Babies: 3 - 6 Months

? about BFing and Sleep Training (Ferber)

We're going to try sleep training with DS starting this Friday.  I've been reading Ferber's book (not quite finished yet) and DH and I are going to follow his modified/gradual CIO method.

His plan requires LO to be awake when put into the crib, but I have been nursing DS to sleep since he was born.  Our bedtime routine is bath, jammies/sleepsuit, story, nurse.  If I can't nurse to sleep, when in the routine should I nurse instead?

Also, when DS wakes up during the night, we're suppose to continue the gradual CIO method then too.  I worry that DS is hungry when he wakes, so I don't want to deny him food.  But how can I know for sure??  Right now, I feed every time he wakes (1-3 times) pretty much.

Anyone have any insight or words of wisdom? 

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Re: ? about BFing and Sleep Training (Ferber)

  • We've done the same thing and honestly it hasn't been all that successful. We did Ferber with my older child (ff) and it worked brilliantly, but I am not truly convinced you can sleep train an EBF baby without cutting out night feedings. Maybe, but I'm not convinced it's possible with my baby. He goes down at night fine (doesn't cry), it's the night feedings that are a problem. In your routine, I'd probably put in jammies, feed with the lights on in the room, burp, then put in his sleep suit (that will wake him up), and then put him to bed. With the night feedings, I've just set a time where it has to have been X hours before I'll feed him, otherwise we do the intervals of CIO. My LO goes to bed at 6, so the first stretch has to be 5 hours, and the second stretch has to be 3. So generally after 11pm, and then after 2am. So I'll still feed him twice at night if need be, but there's no more rocking or shhh-ing to sleep. It's hard though-- last night he woke up after 3 hours and cried for a total of an hour and 15 mins before I gave up and went and got him (we had gone in there numerous times). He was miserable, I gave in and fed him, and I really think he must have been hungry-- that's a LONG time to continue crying. And we've been doing this method for over a month! I think Ferber makes a ton of sense and works great, but I think it's just really hard with an EBF baby that you still are OK feeding at night. Ferber says that once they are 5-6 months old, they do not need to be fed at night period, and if you continue it's your own need your fulfilling. He may be right, but I still feel like doing it. I wish I had a baby that would just start sleeping through the night feedings, but not the case so far.

    GL. I don't think there's anyway to ever know for sure that they aren't hungry unless you give a bottle at that last feeding (my LO won't take one). And even then, it's not guaranteed. 

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  • Thanks for your detailed response!

    I mainly want DS to be able to put himself to sleep without me bouncing/rocking him for 20+ mins each time.  I'm okay with night feedings so long as I don't have to bounch/rock him back to sleep each time.  It takes WAY too long and DS is getting too heavy!  

    I want to give a bottle for the last feeding, but like your LO, he won't take a bottle either.  Ah well ...  

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  • Well for just putting himself to sleep, it worked great. Just be strong and know he has to learn himself (so as hard as it might be, stick with it). It was so much easier than I thought it would be-- my LO would only be put down fast asleep, and once we started it was probably 1-2 nights of some crying (not a lot). All that we have a problem with now is when he wakes before the time period I've designated, he doesn't always go back to sleep easily, and all I do is second guess myself. 

    I hope it goes well!! 

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  • We did Ferber, too.  Here's how we figured it out:

    I do the same routine, ending in nursing.  Then, I burp her and rouse her slightly by talking to her.  She rouses quite a bit sometimes!  When she wakes, I then finish our routine (pop in a pacifier, snuggle, rock).  When she's pretty dang drowsy, we put her down - we emphasize the drowsy in "drowsy but awake."  From the beginning, she didn't cry too much (up to 30 minutes), although she's started rolling over which had changed things.

    At her age, it's totally normal to nurse 1-2 times a night.  So, if she wakes 3 or more hours after her last feeding, I nurse her.  (She feeds every 3 hours during the day, so that's how we came up with that number).  If she wakes in less than that time, we continue CIO.  Generally, it's easy for us to know she's not hungry because she wakes right after I feed her and put her down again, or after 45 minutes (1 sleep cycle).  She's never tested us by waking up 2 hours and 45 minutes after feeding ;)

    Good luck!   

