Night weaning my 18 month old. Advice! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 16 Old 09-22-2012, 03:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hello All!

 

I would love a little bit of input in my situation.

 

DS is almost 19 months old, and co sleeps with me and DH.  He has on very rare occasion slept through the night before with no prompting from me.  But most nights, he wakes 2 or 3 times to nurse, which was fine...

 

Well, for the last couple months, he has been wanting to nurse ALL night.  Like, stay latched on ALL night, and he will cry and try to get out of bed and thrash around if I even get up to use the bathroom (10 feet away!).  So it has been pretty intense and I have been snappy and crabby during the day from lack of sleep.  He has a lazy latch now and just wants to be 'on' the breast (and twiddling the other one), without even really drinking any milk.  :(  Awful.  

 

So night before last we started night weaning.  We talked about it all day, said 'nursies will be sleeping all night and you can have nursies in the morning when the sun comes up!'  Night before last he nursed to sleep at 8:30, woke at 11 PM and cried and  screamed for 45 minutes.  Drank some water, fell back to sleep, cried and yelled for 20ish minutes at 2 AM and again at 4 AM, and then woke at 5 AM and stayed awake sniffling in my arms until I let him nurse at 6 AM.

 

Last night was night two.  He did REALLY well for most of the night.  Nursed to sleep at 8:30, and then woke up several times throughout the night where he would either just turn over and go back to sleep, or he would sit up and sign for water, take a drink and then lay right back down!  Didn't even ask for nursies!  But then at 4 AM he sat up, asked for nursies and when I said no he proceeded to flip out for an hour and a half, crying and screaming and writhing around in our arms.  DH can't even help during a fit like that because DS just wants me and gets even more hysterical if DH holds him.  So it was all me from 4 AM until I gave in and nursed him at 5:30 AM, even though it was still dark out.  

 

So here are my concerns.

 

Did I blow all our previous effort by giving in and nursing him while it was still dark at 5:30 AM?

 

Do I need to just stick to my guns no matter how much he protests and not nurse him between his initial tucking in, and sunrise?

 

Or, am I being way too rigid about this?  The goal here is for all of us to get better sleep, so in some ways I feel like if he does that well with settling himself back to sleep without nursing at night, then it's not a big deal to nurse him at 4 or 5 AM and let us all drift back to sleep for a few more hours.  Or will that just confuse him to let him nurse at some night wakings but not at others?

 

If anyone has 'been there done that' before, I'd like to hear any thoughts on this.  

 

I AM certain though that nightweaning is right for us at this age.  I have to set some limits on his night nursing because grouchy mom is making more appearances lately than happy fun mom, and that's not good for any of us!

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#2 of 16 Old 09-22-2012, 03:51 PM
 
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No help here -- I'm mainly subbing to hear what advice you get. We have a 17 month old that has always nursed quite a lot at night, who had the past couple of nights wanting to be latched almost all night long. I think she may be going through a growth spurt, so we won't make any big changes for now but I do want her to start to find some other soothing methods at night and, yes, eventually get to a point where we can start to talk about nightweaning - hopefully in the next couple of months. I'd love to her how things go for you! 


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#3 of 16 Old 09-22-2012, 05:26 PM
 
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I'm starting to nudge 18 month old DD in the night weaning direction but I'm trying to use the mother lead weaning techniques I read for daytime. That is, I try to stretch the time between feedings with the aim of dropping sessions roughly one at a time. I'm not in a place where I need her to stop 100%, but just cut down to 1 or 2 quick feedings at night. We don't cosleep so I have to go to her room and sit in a recliner so the current 3 or 4 feedings are a bit rough. I do sleep with her in my arms/lap if she's sick or otherwise not sleeping soundly but family bed means party time for her. I'm seriously considering a twin mattress on the floor in her room but that's another post altogether.
OP I would be thrilled with no nursing from bedtime to 4 am. It's possible that his rhythm just means he's thirsty by then and needs a little nursing. If you're happy with that then I would just go with it. I think it's a lot at this age to go cold turkey overnight and there's a small chance you may see some issues out of it too, like clogged ducts or mastitis. I would try for a few days to see if not nursing until 4 works for you and LO. If it doesn't, then you could try the all night approach again. I would definitely take the long stretch of sleep at this point and run with it, even if that means night weaning is not 100%. Good luck and please update (both op and pp) on your nightweaning journey :-)
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#4 of 16 Old 09-23-2012, 08:14 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Skycheattraffic, thanks for the suggestions!

