Putting child to bed without nursing to sleep - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 8 Old 12-20-2010, 04:51 AM - Thread Starter
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DS is 2 and we have always nursed when he is tired. He nurses to sleep for naps in my arms and at night before bed we nurse on the couch then once he falls asleep we put him in bed. We have tried a couple times to let him lay in bed. he lasts a few minutes and that is all. He is the only child I know who can lay down when tired and not fall asleep, even when watching cartoons. Lately if he doesn't get a  nap, he fights sleep. We have had a few nights where he doesn't give up until 10pm. It is really not too far off. Because of our schedules, he gets a bath about 8pm. 


Now that you have the background, how would you suggest we proceed with our night time ritual? Should we continue to nurse and then put him to bed asleep assuming that he will break this cycle? (BTW a couple times he has been so tired he says "bed" and we have tucked him in. Still he only lasted a few minutes.) I have tried asking him if he wants to nurse then lay in bed to fall asleep. I do not want any crying or fighting. I want to conintue our gentle relationship and night ritual.


Also, any suggestions for getting him to take a nap? He naps on my lap but wakes if I try to move him. Weird since we can move him at night.


Are we setting ourselves up for a bad road ahead? Comments? Suggestions? Experience?


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#2 of 8 Old 12-20-2010, 09:22 PM
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would it be possible to nurse him to sleep laying in the bed already? then once he's asleep you would be able to get him to sleep and then leave him in his bed. 

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#3 of 8 Old 12-20-2010, 11:49 PM
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Your son sounds very similar to mine.  I can count on one hand the number of times he fell asleep without nursing (not counting falling asleep in the car/stroller) - lying down just was not a sleep-trigger for him, and he didn't last long before he asked for nursies and got upset if we tried to stay in the bed.  So he nursed to sleep for almost every nap and every bedtime, for 3.5 years.  I honestly had no idea if/when he'd ever be able to fall asleep on his own!


Anyways, to give you much hope - we recently stopped nursing at 3.5 years old.  We went out of town for a week, and I took advantage of the time away to wean.  I told him ahead of time that we wouldn't have any nursies while we were staying at Nana's, and that we would just go to sleep in the bed together.  He was TOTALLY fine with this - it was amazing.  It took him a lot longer to go to sleep, but he was not upset at all - he never even asked to nurse (I like to prepare him for things in advance, it works well for his personality).  When we got back home, he did ask for nursies to go to sleep that first night (I knew it was a routine that he wasn't going to forget easily), and he was a bit upset when I said that we weren't going to do nursies anymore, but I told him I'd sing him a lullaby in bed just like I did at Nana's, and he was okay with that (there were some tears on both our parts, but it was still very gentle).  And since then, he's been going to sleep in bed with us :D  As I mentioned, it does take considerably longer - probably 30-45 minutes, compared to 5 minutes if I were nursing him.  But it definitely wasn't a difficult transition, and I never felt he had bad habits that needed to be broken or that I had to teach him how to fall asleep without nursing.  So I wouldn't stress too much - as long as you are happy nursing him, don't worry about the future.  He'll definitely be able to go to sleep on his own at some point.  You can try different things occasionally, see if they work - but if not, don't worry :)  It'll happen!

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#4 of 8 Old 12-21-2010, 12:20 PM
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My DD is 2 and we have a very similar nighttime routine.  She has learned to nap with others by cuddling and reading (not with mommy), but at night she fights sleep unless she can nurse and wants to be out on the couch instead of in bed.  We don't have the best luck with transferring, though, so some nights she sleeps on my lap on the couch for a few hours!  I am very tired of this routine and am also looking for suggestions.


We don't have a crib so she can get out of bed on her own.  We've tried to nurse in bed so I can just get up when she is asleep - but I tend to get anxious and feel "trapped" if she takes a long time to fall asleep, so that doesn't work well.


I can't bear to think I'll have to continue this bedtime struggle for another year or more...I need relief and we've begun to think about weaning her all together, but I am afraid of the screaming and crying that would most likely create.


How have others kept the nursing relationship but managed to separate the sleeping from the nursing?  Can you do it if the child doesn't really want to?

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#5 of 8 Old 12-21-2010, 03:48 PM
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Hi! ok I know exactly what you are going through.  I never let my son cry it out, but one night I tried just laying with him and comforting him with a snack and water if he wanted it and he cried and was pretty upset for a little while, but eventually settled down and fell asleep. I think it is different if you are with him while he is crying and speak to him gently. Then the next night he remembered and it took less time. By the third or forth night he didn't even cry!!! I just had to accept that it would take a lot longer than just nursing him to sleep. Oh and by the way we started this after he woke up for the first time in the night for the first few times (because he was more tired), and then eventually did it for bedtime. Naps...I have no idea what to do. I still nurse him to sleep. I can't have him taking forever to get to sleep in the afternoon and nighttime. :) Hope that helps. So niw my husband and motherin law can put him to sleep at night if needed. I just nurse him downstairs before we go up to begin our nighttime routine so that he does not associate. 

