We just do things a little differently! (sleeping babes)
When people hear that our 8/9/10...12 month old is not yet sleeping through the night, they often drop their jaw to the floor in astonishment. "WHAT?! Your 10 month old isn't sleeping through the night yet? WHY?! Oh my goodness, you poor thing." (etc.)
This is one of those times I find myself saying, "We just do things a little differently!" so I thought I'd post about it :)
Let's start with this: I don't have big babies at birth. Our two biggest were 7 lbs. 4 oz...whoppers I tell you :) That is to say I never had the experience that some of my friends with gigantic babies have...a baby who "sleeps through the night" from night #1. (Although, can I just say that doesn't even make sense to me. Wouldn't a big baby need to eat MORE to fill their large bellies? Also, I never even gave my babies a chance to sleep through the night, because I was always advised they needed to be woken at least for some stimulation....ANYWAY, my kids, my decision.)
So what do we do differently? Well, since I just mentioned it...I wake a newborn (through about 2 weeks old) up in the night to nurse. If they don't want to stay awake to nurse, then that's fine. I undress them, change their diaper, maybe use a wet washcloth to wake them if I feel like they really need to nurse, and then lay them back down. I am not afraid of nursing to sleep. In fact, I am a huge fan :) It hasn't ruined any of my children so far! (Ironically, they usually quit wanting to nurse to sleep before I am ready for them to!)
Anyway, I could write a gigantic post about newborns and sleep and nursing, but it would be just that...a GIGANTIC post. I'll stick to the "sleeping through the night" issue at hand.
Josiah is almost 10 months old, and we just moved him upstairs (out of our room...or ahem, our closet.) My opinion is this: You'll know, as the mother, when your baby is ready to sleep through the night. When I say "sleep through the night," I'm not talking about the medical idea of STTN (which is 6-8 hours.) I'm talking about for the ENTIRE night...from when you put them to bed until they get up for the day. (In our case, that means from 6:30 or 7 until 6:30 or 7.)
How did I know Josiah was ready to sleep through the night? For a long time, Josiah had been waking up around 11 pm and then again at 4 or 5 am to nurse. He ate a great amount at those feedings, so I knew he still needed them. During the last month or so, Josiah has started eating 3 square meals a day, and his night feedings were becoming very sporadic. He would wake at 9 pm one night, 6 am one morning, and 3 am the following night. To me, that meant he was rearranging his sleep cycles (and possibly with the 9 pm wake time, dealing with a full belly/digestion stuff.) When I would nurse him, he wouldn't eat as much, might even fuss or yell at me for getting him out of bed.
Time to sleep through the night, big boy!
Here's the best thing about how we do this: there is barely any crying. We moved Josiah out of our closet into a bedroom upstairs, so the biggest change is going from pitch-black darkness to a room where he can actually see his surroundings. He stays awake a little longer than he used to when I put him to bed or down for naps, but all in all, the transition was smooth.
So yes, our almost 10 month old is just now sleeping through the night, but I feel good about being in tune with his emotional and nutritional needs, and I didn't have to use ear plugs or even turn off the monitor ;)