19 month will not fall asleep without breat - Seeking advice - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 4 Old 08-18-2012, 09:59 PM - Thread Starter
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Apologies this may be in the wrong topic area.


I understand this is a forum for mothers but as my wife spends nearly her whole day busy in the home and taking care of our daughter (an they're both sleeping atm) I decided to post it up here and see if there is any help out there. Our daughter has been breast feeding the entire time but needs the breast to go to sleep and if she stirs/wakes up in the night also needs the boob to get back to sleep. This is a troubling ordeal sometimes as my wife is lying in bed with her for a half-hour or more trying to get her to sleep. As I see it there are probably a few problems here..


Over-tired. Our daughter has some crazy sleep habits which I believe has to do with lack of routine naps, she likes to nap at 1:30pm or so and sometimes this works but other days when we have to go out to take care of things this is just not possible. These days she may nap at like 4-5pm for a couple of hours.. This seems to make it a lot harder for her to pass out later on at night.


Super addicted to boob. She really loves the boobies and is all about "two boob" as she puts it, I know this drives my wife crazy sometimes she just wants to relax but our daughter is mauling her breasts. She also likes to pinch the cr*p out of her nipples I know this is really pissing my wife off.


Never attempted to teach her anything else. I ultimately blame us for not knowing better earlier, I think this situation has gotten out of hand simply because we needed to do what worked initially. Our daughter was very "collicky" and we basically had to sleep on shifts for the second or third month I cannot even remember, we tried many $cam remedies that did nothing but lighten out wallets.



I've tried to help her get to sleep on my own, this worked one time when her mom was out for the night with her friends. I believe this is because my daughter got used to the idea that boobies just were not available before she got tired, truthfully I expected this night to be a hellish experience for the both of us but she passed out relatively easily with me simply singing her a song and lying in bed next to her.


However, attempting to repeat this success has not yielded any further success.. She cries for her momma and eventually I think my wife cannot take it just comes in an gives her the boob.


So I'm looking for advice basically how can we reduce her reliance on breasts for sleepy time comfort? I plan on trying more of the same thing as before and trying to help my wife cope maybe suggest she throw on some headphone listen to some tunes/read a book or whatever. It is tough because we live in a one-bedroom apartment so there is really no where for her to go to physically remove herself from the situation.


Other than that I'm kind of at a loss. I try to distract my daughter when she is crying for momma with things like a stuffed toy she likes or showing her city lights outside our window, she seems to like these things.. sing her a song, lie her back down when she seems to relax.. She will get up and crawl to the bedroom door crying for momma, it is pretty tough to do this over an over routine.


Anyhow, any advice on this would be really appreciated. Thanks for reading.

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#2 of 4 Old 08-18-2012, 10:26 PM
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Welcome to MDC. It may be called mothering but dads are always welcome too :-)

I'm going to comment on the issues you've raised from my perspective. Feel free to take what you think will work for you and leave the rest.

Daytime sleeps: yes, if she wants to sleep at 1:30 and can't, then sleeps later it is going to be harder to get her to bed at night. I see a couple of options. 1. Limit as much as possible the occasions when she has to miss her 1:30 sleep. I know this can be a pain but you have to decide which will make your life easier. We do this on a case by case basis ( the sleep usually wins). 2. If she absolutely must have a later sleep then wake her after an hour. Alternatively don't do a daytime sleep that day and make bedtime earlier. You may have to experiment a bit to see which will work best for your LO.

"Addicted" to breast: most babies are at that age. And 19 months is still very much a baby. Regardless of what you may read or hear, babies of that age are not able to "self-settle" or "self-sooth". They still need mum or dad. If your wife wants to continue feedIng your LO to sleep then there is nothing wrong with that. In fact there are a lot of benefits. Using the time to read or listen to music is a great idea. I still feed my 27mo to sleep and I always have a book and my iPhone to hand. Sometimes I'd rather be doing something else but mostly it's a nice excuse to lie down for a rest myself.

If she does want to night wean then I have heard good things about Dr Jay Gordon's method. It is gentle and breastfeeding friendly. I haven't tried it myself though so hopefully someone else can comment further.

Teaching her something different: you didn't do anything wrong in responding to your baby's needs. You haven't taught her "bad habits" or caused a sleep problem. She sounds exactly like a normal 19mo to me. My best advice is to go with it. Put strategies in place to help you and your age have your needs met and remember that they're only little for a short while. My husband and I lie down together when we put our LO to sleep (unless he's at work of course). It's a family time we really enjoy and we can often chat quietly while she falls asleep. We've learned that sometimes we just have to do thIngs separately. It's not ideal for us but it's what works best *for now*. And whn we're in the midst of an especially challenging phase I repeat the mantra I learned here "this too shall pass"

All the best :-)

Mother of two spectacular girls, born mid-2010 and late 2012  mdcblog5.gif

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#3 of 4 Old 08-19-2012, 04:54 AM
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Hi crazydad and welcome. I would agree with everything katelove posted and have a couple of additional ideas.

