Desperate for night weaning advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Cross posting because I really need advice, and don’t know where to turn....


DS will be 20mths this week. I have always BF on demand. And believe me there has been a lot of demand. He has always been a high frequency nurser. We co-sleep and he nurses all night long. On an amazing night he will go for two three/four hour stretches in a row without nursing. Usually he nurses a lot after 3am. I have been waiting for 20 months for it to improve on it’s own. Telling myself that “once these teeth come in it will improve” and when it doesn’t I say “cognitive leap? tummy ache? obviously he needs it since he is still nursing so much....” It looked like it was getting better, I saw a light at the end of the tunnel. I was able to nurse him to sleep in our bed, scoop him into the crib, come to bed when I was ready (sometimes before he woke to nurse!) and nurse him a few times as we slept. Well. It got worse. This past week it has been brutal nursing him to sleep. And he’s having a hard time staying asleep. Lots of pinching and flailing around. Is he teething? Perhaps. I mean, it’s always a possibility. Even though his final canine came through, he is cranky and drooly during day....he could be getting his 2 yr molars? Cognitive leap? He’s getting a bunch of words right now...but come on! After almost a week of this I am at my wits end. I am used to being exhausted. I am used to sometimes going to bed so so so early so I can function. I have not slept more than four consecutive hours in 20 months. Because I have always thought it would improve when he hit 18 months. Then I was like “maybe 19?” And here we are. Last night I was crying a little as he suckled in the dark. We want to try to get PG this summer, and I really don’t see how I can handle it. I want to help him sleep better, heck that’s why I have BF on demand like this--cuz I thought I was helping him!


I am thinking about night weaning, but when I think of him crying for nursing I can’t handle it, I have always pictured us communicating about it when he was ready, or it happening more naturally. Does it have to be all or nothing? Is there a way to help him decrease his need for night nursing without cutting him off? My DH is more than willing to help, but I don’t know how to begin. I have read every book and website. NCSS, Jay Gordon etc. But nothing I have read seems to seem possible for me. Has anyone been in a similar situation? Can anyone give me a gentle plan for more rest? Sorry for the long post. I am feeling defeated and overwhelmed--esp when I think about getting PG if it’s still like this.

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#2 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 10:06 AM
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I have been exactly where you are. I night weaned at about 15 months. DS was waking to nurse and couldn't get back to sleep for hours. It was misery for both of us. I continued to co-sleep and cuddle him when he woke but I cut off the nursing cold turkey. The first few nights were hard but it was a lot easier than I anticipated. He was not traumatized by it at all and was actually a happier kid for getting some longer stretches of sleep. It was what he needed at the time and I have not regretted it for a second. It was a very hard decision to make though. I hope you figure out the right solution for both of you.



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#3 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 11:40 AM
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i've worn those shoes, mama.  we just recently weaned our 19 mo.  and i am so glad. 

i fretted and worried so much, but it wasn't awful, not at all.

your lo is old enough to understand if you tell the child that your milk (or whatever you say for the boobies) go to sleep when the sun does.  that really worked for us, and there was only a little crying.. when dd awoke and wanted boobie, i just reinforced that they were asleep and offered comfort. 

it's hard to be so exhausted. 

Is it getting lonely in the echo chamber yet?

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#4 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 01:26 PM
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DD is 21 months old, and we are in the same situation.  I don't have any advice, but I hope someone else does!  You are definitely not alone, though.

Mom to dd (8), ds (6), and dd (1)

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#5 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 02:33 PM
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For us, it was 2 things --

One, we had to wait 'til he was ready. He was ready right after he hit 2 years old. I can't exactly explain what was different, but I just sensed that he would be accepting of some gentle limits. He was eating more food and all, so maybe that was part of it -- we reached a point where I wasn't worried about him getting enough calories so BF was more about comfort than nutrition, and obviously there are multiple ways to provide comfort. He also had a bit of an emotional leap around that time -- he was just more confident, more secure in his own skin. So, knowing he was *ready* helped a ton.

Second, we found that nursing him to sleep always led him to need to keep nursing to stay asleep. So I'd do his last nursing of the night, and cut him off after a certain amount of time (before he fell asleep!) and then read him a book or something instead and found other ways to get him to sleep. Obviously he was not happy about the change but it was easier to deal with while he was awake and able to communicate well with us, rather than in the middle of the night, when we both just wanted to go back to sleep.