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  • I was in your exact situation just a few weeks ago! I decided to go with the Sleep Lady Shuffle, which is a similar gradual CIO. I won't feed her until it's been at least 6 hours since her last nurse, and then I won't feed her again until it's after 6am. At first I felt nervous that I was denying her food when she legitimately needed it, but my pedi encouraged me, and I reminded myself that she would eat more during the day to make up for the missed calories. Plus, she's in the 97th percentile so she's not exactly hurting for calories. It only took about 3 nights with her fussing and resisting going back to sleep, which I feel was only happening because she had been nursed every time she woke since the day she was born so it was all she knew. On the 4th night she only woke when she was legitimately hungry. Now, 3 weeks later, she wakes to eat only once per night, sometimes twice. So there is hope for EBF babies!

    If your LO is anything like mine, you'll be able to tell when he's fussing for fussing sake and actually needs you to tend to him. My DD does this siren-esque whining when she's just awake for no reason, and she'll usually put herself back to sleep. If she actually is hungry, she sounds much more urgent, and will immediately reject any of my attempts at comforting her. 

    Also, in terms of getting him down drowsy but awake, we do bath, PJs, nurse, book, then bed, and it works great. GL!! 

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  • I agree with everything l_elizabeth said.  We did modified CIO the day my LO turned 4 months old, because unless we put him down totally asleep (and very carefully), he would wake up right away and I'd have to nurse him back to sleep.  We are now able to put him down drowsy (or sometimes he totally passes out nursing) and there is no rocking/shushing/etc involved.  I was hoping it would decrease the night wakings, but that hasn't really happened, especially now that his teeth are popping up.  I have no idea if he is hungry or not when he wakes up, so I just assume that he wants to eat, but now I can feed him quickly and put him right back down because of the modified CIO.  I'm hoping he just eventually drops the night wakings on his own. 
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  • Ladies, THANK YOU for all your valuable insight and words of wisdom.  

    I'm glad to see that sleep training can work for EBF babies, even if night time feeds are needed.  Fingers crossed that it'll work for us!!

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  • I think my situation is pretty similar to PP's.  I still nurse as the last thing before bed, but he goes right down and stays down.  The first night was the only real struggle and that lasted all of 12 minutes, with much of it just fussing. 

    What I did differently is that prior to doing CIO, I weaned him down in night feedings at 4 months.  He was eating 6x a night (just shoot me!) and to wean him, DH would go in and soothe him to sleep.  If DH couldn't get him back to sleep, then he'd bring him to me to nurse.  It ended up that he really only needs to eat 2x, around 1am and 4am (he goes to bed around 7:30). 

    With that in mind, we do modified CIO if he wakes outside those times.  But honestly, since the first couple days, he hardly ever cries more than a few minutes when he does wake up during the night.  If it takes more than 2 checks, I know to feed him.  We started it the week before he turned 5 months so its only been 13 days but so far, so good.  I NEVER thought I'd be able to put my baby down in the crib and have him actually sleep on his own.  It was actually kinda sad the first few nights.  And, I still bring him to bed with us after the last feeding, let him fall asleep on his own, and still get that cuddle time with him. 

    Good luck with it - I guess it really works for some and not so much for others, but just trust that you'll know when your baby truly needs to eat. 

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  • AmyG*AmyG*
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    you can try the NO Cry sleep solutio for night weaning an older baby, or partially night weaning. it's an option to try.

     

    AmyG*

    I don't type posts; I type novels.

    I don't get tags, sorry.

  • And if all this advice doesn't work, just know that your baby will sleep through the night someday. Babies are all just different. My ebf son didn't sleep through the night until he was 8 months. Now, my ebf dd is sleeping through the night since 9 weeks. I didnt do anything differently. Hang in there!!! If it is any consolation, my son the crappy sleeper is three and is an awesome sleeper now.
  • I can't imagine letting my DS cry for over an hour. All I can see is the stress hormone Cortisol unnecessarily being raised to which there is absolutely no benefit. Why do you want to expose your LO's brain to that? Show me one study that says high levels of Cortisol is good for infant development. Please reconsider this sleep method and do your own research on the effects. Parent by your instincts which tell you to go to your child and take care of them, not by some post-industrial man-made idea of what you should do. As a historical footnote, the Cry It Out method was developed by the Germans during WWII as a means to increase efficiency in parents during the day for the war. No thank you. 
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