Night weaning my 2.5 year old - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 12 Old 10-16-2011, 07:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Right now I feel like the only person in the world who has night nursed my daughter for 2.5 years.  Though we put her in her own room at 21 months, I still have co-slept with her for much of the night nursing on and off at least twice if not 10 times a night.  Recently, I finally decided that for my own health and her potty training and sleep needs, it was time to nightwean.  I have also nursed her almost every night of her life, if not to sleep than during the going to sleep process.

 

Anyway, we have made it 4 nights of me rocking her to sleep without any nursing and then 2 nights so far of no nursing at night "until the sun comes up" which has been 6:30am for us (though the sun is not quite out but it is as late as I wanted push it).  I have to say that I am less frustrated after putting her to sleep.  I feel less drained (so far) and it is such a pleasure to nurse her in the morning when I actually have milk!  I haven't felt the fullness of milk in maybe 6 months and finally the morning after our first full night of no nursing, I really had milk!

 

My daughter has taken to it quite well, though not necessarily happily.  She is very happy at 6:30am when it is time to nurse again and we both enjoy those few morning hours together. I don't think it has affected her much during the day but the nights have slightly more crying than before, but no more than a few minutes.

 

My husband has helped out getting her back to sleep in the middle of the night (only once each night so far), but tonight is Sunday and he says he'll only do anything before 2am even if she doesn't awaken until 3:30.  Oh well.  The first night I got up with her for a second night waking at 3:30 and it took me 1.5 hours to get her in the bed without waking her as she won't let me lie next to her without nursing so I have to rock her back to sleep and then figure out how the middle of the night transfers work best.  My husband can just lie next to her and sing Old McDonald and she is alseep in 5 minutes.

 

I'm proud of what we have accomplished so far as I am feeling good about it and I think it is the road we have to take for mommy to be healthy, for daughter to sleep better, and for us to get on the path to a hopeful child #2.  My husband doesn't understand how big of a deal this is for both my daughter and I, so I feel sort of alone in this though he has been helpful.

 

Any other mamas out there who didn't night wean until 2.5 years??  Anyone who can relate to this strange feeling?  Both proud and anxious/a little sad to let go and feeling a little sad for my daughter to let go of this thing she loves so much.  Though the fact that we are still nursing in the morning (and sometimes at naptime) keeps us connected and keeps her happy knowing that she can still nurse.  I wanted it all to happen more naturally, but we have had to force it a little.

 

Any responses would be welcomed to feel a little less alone in this.

 

Thanks!

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#2 of 12 Old 10-21-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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It's wonderful that you night nursed as long as you did, and that you are still nursing.  What a lucky and well-loved baby!

 

Though we haven't started weaning quite yet, I'm about where you are now with my 2 yo.  Unlike my first two, he doesn't sleep through the night.  Like yours, he wakes up many times and nurses.  While co-sleeping, almost any move I make (even a deep breath!) wakes him and he nurses some more (add a chipped front tooth to that and there's very little good sleep for me).  I wake up with muscle aches and cricks everywhere.  Also, my husband can't sleep with us because his snoring wakes my son.  What was wonderful and cozy at all times with my first two is uncomfortable and tiresome many times with my third.

 

My first two were so easy: by this age they rarely nursed at night, and they slept like rocks.  I got great sleep, and did so with my husband beside us.  When I was nursing/co-sleeping my older two I thought people who claimed to "get no sleep" while co-sleeping were whiners who exaggerated and who deep down just didn't want to nurse anymore and/or co-sleep anymore.  I hate to admit that, but I was embarrassingly militant and unforgiving in my views.

 

I've learned that every child is different, as is every situation.  In both of our situations we've continued to co-sleep and nurse into toddlerhood at the expense of our sleep needs, physical well-being, and (at least for me) husband's comfort/needs.  That's love and dedication to our children!  In some situations though, whether we like it or not, things can get to a point where our own or our spouse's physical needs must take precedence in order for the family to be healthy and happy. 

