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#1 of 16 Old 10-27-2011, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We have two boys, now ages 5 and 3.  We're expecting #3 in April.

 

I've had sufficient time to reflect on the babyhoods of my boys, and have had one year now of them both sleeping through the night (neither did until they were two).  This is what I've learned from that reflecting: I believe that my ultra-responsive nighttime parenting negatively impacted my much less responsive daytime parenting.  In short, I was too tired to be a really good mom most of the time;or, which I think happens to be worse, to truly enjoy their babyhoods.  Looking back, from this perspective of lots of rest and lots of energy, I was really not the person I wanted to be during that time.

 

Please note that this is not a vote against "ultra-responsive nighttime parenting."  This is a highly personalized reflection based on who I am and the amount of sleep I need to be the person I want to be.  And what I've decided is that I don't want to be cranky and exhausted for this third baby's first two years.

 

So what do I do?  There's no way I could handle any crying.  It's true that my husband will be of more help-- he was in medical residency for the babyhoods of the first two kids, and often wasn't even home at night.  But will that be enough?

 

An acquaintance of mine, whom I am trying to get to know better, has two boys and she says she has successfully gotten them to fall asleep without nursing from an early age.  She credits this with their ability to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.  We practiced EC with both kids, including at night when they wanted to, and I always found that nursing to sleep simply made them wake up more frequently because they needed to pee... and then they needed to nurse to sleep again.  What a vicious circle!  So the not nursing to sleep sounds, well, practically good.

 

But I can't believe that I would be able to do it.  How on earth does one teach a baby not to fall asleep at the breast, practically?  At what age, and what about naps? And how on earth does one teach a baby not to fall asleep at the breast from an emotional standpoint?  Is easier sleep really worth sacrificing that delicious moment of the fluttering last couple of sucks, the contented roll off the breast, the sleepy milky smile in your arms? 

 

You can clearly see I'm torn here.  But this I do know: I want to continue being a happy person, and I want to be able to say that I enjoy having a baby.  I couldn't say that for most of my children's first years because I was truly just too exhausted most of the time.

 

Advice?


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#2 of 16 Old 10-27-2011, 09:51 PM
 
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Could you nurse this baby at night and just not EC?  I have two boys also (a 2.5 year old and a 6 mo old), and my 6 mo old nurses at night, but goes right back to sleep usually.  I don't ec, but if I have to do a diaper change it wakes him up more and then takes longer to get him back to sleep.  And you never know, this baby might not like to nurse to sleep.  That was the ONLY way to get my oldest to sleep.  However, my youngest rarely falls asleep at the breast.  Most of the time he nurses until he is done, turns his head and then drifts off.  Or he will wait until I lay him down, and then fall asleep on his own. 

I understand your struggle though.  I want to be able to parent this baby the same way I did my first.  It just doesn't seem possible.  Some days I am so exhausted that I don't have much patience for my toddler.  I feel guilty because I don't have the energy to do the things that I know we should be out doing.  And I feel guilty because I know the baby isn't getting a lot of quality time either. 

I wish I had better advice for you.  All I can say is try not to worry too much about it now?  For me it seems like things always change once the baby actually arrives.  Maybe this baby will be mellow and not require a lot of nighttime attention.  And whatever you decide, once the baby is here, you can always change your mind. 

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#3 of 16 Old 10-28-2011, 11:51 AM - Thread Starter
 
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crunchier- Thanks for your reply.  Sage words for someone with kids that age-- I remember (foggily!) what it was like. :)  I know waiting until babe gets here is a good approach, but I sort of had that inclination with DS#2... and just succumbed to the path of least resistance (nursing him to sleep) out of exhaustion.  I suppose it is possible that this new baby might not nurse to sleep, and I hadn't thought of that as a serious possibility, actually.  But with DS#2, I was nursing him down for naps and bedtime until he weaned... 1 month ago.  And he weaned because I was pregnant.  :)  

 

As for EC, I firmly believe that "sleep trumps potty."  I just ended up with two kids who frequently went through phases of wishing to potty at night.  Not always, but sometimes.  It's really hard not to potty a kid when they are signing for it.  Impossible, even.  :)

 

 

I'd still love to hear from folks who took an intentional approach to disconnecting the nurse/sleep association.


