**Disclaimer: Co-sleeping was not recommended by Tracy at any age, and SIDS prevention advice warns against it in general (e.g. http://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/bedsharing
). For this reason we do not advocate co-sleeping on BW, however the following advice would be a good first step for weaning from co-sleeping.**
Make sure that you've read the safety list in chapter 1. much of what i have read about the dangers associated with co-sleeping point to unsafe sleeping environments as the real issue. read up on the topic and make a wise and informed decision, and religiously follow all safety measures
The challenge with bf and co-sleeping mother-baby pairs is that each partner is so in tune with the other that the slightest movement or noise will have both awake. mommy and daddy end up creating additional wakings in between the baby's natural ones, thus creating and all night wake-sleep pattern
The trick is to get baby accustomed to sleeping beside you but able to go back to sleep w/out your help (typically in the form of nursing). you can do this by shortening your nighttime help routines. i know that this is possible because today my son Coleton is 18 months old, still breastfeeding and co-sleeping= and sleeping about 10 hours at night w/out a peep/ this is the same baby that a few months ago woke up every hour or so to breastfeed. so i am living proof that you don't have to give up a sleeping ritual that you love just to get some sleep. not all babies will respond as coleton did, of course. but many of my test-mommies practice bf and co- sleeping (i will refer to this as CS now..) and many found their own sleep success w/out having to move their babies out of their beds. some stubborn little ones do require a move to another room before they will give up the luxury of nighttime nursing, but do try all of my ideas for a few weeks before you assume this to be correct for your baby.
When baby wakes you probably have a routine to get her back to sleep. for Coleton and me, it was bf. i used to nurse him until he was totally asleep; the nipple would literally fall out of his mouth. every hour, we had a very exact pattern. Coleton woke, i shifted him to the other side, i kissed his head, he nursed- a beautiful, soothing ritual. sometimes he would wake up and pucker up, looking for the kiss and the shift. as sweet as this ritual was, after 12 months of this hourly ceremony, i desperately needed a change
STOP FEEDING A SLEEPING BABY- as with the writing of this book, learning how to break the association was a gradual, thoughtful process that required much self-examination. i found i was responding to Coleton so quickly and intuitively that I'd put him to the breast before he even made a real noise- he would fidget, gurgle, or sniff and i would put him to the breast. i began to realize that, on so many of these occasions, he would ave gone to sleep w/out me.
As you know, i am a follower of the "never let your baby cry" rule, and i took it very seriously. what i didn't understand though, is that babies make sounds IN THEIR SLEEP (Tracy Hogg refers to this as a 'phantom cry') babies can even NURSE in their sleep
The first step to helping your baby sleep longer is to determine the difference between sleeping noises and awake noises. when baby makes a noise, stop. Listen. Wait. Peek. as you listen attentively to her noises and watch her, you will learn the difference between sleeping snorts and "I'm waking up and i need you now" noises
When i learned this eye-opening piece of info, i started "playing asleep" when Coleton made a nighttime noise. i would just listen and watch- not moving a single muscle- until he began to make actual wakeful noises. some of the time he never did; he just went back to sleep!
SHORTEN YOUR NIGHTTIME NURSING TIMES-- you may be following the pattern that we were- putting baby to the breast then both of you falling back to sleep. it's very easy to do, because the act of bf releases hormones that make mommy sleepy, just as much as the milk makes baby sleepy. the problem is that your baby falls soundly asleep at the breast, and begins to believe that keeping the nipple in her mouth is the only way she CAN sleep. therefore, every time she reaches a brief awakening, she looks to re-create her sleep-inducing condition. you can help your baby learn to fall asleep w/out this aid by shortening your nighttime nursing intervals.
When you are sure you baby is awake and looking to nurse, go ahead and nurse him for a short time. Stay Awake! and as soon as he slows his pace from the gulping, drink mode to the low fluttery comfort nursing, you can gently disengage him while patting or rubbing him (See Pantley's Gentle Removal Plan above)
Sometimes you can put your baby's hand on your breast during the removal, since many babies will accept this touch as a substitute for nursing; it seems to keep you "connected" and he knows that the milk is nearby if he needs it
Another option is to make the latch-on a little less comfortable and convenient for your baby. so, instead of laying tummy to tummy with you baby cradled in your arm, shift yourself slightly onto your back so that he has to work a bit to keep the nipple in his mouth. often he'll decide it's too much effort and he'll let go and go back to sleep
If your baby whimpers at any point during this removal process, or somehow lets you know that he is up for real (by crawling onto your chest for example!) go ahead and bf him. then repeat the process to keep the nursing session short, and disconnect him before he is deeply asleep/
Sometimes, it may take 3-5 times before your baby will settle back into sleep. after a week of using this technique with Coleton, he began to disengage HIMSELF, turn over with his back to me, and fall asleep! it was wonderful; perhaps only a cs and bf mommy can understand just how sweet her baby's backside can be at this time. in fact, coleton (at this writing 18 months old) STILL does this; he nurses until he's very comfortable, then rolls away from me and goes to sleep. now that he's sleep 10 or so hours, i leave him in bed with his brother david in our sleeping room and i am free to join my husband in our own bed for baby-free sleep and couple time
MOVE THE MILK-- here is another idea especially for co-sleepers. after you nurse your baby, scoot yourself away from her. if she is snuggled right up against you, she will awaken and want to nurse more often- sometimes, as i mentioned earlier, even in her sleep. if your baby is used to feeling you against her, then you may want to try a tactile replacement. a small stuffed animal is perfect for the job. simply place the toy next to your baby's body or legs (away from her face) when you move away, so that she feels something against her.
For those persistent night nursers, you may even want to change your sleeping arrangement for a few weeks until you get the frequent night waking under control. i put 2 mattresses on the floor next to each other in our sleeping room. during the period of change, i began to nurse coleton on one bed; once he was asleep, id move to the other. granted, it was only 5 feet away, but it was far enough away that i did not cause any additional awakenings. if you have a crib, you can try the sidecar arrangement- pushing the crib up next to your bed and letting baby have his own sleeping cubby (at the risk of sounding like a nag, follow good safety measures if you do this)
I must tell you though that some very persistent co-sleeping night wakers have "mommy radar" and may continue their numerous nightwakings until mommy and baby sleep in different rooms.
You may want to use your key words (Tracy dubs 'sleep cues') to help your baby back to sleep. eventually, the key words and loving touch will take over for nursing, and then that too will fade away, and your baby will sleep longer without waking you.
just like most of the ideas in this book, the one here is based on gradual change over time- no quick fixes or tearful transitions