help! how to wean 2 yr old from nursing to sleep - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 11 Old 10-25-2010, 03:06 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I am 5 months pregnant and it is sooooo painful to nurse any more. We are weaned altogether EXCEPT nightime nursing to sleep. It's the only way my 2 year old son has gotten to sleep for all these two years and he just can't sleep without it. It's a nightmare. Apparently my milk flow is very minimal or the milk tastes bitter, since for the last few weeks my son has said, "not working" when trying to nurse to sleep. But once it "stops working" he is UP, bam, completely wound up. Jumping or crying, kicking or sobbing, playing or trying to crawl off the bed, trying to sleep but not being able to, snuggling with me or pinching my nipples, cuddling with me or grabbing at my breasts, sobbing and wiggling and just being utterly, completely exhausted. He hasn't been able to fall asleep till 10 or 10:30 -- tonight it was 10:40.

I've tried having my husband do it instead of me but he just sobs, for two hours, "mama, mama, mama. Find mommy, find mommy." etc.

I've tried earlier bedtimes. No luck. Bottles of warm almond milk, which he loves, but doesn't get him to sleep. Calms forte. Chamomile tea. A shot of whisky (kidding!).

Sometimes I just keep him up reading till like 9:30 when he's sooo tired, and then he falls asleep within a few moments of nursing before it "stops working." But I do want him to learn how to sleep without nursing.

We still have everything in place but nursing: bath, stories, same songs, books, same nighttime ritual. He gets so tired and almost every night asks to go to sleep ("lights off") around 8-8:30pm, but then if he can't nurse to sleep he's totally up for the next 2-3 hours.

I've read here and heard from other mamas in the same pregnancy-but-nursing boat that at some point the child just self-weans b/c of milk flow or taste problems. I wish that would happen! But I don't see any end to this. It's just utterly exhausting for everyone, and so traumatic for him.

What do I do? I'm at a complete loss. Thank you!
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#2 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 02:47 AM
 
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No experience here, but on the odd nights when my 17 month old doesn't nurse to sleep, I am able to help him relax enough to get to sleep. It does take longer than with the breast. Mind you, this is in our dark bedroom, door closed, and we share a bed.

If my son tolerates it (sometimes he won't be held), I hold him and walk around the room, or put him in a carrier on my back until he relaxes. Other times I've held him in a rocking chair. If that didn't work, I'd probably put him in the stroller and wheel him around the house. Or have my husband do these things.

Surely this will pass, one way or another. But I'm wondering what will happen with my son if I get pregnant next year and want to wean him if he hasn't at that point.
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#3 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 03:55 AM
 
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I weaned later than this (late 3 y/o) but the bedtime nursing was the last to go. What I did was gently explain to DD that now that she was becoming a big girl, her mouth was just too strong to nurse comfortably and it was starting to hurt me. (In fact, this was pretty much true -- it was becoming very uncomfortable because she was suckling HARD.)

While she wasn't overjoyed to stop nursing to sleep, she *was* proud that her mouth was "too strong" (she loves the idea of being strong). There were a few long nights but she learned pretty quickly to fall asleep cuddled up to me with her head on my arm and her leg thrown over mine. It helped that I let her sleep in nothing but her undies so she got some skin-to-skin contact.

Later she told me that she hadn't been getting any milk towards the end of our nursing relationship anyway. So I think it was more about the cuddles and skin-to-skin contact, which we were able to replace fairly easily.

My advice: strip your son down to his undies/diaper or shorts, strip yourself down to a minimum of clothing (I just wore a t-shirt and underwear), and cuddle up close under a big, warm comforter or quilt. Try stroking his hair, letting him rest his hand under your shirt on your tummy, etc.

Good luck.

--K
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#4 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 11:08 AM
 
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Ooooph! I feel for you. Nursing when pregnant can get pretty painful! I eventually had to tell my DD (who was 2.5 at the time) that one nipple was broken and she'd have to nurse just from one side. The "broken" side was just too screamingly painful. It was just a couple weeks after that that she totally self-weaned. I honestly had thought she would go strong the entire pg since she'd shown absolutely zero signs of quitting until then.

Now I'm trying to slow down my second child's nursing. She is 2 and I am not pg, not even wanting to wean completely, just she nurses all.night.long and I'd like to start getting a little sleep. I thought bedtime would be hard, but if I am not in the house she is old enough to understand and get past that needing to nurse. Good thing because I just started taking night classes.

If I am around, DH can't even put DD to bed. But if I leave she knows there is no possibility of me taking over for Daddy. I think the first couple times we tried this it was rough, but she got used to it and now it is really no problem at all.

I know this isn't an ideal situation, but could you find a nearby coffee shop to go sit and and get you-time for a little? Leaving a good hour or two before betime even begins helps so they don't associate you leaving with bedtime iteself. You could start but just going for a short time and returning to save the day if your DH really needs you.

When we were doing it, I thought about going through all the motions to leave and then slipping back in and just hanging out somewhere in the house where DD wouldn't see me - but then *I* am listening to him put her to bed and I'm on edge, ready to jump at an opportunity to soothe her, which would defeat the whole purpose.

You can definitely get your child to the point of not needing to nurse to sleep but it is a WHOLE lot easier to do it if you just plain aren't available / visible.
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#5 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 11:56 AM
 
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I'd try to figure out about how long before he says that there isn't anymore milk. Then warn him a couple of minutes beforehand that after a song or two, nursing is going to end. Then if he can accept that, you can end the nursing session when it's getting to be too much for you with the song and eventually transition to just singing. Maybe that might work?