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#4 of 16 Old 10-28-2011, 05:23 PM
 
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You can take or leave my advice, because I didn't fulltime cosleep with either baby -- I nursed them to sleep at their natural bedtime as it emerged from the haze of constant sleep-wake, put them down in a basinette by the bed (later, in a crib) and let them sleep alone until they woke up and then brought them into bed with me in the wee hours.

 

I nursed my kids to sleep until they stopped falling asleep nursing -- both of them around 10 months.   But when I nursed to sleep, when they were totally down, I unlatched them and fastened up my nursing bra and shirt -- I didn't leave them latched on.   I found, duiring the cosleeping portion of our nights, that I simply could not sleep deeply enough to drop into REM sleep with a baby attached, so I *had* to remove them from the breast and then control access so they couldn't help themselves in the night.

 

In general, my nursing philosophy (and this will probably get me flames) was that my breasts were my body, and remained my body -- they were on loan to my babies while they needed them, but I did not give up all say as to the when and where and how of them just because they were on loan.  

 

WIth the setup describe above, I found that each child slept longer stretches from that initial nurse-to-sleep session (between 8 and 9pm for both kids -- this emerged naturally over the first 3-4 months of their lives).  My older child started sleeping until 4-5 am by the time he was 12 weeks, his little sister didn't sleep past 2am until she was 14 months.  But both of them, around 10 months, stopped falling deeply asleep at that evening nursing -- they'd pop off and look around, nurse a bit more, look around ... and I discovered that with both, they were able at that point to fall asleep on their own without crying if I just put them down....

 

(as for cosleeping:  DS is 11 and still occasionally crawls in with us if he wakes up to pee at 5am, and DD regularly crawled into our bed in the wee hours until just last year).  


savithny, 42 year old moderate mom to DS Primo (age 12) and DD Secunda (age 9).

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#5 of 16 Old 10-28-2011, 05:26 PM
 
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I nurse DS to sleep, but my cousin and good friend have left their babies to fall asleep right from birth. They both seem comfortable with fussing (not crying, just those little newborn murmers) and leave the baby to do that until he or she falls asleep. The babies know this as their routine, and from what I can tell never get to the full-blown crying stage.

 

I'm like you though, I couldn't manage to listen to even some fussing without going for the flutters and milk-drunken sleepy face! ♥

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#6 of 16 Old 10-28-2011, 08:04 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kobaby View Post

I nurse DS to sleep, but my cousin and good friend have left their babies to fall asleep right from birth. They both seem comfortable with fussing (not crying, just those little newborn murmers) and leave the baby to do that until he or she falls asleep. The babies know this as their routine, and from what I can tell never get to the full-blown crying stage.

 

I'm like you though, I couldn't manage to listen to even some fussing without going for the flutters and milk-drunken sleepy face! ♥



That is what my neighbor does that never nursed her kids to sleep does as well. They fuss to sleep from newborn on. She nurses them, places them in the crib, and leaves the room, repeat for every sleep time. She nurses for years, just never to sleep.  It is way out of my comfort zone so I've never done it. For my 3rd and 4th babies, I had loved the idea of them not nursing to sleep every single time for years, but reality is just not so. 


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#7 of 16 Old 10-28-2011, 08:33 PM
 
