How do I nightwean my 14mth old? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 15 Old 01-26-2012, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My 14 mth old gets up every two hours to nurse at night.  I feel like I still have a new born in the house!  He goes down by 8:30pm and like clockwork is up every two hours until I put him in his crib around 6-6:30am where he will sleep for about an hour by himself.  I nurse him before bed and he goes down fine in his own crib.  After that, if I don't get him or bring him into bed with me at the two hour mark, he screams like someone is abusing him - waking up my 3 yr old.

 

I don't mind nursing - I still want to nurse him during the day when he wants to, nap time, and before bed.  But the lack of sleep is killing me.  A 14 mth old doesn't need to be nursing every two hourse at night still right?  And no, he is not teething and this is not a growth spurt - its worse when that happens.

 

What do you advise on nightweaning a toddler?  Is my only solution to let him scream and cry while my DH tries to comfort him back to sleep?  Should I have my DH try to get him back down in his own crib, or is it better for me to bring him into my bed and just keep telling him no milk throughout the night?

 

ETA: And not only does he want to nure every two hours, he wants to nurse on both sides before he will fall alseep again.  And alot of the time he uses me as a pacifier even after he's fallen asleep.


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#2 of 15 Old 01-29-2012, 09:22 PM
 
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Sorry, I don't have any suggestions.  Both of my kids nursed with that frequency (or more frequently) at that age.

 

That said... how often is he nursing during the day?  Does he nap during the day?  How does he do then?  Where does he sleep?  I know you mentioned that if he is in his crib and wakes after two hours he will cry, but have you tried having him on the other side of DH?  Some kids really smell the milk on you and if they are cuddled next to Dad don't wake as much.

 

I'm hoping someone else has come advice for you!


 

 

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#3 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 02:28 AM
 
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Pump out the milk and put it in a bottle.  Add rice cereal to the milk.  It will stay with them longer.  Start putting your child to sleep while they are still awake without hugging them to sleep.  They may be waking up to eat just because they like the comfort more than the food.  Keep the sleeping room quiet and dark. 

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#4 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 06:08 AM
 
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I nightweaned ds at 15 months by following Jy Gordon's recommendations. We did start into it thinking we would be getting very little sleep for a few nights but it actually went very well. Getting dh involved if you can is helpful. I did have ds in bed with us the whole time. I also kept his waterbottle in bed with us - we found that ds was genuinely thirsty in the night (at 3 he still often drinks water at night) so this helped.


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#5 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 06:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by TiredX2 

 

That said... how often is he nursing during the day?  Does he nap during the day?  How does he do then?  Where does he sleep?  I know you mentioned that if he is in his crib and wakes after two hours he will cry, but have you tried having him on the other side of DH?  Some kids really smell the milk on you and if they are cuddled next to Dad don't wake as much.


He nurses before nap time.  I nurse him a little and then I put him down in his crib wide awake.  For naps & bedtime its the same.  He goes down fine in his crib initially, then wants to nurse frequently after that.  He'll usually nurse when he wakes from a nap and then maybe once or twice in addition too.  If my DH brings in into bed with us, he just tries to climb over DH to get to me.
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by misskitty View Post

Pump out the milk and put it in a bottle.  Add rice cereal to the milk.  It will stay with them longer.  Start putting your child to sleep while they are still awake without hugging them to sleep.  They may be waking up to eat just because they like the comfort more than the food.  Keep the sleeping room quiet and dark. 


Thanks for your suggestion but he won't take bottles anymore.  He weaned himself off daytime bottles around a year (as he used to take them when I went to work) and never had them at night.  And at 14 mths old I think he's a little old for rice cereal in a bottle anyway. 
 

I was going to try to night wean him over the weekend, and have my DH help me out and just try putting him back to bed in his crib, but LO got sick so I decided this weekend was not a good one.  Maybe next weekend I'll try.


