Nightwaking in the older baby...what's "normal"? - Mothering Forums

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Old 03-30-2011, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My almost one year old DS is bedsharing and bfing. He usually goes to bed anywhere between 8 and 9pm, wakes up maybe 2 hours later, I nurse him back to sleep, then he'll wake up around 2 or 3, nurse back to sleep, sometimes again at 5 (because the alarm goes off for DH), nurse back to sleep, then between 7:30-8:30am for the day. There will be more when he's teething, but generally that's the pattern on a good night.

 

So here's the problem. I haven't had a full night's sleep in a year. I'm not complaining yet because he goes back to sleep very easily as long as he gets the boob. However, I would really like longer than a 2-3 hour stretch of sleep at any given time. I know at this point he doesn't NEED to have so many feedings at night, but if I refuse and try to pat his back, or anything else, I get kicked and he cries. I really don't want to deal with a crying, kicking baby at 3am, so he gets the boob. He is still nursing about every 3 hours during the day AND having 3 small meals of solids, so I know it isn't reverse cycling or anything like that. I am a SAHM, so I still feed him on demand or offer a feeding if it's been 3 hours, hoping that he tanks up during the day and sleeps at night.

 

Is there an end in sight if I don't do anything to change this situation? Or do I actively have to night wean by trying to cut feedings? I feel like he's too young to understand any kind of verbal explanation, so if I really wanted to refuse him he would be left to CIO which I am NOT going to do. However, I am tired. I have read so many other posts about older babies who are still waking up for feedings and it makes me feel like I have an indefinite amount of time to keep dealing with this. I really miss sleep. It doesn't help that it's always on me to deal with it, since I'm the one with the boobs.

 

Anyone BTDT? What worked for you and your LO?


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Old 03-30-2011, 09:54 PM
 
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I can't offer you any advice but I can tell you that my 10.5 month old son is much like yours at night. He doesn't eat as much as yours during the day and we only cosleep in the early morning but I understand what you're going through. I have tried to put things in perspective and just realize that this time will be over soon and enjoy my time at night with him. He still needs me whether it's for nutrition or comfort. It's difficult and I feel frazzled and very tired most days but at least there's lots of us in it together:) Hang in there!


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Old 03-30-2011, 10:28 PM
 
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My DS (just turned 2) was like this. He's still an awful sleeper but it HAS gotten better. One thing in specific that helped was side-carring a crib to the bed and getting him down to sleep in it. I'm apparently a more restless sleeper than I thought and would accidentally wake him. That only made things slightly marginally better; it might get me 2 3-hour stretches a few nights a week. It still helped though.

 

The other thing that helped immensely was having DP get up in the morning with DS on Sundays and letting me sleep in that extra hour or two. During that time, he'd give DS a simple breakfast and they would play until DS realized I was still in bed. I don't even think it was so much the extra sleep as it was time in the bed *alone*.

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Old 04-02-2011, 08:38 PM
 
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I have btdt 3x now with all of my kids who nursed and co slept a LONG time.  I had no break between that last two as my dd2 was still nursing at night when her brother was born (she was 3y 3m at the time).  Here are some things that I have come to realize.  My kids would have continued to nurse at night a lot longer if I had been willing to continue.  However, it got to the point with all of them that I just could not do it anymore.  A tired mommy is not a good mommy in our house.  I believe that breastfeeding is a relationship and it has to work for both people involved.  That said, I waited to initiate night weaning until the child was ready intellectually to understand what was going on.  It was usually around 3.5 years.  We just went through this with DS who is 3 years and 5 months.  First, months ago I started laying him down in his own bed and told him if he wanted to nurse at night he had to come to me.  He did this and this alone cut down on some of the nursings.  You know, the ones where they roll over and run into the boob and think, "oh it's here, I guess I'll nurse." He still ended up in my bed every night though, which was fine with me.  Then before finally starting night weaning we spoke about it a lot.  During the day, we role played what we would do at night when he woke up instead of nurse.  I reassured him that I would be there and hold him, rock him, sling him, sing to him to help him sleep but no matter what we could not nurse  until the alarm clock rang.  I use the alarm clock ringing instead of the sun coming up because the sun rise time changes.  Also, this way I can gradually set it later and later to increase my sleeping time.  The first couple of nights he was not all together happy but he chose to get into the sling and have me walk around.  Clearly this temporarily interrupted my sleep more.  However, after 2 days or so he stopped wanting that and was satisfied with rubbing or cuddling and singing.  Then he had a health set back and he regressed for a few days.  Now we are back to waking only 1x and cuddling only (I don't wake up really anymore when he crawls into bed).  I just wake up with him all curled up in my arms. love.gif He nurses when the alarm clock rings which at this point is around 6am.  He really accepted this beautifully and we are all happier for it.  There is no way I think he would have been ready much earlier than this.  However, I also think he would have happily nursed all night long well into elementary school if I had been ok with that!eyesroll.gif  Oh... another tip.... I make sure to wear a long sleeved pajama top with a camisole or sports bra underneath to reduce temptation....

