Whenever Nate (our 1 year old baby/toddler) has a cold, which is often, we give him milk in the night time, mostly to make sure he stays hydrated, and also to help him sleep. The only problem with doing that, is that you then have to wean them off the milk ( in the night) when they are well again. He gets used to the comfort of the milk and does not know how to settle himself back to sleep. I know that babies need to be sleep trained, and he is, but I guess I relent when he has a illness just to help him sleep in the short-term, but long term it is not worth it.
We have tried several methods in the past including:
1. Slowly reducing the amount of milk given in the night, so starting with the amount they usually have, then reducing by 30ml each night until they are down to no milk.
2. Giving water instead of milk (nuff said).
3. Giving no milk but comfort them by going into the room when they cry, then extending the time you go into the room by a minute each time (Ferber Method).
4. Letting your baby cry it out/settle themselves
5. Another method that we haven’t tried is to water down the milk, adding more and more water over time until it becomes just water.
I am not advocating method 4 for everyone, but I can say it is the only method that actually worked for us. The first two didn’t work as we couldn’t get him completely off the milk or water, method 3 actually made him worse because he got excited every time I came into the room. After the others didn’t work we tried method 4 – crying it out, and as painful as it was for us all, it really did work.
The first night he cried for 50 minutes (which felt like a lifetime, especially with work the next day), the 2nd night 15 minutes and the 3rd night he didn’t wake up at all, or any night thereafter. The key with this method is commitment and consistency, you have to full commit to letting them settle themselves. Crying it out, or the tough love approach sounds bad, so it is better to think of it like it is, the baby is settling themselves, rather than relying on a bottle to help them sleep.
We have now decided to not give him milk in the night anymore, cold or no cold. Instead, we will give him water, which will keep him hydrated, but will hopefully reduce him waking in the night after he is better.