My DD is 14 months old, and I've been feeling very conflicted ever since her first birthday. We have had a very intense routine from the beginning - she naps while being held or worn, and she breastfeeds throughout the night. When she was a newborn, ,it felt normal. Now that she's entering toddlerhood, I'm starting to feel like some of these habits are getting a little old. In part, I'm feeling pressure from family - even DH says things like, "Well, she's a year old now, so it's time to be a big girl..." and grandparents say, "Now, now, I know you don't want to hear this, but at some point you're going to have to wean..." Stuff like that.
Maybe I'm giving in to the pressure. But also, it's starting to feel a little silly. This growing girl who can lead me to the shelf and hand me the box of crackers, can't understand naptime? Sometimes I feel like she's outgrown my parenting, and I'm still treating her like an infant. I look ahead at the school years, about her reading books in her room before bed like I did as a girl, and I can't imagine how we get THERE from HERE.
Can you please set me straight about what's normal for this age? How did you all transition into more big-kid routines? What do years 2-3 look like in terms of parenting transitions?
Ok, my son is only 15 months, so I can't give much advice about the next year. But I can say that I've found that we constantly change our "status quo" because one or the other of us feels like it isn't right anymore. Like, rather than routines gradually changing, there's sort of a "great shift" when things change a lot. Before the great shift, there's a few-week period where we feel awkward because something isn't right.
So? You're feeling awkward. This is a perfectly normal opportunity for change and growth!
First of all re: weaning. Don't worry about that. Your daughter is way too young to wean, and her grandparents can screw off.
But naptime: sure, maybe you guys can work on seeing if she'll lie down in a bed or crib to nap. When she falls asleep on you, can you move her around? Can you put her down on the couch or bed or something once she's asleep, or does she just cry and wake up when put down?
If so, you may have to do a thing where you take your sleeping baby to bed and lie down with her, settle her back to sleep, then get up and leave while she's right out. See if that works and get back to us!
I have an 18 month old and feel the same way. I read the No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and started the Jay Gordon gentle night weaning plan, and it worked (until he started teething again; oh well). The No Cry for toddlers book has some good advice about what toddlers this age do and don't understand, and the author is clear that night weaning does NOT have to mean total weaning - she night-weaned her son at 13 months but he nursed until he was 3. She has some good ideas for what to say to them, that worked for us ("the milk is asleep").
Anyway, just a thought. I know it's hard to hear those comments from people. Good luck!
Our little people need lots of reassurance and to know that we are there for them. You are doing great things for your babe's brain development by giving her the reassurance and comfort she needs. It is when she has that that she is free to grow and develop. If she has to spend all her time searching for comfort than she has no time for growth.
Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012
I weaned my daughter from night nursing at 15 months and she and I both did much better for it. For me, it was freedom (for a couple months at least until I got pregnant again) and for her it was a newfound responsibility of going to sleep on her own. The very first night I didnt feed her to get her to go to sleep was the first time she slept through the night. She's done so ever since. So, I am a minority here who does NOT think that weaning around that age is a sin (they can make their own antibodies, are eating solid foods, and have no real biochemical/physiological need for breastmilk at that point. The WHO recommends breastfeeding until 2 years old because MOST of the world does NOT have access to clean water or food, so it is a way to keep babies safe. We have no such issues in this country.). SO... if you want to wean, go for it. You may find it changes everything for the better. In other words, if what you're doing right now doesn't seem like it's fitting the bill DON'T feel guilty if you need to make change. For example, my 4 month old DS is an absolute horrible sleeper. kept both of us up all night long, really not good for me (I work) and not good for him, too. So we moved him into his own room sooner than we expected and it's been SUCH a great decision for everyone. Do I sweat it? No, because the change was positive. Remember that everything you decide is being decided for the good of the pack.
I'm not sure how to get a child used to napping on their own. Does it bother you to hold her while she naps? I had my older one bring her special blanket out and nap on that near me when she was at an awkward point. I think you could try a few things (and hopefully you'll get a good variety of suggestions here) and something will hopefully improve that for you.
