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17 months, extended night wakings

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 

we co sleep, nurse etc.

dd is 17 months. 

usually wakes every 3-4 hrs, nurses briefly, back to sleep. sometimes around 5am she gets up every hour or two.

she tends to hold her bladder all night.


but the past few nights she's been getting up around 2am and won't go back to sleep.

she nurses and fidgets like she wants to sleep but can't. and if i roll over or stop the nursing session she freaks out. if i give her to dh she screams until she throws up (and i don't let her cry very long) she just nurses, switches sides and it's killing my back and exhausting to lose so much sleep in the middle of the night.

is this a phase? any tips?

when we're in the thick of it i decide to night wean but i don't know where to start.  it's all she knows so it's my fault.  eventually i'd like dh to put her to bed but probably not for another year.  but when i'm in bed and she wakes up it's so easy to roll over and nurse...but i can't deal with this continuous antsy nursing that lasts 1-2hrs.

sometimes it's b/c she has to pee but lately she'll wet her diaper or go in the potty (in the dark, on the bed) but won't settle for another hour or so.


i just don't know what to do and i get mad and frustrated and just want to sleep but am unwilling to cio. or even cry in arms for extended periods.

post #2 of 11
Thread Starter 

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post #3 of 11

I don't have experience with this issue, but I understand how trying it is!  I thought you might be interested in this series of blog posts about gentle night weaning (specifically in cases where families co-sleep) from The Leaky Boob.




I was going to suggest offering the potty, but you're doing that already.  Maybe a drink of water?  Good luck!!

post #4 of 11

I don't have any advice but just wanted to say that I'm in the exact same situation (minus DS holding his bladder all night).


Is it possible that it's teething pain?  I've considered this with DS and think it's part of it, but I'm not sure...I'm so exhausted as well and also considered night weaning but since I WOH full time during the day I didn't really want to night wean yet...Napping on the weekends helps.


I'm thinking it's a stage and am just hoping it will pass quickly. caffix.gif



post #5 of 11

We just recently nightweaned, due to very frequent night wakings and continuous comfort nursing overnight. She has always been a frequent nurser but it was never an issue--- I slept through it and so did she. And she always popped off. But when she self-weaned from her pacifier, she wanted to use me as her pacifier. Her latch gets lazy and shallow overnight, so she was shredding my nipples. Every time she would relatch or ramp up the suckling, I would awake in agonizing pain. Needless to say, neither of us were sleeping well. I was going insane without any re-charge time in the evening. Insane with constant touching in our sleep. I was in pain. I was feeling very frustrated and resentful. I knew she was nursing like this because that is what I essentially trained her to do. She learned that nursing=sleep. That's not to say it is a negative lesson. It was an awesome skill for the first 13.5 months of her life, but there came a point where it wasn't working for us anymore. So I had to teach her new sleep associations.


I struggled for a few days devising a plan. I wanted the process to be gentle, respectful, and always sensitive to her needs for security. Yet I also needed the change to be swift, and the new boundaries solid, secure, and clear. Ideally, I would've liked to allow SOME nursing overnight, but it is really hard to regulate that when you are mostly asleep, and from a 14mo's perspective, I can see how it might be confusing (so why is 'milk all gone' now, but not then? What do I have to do to allow it this time?). I thought about just teaching her "milk all gone" and then going by a case by case basis, but it would be so subjective that I think we'd constantly be engaged in a battle. I don't like battles for us, especially when we are both needing sleep...


So I bit the bullet and threw the whole night nursing thing out. And it worked beautifully. This is what we did:


Night 1: We nursed in bed. When she was nearly asleep, I unlatched her and said "milk all done". She was irate. FURIOUS. Confused. She cried for quiet awhile about it, but I laid next to her and rubbed her back and offered other forms of non-nursing comfort (shhhh'ing, singing, rocking, etc). She eventually accepted them, and allowed me to rock her side to side to sleep. She awoke several times that night hoping to nurse. I simply said "milk all gone" and went to the alternate comfort routes. She didn't like that, of course, but eventually she did fall asleep without nursing. I did go ahead and nurse her once overnight to prevent engorgement, but other than that I did not allow her to nurse. When we were waking up the next morning, I let her nurse.


I did the same for naptime, and it was pretty much the same story.


Night 2: She was still very upset, but the whole process took less time. There were much fewer night wakings. I nursed her once, and then we nursed upon waking in the AM.


Naptime went beautifully.


Night 3: Fell asleep within 15 minutes. Fewer nightwakings. Did not nurse until morning.


Nap was awesome.


Night 4: Fell asleep in 10 minutes. Slept completely through the night. Nursed when awake.


By the end of the week, I fell off the horse a little bit and allowed a few more midnight sessions than I had committed too. It messed her up and she started waking frequently to nurse again. I firmed up, and after a few days, she was sleeping well again, with maybe 1 or 2 stirrings, and not much effort on my part get her back to sleep. Several occasions she stirred and fell back asleep without needing me.


This last week I started taking her sippy of water to bed with us, because I forgot that sometimes nursing helps to quench thirst. She has accepted it a couples times during a waking and fallen right back to sleep. 


