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attachment parenting - 23 month olds and nightwaking, advice?

post #1 of 9
Thread Starter 
hello all,

my wife is "sleeping," and she's asked me to write this post. i say "sleeping," because i can picture my two beautiful daughters on either side of her, nursing the night away, as typically they only sleep about an hour to an hour and a half and then wake for their nummies.

as mentioned in the title, our girls are 23 months old. we co sleep with them in the "den" as my wife calls it and practice attachment parenting. king bed, next to a full bed, with a twin bed on the other side of the king. we have a pretty solid routine of going to up sleep at 7, nursing quietly for 10 minutes or so, then we move the pillows and my wife lies down and the girls continue to nurse while my wife retells the day, sings songs, names their friends, etc. all in a effort to calm them down, tire them out. the routine usually takes an hour and there are times where they pop off her and run around the room, but we gently try to get them back on to nurse to sleep.

once they are out, my wife moves from between them and sleeps at the foot of the bed. she stays there until one wakes, but then is usually stuck in the middle of them, and they nurse all night long. typically they will only sleep for an hour or an hour and a half at best. we know the issue at hand is their nursing to sleep association. but how on earth do you work on it when there are two?!?!

options we are not interested in is having them cry it out, putting them outside the family bed, having me take one in another room, or her take one in another room for a few nights. we are not interested in night weaning totally, just to get them to sleep for a little longer stretches. we have three no cry sleep solution books, dr. sear's sleep book, and have read dr. jay gordon's advice on co-sleeping and weaning. it's just tough to come up with a plan because of the different techniques and the fact that there is no real advice on how to work on night nursing when there are two.

if we go the dr. jay route, when one stirs and screams in the middle of the night because we tell her the nummies are sleeping, the other will wake up and we'll have two screaming girls. now, that being said, it might only be that way for a few nights, as they learn how to put themselves to sleep, but isn't there a more gentle way?

the no cry sleep solution talks about the pull off method, but how do you work on that when there are two nursing on either side? how do you work on it when one cries and the other will wake up?

we have a nummies go nite nite book that we wrote and we tell them that the nummies go to sleep when it's dark and we can nummie again in the morning, but they are still not buying it. should we just roll with it, as this too shall pass and work on them sleeping more when they can comprehend a bit more? should we be more proactive and aggressive and have them cry a little with us, as dr. sears says crying in the arms of a parent is much different than crying in a room alone?

has anyone had similar experiences? what worked for you? my wife is a champ and can function on very little sleep, but we both would like our girls to learn to fall asleep without the nipple in their mouth. i searched some threads and found some advice where the father would put the twins to bed by reading to them and letting them run around the room until they tired out. mom could then nurse them when they woke at night, but that first time going down, they fell asleep on their own. rough for a few nights, but the person said it got easier.

i should also mention that our girls go down much easier for naps, it only takes about 20 minutes as they nurse to sleep, then stay down for a hour or so before my wife has to run up and nurse them back down. she then lies with them for the next hour or so as they nurse that whole time. the no cry sleep solution author argues to work on night sleeping before naps, so we aren't really worried that they pacify during the naps.

sorry if this post is rambled a bit, very tired, as you all are. thanks for reading and thanks in advance for any and all types of advice.

best,

mary and jeff
post #2 of 9
I have a very similar situation to you right now with a few different details. My twin girls are also 23 months, still nursing at night. They don't however tandem nurse at night, just nurse one at a time. But I sleep between them. We are trying to night nurse, because my husband is not able to sleep with the amount of times that my girls wake up, so he sleeps in another room and I sleep with the kids. Not the ideal situation long term.

About 2 weeks ago I started with the Dr. Gordon approach. For the first 3 nights I would nurse them for a short time and count to 10 out loud so they would know when 10 came that I would pull them out. I think you could still do this while tandem nursing. They were NOT happy that I didn't fully nurse them to sleep, but eventually went to sleep. The first night it was 40 minutes that they cried in my arms. I could tell though that it was a mad cry and not a sad cry, so I wasn't as sad about it. Then the second 2 nights got less and less crying. Then I "weaned" them, by the 3rd day I kept saying that "milk was going to sleep". Again, not happy, but not as bad as I thought it would be. They made it until 5am or so without nursing to sleep, but they woke up often. Also, with the crying, they rarely woke each other up. They also have an older sibling in the bed and he didn't wake up "much" either. Seemed one would do better one night and the other the next.

