How I night weaned Wren without “crying it out”

After the longest seven months of my life, we finally have reached my favorite milestone: sleeping 12 hours straight. To you mamas who still nurse at night for longer than seven months, you are made of sterner stuff than I. I was losing my mind night nursing past three months. I was having a hard time carrying on conversations past five months. I kept wondering if whomever I was talking to was offended by the glassy look in my eye. By six months, I was the walking dead. I live in Atlanta, so I fit right in. But I desperately wanted to join the living.

I don’t know why, but the cry it out method is always the first one I try to get my girls to sleep through the night. It has not proved effective with any of them. They can outlast my patience on any given night. They’ve got all night and nothing important to do in the morning. Ruth would scream for two hours every night when I put her down and then sleep through the night. I let the poor child do this for four months, such was my slavish devotion to cry it out. Finally, I decided enough was enough and sang her to sleep before I put her down. She went right down without a fuss and slept like an angel all night. I decided that singing to her for five minutes a night was infinitely preferable to listening to screaming for two hours. With Rose, I already had a toddler to take care of, so I only tried cry it out for three nights. It was just as unsuccessful as it was with Ruth. She was crying for hours and still wanting to nurse all night. And whenever I nursed her, she would spit up all over the place. Nothing is less fun than cleaning up vomit all night. I desperately appealed to my husband for ideas. The saintly man spent one long night popping a pacifier into her mouth every time she fussed, and just like that she was night weaned at four months.

As I outlined in this post Wren really had me stumped. As usual, cry it out had failed me. I was too exhausted to have a screaming child keep me up all night anyway. When she was six months, I decided to switch her to a two nap schedule so that I could have all three of them sleeping at the same time in the afternoon. I also started feeding her solids. To recap, I was still exclusively breastfeeding her every three hours and following the feed, wake time, short nap schedule when she was five months old. When she turned six months, I switched to four nurses a day (when she wakes up in the morning, after her morning nap, after her afternoon nap, and her night nurse before she goes down for the night), and solids for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. She immediately went from waking up every 2-4 hours all night long to nurse, to only waking up once a night to nurse, usually at any time between midnight and 2 am. It was life changing.

I had been putting her down for the night at 7:00 pm, because she would get ridiculously cranky and drowsy by 6:30 pm. But one weekend I noticed she had slept through the night for 12 hours without her night nurse. What the heck did I do differently?! I finally figured out that since we were out and about having dinner with friends and family all weekend, Wren didn’t get to go to bed until 8:00 pm or later. So I switched her bedtime from 7:00 to 8:00 and voilà! We finally have our 12 hour sleeper. It is a little bit difficult keeping her happy for that hour before bed time, but totally worth it for a good night’s rest for the whole family.

I have rejoined the ranks of the living and am feeling accomplished. Trust me, I’m a much better mom when I’m not sleep deprived. IMG_2874.JPGGood morning, Sunshine


About sylcell

Wife, mom of four girls, Catholic, insatiable sweet tooth
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9 Responses to How I night weaned Wren without “crying it out”

  1. Pingback: Overcoming Sleep Troubles + A Perfect Day

  2. Like your girls, my little man’s will to cry was much stronger than my desire to listen, and we don’t cry it out here. Luckily he’s been down to a once-per-night nursing since he was about 6 months old, which I actually can deal with okay, because it’s only about 10-15 minutes and then he’s back down – BUT the last 3 nights he’s slept 10 hours straight through. I have no idea why, but maybe (thank you Jesus) at 11 months, he’s just plain old enough to sleep through the night. They’re just such funny creatures, these babies.


    • sylcell says:

      Hey if it worked, I’d be all about it, lol. But CIO has been a huge failure for us. Who knows? Maybe it was nothing that I did and she just was finally ready to sleep through. You hit the nail on the head! Babies really do keep us guessing.


  3. morgan says:

    I couldn’t stomach the cry-it-out-method. The solution for us was co-sleeping and nursing them in some state of half-sleep (with both of us regularly falling asleep during nursing and me waking up some time later in a puddle of milk…)
    We ended up giving them a bottle of milk around their first birthdays and with all three of them only had to get up once (up to three times) a night for a refill (or if the bottle got lost)


    • sylcell says:

      Yeah I just couldn’t cosleep. I move around too much and night and just couldn’t get comfortable. So I was having to get out of bed every time she wanted to nurse. Ugh.


      • morgan says:

        “sleeping” like this was NOT very recreative for me – but it was way better than having to get up. I am a weird sleeper, once you wake me up, I can’t go back to sleep for quite some time. (same goes if I take an afternoon nap. For every minute I sleep in the afternoons, I stay 2 minutes longer awake in the evening. NOT helpful. But at least my husband stopped talking me into taking afternoon naps. Having a kid with the same “problem” helped him A LOT at understanding. Also maybe being totally frustrated because he was tired and said kiddo tried to flee the bedroom again at 10 p.m. might have helped. ;-))
        And my first had a weird nursing rhythm – he was hungry every 2 hrs, so getting up, nursing, trying to put him back woke me, but it took me until he woke again to get sleepy enough to go back to sleep. Plus ALL my kids woke every time someone put them down in their cribs. And started to scream. So co-sleeping was for us just necessary to get any bit of sleep…


      • sylcell says:

        You have to do what you have to do! 😉


  4. Yay!!! My second required a 20 minute 7pm ish nap to keep him going until our 9pm bedtime until one day he didn’t. I’m so happy you found something that’s working for you!


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