First off, a big big thanks to everyone for the suggestions via this blog, Facebook, Twitter, and La Leche League.
Via a suggestion from someone at La Leche League, we’ve been mostly going with the ideas from Dr. Jay Gordon’s website, but we added some things that are suggestions from other people and/or intuitive.
I started off with telling Peanut what was going on. This is something that hadn’t even occurred to me in the past! It’s amazing how little we think to just have a normal conversation with toddlers for how often it actually helps. I told her that we were going to start getting ready to have her sleep all night long and that she would feel much better and Mama would too.
The second thing that really helped me was sticking to my guns. I decided it wasn’t just a “we’ll try and see how it goes” thing, but rather something that we were just going to do. Of course if she were absolutely miserable, I may have changed my mind, but if she figured out “if I cry for a few minutes, she’ll give me milk” then we wouldn’t ever get anywhere. Luckily, she never tested me on this one.
Weirdly enough, the first night we tried all of this she only woke up once. After waking up 5+ times a night before this, I was certainly surprised. I think that this is where the talking with her helped. She also didn’t fight going back to sleep as much as I thought she would. I gave her enough milk that she got letdown, but didn’t let her continue after that. I explained to her that she could have milk again after she cuddled and went to sleep. Even when she woke up 15 minutes later, I still gave her milk again (though that only happened once).
After the first three nights, I told her that after she went to sleep that she could have milk again when it was time to get up. For the most part, she didn’t fight it at all. There were a couple of nights here and there that we ended up going for car rides, but that was few and far between. I think it helped that I wore a hoodie to bed so that she couldn’t even feel my breasts through my shirt. I also could tell that she woke up a few times just to have me come lay with her because she passed out again the second that I laid down.
Overall, I’m surprised how well it’s gone. She’s been very cooperative with it. Honestly, she doesn’t seem to mind at all. In the Dr. Gordon article he says that after a week or so that they’ll just stop waking up in the night. She’s still waking up to be cuddled about 1-3 times a night, but his whole article is on the assumption that you’re still co-sleeping and we’re not. The few times that I’ve fallen asleep with her in her bed when I put her to sleep I’m pretty sure she’s stayed asleep the whole night.
I’m amazed how much easier bedtime is now. She used to fight sleep so hard and if she wasn’t asleep by the time the first big letdown was over, I couldn’t get her to sleep at all. Now she’s happy to cuddle to sleep after getting some milk. She very rarely fights it and when she does, it’s easy to calm her. I think that this whole process has gone so well because it wasn’t just me that was ready for it—she needed a good nights sleep too.