 

You should feel proud of how great of a mother you are.  The fact that you "feel alone" in this experience is evidence of that: not many women in developed nations co-sleep and nurse until 2.5!  Update with any good tips, lol, as I'll be going down the same path in a few months or so...

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#3 of 12 Old 10-22-2011, 11:14 AM
 
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You are not alone!

 

My son is 3.5 and we just nightweaned in August/September.  I posted awhile back, I think, asking for help with this and even on MDC I felt like a complete freak!  :)

 

Even now, he wakes up 1-2 times a night to ask for milk.  But I tell him not until 6:00, he can read the digital clock.  It used to be when it was light out but now it dark until late here.  Sometimes he gets very angry and hits, but usually he calms down and falls back to sleep easily.  But still this is so much better!!!  We are tandem nursing and tandem nursing all day and all night was getting impossible.  Especially since I can sleep through my 15 months old nursing, but not his.  It got to a point where he would stay awake to nurse and nurse.  Plus he had to have major dental work, and though I know there is a debate as to whether nightnursing causes cavities, I knew it wasn't helping. 

 

I have to say being able to say no at night feels SO liberating.  I love it.  And I love feeling welcoming when morning does come, instead of drained.  And I like that my 15 month old gets me all to herself at least at night.  And he sleeps so much better, and he has slept poorly since day one.

 

So, great job.  And thanks for posting.  I don't feel so strange, myself. :)

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#4 of 12 Old 10-24-2011, 08:01 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So we are a week and a half into night weaning and I'm feeling confused about daytime nursing.  There were days in the past when I wouldn't nurse her all day and she wouldn't ask (if she fell asleep in the car for her nap).  Now she refuses to fall asleep in the car since I won't nurse her at night.  I've been trying to let her nurse as she likes during the day, but I worry that the sleep association makes the nights worse.  She now likes to fall asleep for naptime nursing and then is getting more upset at night about not nursing to sleep. She calms down within a few minutes, but I can see it is hard for her.  I hate that.

 

Also, in the middle of the night she still screams for me if my husband goes in but it again doesn't last more than a few minutes.  Just was hoping for no more crying soon....

 

Sariel

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#5 of 12 Old 11-01-2011, 11:19 PM
 
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Hi there,

 

I co-slept and night nursed my dd until she was 2. She had to stay latched onto my breast ALL NIGHT LONG! I mean if I had to unlatch her to pee, she would freak! It just got to be too much! I did it for 2 years! Finally I decided to tell her that milk went to sleep when the sun did and milk would be awake when the sun was up and the birds were singing....this was in summer when the birds were very noisy in the am. She took quite well to the new plan but it was still hard on both of us. My dh took over all night time wake-ups because it was too hard for dd to have me with her but not give her milk. I now nurse her to sleep every night but she knows that if she wakes up, daddy will come in and snuggle her. It took awhile, but like anything, they learn what is the new norm. I was so upset when I made this decision. I was just so tired and felt like a horrible, irritable mom. I knew that I needed more sleep and that meant I had to nw her. You are not alone.......nursing your lo in the middle of the night can be a sacred thing you share and it is hard to give up. I just kept telling her, we can nurse to sleep but after that no more milk until the sun comes up. Your lo will eventually understand your new routine. Also, I still have to nurse her to sleep for a nap. She will not fall asleep in the car or for my dh any more.

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#6 of 12 Old 11-02-2011, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for your posts.  It is nice to hear other stories about older toddlers nightweaning.  So, it has been almost three weeks of no nursing to sleep at bedtime and no nursing in the middle of the night (sort of).  I started with the idea of no nursing until 6:30am and also thought my husband would take on all the night wakings until then.  He has been really stressed at work and has agreed to do the first night waking (and more on weekends), but the rest fell on me.  I spent quite a few nights up with her for an hour or two, not because she was crying (though she did ask at times to nurse and get upset but not for more than a minute) but because I was walking and rocking her and couldn't transfer her to the bed without waking her!  So I went from the 6:30am (sun comes up, though it wasn't really up anyway then) to 5am and now to 4am.  I just couldn't deal with the sleep deprivation of being up for hours in the middle of the night.