 

Just wanted to add that I have nothing against mammas and kiddos nursing at night until elementary school.  My dear friend irl has a 5 year old who nurses at night and everyone is happy.  This just doesn't work for me...  hth

 

jennifer


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Old 04-03-2011, 08:22 PM
 
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Quick answer: it's "normal" for children to wake at night or not "sleep through the night" during their preschool years.

My ds just started sleeping through the night and he's 3.5 yo. My dd is 20 mo & she wakes anywhere from 2-4 times a night. My body has adjusted to interrupted sleep after 3.5 years of it - I just spend more hours in bed to make up for it. I feel your pain:)
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Old 04-05-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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This sounds completely normal to me.  Your body can adjust to it.  You may not be getting enough protein or other nutrients in your diet to keep you from being exhausted.  Are you getting enough iron?  Having an adequate diet can make a HUGE difference in how you feel when you're pregnant, nursing, having interrupted sleep, etc.  If you're feeling very tired during the day, perhaps attention to diet can help.

 

I haven't slept through the night in 4 years.  My DS1 didn't sleep through the night without waking up at least 1-2x to have the blankets put back on him until he was about 3.5 yo too, like SustainableParentng mentioned, and he was completely weaned, in his own bed and his own room at 2.5 yo.  My DS2 is 20 months and was waking to nurse at least 4x per night until a few months ago when he moved to his own bed and I began weaning him (he was totally ready and fine with it, I had no milk due to pregnancy also).  DS2, who is now weaned an in his own bed next to ours, wakes 1-2x at least because he is cold or has a wet diaper or wants a drink of water.

 

I don't feel it is reasonable to think a young child will sleep through the night until they are somewhere in the 3-4 range.  If you get a full night's sleep with any child younger than that, have a celebration day.  If you get these regularly, you're incredibly lucky.

 

You say that you "know" he doesn't need to nurse so much at night.  Why do you think that?  He's nursing every 3 hours during the day AND getting solids, so why shouldn't he need to nurse at LEAST that much at night?  Why wouldn't he "need" to nurse every 2-3 hours?  If you night wean, he's still going to need something every 2-3 hours, just like in the daytime, just like he needs now.  If you night weaned to get more sleep, you LO would need that breastmilk replaced with something... maybe water, maybe longer nursing when he does get to nurse, etc. 

 

Remember too that he won't be like this forever.  He's growing up fast, your nursing is helping him in immeasurable ways, and before you know it, you'll be sleeping through the night and missing your little bed-mate.  Enjoy his presence by your side now and remember how much it helps him to feel so secure being with you and knowing you are right there to meet his every need.  Changing the way you look at the situation can have an immense impact on how it feels to be there at 3am awake and caressing your little one.

 

Good luck.