It does feel weird how they go from being babies, to young toddlers, to older toddlers, to preschoolers, to older kids, to tweens, etc. I don't know how my 11-year-old moved from babyhood to where she is now, but nature seems to know what to do. I wouldn't worry too much about them maturing. They will no matter what you do. I was just thinking the other day how I remember her being a baby and me telling dh that I couldn't imagine her ever being someone who would walk and talk and have opinions about things and that kind of thing, and yet it happened. LOL But as for transitions, I think right around 2 is a good age for nightweaning (you could start trying at 18 months even and see if it seems to go easily, and if not wait a couple of months and try again, and if it doesn't go easily wait a couple of months and try again, etc.) Even if the attempts at night weaning don't take hold, it might encourage longer stretches of sleep, which would be helpful regardless. Nightweaning led to weaning within a few months for that child, which I was glad about, but you should be aware that it is a possibility if that would be a problem for you.
I agree with the other ladies, 14 months is very young to wean, if you feel you can still supply her with nourishment and or comfort. Some believe if it's nursing just for comfort then it's not needed, but if they need it, they need it, no matter the reason. My family did the same thing with me when DS was 1. He weaned himself. Now with dd, she is 16 months and still night nurses and falls asleep nursing for nap, though i do sometimes lay her down after she falls asleep. I am pregnant with #3, so not much milk, but she still shows NO signs of stopping! Every child is different!
The biggest thing is to listen to your mama instincts. your and her needs change, so you adjust, but don't abandon how you've been parenting her her whole life. It's what you think is best for you and your dd. Your mama instincts are amazing, and people mean well, but they aren't with her and you all the time.
Good luck!, I hope you find your own voice in this and have the strength to go with what you find is best for you and her.
I think it's very different for each child, and that it's important that the child leads the way to show her parents and the world what her pace is and what she is ready for. In my opinion, gentle encouragement is fine, but not if it feels like pressure, because kids can internalize that and really take it personally, like, mom and dad want me to be different from how I am...
Now nursing isn't that simple because it is your body, too. I would keep nursing as long as it is comfortable for both of you--but in terms of her being ready, some kids wean themselves around your child's age, and some nurse way past that, into their 3rd or 4th year--it is just so different for each family. My child nursed until he was 2.5, and would have kept nursing, but my milk dried up, and it became very painful for me--so that decided it for us. In terms of naps, my child is 3.5 now, and because he always fell asleep in a wrap or in my arms while I was nursing him, there was no way he was going to adjust easily to a naptime routine where I laid him down and walked away (or laid with him for that matter). He just wouldn't fall asleep that way. I bought a cheap jogging stroller off craigslist, and now we take a stroller walk after lunch every day, and that is how he falls asleep, and it works like a charm. Plus, I get my exercise!
I don't think that carrying your one year old (or two year old or three year old for that matter) means treating them like an infant. I learned about some nonviolent cultures where children are carried almost everywhere until they are around 2 years old, and are carried often even after that. I would carry when she wants to be carried, when your body allows (obviously don't hurt yourself!)
I don't think you ever "have" to wean--I think it can be something fluid that happens naturally when both of you are ready. It doesn't have to be this thing that is imposed on a child...
It sounds like you have made amazing choices for your child, and you are hoping to have support from your partner and family, and they happen to have different beliefs. I am very easily influenced by others, I doubt myself and my choices very quickly, and at the same time, deep down in my heart I know I am doing right by my child, even if my choices are unpopular and go against the grain. I learned, when people criticized me for carrying, to say, "oh are you concerned about my back?" to give then an out, and it steered the conversation away from parenting. Or when it came to nursing, I would say that the international average for breastfeeding is 4.2 years, and that the WHO recommends two years, and that was the end of it. It's so hard when family butts in with their ideas and tries to tell someone how to parent, just try to stick to what you know is right, and maybe look up some sites on mindful parenting or attachment parenting for some reassurance. Best of luck to you!!!!
Thanks mamas! From what I'm hearing, it sounds like for most kids, 14 months is still "very much a baby," but not to be surprised if DD starts making changes on her own, or starts seeming ready to change. I especially appreciate the advice to take "awkwardness" as a signal. I wanted to check in because I wanted to be sure that my parenting wasn't holding her back. We both still find nursing very satisfying. And the napping-while-held arrangement is only a pain when we have other things to do - most of the time (like right this minute) I looooooove having her warm body snuggled against my chest in the Ergo.