 

The successes:  

  • My husband can get her to sleep within 5 minutes of her waking (if not less) while lying in the bed next to her singing Old MacDonald
  • I can get her to sleep at bedtime by rocking her and twice she fell asleep in the bed with me cuddling her (that was heavenly)
  • I have found other ways to get her back to sleep in the middle of the night (walking or rocking)
  • We have made it almost 3 weeks with no nursing at bedtime and no night nursing until 4am
  • She does tend to sleep 3 to 4 hour chunks of time and sometimes more, but she was already doing that before the weaning
  • I enjoy nursing more since I am not doing it all the time as I had zero milk left... I now see that I do have a supply just can't be nursing her all the time
  • I am less frustrated when putting her to sleep as I am not zapped by nursing too much at that time.  I used to sometimes cry at the end of it b/c I was so frustrated or at least snap at my husband due to exhaustion, but I don't do that at all anymore.  Not to say that I'm not tired at the end, but it is different.
  • She has taken to the night weaning fairly well and doesn't cry a whole lot, though there are a few minutes here and there.  I think she is ready, not that it is easy.

 

The difficulties:

  • She still screams when my husband comes in at her first night waking saying she wants Mommy... apparently he gets her to sleep quickly saying that Mommy will come after she goes back to sleep (which is true as I'm next up)
  • She sleeps in a different room and sometimes when she wakes (like last night) she doesn't say a word and just jumps out of bed walking toward our room (or the kitchen as she did one night)... our house is small so we hear her but it is even harder for me as she was almost in our bedroom screaming for me when I kicked my husband out of bed to get her... I felt horrible hearing her say desperately that she just wanted Mommy
  • It can take me up to two hours to get her back into her bed asleep if I get up with her in the middle of the night so I have gone from 6:30am to 4am as to when I will start nursing her and though before she would nurse a minute and then roll over to sleep now she basically has to be latched on until we wake up at around 8am.
  • Clingyness during the day.  I finally realized today that she has been driving me crazy because she is extra clingy due to night weaning.  Will try to implement more special time (which is actually hard when you are a stay at home mom because you feel like she gets to have you all the time... though I know I am often preoccupied).
  • naptime... if she doesn't nap during the day (which she was doing at least once a week before night weaning) then nighttime is especially hard because she wakes more frequently... so I just put her down for a nap at 4:15pm because I was so worried about not sleeping at all tonight if she didn't nap.
  • Potty training has regressed a bit.  She was peeing in the potty all day long (pooping in a diaper) but after night weaning, she has started to need a diaper for both though she wears underwear until she needs to go.  Just the realization that night weaning is probably the cause of regressing has enabled me to allow her to do what she needs to do and the less stress I put on her the more likely she has been to pee in the potty from time to time.

 

So this is where we are.  I would like my husband to do more of the night wakings so that she will really sleep longer and better (and me too).  I feel guilty asking him because of his stress at work, but I am also reminded that I have been doing this for 2.5 years and it's okay for him to take some of it on now.  It has been nice to share the weight of her sleep issues with him.  It makes us feel like more of a unit and makes him care more about her sleep.

 

Now if I can get her to be asleep by 8:30pm every night, that would help.  9:30pm is the closest to a real sleep time she has had since her early baby days.  Unfortunately, that leaves little time for hanging with the hubby.  Last night I came out at 9:45 and by 10pm we were both zonked.  Oh well.  

 

Thanks for reading!:)  hope this helps someone else!

