlier by 20 minute increments until you see that she is playing and not going to sleep, then go back to the preceding time. Be flexible with the bedtime based on how she looks, how she napped, and your past experiences - but again, the earlier the bedtime the better the naps.
posted by hush at 6:58 AM on December 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

Most of the babies I know around here are not breastfed past 6 months and most sleep through the night starting around 6 to 9 months. I know this is just anecdata, but what this small set of info tells me is that those babies are not hungry at night because the have enough food and or formula before bed to get through a 10 to 12 hour period of sleep. Nursing three or more times per night, from a 11 month-old, seem clearly like baby is using mom's boob as a pacifier to get back to sleep. Even if she was hungry, nursing every three hours is what newborns do, and it seems excessive on an almost year-old. I read Ferber's book and applied most of what relates to routines and what baby associates with sleep and that was enough for my easygoing baby. My friend had to get a little more disciplined with her own baby for like a week, but really, a fully rested mom, dad and baby really do make a difference in everyone's quality of life. I suggest night-weaning baby and doing a little sleep training, which does not have to include long sessions of crying, just maybe a little tough work from mom and dad.
posted by CrazyLemonade at 7:32 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

That sounds like my son, at around the same age he was waking up like clockwork 3 times a night to feed. What worked for me was to eliminate the night feeds one by one. I started with the one closest to morning, so when he woke at 4am I got up and rocked/walked him back to sleep. It took 2 or 3 nights, but he got used to not eating and staying asleep. A week or so later I eliminated the feed closest to bedtime in the same
manner, and finally eliminated the last one about a month after that.

Good luck! Babies can be little monsters at night!
posted by katypickle at 7:41 AM on December 1, 2013

Please don't be scared of sleep training. Your daughter is *already* waking up hungry and/or lonely several times a night. It's no fun for anybody! Ferberizing usually takes less than a week, after which time she will be happy and secure in her crib at night, and more rested during the day. After I did it with my reluctant sleeper, everybody's quality of life, including his, was immeasurably better.
posted by Wordwoman at 8:26 AM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

If it helps to re-frame this: you've already sleep trained you child. The problem is that what you've trained her to do is wake up and expect mom to nurse her back to sleep. At this stage, what you need to do is re-train her so that she gains the skills she needs to sleep through the night.
posted by DarlingBri at 9:15 AM on December 1, 2013 [7 favorites]

Have you talked to your pediatrician about this? My pediatrician was a great resource for baby sleep questions and had some great suggestions. Your doctor may also have some thoughts on how your daughter is eating, and whether and how that may be influencing her sleeping patterns.

There was a stage with our second where he was waking very frequently in the night, and it was my pediatrician's reaction that helped give me the fortitude to deal with it- you are building a lifetime of sleep patterns, and acquiescing to demands to feed or be comforted throughout the night, after the first months, is not actually doing your child any favors.

If you do decide to let her cry it out, may I suggest that you schedule a night out with friends that first evening, and let your husband deal with it.
posted by ambrosia at 9:26 AM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

No, I don't think it's the schedule. My almost 10 month old is on the same schedule except for she sleeps straight through from 630-7pm to 7-730am (and her naps tend to run 1-2 hours rather than just being 1 hour). We sleep trained her months ago and we have all been enjoying the benefits ever since. Happy well rested family - it's been well worth it for us. She wakes up every morning with the biggest smile on her face.

Also, check your Memail.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 9:44 AM on December 1, 2013 [5 favorites]

It's not the schedule. My now 18 month old had roughly that schedule at that age, and from all I've read it's normal.

My daughter was similar. We resisted sleep training because for a long time she was at roughly 5% for weight, so we didn't want to withhold food -- even though our pediatrician said we should sleep train, and that she would make up the calories during the day. We finally did Ferber at 13 months, without really consciously deciding it was time -- we just flat couldn't take it anymore. By the "end", she was not only insisting that it was me rather than her dad (so no trading off), she would not WOULD NOT let me put her back in her crib, nor even come into bed with me. I was supposed to sit in the rocking chair all night, I guess. No. Could not.

Ferber was BRUTAL for 2-4 days, and then was a total life changer. She now sleeps from ~7:45 or 8 to 6, without a wake up unless she's sick (or the occasional nightmare). She does routinely squawk once or twice in the middle of the night, but we learned the hard way that she isn't really awake, and it is far far far better not to go in.
posted by kestrel251 at 10:36 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

That was very much my daughter's sleep schedule until she was 14 months old. At 14 months, I went utterly nanners from sleep deprivation and had to go to a psychiatric ER, where I was told in no uncertain terms that there was no physiological need for a child that age to eat that often, but that the lack of sleep on my part was imminently dangerous to my physical health, not to mention mental. Beginning that night, my husband was on Child Duty while I slept -- he was in there with a sippy cup of cows' milk, she wasn't hungry or lacking for parental companionship. In our case, my emotional difficulties night weaning her were compounded by the fact that she was very slow to gain weight, and in fact was under the first percentile for weight.