We did a 'nurse when the sun comes up' system, which would mean he'd need to go about 6 hours without nursing. At first, I would nurse as soon as a single ray of light came through, and slowly I asked him to wait until it was actually bright out instead. We never aimed for full night-weaning, it just wasn't (still isn't!) a realistic goal for him, all I wanted was several hours straight of sleep. So... in the middle of the night... he'd still wake up, but less often (since he hadn't nursed to sleep) so I had to have lots of tactics to get him back to sleep. Sometimes a cup of water helped, other times it was rocking or singing, often it was a combination of those. He also liked it when I talked about all his friends and how they don't nurse in the night (peer pressure, lol, but it worked... though I think it was more the sound of my voice than what I was saying!!) I hear it normally only takes a few nights, but for us it was several HORRIBLE weeks. DS has sensory issues and stuff so maybe it will be easier for you. Anyway, I do not regret it one bit, he is sleeping so SO much better right now, but I AM glad I waited as long as I did, because he just wasn't ready any sooner.

There will be crying. If you are not ready for the crying, hold off a bit. I think there will be less crying if you can wait 'til you see some kind of signs of readiness, a bit of a window -- in other words, it's tempting to NW when they're cutting teeth or otherwise waking up constantly, but it will be much easier on both of you if you wait 'til he's entered a really good phase and seems to be sleeping a bit better on his own.

Co-sleeping is really wonderful when your child actually SLEEPS!! familybed1.gif
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#6 of 7 Old 06-03-2011, 10:54 PM
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Hi mama - I feel ya.


I'll tell you what we did and you can take from it whatever helps and leave the rest.


My little guy is 2 years 3 months now. He is completely weaned. We breastfed/coslept basically until age 2. He would breastfeed to sleep, and then 2-3 at night and in the morning. I decided to night wean when he was age two because we had the space for him to have his own bed and DH and I were ready to have our bed back. I started by simply not nursing to sleep - I would sit up in bed with the light on and let him nurse until he was done, then turn off the light and lay next to him until he fell asleep. We did this for maybe a week. That way he learned how to fall asleep without the boob in his mouth. Then I decided to night wean (Let me preface this by saying - if you night wean you have to be 100% sure of and firm in your decision or else you will give in at night. So you need to have iron-clan conviction that it is what is best for him and the family). We nursed with the light on, turned it off and he went to sleep.When he woke up, and asked for "num nums" we basically said num nums in the morning. Huge reaction to this - crying, screaming, trying to get out of bed, looking out the window to see if it is morning. The tantrum/crying went on for over an hour. The first night the only way I could get him to calm down was to let him watch 15 mins of Barney and eat some cereal (at 2 am!). We also did drinks of water (keep this by the bed) and I would hold him right up next to my chest and let him fall asleep on my chest (but wear a sports bra and tight shirt). Night two was harder (I think) - more crying, looking out the window for morning, and tiredness for me. Both nights when I announced "it's morning, you made it" he was very proud. By the third night, he was sleeping through the night. Literally. No crying, no tantruming. No waking. No oversaturated diaper. Shortly after this we transitioned to his bed (I still lay next to him to help him fall asleep) which he loved, and he consistently sleeps through the night.


The crying is hard. But I did not equate it with "cry it out" at all because I was right there with him, holding him, getting him a drink, rocking him, letting him know that I understood his feelings. I really feel that age two was the right time for him because after two hard nights, my child was night weaned and sleeping through the night.


We weaned completely one week later. He went to grandma's for 36 hours. When he came back and asked for num nums, I never said no. I simply distracted with really new, amazing things (lets blow bubbles! lets go look at the moon! lets put the pots and pans in the bathtub! lets finger paint! lets go to the park). After two - three days, he stopped asking. It was relatively simple and I thank God for that.


This is how we did it, and it's what I have to offer. It worked for us. Best wishes.

Mothering my two little boys the best that I can!
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#7 of 7 Old 06-04-2011, 11:49 PM
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Hi! You could read your little one this book - it's about nightweaning :)  It's written from an AP perspective and talks about nursing being for daytime, sleeping at night...the art is beautiful :)

Nursies When the Sun Shines Nightweaning children's book..

AP HB Mama to three beautiful girls!
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