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#7 of 12 Old 11-18-2011, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
 
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An update:

 

After a little over 3 weeks of the nightweaning and no nursing to sleep, I spent 2.5 hours one night trying to rock my daughter to sleep.  It was horrible and I cried from frustration.  Two nights later when my husband got sick and was coughing and unable to sing to her in the middle of the night, all the responsibility fell on me.  I fell off the wagon completely.  I decided I couldn't handle the sleep deprivation of being up with her for an hour or two in the middle of the night and I also was frustrated that it was still taking me so long to put her to sleep... AND, she was STILL asking and crying some to nurse at night.  So, I started nursing her to sleep or nursing her before bedtime and then rocking or walking.  I started nursing her when she awoke in the middle of the night.  In some ways it was a relief, but I was feeling defeated.  Then after a week of being sick and unable to help with nighttime my husband went on a business trip.  A day into the trip, I woke up feeling horrible.  I could tell I was really deydrated and drained from all the nursing (which was why I decided I needed to cut down to begin with).  I tried to drive her to sleep for her nap and when I transferred her she woke up and wouldn't go back to sleep.  I just couldn't nurse her back down which I used to always do because I knew I might pass out from being so drained (it has happened to me before, thankfully only when my husband was home).  She screamed until I turned on Elmo, and then I called my sister and cried hysterically.  Once I got out my fears and frustrations, I came out resolved once again to wean further even without my husband's help temporarily.  Part of it was that I felt horrible at not nursing her during naptime as I had never refused that before and I hadn't talked to her about it earlier, so she was alarmed.  I realized I HAD to talk to her about it ahead of time even if it would not be easy for her to hear.  When I came to, I came into the room where my daughter was watching Elmo and I paused it to talk to her.  I told her we would only nurse in the mornings when the sun came out and I talked about how we could hug, walk, rock, cuddle and whatever else to help her sleep at other times.  She took it ok but really just wanted to get back to Elmo!

 

I reminded her a few times that day and that night went better than I expected.  I told her we could go get pacifiers as a special treat since we were not going to nurse that night.  We went into our basement and dug out a few pacifiers (luckily there was a pink one as she loves pink!) from her baby days (which she never liked or used back then).  I told her that we would sleep together all night long in Mommy and Daddy's bed and when she woke in the middle of the night we could snuggle (and maybe walk or rock).  Her first waking I walked her for 5 or 10 minutes and put her back down easily.  Then I went to sleep next to her and on her next waking she really did snuggle up against me and fall asleep!  When she woke at 6am, I nursed her for a while and we woke up officially at 6:30 (really early for her but fine as she went to bed early that night).

 

The next night was not as lovely and I walked and rocked her for an hour before she went back to sleep, but we didn't nurse until 4:45am.

 

Last night she slept until 4am or so and I decided I needed the sleep so we nursed.

 

My husband thinks he'll feel up to helping out in the middle of the night again by Saturday.  I hope so.  He's still coughing and could barely read her a book last night when he got back from his business trip.  Argh.

 

That's my story.  I feel much better with the only early mornings nursing.  I think the falling asleep at naptimes sometimes nursing was confusing her and making her crave it at bedtime.  She still asks to nurse, but after a minute or so of crying, she usually consents to walk with me and then when my arms get tired we rock to sleep.

 

Okay, that's where we are... I'm now three nights back on the wagon and four days with no naptime nursing...

 

Oh!  And I got a tip from a friend which is not the best thing to do, but it works.  When my daughter wakes from her nap and wants to nurse, the only thing that is an ok substitute for her is watching Elmo.  I hope she will awaken happy more often and this won't be our habit, but it is our temporary substitute when she has a hard time waking up from naps....

 

I hope this is all over by the new year and we are solid on morning nursings or none at all.  I'm worried about Thanksgiving as we are heading to the grandparents and I don't know how we will get her to and back to sleep there.  Maybe it will be a good change of pace where we will find an easier strategy??? 

