Sleep Training a {Breastfed} Baby

Hi Everyone!

This is a question I get a lot and a topic I share with fellow moms. There’s a lot of mixed feelings on this topic so I’m just going to state the facts and share what worked (and didn’t) for me.

By the time my {not so} little one turned 6 months, he was 17lb 12oz and 27.5” (obviously not requiring a middle of the night feed)

He was still sleeping in our room and waking up twice a night to nurse. I was one tired mama and I was DONE. This is the first thing I will tell fellow mamas, you’re not ready to sleep train until YOU are 100% DONE/OVER IT… until you’re tired of waking up at night and know for a fact your baby is just comfort feeding. The reason I say this is because when you decide to sleep train you have to stick to it or you will cause the opposite effect (more on this later).

There are various methods on sleep training the one I’m going to touch on is the most controversial “cry it out” (CIO)…

I was anti-the idea of letting my baby CIO but then decided it was important for him to be able to self soothe in the long run, (they say it aids in adults who have less trouble sleeping) and the actual suffering portion of this sleep training method was only three nights in our case.

There are a couple ways to do cry it out there’s a “softer” version like I like to call it and a “harsher” version…

I would always recommend to start off with the softer version, it didn’t work for us because my son is very hardheaded, but it has worked for friends of mine… With both methods you’ll want to have established a bedtime routine, ours was after dinner,

-bath

-nurse

-sing and rock

-once groggy but not asleep, lay in crib and say good night with a firm close (don’t slam) of the door behind me.

Fun Fact: The fact that every night after I said good night I firmly closed the door behind me, my son knew that I wasn’t going to go back in the room. It was funny because when I would go into his room in the morning even though he had been playing in his crib for 10 minutes he would start crying as though he thought I couldn’t hear him if the door was closed so he would make it seem like he had cried all night, or so he thought. LOL!

On to comparing and explaining the 2 versions I mentioned of the CIO method.

“Softer” CIO

After completing bedtime routine (see above), you will lay baby in crib and walk out of the room for let’s say 3-5 minutes to start, allowing the baby to cry. Once the time is up you would go back inside the room to reassure your baby (avoiding eye contact and NOT picking baby up for any reason) just shush them and pat them until they calm down.

Once baby is calm, walk out of the room closing the door behind you, this time you will want to increase the time increment to 5-7 minutes, before going in again to reassure/calm baby.

You’ll repeat this increasing interval to 10 minutes then 15 etc. (Some use the rule of thumb to not let baby cry past their weight in minutes which would’ve been about 18 for me.) We never made it far with this method because some babies ::cough cough:: learn very quickly to cry longer and harder because you’re coming back, manipulating the method and rendering it useless in my opinion. We tried and we failed. I took a week break so that he would “reset” in a sense and moved on to CIO method 2.

“Harsher” CIO

In this method you will also, after completing bedtime routine, place baby in the crib and walk out of the room. The difference being you will not walk back in to comfort baby.  I know I know… I’m a horrible person. Honestly it’s the worse feeling in the world so I recommend to parents to grab their baby monitor and mute it. Take it with you to do something you cannot walk away from, ie. cook something that burns easily, shower, go to the yard with a glass of wine.

Jokes aside…The sound is brutal and your instinct will be to go in and save your child from the horrible parent that you are and the evil decision that you made out of sleep depravation.

For me, I was hungry it was 10 pm and still no dinner, I was over the room sharing situation, my husband was out of town on business and though I wasn’t planning that day to necessarily hunker down and start sleep training, I needed to cook and eat. I told myself if he was still awake when I was done I’d go get him.

One recommendation I make is to give yourself a time frame that you’re not comfortable going past and then walk in to comfort (again, without picking baby up).  For me it was 30 minutes but the first night it took him 35 minutes to fall asleep, he had started and stopped crying a few times between dozing off so I let the last 5 min go because I felt he was just angrily fighting his exhaustion. He is a strong willing baby so if I’d walked in he would’ve cried longer and hard until I caved again, and I probably would still be waking up at night today (he’s almost 16 months). That night he slept straight through 7 am the next day! I couldn’t believe it!

Night 2 was similar, he cried 28 minutes while I showered and then he was out like a light until the next morning.

On night 3, I braced myself for another half hour of feeling like a monster mom… but within 8 minutes he was asleep!

By night 4 I would lay him down and he wouldn’t cry! He’d fall asleep in under 5 minutes and has slept 12-13 hours every night since!

Another tip: When they wake up in the AM, give them a few minutes to calm down/play etc. Don’t go get them right away or you’ll just get them used to crying for you to come get them. My some will play in his crib 10-30 minutes depending on what I need. Sometimes I get him right away too but it’s nice that he can self entertain while I finish my coffee or try to peel my eyelids back 😆

Hope this will help any desperate sleep deprived mamas out there! Remember I am not by any means a medical professional and you should always consult things with your child’s pediatrician when you have any doubts questions or concerns. This is just my personal experience and what worked for me.<B

2 Replies to “Sleep Training a {Breastfed} Baby”

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