Sleeping through the night. Oh my. It's one of "those" topics. You know - like formula vs. breastfeeding, cry-it-out, etc. It's one of those huge controversial topics. It's one of those topics that other moms love to ask you about so that they can judge you. Where is baby sleeping? How long? Do you use sleep props? Do you rock them? Ugh. It can get soooo overwhelming. Mommyhood is FULL of judgment (remember my post on breastfeeding judgment??).
It's no secret that we did BabyWise with both LL and Cooper. In fact, I wrote a post after Cooper was born telling WHY we use BabyWise. Even though we did it with LL, I like to think that we did it "our way" with her. We stuck to the basics and we let it guide us, but it wasn't LAW. LL has always been a good sleeper. But she's never been a GREAT sleeper. She slept through the night (STTN) on and off her first year. Even now, we struggle with night time waking and sleep issues about every 6 months.
When we got pregnant with Cooper, I KNEW that I wanted to do my best to create a better sleeper. From the very get go (and by that, I mean the DAY we came home from the hospital), we started enforcing good sleep habits with Cooper. Every single night of his life we have put him down sleepy but awake and let him put himself to sleep. He doesn't take a paci (we tried!), so he has no sleep props. We've done cry-it-out (CIO) at naps. We have white noise. We distinguish between day and night. We. Did. Everything.
One of the thing that BabyWise boasts is that, if you follow the guidelines, your baby will be STTN between 8-12 weeks (if your baby is at an appropriate weight). Well, Coop was practically born at the appropriate weight. And, like I said, we were doing everything.
8 weeks came. Cooper was still waking up at night for a feeding 1 or 2 times. I was still nursing, and he was legit hungry. So I went with it.
12 weeks came. Cooper was still waking up to eat. I figured he was still young, was still legit hungry, and I would wait a little longer.
4 months came. Still waking. 5 months came. still waking. I was troubleshooting EVERYTHING. White noise. Habit waking. Swaddling. Dream feed. No dream feed. EVERYTHING. None of them applied to him. Nothing we tried to "fix" made any difference. The only thing that we did not do was CIO. I was comfortable doing it at naps. I was not comfortable doing it at night. And this was for several reasons. One being that LL's room is super close to Coop's. If we let him CIO, she would for sure wake up. Then we would have a crying baby AND an awake preschooler. That didn't sound fun. Another reason was the fact that I was back at work. I knew that if Coop was awake crying, I would NOT be sleeping. Being back at work, I needed to soak up as much sleep as I could get. The BIGGEST reason that I didn't do CIO with Cooper at night was because I KNEW he was hungry. He wasn't waking up and playing. He wasn't wanting anything other than food. He woke up (at all different times - not habit waking!), DOWNED his bottle, and then went straight back to sleep. My mommy heart just could not let him scream and cry in the middle of the night when I knew his tummy was hungry. I just couldn't do that to my baby.
So finally, I just came to the decision that I would let Cooper's body tell us what to do. I knew he wouldn't be 4 and still waking up to eat. While I was not okay with it taking that long, I also knew that it wouldn't. I knew that he would "grow out of it". This was the plan that I made, and I came to peace with it.
Well. Then we went to Cooper's 6 month appointment. And our pediatrician basically told us to nip that in the bud. That he was old enough and at a weight where he should be sleeping and not eating. She suggested to CIO, but said if we wanted to try weaning him down slowly first then to go for it - ultimately he was OUR baby and we were the ones that had to deal with it.
Obviously, we chose to start weaning him down to see if that would work. At about 6.5 months, we started. Typically, he got 5 oz if he woke up in the middle of the night. He also was starting to use a medium flow nipple during the day time. We had a new course of action: we started only giving him 4 oz, AND we kept a slow flow nipple on during the night. So he was getting less and he had to work harder to get it. After only getting 4 oz for a few days, we lowered it to 3. No issues and things continued. Then we went down to 2. And he wasn't always happy about it. Usually, he would fuss some when he was finished, but we would put him back in the crib anyway, and he would just go back to sleep.
Then. One day. He just stopped. With no warning. And we haven't looked back. He's slept through the night for almost 2 months straight now. And honestly - I don't know what did it. I don't know if the weaning him down just showed him that he didn't need it anymore. Or if he just decided that 2 oz wasn't worth it. Or if he just grew out of it.
What I DO know is this: just because you do something "right" doesn't mean that your baby will always follow suit. I did everything I needed to for Cooper to be a successful sleeper. And it still didn't work all the way. But here's the catch - THAT'S OKAY. It didn't mean I was a bad Mom. Or that I wasn't trying hard enough. Or that Cooper was a bad baby. It just wasn't working for him. I also know that I'm proud of myself for listening to my Mommy gut. For feeding him when I KNEW he was hungry. For waiting until he was ready, giving him the tools, and letting HIM make the decision that it was time.