I've posted a fair few 'oh my god please help' sleep threads over the past 7 years with my 3 frequent wakers/feeders, and (I really hope I'm not jinxing things) I thought I should post a positive post. Especially as I got so much help from lurking on a few recent-ish threads about successful night weaning.
DS2 followed the usual pattern of waking every 2 hrs ish for feeds, and started to improve and manage a few 3 hr chunks by 12 months. The two older ones had dropped their night feeds on their own at this point (though they still woke frequently), and I was fed up, DP not in same room/bed, and feeding is uncomfortable. I was coping okay, not too tired, by co-sleeping from the start, but I would usually lose the plot and get very very tired and annoyed about once a fortnight.
I read up on Jay Gordon's night weaning and then found this: theleakyboob.com/tag/night-weaning/ and her description of what it was like to have a full night of undisturbed sleep nearly made me cry with longing, so I decided to go for it, expecting DS2 to go crazy with fury in the night.
At 12 months he was feeding at 7pm bedtime (not to sleep, I'd broken that gradually with NCSS), then usually woke and needed to feed to sleep to settle at 11pm, then again around 2am, then 4am, then 6am. Every few nights he'd add in an extra feed or two to keep me on my toes. Oh, and one side was not enough - trying to take him off after only one side led to extreme screaming. After two sides he would come off contentedly. Every few hours... This seemed a little bit excessive in terms of milk at 12 months.
So, dreading it, I started the Jay Gordon approach, picking 11-6 as my chunk for reducing feeding, and started by only allowing 1 side per feed. He was furious and screamed blue murder, thrashing around, throwing my hands off him if I attempted to 'soothe' him. For about 2-3 minutes. Then he accepted a stroke of the head and was asleep. Given that if DP attempts to settle him in the night he will scream for at least 40 minutes, I was a bit surprised at how easy this was.
The next few nights were the same (but he added in teething and a temperature to slow us down, and I went back to big feeds for a few nights). He would be cross, but not for very long, and would then sleep for a few hours. His waking was the same pattern, but half the feeds. After a week of this (including the teething nights) I decided to take the plunge and try to soothe him without a feed.
And it was fine! At least he was very, very cross, but again only for a few minutes (I timed it and it was under 2 minutes before he would have a cuddle/stroke, and a few more minutes then he was asleep again). After a few nights of picking him up, and a lot of stroking him back to sleep I stopped picking him up, instead patting him through the cot bars (which I could almost sleep through more easily than the feeds), and we had a new pattern established within the week:
bed at 7pm, big feed. Wake at 11pmish (usually when I come to bed), wake at 5 am.
If I fed at 11 (or just before), then he slept through til 6-7am. If I just pat him at 11pm, then he'll have a big feed around 5am, and then sleep again til 7-8am.
This felt like heaven. So we moved him into his own bedroom, as I felt I was interfering when I didn't need to, and waking him up. First 3 nights he followed the same pattern, and I ended up in his room on the spare bed, either with him cuddled from 5am, or with my hands reaching into his cot. By this point he is no longer cross or screaming, but is easily comforted by my presence in the night.
Fourth night:bed 8pm, big feed, then soothed to sleep with a stroke in the cot. NO WAKINGS, despite coughing and wriggling around until 6AM.
He is 13 months. My other two did not do this until they were at least 2 years old. It is lovely, lovely, lovely. He is happy, loves his cot now, and is playing with books at bedtime to calm down for sleep. I don't quite believe it, and obviously things may change, but it is so nice. I am also enjoying feeding him much more as its only twice a day.
I know its his temperament, and I felt he was ready for it, and I also knew our family needed it, and all babies are different, but I wanted to share, as I got so much help from looking at these boards over the years. Thanks for indulging me by reading!
I had 2 nights sleeping through, then teething hit, and he woke twice, then three times, and started feeding again. I thought it was all over, but last night he squeaked a few times, but not enough to wake me up, so he slept 7-7ish (well he shouted for us at 7am, probably awake longer).
gingemum- DS2 wasn't ready at 10 months, and I think Jay Gordon says for 12 months old, but it depends on your child. My older two night weaned themselves at 8 and 10 months, but DS2 seems to need milk, he rarely takes cuddles instead. Your DD may be ready? Maybe try, and if it gets her too upset wait a bit? I wouldn't have the energy to have gone through with it if DS2 had screamed a lot.
I'm hoping that now he can do it, and its got him in his own room that the waking nights reduce a bit. It was hard going back to cosleeping/feeding after the nights off duty.