 

I just read your reply this morning.  Last night my DH and I talked about it before bed and decided (also with the input of my mother) that we would try the bedtime to 6 AM stretch again.  I was seriously considering nursing him at 4 AM or later if he woke again at that time, but we noticed that the last two days he's been so HAPPY.  No major melt downs, no big fusses during the day...  So I think his quality of sleep is as improved as mine with the no nursing rule in place.  Which is saying something, since we are spending a couple of hours crying each night during this process.  :(  But before, the all night nursing/twiddling fests just kept us both in this grouchy sleep limbo state where we were both frustrated.  

 

So here's how night three went for us:

 

Nursed to sleep at 8:15ish, woke at 11:30 and cried and fussed for about 25 minutes, drank some water, then let me hold him on my shoulder for another 15 minutes until he fell asleep around 12:15.  Then he stayed asleep until 4 AM.  When he woke at 4, he cried for about 3 minutes and then finally accepted my offer of water and drank a lot of it!  Then I held him on my shoulder and he didn't fall asleep until an hour later, at 5 AM.  He woke up at 6:06 and started crying, but I told him 'look!  It's morning!  Nursies are awake now!' and he very happily nursed back to sleep until we all got up at 7:30 (and nursed even more).  

 

He is all smiles this morning, so I think we will keep trying this way as long as I'm seeing less and less crying from him each night.  It's so hard to know that I'm forcing this milestone on him, and it makes me a little sad, but I'm also realizing that in this case for our family, I have to prioritize our overall well being.  

 

I'll keep updating with our progress since you're interested, IdentityCrisisMama!

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#5 of 16 Old 09-23-2012, 10:11 AM
 
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Originally Posted by earlyworm View Post

I'll keep updating with our progress since you're interested, IdentityCrisisMama!

Yes, very. Thanks for the update! 


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#6 of 16 Old 09-23-2012, 11:56 PM
 
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I'm interested too!  I've become really crabby when I wake at night to nurse my (almost) 2 year old.  I'm ready to night wean, but scared and lazy to start...
 


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#7 of 16 Old 09-24-2012, 05:06 AM
 
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subbing.

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#8 of 16 Old 09-24-2012, 02:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Night 4:

 

Nursed to sleep by 8:30, woke at 12:30 AM and cried for about 5 minutes.  I held him on my shoulder for half an hour until he fell back to sleep.  He tossed and turned a bit throughout the next few hours, but never woke up or cried out at all.  At 4 AM he woke up and cried for 30 seconds or so, drank some water, and fell back asleep laying on my shoulder.  Then he woke up at just after 6 AM, and started crying.  I told him he made it through the night and that the nursies were awake now!  Yay!!!  He nursed for a couple minutes and then slept through til 7!!!!  

 

 

I definitely feel like this is working out great.  He is napping now and has been utterly delightful and happy all morning.  No tantrums or melt downs.  I've been making sure to offer nursing more often throughout the day and I started drinking Mother's Milk tea today also, just to ensure that he doesn't run out of milk before we're ready for that!  I feel like we are for sure through the worst of it, and I hope that this trend continues.  

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#9 of 16 Old 09-24-2012, 04:01 PM
 
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Sounds great, mama! 

 

A few questions...

 

  • How old was your child when you thought he could understand that you were asking him to not nurse at night?  I as because my DC, at 17 months, I don't think, would understand that yet. 
  • How much more tired were you when you were doing this?  I was actually inspired two nights ago to see if I could cut out one feeding. DC was sweet and happy enough to doze off on my shoulder but then I got so tired that I just let her nurse. Sigh. Maybe I could try to just not nurse from sleep-nursing until "blank" time and see how that goes. 

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#10 of 16 Old 09-25-2012, 04:01 PM
 
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So, I'm going to include our own nighweaning experience if you don't mind, OP. 

 

A week or two ago I needed a break from all-night nursing and DC was fairly receptive to waking up and walking around. After reading this thread and the positive experience of the OP, I decided to try it again last night. DC was nursing so, so much from about 11-2 and she just wasn't sleeping well at all. She wasn't nursing for food that was for sure and she didn't seem comforted by nursing. It was as if it was the only tool she had in her box, iykwim. So, at 2am we got up. I told her, "No boobies - boobies in the morning," which was as simple as I could get in the hopes that she could understand. She was so, so sweet. We sat in the rocker at some pears and cheese and drank a bit of water. Then we walked. We did this on and off for about 30-45 minutes. She fell asleep eating some pear, then woke up and we walked and she slept on my shoulder in bed until I could put her down. She woke again at 5 and we did the same thing - only this time with yogurt. What seemed to help her was to change scenery when she wanted to nurse. And, also to avoid heavy nursing associations like a cradle carry and sleeping in a nursing position. At 6, the sun had started to come up and I told her she could nurse. 

