Q. I’m wondering if you have any advice on “sleep training”. My baby is almost 8 months and breastfed to sleep for naps and bed time. We also co-sleep. But my husband is ready for him to move to his room and everyone is trying to give me advice about how to achieve this. I do NOT want to do the cry it out method. I’m having a hard time accepting the entire idea. Plus he’s never slept in his crib. I have tried the pacifier several times throughout the months, but he never has accepted it. It’s so hard because I hate to hear him cry, it will be torture not to pick him up or nurse him when he is resisting sleep without nursing. I’m thinking I’ll put a mattress in his room so I can be near while he adjusts to his crib. But I definitely need to mentally prepare myself for this entire process or I know I will give in.
A. You are at a good point to start sleep training (altho I hate that term). I think the first place to start is putting him in his crib for naps so he gets used to that. Keep nursing him to sleep so he goes easily and wakes up in his crib. Once that is accomplished the next step is to gradually put him down awake – without nursing him to sleep. This is the hard part but so important. When he associates going to sleep with nursing, that’s what he will expect when he wakes up at night. He no longer needs a feeding at night – that doesn’t mean you are going to stop – but just know that. When he will not stop crying at night until you nurse, that means he has made the association strongly. This is a hard time because you will of course go back and forth for awhile — nothing ever needs to be cold turkey. But the best thing you can do for both of you is to get him to go to sleep without nursing.