I have LOVED breastfeeding my son and nursing him to sleep. Considering that I used to be one of those women who was like, "Breastfeeding? Gross, no way!" I am amazed at how much I have loved it. Everything I have read and everyone I talk to says that nursing to sleep is a horrible idea, but I cannot express how much I have enjoyed nursing him to sleep. But I feel it is time for him to start learning how to go to sleep in other ways.
At the moment, the only way to get him to sleep is either nursing or walking in his stroller. At least for naps and middle of night feedings. At bedtime, we've started a form of sleep training that has worked really well. He doesn't like being rocked to sleep if he's not nursing and it's too stimulating for him if we sing or rub his back as he's in his crib. And the one time we've tried CIO (horrible idea) he completely lost it. But it works for him to just have one of us in the room, sitting quietly and not talking to him, but just being there until he falls asleep. Works like a charm. But only at bedtime.
So now it's wintertime, it's freezing cold out, and I don't want to go for a stroller walk twice a day to get him to sleep. I really just want to help him learn to go to sleep without nursing or walking. Any ideas? He's 11 months old. I know many of you on this site are big supporters of breastfeeding well beyond infancy, but that's just not for me. My goal has been to breastfeed for a year and I've modified it so that I want to start phasing out daytime feedings after a year and then slowly phase out nighttime feedings over the next few months after that. I'm not in a hurry.
Any ideas for beginning to break that association? There must be some gentle ways of helping him sleep that don't involve CIO, even though that's the only advice I get from family and friends.
I did it pretty gradually. At around 12 months, I couldn't breastfeed anymore, anyway (basically dried up), so I started substituting an evening bottle, then a few bedtime stories (to space out the interval between the milk-like substance and the actual going to bed). After awhile, that got phased out and replaced with water. Still doing water before bedtime/nap, but I can live with that...after all, I do basically the same thing for myself.
Getting them to go to sleep/nap on their own is a totally different topic, one I won't touch with a ten foot pole!