So, we're still in this process....lately, it seems they've been hungry at night, so I count to 10 and they pop off themselves sometimes, since they are used to this now, though if they are still hungry, they fuss. Little one is up and wanting to type, so I'll have to write more later.

Sarah Joy
post #3 of 9
Thread Starter 
thanks so much for taking time to write!

between our two, caroline is much easier to put down. there has been two instances in the past four nights where she actually first fell asleep without mary's nipple in her mouth. she tries to pop off and roll over, then i put one hand on her back and pat her butt with the other. she'll do this four of five times and if she does not fall asleep, then she'll nurse. but at least it's progress, right?!?!

johanna is our other little peanut and she's more high needs. if caroline falls asleep with me first, mary tries the pull off method with her and she has gotten better too, but i think she'll take more time to learn to break the sleep association.

mary is going to read this thread when they go down for their nap, and perhaps we'll start to try to incorporate some of the dr. gordon stuff. mary, if you're reading this, i love you mama!
post #4 of 9
Oye! Your poor wife! I've only been "stuck in the middle" for eight months, but it drives me nuts!

I've been trying to deal with some of the same issues with my boys. I'd never thought of counting down to popping them off, but I think that's a good idea. I wonder if she could try the counting during the daytime first. That way the girls can get used to Mommy changing the rules of nursing and taking control of when it ends. (I read a cute rhyme recently, "From 5 to 1, then All Done. 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, All Done.") Also, I wonder if you could approach it in the same way you might with potty training and let the girls have some "big girl" privileges/choices in the matter. For example, they could choose PJs, stuffed animals, music, etc., before bedtime.

I feel for you! Sleep issues are definitely the hardest thing for me with twins!
post #5 of 9
So hard these days to be on the computer during the day, thus the 3 am post....

Yes, I think popping off is key. Then they learn to go to sleep themselves. My main issue now is getting them to not feel hungry at night. They wake up hungry, so I nurse them for the 10 seconds. If they don't pop off, I take them off. Sometimes they still fuss, as if hungry, so I nurse again for 10. Not ideal, but I still think we are all sleeping a little better than before. I need to give them food before bed that they will eat so that they don't get hungry at night. I think though that they partially get hungry at night because they are used to eating then. So, I'm trying to feed them less and less when they wake up so they get used to less food at night. This is a much longer process than Dr. Gordon's method. It might be because they are twins.

Also, sometimes I am too quick to nurse them. Tonight one girl was fussing, so I popped it in, thinking she was hungry and she popped off herself in 2 seconds. She ended up needing her diaper changed.

Also, when I was starting the nightweaning-2nd phase, I used a sippy cup for one girl with milk in it. The other refused. I might go again to doing that and see if it helps.

I will keep checking back here. Keep us posted on anything that works for you and I'll let you know how we are doing too.

Sarah Joy
post #6 of 9
Sorry, just wanted to add to subscribe list, so I don't miss any messages...I'm not sure how to do this without reposting....

Sarah Joy
post #7 of 9
We are not a co-sleeping family, but teaching them to go to sleep by themselves is pretty much universal. We switched from nursing to reading and singing. So the boys would still sit with me on the nursing chair, they would get a bottle of water (slowly dialuted from milk) and then after story we would put them into their beds and sing. It didn't take long, but eventually they learned (at one point R was going down in another room and we'd transfer after they fell asleep). I never left D in the room alone to cry by himself. I was there the entire time holding his hand and singing and comforting him. It was a mad cry 'cause I changed the rules on him, not anything else. Because I never left the room and responded right away when he woke up in the middle of the night, the message got through and I think it was about a week when we could finally put him in his bed, say goodnight, and he would sleep 'til he was hungry. They were about 18 months old, so they could understand. I think however you do it, the important thing is that they don't feel "abandoned" and as long as you are there they are not left to cry it out alone. There will be tears as there is not easy way to do this...heck, when they change the rules on you at work you are also a little miffed, they have the same reaction. You call your wife to complain, they cry .