With attachment parenting, it seems like the older the child gets, the more obvious the differences. With a one-week-old, most parents are all doing about the same thing - anything it takes to keep baby calm and fed! Then you start seeing nursing mamas choose to (or have to) wean to bottle. A few months later, the sleep-training begins, and parenting styles - and babies' daily routines - start to really diverge. Not long after that come decisions about solid foods, TV time, discipline, etc. After more than a year, when I take DD to playgroup, there are now major noticeable differences in how each child is parented. I am in the minority, even in my super-crunchy hippie town. So, I needed to do a little check to be sure I wasn't as weird as I feared I was. :) Thanks for chiming in!
My DD is 16mos, still nursing, but just starting on her own to wean from night nursing. She stopped nursing herself to sleep long ago, maybe around 4 mos old? She would nurse, be awake, and go down after she was done eating, it was her choosing. I've allowed her opportunites at night to fuss and put herself back to sleep without rushing to her like I did in her infant days and I play it by ear - if she cries I get her and she nurses back to sleep, if she just moans a bit, I let her be. When cutting teeth, I expect her to be up every 3 or 4 hours. Now that she's in between on the teeth (she's got 12) she's been more settled, PLUS her daytime nap schedule has shifted drastically over the past 2 mos from 3 naps, to one long one mid day. I have family members and friends comment on the nursing, and the nighttime waking - it's really none of their concern and I've learned to ignore it, or in some cases I tell them enough, I'll raise her how I see fit, and the convo pretty much ends there!
My DS is 16 months and naps while held and nurses throughout the night also. This is what he needed from day one and what he still needs to sleep, and I'm choosing to honour his needs, and that's usually how I explain it to the inlaws & close friends.
I personally think I'll wait until his language is better before we attempt to change things. I know he won't be willing any time soon. Hopefully I'll sense it when he is, in my head that might be around 2 years, but we'll see. Stick to your instincts mama.
To start with, I came up with a cosleeping compromise that's been a small miracle. She starts the night in a pack n play then cosleeps in a sidecar after I go to bed. I moved the PNP to a different room and set up a nook with her rocking chair and bedtime books. Suddenly bedtime is SO much easier! We've always had a routine but the special space really helps. And, DH and I are ecstatic to be able to relax and read (ahem) in our bed in the evenings. She still nurses later in the night, but this change has relieved some of the pressure from DH to stop cosleeping.
Second, I'm working on breaking the nurse-and-hold-throughout-napping habit, but so far DD is very unreceptive! At first I tried using her new sleeping nook for naps too, but that was too much after being held for over a year. So, I try laying with her on our bed and practicing the Pantley Pull Off, in the hopes that gradually she'll learn to nap alone and eventually go down in the PNP. Speaking of Pantley, I agree that the Toddler book is a great read, and I'm slowly implementing some of her other ideas and being more mindful of a predictable schedule.
And third, I just stopped talking about sleep problems and breastfeeding, pretty much to anybody. I don't need criticism, and most of my local mama friends have long since weaned (or their babies self-weaned early) and they just look at me funny. So I keep it to myself, and am silently grateful to have such a deep and loving connection with my child, even though it means I don't get as much sleep or time to myself.
All in all, things do feel awkward, but I'm happy for small successes! I appreciate this forum so much for your permission to continue nurturing my baby as I see fit, for as ling as it feels right. That's so encouraging!
You sound like such a connected, committed momma. Your little one is so lucky to have you and your attention and connection will pay you back time and again for years to come! It's all about balance; finding a system that works best for everyone. And it sounds like you're knocking it out of the park. :)
Big hugs to you. You've got this!
My son actually night weaned himself. He was a pacifier baby though so at around 6 months I think he just made the distinction between food and comfort. I noticed he just woke up, looked for his pacifier and fell back asleep.
I wish we had more space - the crib/PNP is a thorn in my side (she hates it so we go through this long nursing-rocking routine to be able to put her down). But her room has to be part home office, so we can't babyproof it enough to switch to a toddler bed or floor mattress. We're house shopping and eager to have a bit more space for baby to grow into new routines!
|Weaning , Breastfeeding , Breastfeeding Beyond Infancy , Toddlers , Sleep|