I am very happy to report that, after a week of "sticking to my guns" and practicing tough love, we are seeing HUGE strides in the Searcy Household in terms of Briggs' eating & sleeping habits. It took me a while to realize how much of a toll his middle-of-the-night feedings were taking on me, but the exhaustion hit me like a ton of bricks and I knew I needed to get him sleeping through the night ASAP! I also needed to get him more accustomed to drinking from the bottle so that I could start weaning him from breastfeeding...So, I spent the entire week focusing on these 2 things: Improving his sleep habits, and giving him more bottles than usual so he could get used to it. In addition, I decided to also focus on introducing more solids and allowing him to try to feed himself (see Baby Led Weaning) I was shocked at how many foods he enjoyed this week, and while the whole "feeding himself thing" was MESSY, he loved it and was much more willing to try new foods if he was shoveling it in himself, as opposed to me spoon-feeding him. The food made it into his mouth about 20% of the time ;) See below. AVOCADO facial!
So, here's how it all went down. I decided that I was DONE waking up to feed Briggs in the middle of the night. He is old enough to not need to eat when he wakes up at 2:30am, but I just never had the heart to refuse the boob, and for that reason his body got used to eating at that time, which in turn led to him being HUNGRY at 2:30am every.single.night. The first night of me refusing the boob was quite difficult, not gonna lie. He woke up screaming at his usual time and I went in his room, picked him up and snuggled & rocked him for several minutes and then laid him back in his crib and left. I had to really restrain myself as I watched him kick and scream on the monitor. It was one of the hardest things I've had to do yet as a mother. But, we both survived, and after one hour of screaming, he finally slouched over and passed out. The next night it was the same story, except this time he cried for about 40 minutes before giving it up. The 3rd night we had about an hour of crying again, and I started to feel discouraged. Finally we got to the 4th night and I prepared myself for another night of crying...but to my shock and amazement Briggs never woke up! I actually woke up in a panic but found him still sound asleep in his crib. He woke up at 7am happy, ready to see me, and ready to eat! I was SO proud of my big boy, and I am confident that he can keep this up. Now that I know he's capable of sleeping through the night I will feel a little better about not feeding him should he ever wake up crying in the middle of the night again.
Naps were another beast we had to tackle. I decided to implement a schedule that I would follow loosely, but the kicker was that if we are home, he must sleep in his crib. I will probably break the rules sometimes and still let him take naps with me whenever I need to squeeze one in, but I really want him to get accustomed to sleeping in his crib most of the time. This was also difficult and led to a whole lot of crying and protesting, but today he went down for his naps and only whined for a couple minutes and then fell right asleep! Pure bliss for this mommy.
As for eating, that was a whole different ball game, and none less challenging. I had decided to start cutting out his Noon-ish boob feeding and replace it with a bottle, but I was not surprised when he totally fought me on this and absolutely refused to have anything to do with the bottle. I was able to get him to eat 6oz of formula one day, which was a huge break through for us, but the next day he was back to refusing it. In the end, I realized that he is sensing my desire to wean, and he's fighting it. It breaks my heart to deny him what he wants, but for several reasons I KNOW it's time for me to wean. After several days, and a lot of perseverance, I got him to at least drink 1 bottle of breastmilk from me for 2 days in a row. He is used to drinking a bottle when other people have him, but he rarely has to take one from me, so that was an adjustment for him. Today we crossed another hurdle and he once again drank 6 oz. of formula, so as I said...we are making BIG progress! I plan to keep up with the one-bottle-a-day thing for a little bit, and as soon as he masters this we will stretch it to 2 bottles, and so on.
And lastly, the solids. Up until this point he has only eaten purees, all of which were homemade by me. I absolutely love making and feeding him homemade organic baby food, but I realized that he hasn't been gaining enough weight and he needed to eat more, so I increased the solids in a major way. His routine now goes a little something like this: 7:00am Breastfeed, 9:00 solids, 11:00 bottle, 1:00 solid snack, 3:00 Breastfeed, 5:00 solid dinner, 7:00ish final Breastfeed. This seems to be working really well for all of us. His palette tasted all kinds of yummy things this week like, oatmeal, apples, nectarines, bananas, green beans, butternut squash, avocado, sweet potato fries, cheese and yogurt melts. He is finally LOVING food and it makes me so happy...AND, I think he's already getting a little heavier ;)
All in all, it has been a big week full of many milestones. I'm so proud of Briggs. And, as if he hadn't accomplished enough this week, he also learned how to CLAP and say DADA! He melts my heart :)