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-   -   Want to wean almost-5-year-old but it's the only way to get him to sleep (http://www.mothering.com/forum/37-co-sleeping-family-bed/1361906-want-wean-almost-5-year-old-but-s-only-way-get-him-sleep.html)

SollysMom 08-29-2012 07:57 PM

I'm 20 weeks pregnant with #3 and tandem nursing my two boys (almost 5 and 2.5). Before I got pregnant, I nursed them both quite frequently including nursing to sleep and cosleeping/nightnursing both of them. Shortly after I got pregnant, we nightweaned DS1 (I nurse him to sleep in his room then DH sleeps with him when we go to bed) and I reduced both of their nursing frequency to morning, bedtime, before/after naps if they nap that day, and I still cosleep/nightnurse DS2.

I really would like to completely wean DS1. We've had a long, successful nursing relationship but I'm beginning to feel agitated when he nurses and it makes me feel angry and resentful. It doesn't feel the same with DS2 - I sometimes have nipple pain/sensitivity with both of them when they latch, but I don't get the agitation with DS2. Anyway, I feel like I am stuck because DS1 will not settle down and go to sleep without nursing. He is very high energy, spirited, and challenging. My husband can get him to sleep if he has to, but it means letting him stay up late until he's exhausted and laying down with him for an hour or more - usually he falls asleep before DS does. My husband had an incredibly stressful job and is a rockstar with the kids when he gets home, so I don't want to just pass off bedtime to him knowing it will be that difficult (though we've already discussed when the baby comes, we'd like the older two to go to bed for him or independently).

I've tried unlatching after a few minutes and trying to cuddle, sing, rub his back, but he just squirms, won't stay still, talks and giggles, and says he wants to get up. And I get angry and impatient and make the situation worse because he senses my agitation. I've thought about maybe getting a book-on-tape or something, but I'm afraid he'd listen to the whole thing and still be awake at the end - he's not the kind of kid who will fall asleep watching TV or anything like that. If we put on a movie when he was exhausted, he'd stay awake for the whole thing.

Does anyone have any experience weaning an older child who depended on nursing to sleep? He's too old/big to wear or rock to sleep. I feel so hopeless because I always give in and nurse him because it's the quickest way (since we've cut out his nap it doesn't take
that long) but I always come out of bedtime feeling angry and resentful towards both him (unfairly) and myself.

Thanks in advance for any replies.

Vancouver Mommy 08-29-2012 08:21 PM

My 5yo weaned about 8 months ago. It happened immediately after oral surgery that required stitches and medical recommendations not to suck for a few days. I'm sure they meant a straw, but in our case it meant nursing. I simply never mentioned it again and he rarely brought it up. I was happy it worked out this way as I was feeling the same way you described when he nursed. We found other ways to get him to sleep and within a few months he was going to sleep on his own - without a parent in the room (I was beginning to wonder if that day would ever come). My ds was like yours as well - wiggly, squirmy, resisting sleep and we would spend an hour every night trying to get him to nod off. Now we read to him, stay for a while and then he can read or play in his room till he's tired enough for sleep.

 

The one thing I can say in hindsight, is that these changes are rarely as difficult as I imagined they would have been, but they do require an agreed upon plan and some perseverance. Good luck! 
 


transylvania_mom 08-30-2012 06:16 AM

His birthday is in September, right? You can start talking to him about the fact that when he turns 5, he gets to have a big cake or surprise or party (whatever you plan for him anyways) and he won't nurse anymore. This is what worked with my ds, when he was 4.

 

To help him settle down you can rub his back or massage his legs. It makes it more difficult to squirm if he's on his belly. Also, both my dk like to sing or talk to themselves for a bit before they fall asleep; but if I don't engage in their conversation, they fall asleep eventually.
 


SollysMom 09-04-2012 10:12 AM

I want to thank you both for your replies and also provide an update. Nursing to sleep had been stopping working; he would nurse and seem relaxed but then unlatch and nothing would settle him down again. So it seemed like a good time to cut out nursing at bedtime altogether. Several nights ago after he nursed and wouldn't settle, we battled for a LONG time before I finally asked my husband to give it a try because I was so frustrated. We went back and forth a few times and even let him get up for a while, but what eventually ended up working for DH was to grab some pillows and lie down on the floor blocking the door, so DS wouldn't be able to leave the room. Eventually he was so exhausted he just went to sleep on the floor too, then DH waited a few minutes and moved him to bed. We've been sticking with this method but rotating who does it, because it's not a fun job and also we want him to be able to go to sleep for either of us. The first few nights he really protested and fought with us quite a bit, but it's getting better. Last night was my turn and he only battled for about 10 minutes, then tried to get me to talk/play with him, to which I would not engage and simply say "Shh, it's time to go to sleep. I love you". Last night was a big victory too because it was the first night we got him to sleep at a reasonable time instead of when he was exhausted/overtired, and it only took me 50 minutes which was much better than it had been. I'm hoping it will keep getting better with time!

Juvysen 09-04-2012 10:21 AM

YAY!  Sounds like you're almost there!



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