It took about six howling screaming weeks, but she did eventually settle down into a better sleeping schedule. She didn't start gaining weight, but she didn't lose any more, either. We didn't day-wean for another 18 months after that. And in August of this year (she is seven), she was diagnosed with a rare and wide-ranging food intolerance that meant that she had hideous belly pain since I had started her on solids.

Definitely, definitely "sleep train" her, regardless of what that means for you -- my feelings about sleep training and my worries about her weight meant that for us, that was having Dad available with food, but denying her access to me. It was not gentle, but it was essential for my health. But follow up with your pediatrician, because it's possible there's an underlying physical cause.
posted by KathrynT at 10:37 AM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I will say one more thing and back out.

If you are reading all these answers and feeling like this wasn't the response you were looking for or just sad in general there are two more resources.

Elizabeth Pantley's No Cry Sleep Solution which I read when I was in your boat. Or Dr. Sears nighttime solutions. Neither are going to make you feel bad about breastfeeding, parenting your child at night, or not sleep training.

If you were looking for the answer to sleep train or Ferberize then by all means go ahead, but if that wasn't the answer you were looking for those two sources are well reviewed and have been helpful to a number of friends.
posted by aetg at 11:28 AM on December 1, 2013 [4 favorites]

Make sure you are well-hydrated. She eats solids often during the day, but doesn’t take in a whole lot yet. She goes to sleep well, which I'd take as being good at sleeping when she's tired. I'd probably supplement with some cereal at bedtime, to see if Baby will sleep a little better, and probably let her fuss for several extra minutes instead of rushing to feed her. I'm sure you know that nighttime activity should be businesslike - not much playing or chatting. Formula is fine for babies, just not as a supplement to breast milk, so I would ask husband to feed her a bottle at least once a night. And I'd work on adapting to foods other than breast milk, in addition to nursing.

My little data point: I did the Ferber method with a colicky infant. It was unsuccessful, and made me as miserable as I've ever been.
posted by theora55 at 11:37 AM on December 1, 2013

Lots of good advice; if it helps, think how important it is for your little girl that you are not a sleep deprived incompetent mess of a parent - you can give them so much more of yourself if you get more sleep. But she won't make that decision for you because she is a baby, you have to make it yourself.
posted by Sebmojo at 12:16 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you everyone - I haven't been chiming in yet, just taking in all of your answers and thinking a lot.

I think that getting her to eat more solids is definitely an important part of our approach that I'm glad you guys pointed out! She recently had a growth spurt that made her just as big as most 1 year olds I know, so I think she definitely needs to up her solid intake. I read a guide online that said that toddlers (1-3) should be eating something (meal or snack) every 2-3 hours. I am going to have to do a lot more work preparing food, but that's fine - it's SO worth it.

She has a very good bedtime routine that is the same every night. We also use white noise (our iphone on a sound dock with a good app). She will take a bottle, but we'd prefer not to supplement with formula.

So maybe we should focus on upping her solid intake for a week or two, then do some sleep training? I am afraid sleep training may be our best option, with my husband's help. My husband works (while I am at home for another month), so I'd prefer to let him sleep as much as I can since he has to be more functional for work. But if it takes about a week, it may not be the end of the world to get less sleep for such a short time. I will read some of your responses for assurances on sleep training - I know it will be really hard, but it helps to hear some success stories. Hoping for the best Christmas gift I could imagine - a chance to sleep through the night!
posted by valmonster at 12:16 PM on December 1, 2013

FWIW, my wife and I were in the same position when my son was 11 months old (he'll be 2 years old next week). We objected to Ferberizing, and sleep training in general, but we were exhausted. So we agreed to do the gentle sleep-training thing, where we'd go in with decreasing frequency. My son was upset, crying, etc., but he got more upset when we'd go in to comfort him, not less upset. After the third time going in, it seemed cruel to continue, so we simply stopped going in. He cried, more and more softly, for over an hour. He slept for a couple of hours, cried another half-hour, etc. My wife thought we were monsters for doing this, but in the morning he was bright-eyed and happy to see us. It was as if nothing had happened. We did this again the following night, but with less crying and less waking. By night three, he cried for maybe ten minutes and slept through the night, as he did from there on out.

My point is that, much as with a birth plan, a) try to be flexible and b) make sure your partner can take the role of cheerleader and punching bag, as need be. Assuming your pediatrician tells you that there is no medical reason why your daughter can't sleep through the night, you could be 48 hours away from a good night's sleep.
posted by waldo at 12:23 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I am afraid sleep training may be our best option, with my husband's help. My husband works (while I am at home for another month), so I'd prefer to let him sleep as much as I can since he has to be more functional for work. But if it takes about a week, it may not be the end of the world to get less sleep for such a short time.

Husband here, and father of a 2+ year old, who can still be a butt about sleeping (actually, as I write this, he's playing in his crib instead of napping, and when he doesn't nap, he's a cranky little beast).