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#6 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 08:21 AM
 
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OP, what is your feeling about your DS's need to nurse?  Do you think he is getting significant calories from night nursing or it is more of a comfort thing?    I know that at 14 months both of my children were only getting *maybe* 5% of their calories from non-breastmilk sources, so the night nursing was an important part of their daily intake.  Additionally, many kids around that age are easily distractable and so nurse a lot during the night.  Have you considered nursing more during the day/ trying to increase calorie intake during the day?

 

When I mentioned putting him on the other side of your DH--- I more meant once he was asleep either have you move or transfer him to the other side of your DP.  Does he take a pacifier? Could you introduce that during the night?

 

I'm going to give you the same advice I give everyone in this position: think about what is *really* bothering you about the situation.  Are *you* needing more sleep?  Are you concerned he won't ever sleep through the night (he will)?  Do you think he would be happier/better behaved/what with more sleep?  Once you know what you are reallly hoping to "fix" you might have an easier time.

 



 

Quote:
Originally Posted by misskitty View Post

Pump out the milk and put it in a bottle.  Add rice cereal to the milk.  It will stay with them longer.  Start putting your child to sleep while they are still awake without hugging them to sleep.  They may be waking up to eat just because they like the comfort more than the food.  Keep the sleeping room quiet and dark. 



I know that you, OP, are not going to follow this recommendation but wanted to put it out for other readers: this is not a good idea.  Rice cereal in the bottle is only appropriate with a doctors orders (for situations like severe reflux) and does not encourage children to sleep longer.

 


 

 

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#7 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TiredX2 View Post

OP, what is your feeling about your DS's need to nurse?  Do you think he is getting significant calories from night nursing or it is more of a comfort thing?    I know that at 14 months both of my children were only getting *maybe* 5% of their calories from non-breastmilk sources, so the night nursing was an important part of their daily intake.  Additionally, many kids around that age are easily distractable and so nurse a lot during the night.  Have you considered nursing more during the day/ trying to increase calorie intake during the day?

 

When I mentioned putting him on the other side of your DH--- I more meant once he was asleep either have you move or transfer him to the other side of your DP.  Does he take a pacifier? Could you introduce that during the night?

 

I'm going to give you the same advice I give everyone in this position: think about what is *really* bothering you about the situation.  Are *you* needing more sleep?  Are you concerned he won't ever sleep through the night (he will)?  Do you think he would be happier/better behaved/what with more sleep?  Once you know what you are reallly hoping to "fix" you might have an easier time.

 


He eats 3 full meals of solids a day plus snacks plus always has a sippy of water on hand.  He definitely gets 95% of his meals from solids.  When he nurses during the day its usually quick and he has been seeming less interested.  But at night, I know he's getting quite a bit from each nursing session.  On the nights when he has slept over at my mom's house I am quite engorged when I wake up and he has not nursed all night - even if he's nursed during the day.

 

He does take a pacifier.  Maybe I could try offering that and a sippy of water before taking him out of his crib to nurse, to see if that would work in pacifying him.

 

What is really bothering me is the lack of sleep at this point.  If he only woke up once or even twice at night I think I could handle it, but every two hours is really alot IMO for a 14 mth old who eats solids all day long.  I'm also torn because he is a really bad teether, but at this point only has 6 teeth.  So if I night wean him now before he's all done teething, I'm afraid he may resort back to teething all night anyways.

 

Grrrr.... 


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#8 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 02:34 PM
 
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Well, personally, I would encourage him to nurse more during the day in that case!  The optimal diet for a 12 month old is still at least 75% of calories (or so my research indicated when  my children were younger) from bmilk.  Could you encourage him to nurse several more times during the day in the hopes of replacing some of his night nursing?  Or are you hoping to wean him soon and that is why so much solids versus bmilk?

 

With that few teeth, there is also a good chance he is actively teething right now, so that could be an issue.  Has his night nursing been constant, or has it ebbed and flowed over time?