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I intentionally never nursed ds to sleep and I am happy to share my method- but keep in mind that ds is an only child, so I don't know if my time consuming methods will work well with someone who has three children. I had decided when I was pregnant that I didn;t want to use the nurse to sleep method for various reasons. Anyway- at first, the first few months were lots of trial and error. And my time line is a little vague as far as when things actually happened but here is what I did. I prioritized getting him to sleep with whatever I could manage to figure out. We always swaddled him- that worked well for us, and he used a pacifier. So for the first few months I think it was just this- when he was a newborn he slept pretty easily. He slept in a arms reach co sleeper (sleigh bed style) next to the bed.  He would wake up a couple of times to nurse at night but I didn't nurse till he fell asleep, he wouldn't fall asleep nursing. Usually we would nurse and then we were Ecing in the beginning (which didn't work for us as he is still in diapers now at 19 months) so we would potty him and change diaper or whatever, then reswaddle and sing lullabies and pat him to sleep. As he got to be a few months old it started to be less easy to get him to sleep. I got some good advice IRL and here on MDC in which we got a baby swing- for us it was the fisher price travel swing, and swaddled his top half, put in the paci, and sat in front of him , turned on the swing music and pushed the swing so it would go pretty fast ( a little faster than the highest speed) and sat in front of him till he started to get sleepy drift off ish, then moved to the back. My theory was that I was teaching him regular sleeping shcedules, and basically teaching his body to sleep. I also learned that it was good to start his first nap, when he was young, 1- 1 and a 1/2 hours after he was awake. Then we would do another afternoon nap. We used the swing for many months- I cna't remember exactly but till he was 8 or 9 months- for every nap.  For bed time I would nurse him to make sure he was full ( or give him a little cereal when he was older) and then diaper change/ec, swaddle, paci, then lie next to him and pat his back and sing lullabies. He eventually outgrew the swing and so we just did the swaddle, paci, and pat and sing lullabies.  We also moved him out of the co sleeper when it got too small but then just sidecarred a crib. this works well for us. Now we still do a smililar routine at 19 months- though now his nap starts much later and is only one. but also for bed time- wrapping him up in a cozy sleep sack, give him his pacifier, pat sometimes, and sing lullabies ( or any song). I actually weaned him at 16 months ( though I still pump breastmilk for him now) .

The other thing is I decided then and still do now- that sometimes it takes a long time to get him to sleep ( 1/2 hr or so- though today it took me 50 minutes to get him to nap but that is longer than it usually takes)(on a good day now it takes 15 minutes or so) and I was just committed to putting in the time and teaching his body to sleep a lot.  When he was little, if he would sleep for a 1/2 hr and then wake up I would not consider his nap done, and I would do what I could to get him back to sleep. I just decided to be really committed to his sleeping as much as I could- and I was able to because I am a sahm with only one child to care for, so I can take as much time as I have to to focus on his sleeping. Anyway- thus we never nursed to sleep and these methods worked for us.

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#8 of 16 Old 10-29-2011, 03:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Snapdragon- Thanks so much for your detailed story.  I think it will prove really useful to me.  One point I wasn't clear on-  When you say that you nursed him at night... are you saying you would get him back to sleep without nursing, and then nurse him while he was asleep?  And here's a general question-- if he ever began to fall asleep at the breast, would you take evasive action, wake him up?  I can't imagine doing that; I'm fairly certain with my second DS that would not have even been possible.  :)  But I'd like to know.

 

I love the idea of a swing.  We've never had one, but I think that might be a good purchase at this point.  I also think this baby will be worn even more than the second, who was worn more than the first, and that will probably be a good approach.

 

As far as EC, may I offer a little unsolicited reassurance?  I actually am quite involved with DiaperFreeBaby, so can speak professionally-- 19 months is a very hard age for lots of kids who have been EC'd.  Just because your little one is not yet a graduate, he is still "ahead of the game"- he is likely much more in touch with his physiology and abilities.  You've probably saved a lot of diapers.  You've shown him that you are committed to trying to help him meet his needs.  He's been spared many rashes.  Etc. 

 

But at 19 months, he is test-driving his new little personality, and most likely cannot be bothered by pottying.  I always laugh when I read about watching for "readiness" cues around this age.  Both of my boys were almost like little tyrants at that age and were not really interested in doing anything that I thought was a good idea.  And both of them came around shortly thereafter.  So hang in there.  Keep up the communication, and, as much as you can stand it, stay away from diapers.  He can learn as a young toddler that diapers are just easier, and choose to take the lazy way out.  Do thick sweat pants tucked into socks, or naked time as often as you can stand with a "clean up station" nearby.  Have him clean up his own "pee pee uh-ohs".  Indulge in a new potty that is one he chooses. 