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#8 of 12 Old 11-19-2011, 06:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I think falling off the wagon made this whole process much harder.  My daughter has been screaming more at night before bed and tonight she wouldn't let me rock or walk her.  Finally after trying various ways to calm her, I took out the Ergo and she insisted we walk outside.  Luckily it wasn't too cold and a blanket and big coat were warm enough for us to walk for 10 - 15 mins. and she fell asleep.  I feel horrible and unsure that she is ready for this much change at a time with nursing, but I just feel like the clarity of only in the mornings is the best way for her to get when she can nurse and also the best for my body.

 

During the day she is loving and seems okay, but bedtime is horrible right now.  My husband is back and my plan is that he will go in for first wake up (it worked well last night, she only screamed for a few seconds and then fell asleep within 5 minutes) and then I will just nurse her and cosleep with her upon her second wake up.  She is so happy when it is finally time to nurse.  This is really hard.

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#9 of 12 Old 11-21-2011, 09:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Couldn't do it.  This spirited child just is not ready to give up on bedtime nursing right now.  I don't know if it would have worked if I didn't give in after week 3 of the original effort, but she was just beside herself tonight and it was 11:30pm and I couldn't get her to sleep so I gave up and nursed her.  It has been almost a week and she still seems desperate to nurse at night.  I am heading to my parents' house for the holidays and I just couldn't imagine how I would even get her to sleep there, so I figure it was bound to happen anyway.

 

I think I am going to try and do nurse for 5 mins and then cuddle for a while or the reverse to try and get towards falling asleep lying down together in the bed.  I have succeeded in no daytime nursing for a week, so we'll stay on that wagon and play it by ear with the nighttime and early morning nursing.  Hope my body holds up.  I guess Thanksgiving is not a bad time to be trying to eat and eat so I can nurse more....

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#10 of 12 Old 11-25-2011, 04:14 PM
 
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I just wanted to tell you that I am still nursing my almost 2 3/4 DD. I have such an enormously hard time knowing what to do. 

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#11 of 12 Old 11-26-2011, 05:28 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thank you, kfillmore, for your response.  Where are you with it all right now?

 

Over Thanksgiving, I have pretty much given up completely on weaning and we'll see when we get back home.  I am just trying to eat and eat and eat to keep up with the nursing and make sure my husband gets her when she awakens from naptime so I don't have any extra nursing sessions.  We are all sleeping in a room together so the option of my husband putting her back to sleep when she wakes in the middle of the night seemed unlikely to be successful as I would be in the same room.

 

Honestly right now it is a bit of a relief to not be fighting with her about it and having her scream and cry every night because of it.  Partially hoping that if I let up on it a little, it will taper off again more naturally (which was the case over this past summer when I decided to let go of weaning since the summer was so busy for me).

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#12 of 12 Old 11-27-2011, 08:15 AM
 
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You have most likely already tried this, but will she a sippy cup of water to bed?  I have nursed 3 of my children till about 3 years old and am still nursing my 2 year old, but I night wean and move them to their own bed between 18-24 months.  I just did it with my youngest about 3 months ago.  She was sleeping with me and would nurse 2-3 times a night.  I decided to move her to a bed in her own room (that she shares with her sister) and for the first month when she would cry I would go in there and rock her and nurse her to sleep.  I didn't want to move her to a bed and night wean all at the same time.  She would usually only cry for me 1-2 times a night once over in her own bed.  After about a month she seemed really comfortable in her own bed I decided to work on night weaning.  When she would cry for me to nurse,  either daddy or I would go over and pat her back and offer her a sippy cup of water.  She took it more easily from daddy of course.  The first week or so was tough.  We never let her "cry it out" but stayed and comforted her and reiterated that we loved her but now she was a big girl and she could have some "nummies" when the sun came up.  Now she's doing great with it.  She nurses to sleep at 8pm and I usually don't hear a peep out of her till about 6am.  She does seem to nurse more during the day now, maybe to make up for it, but I don't mind that.  Good luck!

 

Happy Mama to:

7 yo girl

5 yo boy

4 yo boy

2 yo girl &

8 weeks pregnant!

 

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