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#6 of 8 Old 12-21-2010, 08:57 PM
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I've been weaning our 19 mo old. He used to wake up 4-7 times a night! I finally decided to try to extend the nursing times at night. I had already weaned him during the day back in Oct/Nov.


He was a poor eater, so I needed to night wean him to get him to be hungry enough for solids during the day as we were in a vicious cycle.


So, I would not nurse him the first time he woke up crying at night (usually about 2-3 hours after bedtime) to get him to go longer stretches (we co-sleep). I would watch him on the baby monitor if I was still up and go in and just cuddle him and pat his back or belly if he woke crying. I was pleasantly surprised by how quickly he fell asleep. I was quickly able to get him to go 4-5 hour stretches, then 6-7 hours.


After a couple of weeks, we were down to nursing only to sleep at his naptime and bedtime and early in the morning, albeit 3am or so, and upon waking up for the day. When I felt comfortable enough that he was eating enough food at dinner to satiate him for the night, I started going 10 hour stretches. It took maybe a week to get him to sleep through that 3am wake up, which then stretched to 5/6am.


The whole process was much easier than I had anticipated. I had thought he would be up crying for hours and dreaded going through this.  It was quite easy in the big scheme of things.


Now, after about a month, we are down to only nursing once a day at bedtime and I am going to stop that in a couple of weeks when he officially turns 20 mo.


I am still challenged to get him to sleep for his one daily nap easily (compared to when I nursed him down), as he will want to play and I end up having to lay with him for up to an hour while he bounces around before he finally conks out. It's getting much better and the time shorter. I think part of the issue is that I'm not timing his naps well due to errands, toddler classes, etc. that are all in the mornings, and not being home when he shows signs of tiredness.


For bedtime, after I nurse DS, I slip out of bed and DH takes over the patting/cuddling. DH and I had been sleeping separately, but I recently discovered through this weaning process that DH is a baby whisperer. He can get DS to fall asleep within minutes. I think it's because he doesn't have boobs really so DS can't nurse and doesn't have that expectation. Then, once I'm ready for bed, DH and I switch places and DH retreats to his room, since he keeps an erratic night schedule and wakes up when it's still dark outside to start his day. That's another story...


DS still tries to nurse first thing in the am, but I can usually distract him with a toy and I also just started keeping a sippy cup with water in it by the bed as a substitute. When I offered it to him this morning, he guzzled water. So, I think part of his distress was that he was thirsty, especially since many toddlers sleep with their mouths open which dries their mouths out.


Always a learning process...I hope you find what works for you. Best of luck!

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#7 of 8 Old 12-21-2010, 09:26 PM
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I thought my kid was the only kid who never sleeps without nursing or being in the car.  She won't even do it in the stroller!  Only my grandma can get her to sleep just by holding/rocking her... but she had four kids and about a million foster kids...


I don't have any advice but I thought I'd commiserate with you.  Kiddo used to take a nap in her bed.  I'd nurse her in the chair in her room and transfer over.  She went through a phase of REFUSING to nap and now she will only nap while nursing on me, and definitely not in her room.  She will ask to nap, but I definitely can't move once she starts nursing and she won't lay down at all.  For a few days she tried laying down in her bed (her choice/idea) but she wouldn't let me leave the room and she wouldn't settle down to even start trying to sleep.

She also won't go to sleep without nursing.  I don't mean, nursing needs to be part of the sleep routine... I mean boob had best be what puts her to sleep and I'd better not dare try to end the session before she is good and ready to be transferred into her own bed.  she used to go down with her singing pig and her soothie but just will not allow that at all.  If she wakes up at night, there is no comforting her back to sleep without nursing either.  She also won't let me stop nursing her if we lay down to nurse.  She will insist on staying on me for a couple hours sleep nursing.  If I try to move she startles awake freaking out.  I usually just end up falling asleep with her with how long it takes for me to even consider moving out of bed which defeats the whole purpose for me anyway.


She has always been a sleep fighter though.  It did NOT help all the problems I had the first year postpartum as a first time mom.  Sleep has always been a struggle so I'm glad that nursing at least gets her to sleep now relatively fast but I honestly don't like nursing.  I always thought I would do child led weaning by choice, but now I WANT to wean her but I don't think I could.  I don't think she is anywhere near ready... not when it comes to sleeping.  I don't want to take something away that she clearly relies on, but man do I wish she would rely on something else to sleep!

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#8 of 8 Old 01-04-2011, 04:44 PM
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I agree that it is usually easier to nurse my kiddo in the place I want her to sleep, than to try to move her. I usually lay down to nurse her in her bed, then get up when she's asleep.

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