 

Anyway-- you've likely heard it all before, but I wanted to put in some time towards your cause since you were so helpful with mine. 

 

~Aletheia

 

 


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#9 of 16 Old 10-30-2011, 05:20 PM
 
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hi! I think he just never fell asleep nursing. I would nurse him till he was satisfied, then we had kind of a routine where I would pass him of to DH to burp, then we would re swaddle him and lay him in the co sleeper. I am not sure why he didn't fall asleep nursing, but I do know that I was deliberate about not nursing him to sleep simply because I wanted to keep those two things (eating and sleeping) as seperate. So I guess he never got in the habit of nursing till he slept.

The swing was a lifesaver for us when he was little because there was a period between where he was an easy sleeping infant, to where we figured out the swing thing, where we didn;t know how to get him to sleep. so that was good to discover (through other people telling me how to do it). I never nursed him after he was asleep.  I am trying to remember if he ever fell asleep nursing, and I asked my dh but we can;t remember him doing that. Now it is all a bit of a blur in my memory!

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#10 of 16 Old 10-30-2011, 06:30 PM
 
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Hi Alethia

 

We actually do not use nursing to sleep in our household (the exception being in the wee hours of the morning when the little guy sleeps with me and stirs, so I pop him on the breast).  But for naps and when we put him to sleep, and any wakeups that my husband handles we do not nurse.  We rock him instead - which I know is not "letting him fall asleep in the crib" - but at least it means my DH and I can share the parenting.

 

From about 2 months when we started following a pre bed routine, I would nurse the little guy till he was sleepy but not yet asleep and then remove the nipple from his mouth.  Usually he would fuss at this.  Then I would hold him close and upright against me and walk him around the room until he was asleep, then I would flip him in my arms in the cradle position and then place him into the crib.

 

When he was 3 months I returned to work and DH stayed at home to look after him, so obviously nursing to sleep for naps was out of the question.  DH was able to get him to nap using the rocking technique described above.

 

Now he is 11 months and I've been a stay at home mom since he was 6 months.  For naps I'll read him a story then rock him using the above technique.  For nighttime, same thing, except I do nurse him as part of his bedtime routine, but when he is finished nursing he pops himself off the nipple, which is when I pick him up and start rocking him.

 

The only thing is he is now getting super heavy, and it is hard work walking him around the room, so we just bought a glider and so I've been walking him around just for a couple of minutes to settle him down, then flip him into the cradle position and sit down in the glider and rock him to sleep that way.

 

I hope this helps.


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#11 of 16 Old 10-30-2011, 06:48 PM
 
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I am really just subbing. I have no good ideas or solutions but my second is due any day and I have a lot of the same thoughts you've written about OP.  I know that my daytime parenting was majorly affected by lack of sleep and know there is no way I'm going to be able to do the same things with number two as we did with number one.  My plan has also been not to nurse to sleep.  Have you read the No Cry Sleep Solution and the whole "Pantley pull off" method?  We did this with DS and it helped somewhat but it was too late.  I want to start it right away with this one.  Looking forward to hearing more replies from other mamas. 

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Looking forward to hearing more replies from other mamas. 



Hi there APToddlerMama - I posted about our experiences above.  Part of the reason why I decided not to nurse to sleep was reading Pantley's book and her advice to avoid baby falling asleep at the breast about half the time.  Hope this helps!

 


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#13 of 16 Old 10-30-2011, 09:37 PM
 
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hi, I have been thinking a little bit more about this since I posted it and remembered a couple of more things. I think using the pacifier was a big part of my approach. I decided that I would use a pacifier from the beginning, and so when I felt that he was done nursing (when it seemed to me that he was full and calm) I would take him off the nipple and put in the pacifier. I think this was an easy transition for him, and then the pass off to dh who would walk him around the room and pat him till he burped. So this was a thing we set up and we all got familiar with it. I think the paci served as some of the comfort sucking aspects for us.

