Messing with my baby’s sleep (and other triumphs)

We had a really flukey odd occurrence last Saturday. I had intended to slowly ease Leni off her bedtime bottle (a directive from her pediatrician), but on Saturday she just wouldn’t sleep the whole darn day for some reason. Thankfully she wasn’t cranky so we tried our luck and stayed out a little past her bedtime for dinner (which we literally have not done since she was 4-months-old and still sleeping in our bed). Long story short, by the time we got home she was so exhausted that we just skipped the bath and bottle and put her down. She slept the whole night and woke up at her regular time (7:30am). So, tentatively, the next night we tried it again. We gave her a bath and replaced the bottle with a few bedtime stories and cuddles and were able to put her down again without any drama. She woke a little earlier (6:30am), but otherwise it was suspiciously easy (outside of my own weird and pointless guilt for taking the bottle from her—why do I do this to myself??).

On nights 3, 4, and 5 it went relatively well, but she started to wake up at 5:30am, which made the days somehow significantly longer (especially since she was resisting her afternoon nap all week). I am still holding out hope that I can find some way to adjust what she eats in the daytime enough to fill her up and help her sleep a bit longer (I really wish she’d drink cows milk, but she is really resistant). I know lots of people wake up at 5:30am every day and love it or at least don’t make a big deal about it, but it is hard to suddenly lose 2 hours of sleep and it shifts the whole day over, you know? For the most part, besides a slightly crankier baby for missing her afternoon nap and the earlier wake up, the transition to no bottle has been much smoother than I’d anticipated. There were a couple nights she stayed up a tad later, I assume because she was missing the comfort and routine of nursing or the bottle. Frankly, that occasionally happened WITH the bottle so I still know nothing.

(Just a quick aside. I have met parents whose kids have never napped or still nurse during the night past one or that still co-sleep, so I know that the fact that she even naps and sleeps 10-12 hours over night on a regular basis in her own bed is something to be very grateful for. It’s been a lot of hard work and sacrifice to keep her on that schedule though, so it’s not all luck, but at the same time some kids won’t sleep well no matter what you do. I hope you can forgive this complainer.)

Last night, my husband–knowing it had been a challenging week for me–asked his mum to watch Leni so we could go out for dinner. I am one lucky lass. She totally fought her bedtime, but his mum offered to sit with her until she tuckered herself out so we could still go out (bless her). An hour later, she was still losing her mind so just as we were seated we had to turn around and come back home. Ah, parenthood. Leni (the little monkey) immediately cheered up after we arrived. Faker. She didn’t go to sleep until 10pm, but very kindly slept in until 7am this morning.

Anyway, if you’re still reading this very long-winded tale, then maybe it’s because you have also gone through this stage or are thinking about stopping the bedtime feeding? Like every other stage, I just feel very confused. Am I doing it right? Will she wake up at 5:30am from now on if I totally eliminate the bottle? She’s so tired, but fighting her afternoon naps. Is that related? She needs the sleep, but when she DOES nap in the afternoon now, she fights bedtime, but when she doesn’t she’s cranky for the last 2 hours of the day. Sigh. The thing with parenting is that every time something shifts it feels like it will never correct itself. And it may not, but it probably will get easier at least. It’s just so hard to see that in the moment. Seeing the forest through the trees, as they say.

Both my sisters are still giving their kids bedtime bottles (18 months and 2.5 years) and did so with their older kids who naturally grew out of the bottle without any cavities or issues at all or any huge battles (that they can remember anyway). I only spoke with one other mum who actually stopped the bedtime feeding around 12 months and she only did it out of necessity as she was going back to work and felt it would simplify her evening routine. Essentially very few people actually listen to their pediatricians on this one, as far as I can tell. I mean, if your kid is sleeping, why mess with that? Their baby teeth fall out anyway, right?

Another option was to still give her the bottle and then brush her (2) teeth after. Now that we’re a week in though, I don’t see the point in turning back, but I have been tempted. I sure value my sleep, but I know long term this will probably make life a lot simpler. We have a big trip in June for two weeks and not having to bring bottles and formula along with the sanitizer and bottle warmer is really motivating me to stick this through. So 5:30am it is, I guess.

I would love to hear other experiences, as I have no idea what I’m doing. Let’s see how week two goes. Wish me luck!

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