We have a 7 1/2 month old boy and our relatively typical night looks like this: he eats solids at 7pm, nurses at 8pm, and then goes to bed at 8:30pm (mostly falls asleep on his own now). Sometimes he’ll awake at 11pm crying. But often his first wake up is at 1am, then again at 4am or 5am. He’s up for the day anywhere between 6 – 7:30 am.
When he awakes at night, I usually let him cry for a minute or two to decide what kind of cry it is. If it’s an angry cry, I go to him and nurse him. If it’s a tired cry, he sometimes goes back to sleep, or sometimes it escalates to an angry cry and then I go to him. Is this too inconsistent an approach? I’ve read so much on the issue that it’s clear there are no right or wrong answers. Some people feel strongly about continuing to night nurse. Others feel strongly about sleep training (that he’s old enough and weighs enough – 18 pounds – to not need to eat in the middle of the night). I’m lucky to not be working, so it’s more an inconvenience during the day to be tired of getting up every 3-4 hours. I’m really not sure about what to do. I don’t have a strong intuition either way – to nurse or to wean him of these night feedings. I guess my fear is that by not going to him, he’ll feel like I’m abandoning him. But I’m worried that if I continue to always go to him, that he’ll never kick the habit of night nursing. He does not have his own room, which makes the idea of letting him cry it out at night really unappealing, but perhaps necessary. Can you offer any guidance?
I’ve had the lucky experience of having a kid who would wake up every hour or two, so anything less looks quite appealing by contrast! My thinking is that at 7 1/2 months, a baby is just really getting the hang of eating a bit of food, milk is generally still their main diet and it sounds fair enough to me that some babies (most?) might still need a feed or two at night. It may not be that convenient for the parents (particularly the nursing mum) and it may be an incredible drag being so so tired permanently, but I really think this is part of the first years dramas of babyhood.
I think if you can bare it as it is, it will be easier just to go with the flow, but if it’s really unbareable, my other top tip is to send daddy in at night so bubs gets the message that nursing is no more. There may be some tears though at first until they get used to this new routine. But remember, even if you do decide to keep nursing at night to keep the peace, babies do eventually grow out of it at their own pace as their need diminishes.
I am keen on saying these days that babies need what the need until they decide they no longer need it. And there’s not much you can do about that.