 

She really didn't cry and I think was very happy with the whole night party situation we had going. I am pretty tired today....hopefully if we try again tonight it will continue to get better.  I'm thinking of trying for 2-sunrise for now and then stopping nursing a bit earlier after we really get the 2-6 thing. 

 

I'd love to hear feedback, suggestions and other stories. 

 

Earlyworm -- I hope you don't mind the piggyback!


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#11 of 16 Old 09-25-2012, 07:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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IdentityCrisisMama, I don't mind the piggyback at all!  :)

 

To answer your questions, I don't think my son would have understood 'no nursies until morning' until around 16 months maybe?  I knew for sure before I started this process at almost 19 months that he would understand it.  He signs like crazy, follows directions, and is just all around really listening to everything we say to him.  

 

I was actually better rested during the night weaning process than I was before we started it.  :(  That's really saying something, that even the first night when we had several combined hours of crying and walking the floor, that I felt better rested the next morning than when he was nursing all night.  But for me, I had to be at that 'about to drop' level of tired to consider night weaning.  Nursing all night had just become the 'harder' option at that point instead of the 'easy' option that it used to be.  

 

 

Here's how last night (night 5) went for us:

 

He nursed to sleep at 9:00, came into our bed at 11:00, and immediately fell asleep, and then slept allll night until 5:50 AM!  He stirred a couple times without crying which woke me up, and I gave him sips of water (in his sleep!) and he would settle right back down.  I figured after a night that good, nursing at 5:50 instead of 6:00 was acceptable.  ;)  

 

Sooo, I guess we're done?  Unless we have any kind of backsliding, I think we are where we want to be.  He was again really happy and cheerful all day today.  And so was I.  :)  

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#12 of 16 Old 09-25-2012, 09:37 PM
 
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Wow, very cool.  I like the idea of starting "and now we're done until morning" later in the night.  That way it doesn't have to be allll night long cold turkey.  I do think my kiddo gets hungry at night, just because that's when she does lots of nursing and I get the best let downs.  She's so USED to getting lots of milk at night that her body might be banking on it in some way.  Hmmmm....I still need to gear myself up a bit, but perhaps am getting closer.  Thanks for the suggestions!

 


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#13 of 16 Old 09-26-2012, 06:16 AM
 
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Day 2 for us was a mix of encouraging sleep patterns and some not-so-much. DC was fairly out of sorts yesterday - not the much improved mood that Earlybird experienced. But, neither of us got more sleep after that first night. But, last night until 5 was quite a bit improved, even after just the one night. DC started her nursing frenzy around 11 last night. Honestly, I wondered if I could make it until 2. At 12, I told her to go to sleep, "no, boobies." She went back to sleep (self-soothed/cuddled) until 3. I may have nursed for a bit at 2 but can't remember. This was an awesome improvement because DC hasn't done much other than nurse to sleep. DC was happy for the most part up at 3. We ate, walked, read and she eventually fell asleep with her head on my arm and both of us snuggled together in bed. Probably around 3:45. A good result, IMO. The not-so-great part was her waking up again at 5. She wasn't quite so happy to get up (she was tired!) and wanted to walk and walk. What kind of surprised me is that she didn't really seem to expect to nurse. She asked a couple of times but didn't seem surprised or all that frustrated by the "no". She seemed so sound asleep on my shoulder but would wake when I sat down or tried to get back into bed. Eventually she woke enough to have some yogurt and fell back to sleep, again snuggled with me in bed. Fortunately DP was able to take my older child to school today so we were both able to sleep unil 8:30. 

 

So, for us the positives are: 

 

  • DC is learning some self-soothing techniques 
  • She is less frustrated when she wakes (nursing wasn't soothing her like it should in a good night-nursing situation) 
  • She has not nursed for two nights from 2-6
  • She seems to understand "no boobies" and doesn't seem sad about that at all 

 

The not-so-greats are: 

 

  • DC is still waking twice between 2-6 and takes between 30mins-1 hour to get back to sleep (ouch!) 
  • Her second waking last night was kind of a bear - she was high needs and wanted to walk and walk - not sustainable if this continues for longer than a few nights 

 

I'll keep posting here...

 

Great, timely tread Earlybird!! 


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#14 of 16 Old 09-27-2012, 03:46 PM
 
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Someone else posted this article in another thread and I found it really useful...  it talks about not associating waking with milk... but still allows for nursing going to sleep. My DD is turning three at the end of the year and occasionally sleeps through the night. I would love to make it more normal to do that. She is like 99%+ percentile for height and weight so that's not an issue. She just only knows milk for going back to sleep.