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Old 04-05-2011, 09:32 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone! I guess I just feel like most people have told me that at a year old, nightwaking isn't normal anymore unless there is some kind of problem like food allergies or reflux or something, which I'm pretty sure is not the case since he does go right back to sleep after nursing. I have read that at a year old, babies don't "need" to nurse through the night for nutrition, but I guess he could be doing it for comfort or other reasons. I don't have many friends who co sleep, breastfeed, etc., so when I hear people talk about how their kids have been sleeping through the night since they were 4 months old I don't know what to say. I know in my heart that I don't agree with that kind of parenting (not judging, just stating that it doesn't work for me) and that I am committed to bedsharing and allowing DS to self wean, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to just sleep alone in a huge bed for 8 hours straight sometimes!


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Old 04-06-2011, 12:25 PM
 
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I think it's a fine age to nightwean, personally if you feel that the nights are negatively affecting your days. Yes there may be tantrums, etc but IME they pass quickly and everyone feels better after a good night's sleep.

I actually sleep well with the nightwakings when mine are infants. Something changes in the second year though. I just can't sleep as well with it so I make changes. I only cosleep/night nurse if it helps us all to rest.

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Old 04-06-2011, 05:38 PM
 
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This is a good method for night weaning IMO http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html

My dd is 14 mo and getting her last two canine teeth, so after those come in I plan to night wean her - all she has left are her 2 yr molars.  I am also expecting #3 - and tired of her waking 3-12 times a night to nurse... I feel like it is time to night wean when the pain and inconvenience of night nursing outweighs the ease of the instant comfort.  I night weaned my first baby at 18 months using Jay Gordons method.  It was hard but it worked. 

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Old 04-08-2011, 08:37 PM
 
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Don't worry--it is normal, as you can see from everyone's replies! My DS is 18 months and still has 2-4 nightwakings, depending on how stubborn he's feeling. We usually get one at around midnight, and then another around 2-3 and then another at 4-5, though recently he's sometimes been sleeping until 6 (so exciting!). Sometimes we get really unlucky and he truly wakes up and wants to play at one of those times. greensad.gif Anyways, I have been working on nightweaning with him, and I'm pretty sure that he knows exactly what Mommy is doing and why. The thing to check when your LO wants to nurse is whether or not he's actually getting any milk--I decided we were going to wean off certain wakeup nursings when I realized that it was just a comfort nurse, not a food nurse. Now when he wants to nurse at those times, I just tell him, "No, bub is for hungry, and you're not hungry." Boy does he sometimes get mad at me when I say that! He temper tantrums for about 20 seconds, finally takes his paci back (rather than trying to throw it on the floor), and snuggles back into my arm to go to sleep (we bedshare). The first few times I did that, he'd then wake up about an hour later and try again. Once we'd gone through a few nights where Mommy held firm, he figured out that we were changing our routine and started sleeping longer. It's actually been really good all around, as we're getting much longer sleep cycles all around now, and everyone is less cranky in the morning.

 

At any rate, my advice would be that if you're really unhappy and having a hard time functioning, to try and track when he's actually nursing to eat vs. nursing for comfort, and start working on cutting out the comfort nurses one by one. You'll get some temper tantrums, but they won't last all night. As you keep working on it, he'll adapt and you'll both be happier. Remember, this is, after all, nighttime parenting, which means it's okay to set some limits and stick to them. They're a little less rational when they're sleepy, but they can still handle these kinds of things.

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Old 04-08-2011, 08:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AshleeS View Post

This is a good method for night weaning IMO http://drjaygordon.com/attachment/sleeppattern.html

My dd is 14 mo and getting her last two canine teeth, so after those come in I plan to night wean her - all she has left are her 2 yr molars.  I am also expecting #3 - and tired of her waking 3-12 times a night to nurse... I feel like it is time to night wean when the pain and inconvenience of night nursing outweighs the ease of the instant comfort.  I night weaned my first baby at 18 months using Jay Gordons method.  It was hard but it worked. 


Ooh, thanks for posting this--that's where I actually started when developing my method of dealing with my son. It's been working really well for us, and seems to go best if you have a partner who can't BF who can share the comforting with you. Having my DH help with getting my son to sleep has really improved things.