My wife and I have shared the baby-tending duties from early on, as we were both working a few weeks (for me) and months (for her) after our guy was born. It sucks to be sleep deprived, but you as the sole care-taker of an active little person have a responsibility, just like your husband does at his job, and from what I've seen, work places can be pretty understanding when it comes to new parents (mothers or fathers) being less than 100% sharp at work.

All that said, start getting your little one to get herself to sleep and back to sleep on her own ASAP. I say this because my wife and I coddled our little guy for waaaaaay too long -- instrumental lullaby CD on repeat, replaced with rocking and singing to sleep, replaced with singing to sleep.... None of it was really helping him get comfortable with sleeping on his own.

We tried the "cry it out" and variations there-of, as he didn't seem to take to the hardcore "cold turkey" no more soothing, and would work himself up into a sleepless frenzy. So our program has been 2-4-6-8: bedtime routine, say goodnight, then leave the room. Listen for crying, and if it lasts 2 minutes, go back in briefly - lay him back down, rub his back, maybe sing one short song. Say good night, and leave again. Now wait 4 minutes, and you get the pattern. At 8 minutes, if your little one is still not asleep, start over with 2 minutes, and repeat the cycle. This was successful for us, and was less trying on us all.

Alternatively, my wife's father used a bit more tough love and the Voice Of God: my wife's parents looked over our little guy during the day for a while, and when he wouldn't nap, Grampa would go in, lay him back down, give him back his pacifier and cover him back up, and say "Go to sleep" in a stern voice, then leave. If the little guy got up again, Grampa would repeat the re-covering process, then stand in the dark corner of the room and wait. If the little guy got up again, the Voice Of God would say, sternly, "LAY BACK DOWN." And the little guy did. Grampa has been better (and more successful) with the more direct process of stern voice and laying down the little guy when he's standing up and fussing.

As said above, there are as many alternative ways to ease/push your kid to sleep as there are parents. If one way seems to be too counter-productive, look around for a different method that you feel comfortable with and try that for a few days to a week. You can't quit anything after a day because it doesn't work, as any sort of sleep training will take at least 3 days, up to a week. There will be increased resistance in the first day or two, but then it should get better, quickly. And then you will have your nights back to yourself.

Final thing to remember: check for poopy diapers. That's the biggest culprit for our little guy not napping, and can often throw off our efforts to get him to sleep. He won't go to sleep with a poopy diaper, and after being changed, it's harder for us to get him to sleep.
posted by filthy light thief at 12:44 PM on December 1, 2013 [2 favorites]

I didn't like the idea of sleep training but at 11 months I really wanted a full night of sleep myself. My husband's schedule wasn't disrupted at all really but mine had been significantly affected. I read that 11 months, developmentally, was a very good time for sleep training for some children, and that's when we did it. It only took four days, and much less crying than I'd expected -- I think one interval of crying for 7 minutes and three or four more intervals of crying for five minutes or less. We did the routine of, go in the first time immediately, then if she cries go in after five minutes (just tell her everything's okay but don't pick her up), then go in after 10 minutes, etc. She never cried long enough for us to go in after 10 minutes, I think; she always fell asleep by then.

Sleep training doesn't work for everyone but it did work for us and I was so happy to get my nights back to myself. Not sure I would have stuck with it if it had taken longer and we hadn't seen improvement from, say, day one to day 3, but we definitely did.

It did help to have a nighttime routine involving books and snuggles, etc, so she knew bedtime was bedtime, etc.

Good luck! I feel your pain and I hope things so well for you!
posted by onlyconnect at 12:49 PM on December 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Success story so far!

After your answers, I started making a concerted effort to prepare and offer more yummy food to our little one. I made mini muffins, oatmeal pancakes, tasty baked tofu, etc. I started offering her snacks as well as her main three meals a day. Surprisingly, she still wanted to breastfeed just as much as well as starting to eat lots more.

After a few days of that, I got my husband to go to her wake-up after the usual 4 hours. He put her back to sleep, and she woke up 2 and a half hours later, so going about 6 and a half hours without nursing. Then I nursed her at that wake-up (about 2 in the morning), then she woke up once more at 5:30 and I nursed her. The following night, she woke up only ONCE - at 2 am, and slept between 7:30 pm and 6:30 am. You guys, that is totally miraculous for us. No crying, apart from the initial greeting to Daddy that quickly quieted when he comforted her.

Unfortunately we're having some "extinction burst" issues, so we did some crying with checks last night when she woke after 3 hours wanting to nurse. After an hour of that (ugh) and checking every 10-20 minutes or so, I ended up rocking her gently to almost-sleep. Then she slept until 6:30.

So even though it's still a work in progress, she is sleeping SO much more than she used to! I'm not sleeping very well, because I'm anxious and thinking about her too much and subconsciously expecting her to wake, but I am hoping to get used to it and get some more rest. Thank you all so much for your help!
posted by valmonster at 10:51 AM on December 7, 2013 [3 favorites]

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