I have a 17 month old who is very similar to your little girl, plus she is teething and sick at the moment, so she's even more intense at the moment.
The first thing is, toddlers are SMART and have a keen boob-dar. If I'm in the house (and we live in a 2 story old brick house with plenty of room to "remove myself") she KNOWS. I can't be in the house and expect her to fall asleep without nursing. She knows I'm around and will get very upset because to her, I'm available, yet not willing to nurse her. The reason you had great success that night was because mom was physically gone, girly knew it and accepted the alternative. If mom is in the house but not nursing her down, your daughter may feel sort of rejected and that can contribute to her crying. If you'd like to give your wife a break at bedtime a few times a week, I suggest sending her out before bedtime routine starts. She can go get groceries, do laundry, or even get a haircut and a cup of coffee. Believe me, when I get to do the grocery shopping in peace, it's a treat and a mini vacation lol. I would bet money that you can repeat your earlier success but only if mom is off the radar and out of the house until baby is asleep. My brother and SIL had exactly this dynamic and their toddler didnt even nurse. If mom was home (anywhere in the house), my niece wouldn't accept comfort from anyone else.

For the afternoon nap, is your daughter willing to ride and fall asleep in a stroller or the car? On really desperate days we resort to these ideas. If I'm alone and within walking distance to my errands, I can usually strap her in the stroller, provide some water and a little snack and if she's tired enough, DD will pass out in the stroller, letting me hit the bank, drugstore, etc. I agree that if naptime happens at 4 or later, bedtime would be affected. I don't generally wake my DD up, but it's a rarity for her to nap past an hour anyways. On those days I push bedtime back a bit and I pay really close attention to her sleepy cues.

As for the pinching of the breast/nipple, that comes under nursing manners, which can be worked on at any age. I have a very grabby girl too and she has tried biting in the past. For pinching my flesh while nursing, I do a few things: offer a small soft toys to keep her hands busy, slip my hand on my breast to provide a barrier or use my shirt or a blanket to limit her access to my skin. I don't tolerate being pinched and on tough days when I'm having trouble with her, it can get really irritating really fast. I just do my best not to give her the opportunity once she starts pinching. As for the nipples, the second she is done nursing, I cover up. She is curious about my nipples and wants to play with them, but to me they fall under the same category as batteries: not to be played with lol. If she fusses, I offer to nurse more but if she's not serious then away they go again. If she was pinching the nipple with her teeth while nursing, then I would treat that as a bite and just remove the breast immediately and put her down. If she cried, I'd offer to nurse again but would stop if she pinched again. I had to do this with her to stop biting and it worked like a charm. These days I also explain things to her a bit: no thank you, pinching (or biting in our case) hurts. Gentle touches (kisses) only.
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#4 of 4 Old 08-20-2012, 12:11 PM
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My senitments too.....she is doing what is natural. If she needs the breast, go with it.  As KateLove said, she is only young for a short while. The breast fulfills so many needs to a young child. Plus in the long run it seems so much easier than other elaborate measures to get a little one to bed. Around the world, night time 'rituals' are uncommon, but nursing to sleep is. Plus if it wasn't the breast, it would be the thumb or a pacifier for a breastfed baby trying to find the comfort to sleep, but she would not be receiving the oxytocin that makes her feel calm, peaceful and sleepy as she does from breastmilk.


When my son gets into the late nap routine, and is up until midnight, I reset  his internal clock by leaving the windows uncovered, so that the daylight wakes him the next morning. If you need them down at bedtime, then raise them when you wake Dad. I find this leads to an earlier nap the following day and then the following night bedtime is earlier. 


The rough breast 'twiddling' will pass too. Women seem to deal with it different ways; teaching 'gentle', redirecting hand, etc. During this phase, I wore a different necklace each day to which he would play with. and I taught 'gentle' by taking his hand and showing him what gentle meant (as we did with our dog). Babies and young children just don't know, they don't have the cognitive brain development yet to realize that they are capable of inflicting pain on another. It also helps to understand why they twiddle. It primes the breast for milk let-down, so when they switch it will be ready to give more milk. They just take it too far. My son's technique was jabbing his thumb nail into my nipple. I had to keep his nails well trimmed for a while.


You may like this article: http://kellymom.com/bf/normal/comfortnursing/

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