First of all, thank you. It's been making me feel allllll sorts of normal to have received a surge of emails about sleep training since I mentioned it in my post yesterday. This has to be some sort of sick admission about myself, but hearing that you're out there, "exhausted" and "at your wit's end" too has been making me feel all the solidarity warm fuzzy feels. Sending you warm hugs and pounds of chocolate from here. YOU CAN DO IT!
To answer your questions, the method that we used with Isla is from the book, The Sleepeasy Solution - a quick, easy read that feels like it was written by a friend - and it's basically been my bible. I would recommend ordering it immediately. I sleep-trained Everett when he was 9 months-old no sweat, so you would think I would have already known what I was doing. But he was bottle fed for most of his first year and beyond, so I had no idea how to even begin with a breastfed baby, let alone a much older breastfed baby. And speaking about it now, a month and a half out from our sleep-training week, breastfed sleep-training really is a whole other ballgame.
For starters I should just like to say that it actually did go really really well. We saw immediate results on the second night, which was incredibly encouraging. But with Isla, it's also been a more extended period of learning than it was for Everett. Which I think is pretty normal for a breastfed child. For example, our experience with a bottle-fed child, was that he was sleeping through the night for 12 hours straight, no tears at all, on the FOURTH night. I mean, what IS that?? Straight up miracle. With a breast-fed baby, it took about two weeks for me to lay her down and leave the room with absolutely zero tears. Before the two week mark, she'd still cry for about 1-3 minutes immediately after laying her down. But now, it's SUCH smooth sailing, and the best feeling in the world to cuddle her and nurse her and then lay her down and know that she'll drift right off to sleep on her own.
Everett's sleep-training week was when his beloved Wink first really came into the picture. After that week, Wink was his person. So we decided to do the same for Isla and introduced her to an equally fluffy BlaBla, whom we re-named Winnie. Because we were really feelin' the "W" theme haha. The results have been adorably similar, and it's so fun to peek into her room at night and see her softly breathing, sprawled all over her new friend.
I would say the largest hurdle for us has been night-weaning. I found the logic behind the training method in the book to be completely sound and it certainly retrained Isla's habit of treating me like a human pacifier 5 times a night (hallelujah!). However, I remember going to a doctor's appointment a few weeks after Isla was born, and the doctor informed me that breastfed babies will always wake up in the middle of the night to feed, until they are completely weaned. Doesn't matter how old they are. That's just how it is, he said. It surprised me at the time, and I don't know if other breastfeeding moms can vouch for this, but I've definitely found this to be true. Most certainly BEFORE we sleep trained, but even still after. The difference though, between the non-sleep-trained waking and the sleep-trained waking is 100% life changing. Still breast-fed Isla, will now fall asleep around 7, and sleep without a peep until 4:30. She'll nurse. And then roll over and go right back to sleep until 7:30 or 8, and on a great day, even 9. And that works for me! At first, I tried to go 100% with the book and completely night wean her, but after many nights of her continuous waking at that hour, I couldn't NOT feed her you know? Going with her natural flow, has made our nights smooth and peaceful and I'm still experiencing a great amount of euphoria over my newly freed-up evening hours.
So anyway. That's been our experience! I'd highly recommend the method to anyone who feels they are in need. I feel like a next-level new person now. Like, Julie Andrews running through the hills next level. Go motherhood! Go sleep! Rah! Rah! Rah!