 

 

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#9 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 02:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I basically did baby led weaning as far as solids were concerned.  I started at 6mths with finger foods and pretty much skipped purees.  It took him until about 9-10 mths to really get into solids anyways.  I do not want to wean him 100% yet - I want to do EBF.  I offer the breast before naps and bed, and then he'll ask me at other times with sign language.  I work though, so going this long with lack of sleep is very draining - so thats why I wanted to night wean him.  You seem to think that he still needs his night time nursing though, is that right?  This is all new territory for me, as like I said, my DC1 night weaned himself quite early at 6 months.  But I was also supplementing with formula with my first.

 

His nursing has been constant, but teethering off during the day.  He's always been a big nurser.  When he's teething or has a growth spurt it gets worse.  I will try upping his day time nursing too.  Do you think (and lets say for right now forget about the fact I'm tired) its just not the right time for him to night wean?


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#10 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 03:58 PM
 
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To me, 14 months is fairly early to night-wean, but I know a lot of people have success with it.

 

I do, totally, understand the need to get some more sleep on your part, though, and I think a lot of people do have success with nightweaning at that age (or near that age).  I'm surprised more people haven't chimed in yet.

 

My DD was25 months when we night weaned (for a 4-5 hour stretch).  I had had mono and was newly pregnant and just needed. some. sleep.  So, what we did was this: I nursed her down to sleep around 9 pm.  Then, I nursed as needed until I was ready to go to bed (around 11pm).  DD was in the bed with DP & I, btw.  From 11-2/3 (starting) when DD woke up DP would get her out of the bed and walk around patting her back and calming her down.  He would leave the room so I could hopefully get some sleep.  He would do that until we hit the time we had agreed on.  She didn't seem to fight very hard and within a few weeks she was going fairly consistently from 11pm-4am.  *That* was the amount of sleep I felt I truly needed, so that was all we pushed her to do.  Months  later, she was still waking up during the morning to nurse.

 

Now, in retrospect, I really wasn't happy with the effect the night-weaning had on our nursing relationship.  I feel that DD ended up weaning early than *her* biological norm because of restrictions I placed on her during my pregnancy and while tandem nursing.  Her weaning was much different than DS' (who was closer to CLW and was so very happy and proud of himself).

 

At 14 months (anytime before 2-2.5 years) "Don't Offer, Don't Refuse" is considered a weaning technique.  Kids that age just get so distracted by everything they forget to nurse.  Unfortunately for you, it seems like DS is "remembering" to nurse during the night time.  I would at least consider trying to get him a few more nursing sessions during the day and substituting something else during the night.  I do think that the majority of 14 month olds can go 5+ hours during a 24 hour period without nursing (I am not saying that is *better*, just that they can). 

 

You can always try a gentle night weaning and if DS resists back off for a little bit.  Dr. Sears (I think) says if a behavior is extinguished in less than 5 days it is a habit and not a need.  I know that we originally tried partial night-weaning of DD when she was closer to 18 months and it did not go well AT ALL.  A big part of that, though, is IMO that if you are 100% confident they will go with it--- if they can tell you are unsure or ambivelant they will also sense it.  So, if you are going to try to night wean, be sure that is what you want to do and be confident.

 

Good luck with whatever you decide!

 

 

 


 

 

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#11 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 06:15 PM
 
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DD is 12 m/o but eats similar to your description - 3 meals, snacks, and 3-4 nursing sessions during the day time. I chose to partially nightwean her, since DH's schedule has changed I had to do it on my own, and full nightweaning seemed impossible. Every other waking, I give her sips of water, her pacifier, and cuddles to get her back to sleep. So when she wakes the first time, I'd nurse her, the next time I'd give her water, the next time I'd nurse her, etc. She very quickly started skipping the wakings where she was getting water. She now goes to bed at 7 pm and only wakes at 10pm and 2 am to nurse, and sleeps til 630 or 7 am. It's not as blissful as nightweaning may be, but it's easy, manageable, and I'm getting a LOT, LOT more sleep. She sleeps in her crib from 7-2 (yes, I nurse her in her crib........) and then with me from 2-7. She doesn't seem ready to give up night nursing completely and rather than fighting her tooth and nail, I decided to just cut back. It's been good for us. HTH!