 

My problem is my one year old is also in the bed... so how to do without waking him all the time!!

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#15 of 16 Old 09-28-2012, 05:51 AM
 
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Update

 

Slow and steady wins the race, I think. DC has improved over the last two nights. 

 

Day 2 was fine but no marked improvement in mood and perhaps a bit grumpier in the AM. Night 2 was pretty rough. She was again in very good spirits about not nursing but she was awake several times for long stretches. I can't remember the exact times but I think she went from 1:30-3:30 with no nursing and then up at 3:30 for about 45 minutes. She did fall asleep just snuggled with me in bed, which was great. But then she woke again at 4:30 and needed to be walked to sleep. And THEN she woke again at 5:30 and wanted to eat something. We had yogurt and it took her a long time to fall asleep. This would have been a very, very rough day if DP was not able to take the older child to school. 

 

Day 3 was wonky. Her nap got disturbed and she woke after only 10 minutes, which is very unusual for her. Then she fell asleep at 4, again, unusual. But she got a good nap and was in a fine mood all day. Night 3 was a marked improvement!! I'm so happy to report. bow.gif DC woke at 1:15 and I was confused about when I was going to stop nursing. I picked her up and walked her and the rocked her for all of about 5 minutes before she fell back to sleep. A couple of times that night she woke and fell back to sleep by herself. Then she woke again at maybe 3:30 for a quick walk and back to bed. At 4:30 she cried but it was a very weak cry - something I recognized from the car. It was the cry she would do right before falling asleep. She crawled up on me and fell back to sleep. I think this was a mile stone because it's the first time she's been upset and able to calm herself down without a lot of intervention from me. She woke again at 6 but before the sun came up but I nursed her because I felt like we had done enough work for that night. 

 

For the first time since starting this I'm feeling better rested than having just continued to nurse through the night. Good spirits today. I'm looking forward to tonight! 


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#16 of 16 Old 10-15-2012, 11:51 AM
 
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I can see why IdentityCrisisMama asked me to check out this thread.  You are all wonderful mothers.  Maybe I can help.  I'm a trained and certified gentle sleep coach. And I have 5 children. Crazy or Courageous?

Cold turkey is such a harsh way to do anything, don't you think?

 

 In behavioral science you see that as you change your behavior, your child will change their behavior.  In this type of situation anyway.  It's hard to make the change from responding in the night with nursing back to sleep to not doing that.  If you are ready for that change, there are gentle ways to do it.  I never suggest cry it out.  Kim West has a great method called the sleep lady shuffle. It's in her book "Good Night, Sleep Tight"  It works great especially on children over 18 months. You use a very supportive approach and as they learn falling asleep skills that carry throughout the night, you can offer less and less support until they are sleeping through the night on their own and they naturally start eating more throughout the day. As they learn to fall asleep at bedtime without nursing to sleep, they can more easily fall back to sleep between sleep cycles.  The waking up is normal, that's not what you change, it's the knowing how to get back to sleep without needing you to come do something for them.  When you wake up you just roll over and go back to sleep.  When they do it, they need you to do whatever it was you normally do to help them get back to sleep, nurse, rock, walk, hold, etc. But there is a big picture to look at.  Are they getting enough sleep during the day?  That makes a difference.  Are they overtired by bedtime, that makes a difference.  Is your bedtime timing right?  That makes a difference.  There is a common misconception that if you keep your baby up later they will fall asleep faster and sleep later.  Usually it's the opposite. 

 

For kids younger than that I use the Kinder-sleep methods they are Kind-er than any method promoted in the sleep books. More of a constant presence and full support but there isn't a book about that.  You need a trained sleep coach for that one.

 

As for weaning, try doing a dream feed before you go to bed and aim to get a 11pm to 6am stretch.  But if you feed your little one at 6am, don't nurse back to sleep.  You want to start your day with the first nursing.

Great books are Jodi Mindel's Sleeping through the Night and Kim West's Good Night Sleep Tight.  Many of the other books are some version of cry it out but the science on development and sleep habits are good but I don't like their sleep training methods.  I prefer a sleep coaching method, gentle, supportive, attentive, responsive but evidenced based.

 

I don't profess to know everything but I can help answer questions and be supportive.  The reason I became a sleep coach is that women need women and often it's the constant support that makes all the difference.  I posted more about myself in the Pleased To Meet You forum on Oct 11th.  I'm new to forum posting so I'll see if I'm needed here.

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