Good luck!!
post #8 of 9
I wonder if they wake and want to nurse because Mom isn't where she was when they went to sleep? I used the pull off method from Pantley too. My girls only nursed together, so I did it simultaneously and it was work. No one was sad about it, and for that I'm thankful.
post #9 of 9
OMG I feel your pain. It's been a while since I nightweaned but I remember those nights well. It felt overwhelming to me too. How do you handle two at once.

Some specific feedback on what your wrote, then my general thoughts at the end:

Quote:
if we go the dr. jay route, when one stirs and screams in the middle of the night because we tell her the nummies are sleeping, the other will wake up and we'll have two screaming girls. now, that being said, it might only be that way for a few nights, as they learn how to put themselves to sleep, but isn't there a more gentle way?
For me yes there was crying involved, although sometimes the other twin would not wake up (I got lucky?). I think it's just something you have to get ready for--no way around it that I worked out, at least.

Quote:
the no cry sleep solution talks about the pull off method, but how do you work on that when there are two nursing on either side? how do you work on it when one cries and the other will wake up?
I had to let go of the fear of the other one waking up. I just steeled myself for one week of no sleep at all. You as dad can help by picking a time in the morning when you will take over and let your wife sleep for at least 3 hours undisturbed.

Quote:
we have a nummies go nite nite book that we wrote and we tell them that the nummies go to sleep when it's dark and we can nummie again in the morning, but they are still not buying it.
They're not buying it because you're not enforcing it/following through. If the nummies went nite-nite then they need to stay asleep. Not every kid will get through stretching or nightweaning without tears. And yes crying with a parent trying to comfort you is very different from crying alone and scared.

Quote:
should we just roll with it, as this too shall pass and work on them sleeping more when they can comprehend a bit more? should we be more proactive and aggressive and have them cry a little with us, as dr. sears says crying in the arms of a parent is much different than crying in a room alone?
I vote for the latter. IMHO it's not simply a matter of reasoning or comprehension. They want something and they know mom has the power to give it to them, and apparently if they insist mom will give in. Even a not-quite-2 y.o. can figure out that much (at least I think mine did).

Quote:
has anyone had similar experiences? what worked for you? my wife is a champ and can function on very little sleep, but we both would like our girls to learn to fall asleep without the nipple in their mouth. i searched some threads and found some advice where the father would put the twins to bed by reading to them and letting them run around the room until they tired out. mom could then nurse them when they woke at night, but that first time going down, they fell asleep on their own. rough for a few nights, but the person said it got easier.
In my night nursing career I progressed in several stages. First to just get a longer stretch of sleep (we're talking 3 hours instead of 1.5 hours). I literally felt I had to retrain their stomachs. I would look at the clock and refuse to nurse until we got to the 3 hour mark. I rocked them, shushed them, did all kinds of other things to try to comfort them and get them back to sleep. (Mine were younger at this stage of the program.) This went on for a few nights and it sucked royally. But by the end of the week they were sleeping 3 hours at a stretch. I reminded myself that during the day they had zero problems going three hours without food, drink or nursies.

In between that and actually nightweaning, I tried to create situations where they could experience falling asleep on their own. Naps were a good start because if I caught the window right they would fall asleep just from being tired.

When I nightweaned at 22.5 months, I declared the milk bar closed at night and did whatever I had to do until 5am. Rocking patting shushing and yes they cried. DS less so. DD more so. With DD I finally hit upon the right thing to say for her, which was reassurance that I would nurse her again when she woke up but she had to go to sleep first. I did follow through on my promise and next time she woke up, even though it wasn't morning yet I nursed her. I think she was afraid she would never get to nurse again and was therefore unable to let go and try to sleep. Once I said the right thing (for her) she quieted down and went to sleep (but for my children they already had this ability by this time). All kids are different so I think it's a bit of trial and error and parent's intuition to find out what works for yours. For me I did accept crying as part of it.
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