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#12 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 09:33 PM
 
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Quote:
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DD is 12 m/o but eats similar to your description - 3 meals, snacks, and 3-4 nursing sessions during the day time. I chose to partially nightwean her, since DH's schedule has changed I had to do it on my own, and full nightweaning seemed impossible. Every other waking, I give her sips of water, her pacifier, and cuddles to get her back to sleep. So when she wakes the first time, I'd nurse her, the next time I'd give her water, the next time I'd nurse her, etc. She very quickly started skipping the wakings where she was getting water. She now goes to bed at 7 pm and only wakes at 10pm and 2 am to nurse, and sleeps til 630 or 7 am. It's not as blissful as nightweaning may be, but it's easy, manageable, and I'm getting a LOT, LOT more sleep. She sleeps in her crib from 7-2 (yes, I nurse her in her crib........) and then with me from 2-7. She doesn't seem ready to give up night nursing completely and rather than fighting her tooth and nail, I decided to just cut back. It's been good for us. HTH!



This is great advice and really speaks to something I was trying to say: you don't need to do all or nothing.  You can always try something incremental and then stop when you feel it is enough (or baby is telling you it is enough).

 

Good luck again!

 


 

 

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#13 of 15 Old 01-30-2012, 09:48 PM
 
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I weaned my DS around that age and here's how:

 

First, I made sure he was getting enough real food during the day so that he didn't really need those calories.

Second, I decided I'd had enough, so when he woke up (we coslept at that time), I just told him "not tonight" and hugged him and hugged him.  I thought this would be really bad and had DH sleep somewhere else just in case, but DS wimpered a little and went back to sleep.  This continued for a couple of more nights and that was the end of it.  I could not believe how easy it was.

 

When it's time to wean my current night nurser I'll probably try the same thing but maybe have a sippy cup with water at the ready in case he just happens to be thirsty.

 

That said, every child is different, so yours may not take it so well, but it's worth trying something easy to see if it works for you.


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#14 of 15 Old 01-31-2012, 06:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your guys' advice.

 

Last night he was waking up every hour.  I'm sick right now and by 2:00am I just couldn't take it anymore.  When he woke again crying in his crib I just patted his back until he was laying down again and left his room.  He continued crying for about 5 minutes then fall asleep until 4:30am when I went and got him and nursed again.

 

I think at this point I'm just going to try to cut out some of the night feedings, but not 100%.  Just a longer stretch of time between feedings I think would help my sleep and tiredness tremendously.  One of the main other problem is that even though I nurse him laying down in my bed, once he's done he doesn't want to stay in my bed.  He starts trying to climb down, so I put him back in his crib and he falls back asleep for another 2 hours.  If he just stayed in bed with me and latched on while I was sleeping, I think I could handle that.  But I literally am getting up twice every two hours - to get him and put him back in his crib.

 

Again, thanks for everyone's help.


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#15 of 15 Old 01-31-2012, 11:02 AM
 
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I feel your pain!  We finally did some combination of things around 13 1/2 months because I was so exhausted.  My little guy was the same way- nursing every 1-3 hours ALL NIGHT LONG!  I realize now he was using it to fall back asleep.  I mostly just tried to lengthen the time between nursings a little bit (15-30 min) each night.  If he woke up before it was time to nurse then my husband would go in and try to comfort him.  Sometimes he would be upset with my husband but I felt ok knowing he was being cared for and loved.  Sometimes my husband would be able to rock him back to sleep and put him back down.  If it was taking a while or he was very upset then I would go in and nurse him.  It was def back and forth, 2 steps forward, 1 back kinda deal.  I also made sure to have water available to offer him in case he was genuinely thirsty. But it is MUCH better now.  He still wakes up 2-3x each night but he will usually go back to sleep if my husband goes in and puts his bink in for the first waking.  Then for the second waking I go in and nurse him.  Now i am trying to move back the nursing so it is more early morning hours, if it is too early, he wakes a second time in the early am to nurse again.  Good luck and just follow your instincts.  Your are mama and know what your lil' one needs and what you need- SLEEP!!!

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