Sleep Training the Boys

Sleep training proves the veracity of the old adage that at times you have to be cruel to be kind. With our first, we waited way too long and we collectively suffered. I was nursing my oldest son a few times a night up to 11 months. We were also still cuddling him to sleep, each going in turn, the latter one usually falling asleep with him. We decided to sleep train one weary day when we were clutching at the last shards of our sanity and while it proved to be difficult, for our child was howling as if he were being flayed, we stuck with it and it proved our best move. For after successive nights of listening and watching our child as he howled for us, we noticed that every night the howling was shorter and less intense until it whittled down to a little creak of protest which was soon followed by utter nonchalance at our departure.

We've had hiccups since, when our son was sick and our resolve was whittled to a wisp and we cuddled him all night. We knew these hiccups were at the cusps of hurricanes and quickly returned to our old regimen.

Last week we kicked the last crutch in our kid's sleep routine -the bottle. We kept this after I stopped nursing him at night not so long ago. Every night right after his bath he would ask for milk and we knew it would be a hard habit to kick. Particularly because he was now armed with greater manipulation weaponry, being able to say he loved us and expressing he wanted to cuddle - "mama love you, mama cuddle!". It took numerous dreadful nights before his routine was reset and the bottle kicked the bucket. A few times however, he surprised us by silently watching me leave and then skulking to his bookshelf to retrieve a book to read in bed (yes, we stalk our kid, it's prime time viewing for us in the lounge). This proved rather interesting considering that the only word he knows how to read is his own name and his name is not "Wild" or "Max" or mentioned at all in Where the Wild Things are.

Possibly because of a masochistic lean, we decided to sleep train both boys concomitantly. That's right, the little one gets away with nada. While we didn't have the heart to sleep train our oldest till 11 months, we were ready at 3 and a half months to put our second baby on a regimen. I had no strength to wake up and nurse every two hours at night, particularly when I realised he was mostly comfort nursing. I would nurse at 8 pm, 11 pm, then 1.30 am, 3.30 am, 5.30 am and 7 am and it was torturous. Some nights I couldn't sleep between the feedings in the early morning so I would simply get up for the day at 3.30 am. Other nights, I tried getting to sleep caught in an insomniac gauntlet. When you're waking up all the time, your sleep is light and laced with dreams that drip dramatic.

We decided to cut the 1.30 am feeding. Hubby went out and rocked him back to sleep. The plan was that if went to bed hungry, his metabolism would shift. The plan worked a charm. He may still wake up at 1.30 am, but hubby goes out and changes his diaper. Without constant feedings, he is peeing less and sleeping longer. So now the feedings are 8 pm, 11 pm, 2.30 am, 5.30 am and 7 am - amazing! Of course, some years ago, if anyone told me I would be ecstatic about only being woken thrice each night I would have raised an incredulous eyebrow. How we change...


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