 

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Old 04-12-2011, 03:22 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mrs.t View Post

Thanks everyone! I guess I just feel like most people have told me that at a year old, nightwaking isn't normal anymore unless there is some kind of problem like food allergies or reflux or something, which I'm pretty sure is not the case since he does go right back to sleep after nursing. I have read that at a year old, babies don't "need" to nurse through the night for nutrition, but I guess he could be doing it for comfort or other reasons. I don't have many friends who co sleep, breastfeed, etc., so when I hear people talk about how their kids have been sleeping through the night since they were 4 months old I don't know what to say. I know in my heart that I don't agree with that kind of parenting (not judging, just stating that it doesn't work for me) and that I am committed to bedsharing and allowing DS to self wean, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't love to just sleep alone in a huge bed for 8 hours straight sometimes!

 

 

I heard that too, that at one year my DD's sleep would be so much better. Everyone I talked to promised me the same. I held on to that, it's what got me through that first year. Well one year came and went with not much change, other  than we were sleeping a little more at night, and sleeping less during the day. She was still waking 6-12 times a night though, and that was with us not going to bed until 12-1am and getting up at 6am. I half-heartedly tried night-weaning at 15 months, and quickly realized that I was not willing to have her cry, even with me right there comforting her.  It was at that point that I just sort of let go of the worry, the desire to "fix it". I discovered that letting go of it was a huge relief for me, I was able to just accept our situation as it was. I decided I was not only committed to letting her self wean, but also to self night wean as well. I know she will give up night boobies when she is ready to. I stopped watching the clock when she woke up, and miraculously she slowly stopped waking as often. Now at 27 months she usually wakes 2-4 times a night, sometimes more, but she sleeps on average 12 hours at night and I get 8, however broken they may be. I have no idea how long she sleeps between wakings, but the first stretch of sleep is always her longest (I know that because I am usually still awake then).
 

 


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Old 04-12-2011, 09:43 AM
 
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This is totally normal! My almost 18mo still wakes 2-4X/night! I think some people luck out with kids who truly sleep through the night early, and some people (esp those who don't co-sleep) maybe don't notice/their kids get used to putting themselves back to sleep better.

 

Blackannis- what do you do when DS wants to play at night? Ours has been doing this recently too, and my poor husband gets up with him and they hang out. This routine is getting exhausting for everyone!

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Old 04-12-2011, 11:12 AM
 
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Totally normal at that age. I actually think your child is a rather good sleeper from what you are describing. Cosleeping and nursing often goes along with more nighttime wakings and feedings. I know of children that wake up regularly at age 2 that are not nursing any longer and that don't co-sleep, and I know of children that co-sleep and nurse and that only wake up 1-2 a night since 6months of age.

 

That said. You have to find your balance. I am still night nursing my 18month old. He wakes up 4 times at a good night and 10times+ during a bad night. I have thought about night weaning, but I am not ready to go through the pain and sleepless nights of nightweaning. I have started to offer patting him on back to sleep, which works in 5% of the wakings.

 

We have found other ways in our little family to stay sane. If there were a couple bad nights, dh takes dear son in the morning and I get to sleep in, while they go to the playground and come home with a nice breakfast.


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Old 04-13-2011, 07:20 PM
 
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Yes, my almost 16 month old DD still wakes up 2-4 times a night. We bedshare, so I just roll over, nurse her and go back to sleep. I get to sleep in on Sundays, DH on Saturdays or on a weekday, depending on his schedule. It works for us. Sometimes when we have a "bad" night I consider nightweaning, but when that happens DD just happens to sleep really well one night and I drop the idea ;-)


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Old 04-15-2011, 08:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone! I feel so much better after reading these responses. I think I'm just going to let him wean on his own, since he does seem to be sleeping more soundly for a few hours at a time. I have really bad nights as well when he's teething or something like that, and I swear I'm going to nightwean, but then he'll have a good night and I figure it's just easier that upsetting my sleep by trying to wean him. I guess I'll never have my old sleep patterns back!


 

 


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