Well that was unexpected. We ended up using a form of controlled crying last night to help three month old Baby sleep.
It is astounding how quickly he became totally dependent on breastfeeding to sleep. Last night I fed him for an hour before he dozed off and went to bed. And then woke up and wanted more food. And then woke up etc etc. He also woke within minutes of being rocked to sleep too. It was gone midnight when I decided we needed to do this as otherwise I think it’d have happened all night. He had been feeding/sleeping/waking in a cycle for three hours with at most 45 minutes sleep and usually five minutes. Given the feed to sleep history of the last week or so I knew this was the issue. And didn’t want a night of on off feeding/sleeping to reinforce it further.
He has fed to sleep from birth with the exception of a few weeks where he would self settle after I helped him transition in a virtually cry free way. But very soon old habits crept in and this no longer worked. I would have liked to use a more gentle method but his ‘addiction’ was rapidly destroying all his good sleep habits. Naps were shortening. He was exhausted. And when his night sleep (previously good at one or two wakings in a ten hour stretch) went I wanted to act quickly.
So we did it. Having read this excellent blog, which I wrote about yesterday, I knew that I didn’t want to leave him. I wasn’t going to let him cry alone. But I also wasn’t going to feed him to sleep. Or rock him. I put him in his cot and lay on the bed next to him. When he cried ( and he did!) I spoke softly so he knew I was there. And occasionally stroked his tummy. I was going to pick him up for a short while should he get hysterical but didn’t feel this was needed in the end.
He cried for an hour and fifteen minutes poor love. A long time and it wasn’t nice. But I was surprised that it wasn’t truly awful either. At no point did he seem desperate or fearful. He was angry and no doubt very unhappy. He was tired and I wasn’t doing the usual thing of feeding him. What was going on? But what I felt from him was frustration not despair and that is an important difference I feel.
This was never about him sleeping through the night. He has been waking once or twice a night since being a month old. And I would have happily fed him from 3.30am which is his usual wake up time. But actually this wasn’t required. He slept from 1.30am to 9.30am with no waking. This was probably due to exhaustion and being full from three hours of on-off feeding. But I felt vindicated in retrospect that he wasn’t hungry – just tired and unable to sleep without a boob in his mouth.
So what next? He’s a big and growing boy and I don’t want to deny him any milk he is hungry for. But I can no longer let him feed to sleep. I like the EASY routine but think it might take us back to the hindmilk/foremilk imbalance issues we had. So for now I will also offer the boob before a nap if I think he might be hungry. But with this subtle change in routine. After the pre-nap feed I’ll change his nappy and wipe his face to ensure he is awake. We’ll then get into sleeping bag, have a quick story and then get in bed. So absolutely no risk of feeding to sleep. For bedtime this is harder. My supply is rubbish then and I need to feel confident he is well fed. I’d love to introduce a bottle of formula for bedtime. But (like his brother) he is being very resistant at the moment. But we’ll keep offering and hopefully one day soon he’ll take it.
Argh! What a night. Am knackered. He slept ok (at last) but I didn’t. It was too stressful and unpleasant for that! Here’s hoping he soon gets back on track.