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#6 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 01:32 PM
 
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I was in the same spot very recently (my son is 20 months, and I'm 7 months pregnant). It did take awhile. First, I started by laying down with him and dad, or coming in for just a minute if he was really fussed about mom. What eventually worked though was having nursing as an early part of the bedtime routine, just for a minute or two. After that I bring him to dad and he sings/cuddles the boy to sleep. There were a few weeks that he kept getting up again and was totally crazy and overtired. But now he goes to sleep at 8:30 or 9 easily, with little fuss. I think I just needed to stick with the new system long enough for him to get used to it.
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#7 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 02:30 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nova0929 View Post
I am 5 months pregnant and it is sooooo painful to nurse any more. We are weaned altogether EXCEPT nightime nursing to sleep. It's the only way my 2 year old son has gotten to sleep for all these two years and he just can't sleep without it. It's a nightmare. Apparently my milk flow is very minimal or the milk tastes bitter, since for the last few weeks my son has said, "not working" when trying to nurse to sleep. But once it "stops working" he is UP, bam, completely wound up. Jumping or crying, kicking or sobbing, playing or trying to crawl off the bed, trying to sleep but not being able to, snuggling with me or pinching my nipples, cuddling with me or grabbing at my breasts, sobbing and wiggling and just being utterly, completely exhausted. He hasn't been able to fall asleep till 10 or 10:30 -- tonight it was 10:40.

I've tried having my husband do it instead of me but he just sobs, for two hours, "mama, mama, mama. Find mommy, find mommy." etc.

I've tried earlier bedtimes. No luck. Bottles of warm almond milk, which he loves, but doesn't get him to sleep. Calms forte. Chamomile tea. A shot of whisky (kidding!).

Sometimes I just keep him up reading till like 9:30 when he's sooo tired, and then he falls asleep within a few moments of nursing before it "stops working." But I do want him to learn how to sleep without nursing.

We still have everything in place but nursing: bath, stories, same songs, books, same nighttime ritual. He gets so tired and almost every night asks to go to sleep ("lights off") around 8-8:30pm, but then if he can't nurse to sleep he's totally up for the next 2-3 hours.

I've read here and heard from other mamas in the same pregnancy-but-nursing boat that at some point the child just self-weans b/c of milk flow or taste problems. I wish that would happen! But I don't see any end to this. It's just utterly exhausting for everyone, and so traumatic for him.

What do I do? I'm at a complete loss. Thank you!
I was 5 mos pregnant and nursing when we switched to the bottle at night. I know that's probably no help, but that's what we did. My son was much younger than yours-- 11-12 mos.

Texmati-- Knitter, Hindu, vegetarian, WOHM. Wife to superdadsuperhero.gif and mom to DS babyf.gif24 months, and DD boc.gif 8 months! .

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#8 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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i've just gone through this recently and i hate to change the subject, but does your lo still nap every day? that was our real big issue with getting ds to sleep, once he stopped napping he was ready to go at 8, before that it was like you mentioned, a battle until 10:30 some nights. as far as nursing, i just still let ds nurse, but gently take him off after literally a minute so he wouldn't actually fall asleep while nursing and then i'd either rock him to sleep (which takes about 5 min.) or put him in bed & quietly sit with him. this way i'm not cutting him off cold turkey, which i don't think he'd be happy about, yet he's learning to fall asleep without nursing. we went out last night for our anniv. and grandma stayed here & put him to bed no prob.!!!!! i was soo excited. please think about the nap thing though, that may be your real issue. good luck!
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#9 of 11 Old 10-28-2010, 09:22 PM
 
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We are thinking about getting pg. Your problem is one of my MAJOR concerns. My 20 month old LOVES to nurse. She wants to all the time and gets so excited about nursing. It absolutely breaks my heart to think about having to wean her.

I am wondering how it is working for you now and if your son really adored nursing before you get pg.
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#10 of 11 Old 10-29-2010, 02:06 PM
 
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DD#1 was 22 months old when I weaned her b/c I was pg and too sick to keep nursing.

I would say that consistency is going to be your friend. It may take a while, and may be exhausting, but come up with a new routine, and a special way to explain it to your DS. Do the same routine night after night, no matter how long it takes. It will eventually improve. I was nursing DD morning and night, and we switched to having DH do bedtime (fine by me - I was too sick to deal!) and in the morning he would scoop her up & snuggle with her in her room.

I'm not promising it will be easy at all - it may take 3 nights, or 3 weeks, and there may be a lot of crying - but I think consistency is really important for you dear one until he learns that it's still a loving, gentle routine but a different one.

My general guess is that it's easier in the long run to have your DH do bedtime if he's up for it. I found that as I got more and more pregnant, I had a harder time physically doing bedtime - lifting DD, wrestling her into PJs, etc. - so it was good that we had changed the routine earlier.
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#11 of 11 Old 10-30-2010, 05:07 AM
 
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I'm currently going through night weaning with my 2 yo. He has understood the concept of saying byebye and nightnight, milk goes night night. The first night was the worst but he was crying in arms, not alone. It improved quickly. He still nurses after 3am or so but if both of us hadn't been sick, I would've weaned him the rest of the way. It's not easy, but it's doable.

Kristen
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