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#14 of 16 Old 11-01-2011, 07:44 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aletheia View Post

 

An acquaintance of mine, whom I am trying to get to know better, has two boys and she says she has successfully gotten them to fall asleep without nursing from an early age.  She credits this with their ability to fall asleep more easily and stay asleep longer.  We practiced EC with both kids, including at night when they wanted to, and I always found that nursing to sleep simply made them wake up more frequently because they needed to pee... and then they needed to nurse to sleep again.  What a vicious circle!  So the not nursing to sleep sounds, well, practically good.

 



I don't have any experiance with EC but DD is just now 9mo and has been nursing to sleep (in a crib for about 3 1/2 months now) since day one. and had been sttn for about 3mo consistantly (and by that I mean an 9-10 hr streatch or more) we do CD and I make sure to change her right before I nurse her at bedtime so she goes down with a fresh diaper (7-8pm) and she wakes up wet and ready to be changed at 6:30am like clockwork. Sometimes she'll nurse back to sleep after for an hour or so but sometimes not. Even when she doesn't I count myself lucky, I got an easy one and I know it, but a good friend of mine had also had success with nursing to sleep so I know it's not just me... I guess for us a big part of her going to bed and realizing it was night time and thusly it was time to stay asleep was having a routine. (bath, get changed, go for our walk around the block, go around the house and say good night to everyone and then nursing in her room until she falls asleep and i put her in the crib) it's not so much what time we do all of this, but that we do everything in the same order that seems to set her up for a good night. I notice that when I skip things bed time doesn't go nearly as smoothly as when we stick to the plan. Then again DD is our only child and I'm an only child of an only child so my experiance is limited. I had tried at one point to wean her off nursing to sleep (this was when she was waking up every couple of hours at night and I was desperate for a block of uninterupted sleep and hoped that DH could put her down) and it just never worked. she either wouldn't go down or she would wake up like 10 -15 min later and be really angry about it. Eventually I just gave up on weaning off nursing to sleep and we worked on staying alseep longer/not wanting get up an play in the middle of the night)....

 

Not sure if any of this helps but that's my 2 cents... Good luck mama, I feel you about needing adequate sleep to be the mom you want to be (I'm the exact same way, lol)


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#15 of 16 Old 11-02-2011, 06:12 AM
 
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I don't have any other advice - you have gotten some really good tips! I just wanted to say that neither of my 2 girls nursed themselves to sleep; they would nurse until they were done, then be alert and calm for a while, then drift off to sleep.  I kind of wished they would fall asleep nursing, so I could have a surefire way of getting them to sleep, but it wasn't to be.  So it's possible that your new baby won't be a nurse-to-sleep baby, and you'll be off the hook. Good luck!


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#16 of 16 Old 11-03-2011, 06:55 PM
 
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I guess my only input here is that I don't know that it necessarily has to be an either/or thing. You have more mothering experience than I  do, though, and I know every baby's different, so I'm not trying to step on any toes, only to say that my daughter (now 6 months) usually nurses to sleep, but starting between 2-3 months and more regularly as she's gotten older, she often just falls asleep on her own. Sometimes it does involve a bit of fussing, yes, but not crying. More like intermittent semi-distressed babbling. But a lot of times it doesn't even involve that. It's not something I can control, but as I said, it's been getting more regular. The times when she doesn't nurse to sleep usually happen because she's not that hungry or is too distracted to focus on nursing but is obviously tired. At those times, sometimes I can just pat her to sleep, sometimes it's as simple as laying her down, and other times loud white noise is a godsend. I made a recording of our vacuum cleaner using the program Audacity (free download) and then burned it onto a CD. We used to use the real vacuum cleaner but this way we can graduate the volume down and it's still very effective.

 

I guess my approach all along is to enjoy relying on nursing because it's sweet and very effective, and if she falls asleep then, so be it. But when the opportunity arises to see if she'll do it on her own, I see what'll happen--I think of it as practicing the skill.

 

So maybe you could just try to work in more of these practice sessions with the new baby, giving him/her the chance to try falling asleep, and have nursing as a fallback?


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