So generally it's going awesome. It's been 2 weeks. She knows the routine and is comfortable with it now. She knows night night is for sleep and nursing is for awake hours. Falling asleep takes 5 minutes, nursing included, and most nights I don't hear a peep for 3-4 hours (she has a bad diaper rash, so lately it has been much more frequent)


I think if you need to cut the night nursing (all or some), do it. Just make sure you are very consistent and the boundaries are clear to your babe.





post #6 of 11

i don't have any answers either but wanted to pipe up that we're in exactly the same boat (except DS still urinates at night). i don't get it at all and it's so frustrating. :( i know nightwakings are common at this age, but this staying up for a few hours thing doesn't seem to be all that normal.


i'm not really wanting to nightwean yet...but we may try and move him to his own bed to see if that helps.

post #7 of 11
Originally Posted by humbleplaces View Post

i don't have any answers either but wanted to pipe up that we're in exactly the same boat (except DS still urinates at night). i don't get it at all and it's so frustrating. :( i know nightwakings are common at this age, but this staying up for a few hours thing doesn't seem to be all that normal.


i'm not really wanting to nightwean yet...but we may try and move him to his own bed to see if that helps.

For a few nights we've tried putting the pack n' play in our room.  I'm moving DS from his crib in his room (where he has started the night since about 10 mos) to the pack n' play when he wakes up (after nursing) instead of moving him straight to our bed.  Then when he wakes up again, I just tell him that it is time for sleep (he has been a bit whiny about it but will lay down and go back to sleep after a few minutes).  Then, when he wakes up after about 4am or so, I move him into our bed for more nursing and cuddles until we get up to start the day.  I don't know if it's helping him to sleep better, but I am at least getting a better sleep while he's in the pack n' play and I think because he can at least see us and is in the same room he goes back to sleep on his own more easily.  Still hoping it's a phase...


post #8 of 11

Although we're no longer nursing and don't co-sleep, we're having the same problems as well and DD is 16 months.  And I'm thinking it's all for the same reasons: comfort and reassurance.  DD has always been an incredible sleeper (12-14 hrs at night) and in her own room in her crib which is the way she likes it.  She goes down with a large bottle, and a pacifier and favorite blankie.  Lately though, she's been waking up about an hr into her sleep screaming as if she's in pain -so I thought teething?  But even when giving her some motrin, she continues to wake, not always screaming now -just standing in her crib wining and looking towards the door.  If you go back in and rock her and possibly give her another bottle, sometimes she'll go back to sleep, and other times she'll lie there for another 2 hrs before drifting back off.  All I can come up with is that it's a phase, maybe a little separation anxiety and hopefully it'll pass soon!  Good luck!

post #9 of 11

we've had a better few nights here, which i'm thankful for. we're still cosleeping and breastfeeding through the night (DS has never slept through the night...the longest stretch we've had was probably around 5-6 hours, and he normally wakes up every 2 hours or so which isn't a problem as long as he goes right back to sleep when i nurse him), but for some reason he hasn't woken up for his 2-hour awake time in the last three nights (knock on wood!). i read a few different threads and tried to try a few things:


  • haven't given him any tomatoes in the last few days. i have NO idea if this is the problem, but i was willing to try anything and he had had quite a bit of tomatoes in the last few weeks so i thought it was worth a try.
  • later bed time routine. we used to start between 6 and 6:30 but are now starting at 7 on the dot. he gets a bath and then daddy reads to him for about fifteen minutes, then i come in and nurse him to sleep. he's usually asleep by a little after 8.
  • awake no later than 8. usually around 7:30. i've learned that he can't sleep past 8, otherwise it throws our whole day off.
  • nap no later than 1. i fudged on this a little one day and let him sleep a little longer just because i really needed a break and we had a tough time that night.
  • cut back on my chocolate and sugar intake. again, no idea if this has anything to do with it but i haven't had much of either in the last three days and he's been sleeping better.


i have had a more difficult time getting him to sleep the last few nights and for his nap today, but i'd much rather deal with that than being up for hours in the middle of the night. still...i'd really love it if he took good naps AND slept well at night. :) i'm hopeful!

post #10 of 11
Thread Starter 
Updating with success to share. I was doing step 1 of dr Jay's plan for a month and felt like it wasn't getting us anywhere. So I decided to just do it. I'm ok with nursing to sleep so we did that then did the milk is sleeping , it's dark, you can have milk when its light out. She was incredulous at first, sad and frustrated but accepted it easier and quicker than I expected. No huge meltdowns. She was waking up at 4am clearly hungry for about a week so we did snacks and water. Now mist nights she goes down by 9:30 and sleeps straight to 5 or 6 then she nurses on and off for two hours which keeps me awake but I'd take that over nighttime wakings. So it's working for now.
I think it helped that we had a lot of conversations and she's old enough to get it. She likes to. Share my pillow and that helped as a transition I think because she wasn't in line with my breasts. Oh and I encouraged her to cuddle a Teddy bear when she woke up and she took to it and it's so sweet to see her sleeping holding onto the bear.

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post #11 of 11

Thanks for this post. I remember trying night weaning with DS1 about that age and it was horrible, he stayed awake crying for 2-3 hours at every wake up, 2-3 nights in a row. We gave up, tried again at several other points, and he didn't night wean until almost age 3. Don't think I want to do that again with DS2, who is 19 months. We are about at the time when we need to night wean. I am going on a one-night trip in a week or so, so I think we are going to try and start the night-weaning then, having DH deal with it (he is a reluctant night-parent because he can't get to sleep very well, but he'll have to do it this time). If that doesn't work, I think I'll try what Annabee's mom posted. Thanks!

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