Before I get started, I just want to say that every family is different and every baby is different and what worked for me may not work for another baby or family. I always believe that you should do what you believe is best for you and for your baby!
When my son turned 1, I decided it was time to night-wean and sleep train. I had just found out I was expecting my second, and that first trimester exhaustion hit me right away, so that coupled with getting up 2-3 times per night was just too much. I did a little bit of research, asked around, and watched some videos to see what different techniques had worked for other people, and from there decided what my priorities were.
As a little side note, I did not realize at the time that night weaning and sleep training are 2 different things. They sort of go hand-in-hand, I nursed my baby to sleep, but it wasn’t until much later that I read about the difference. In retrospect it makes sense, but it turned out okay anyways.
First, I wanted it to be fairly quick. I was exhausted and wanted to dedicate about one week to it and be done.
Second, though I was okay with some crying, the cry-it-out method was not for me.
And third, I wanted my husband to be just as involved in this process so that in the future he could comfort our son in the middle of the night as well.
And so we chose a date and made our plan. We decided to start right at bedtime. We did our usual bedtime routine, but I nursed him with a dim light on and made sure he did not fall asleep while nursing. Once I was sure he had a full tummy I set him down in his crib and walked out. He was sleepy enough that he actually went right to sleep. But a few hours later he woke up as usual.
I went in, gave him a sip of water, snuggled him for a couple of minutes until he had calmed down, then set him back down and walked out. Within 1 minute he started crying again. This time we waited 5 minutes, then husband went in and did the same thing I had. Again, within a minute or so he started crying again. This time we waited 10 minutes before I went in. And so that was our routine. We followed a pattern of 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15, 20, 20, 20… for as long as we had to until he would fall asleep. We also took turns going in so that our son would get used to both of us comforting him. We always offered water, snuggled him for a couple of minutes, then set him down and walked out.
The first night was rough, but I found the second night to be a little tougher. He was overtired from the night before, and he knew what we were doing! The longest we waited for him to fall asleep was 1 hour and 45 minutes. After that it would generally take 1 hour.
So we kept at it. The third night he only woke up twice and it took him about 40 minutes each time. The fourth night was about the same. By the fifth night he was able to fall asleep after the 10-minute turn, and by the end of the week he was mostly able to fall asleep completely on his own! Of course it got better and better over time and at 1 and a half years old I am happy to say it is rare for him to wake up through the night. And if he does, he generally just finds a comfortable position and goes right back to sleep.
Now there are certain times that he is more likely to wake up such as if he is teething, sick, or overtired. But even then we only need to go in once or twice to comfort him and he goes right back to sleep. This is especially comforting since Baby # 2 will be here soon, and I know that if he does wake up it won’t take much to get him back to sleep, and that my husband can also comfort him.
Sleep training can sometimes be a touchy subject, but we are all much happier in the day if we get a good night’s sleep, so it was a must for our family. Hope this helps someone or gives someone some helpful ideas!