Share your Nightweaning Success Stories - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 13 Old 05-24-2004, 12:45 PM - Thread Starter
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I wanted to start this thread because we are having some great successes with nightweaning and I keep referring to it in various posts of mine. I thought I could post it once then just post links to it. Then I was reading some other success stories and thought this might be a great resource for people here.


So here's our story.

DD is 22 months. She has always been a very good sleeper, she woke a few times per night to nurse, but it was easy for me. I slept through it mostly, she would just nurse then pop off when she was asleep. About two months ago, we began to have a problem with her waking up fully in the middle of the night and wanting to go out in the living room and play ("out to pay!"). I did this a few times, b/c sometimes she goes through weird phases that don't last long, and I figured this was the gentlest way to get through it. But after several nights of this, staying awake for anywhere from 1.5 to 4 hours, I had had enough. Plus my Dad was coming to visit us and would be sleeping in the living room.

I think the biggest "lightbulb" moment for me came when I realized that DD was already used to the idea of limits. No, you can't have another cookie now. No, we can't play on the computer right now, etc...We do structure our lives to make sure this doesn't happen very often, which may be why she handles it quite well. She'll let out a wail, throw herself on the floor...I'll comfort her with soothing words/tone of voice, pat her back, or pick her up to hug. And she gets over it super fast. So....I thought, maybe this nightwaking thing will go over the same way. It's just one more of those little disappointments in life.

The first thing we did was make sure she wasn't actually hungry. She wasn't eating alot for dinner, and going to bed pretty early, so that she might have actually been hungry. I made sure she ate alot before bedtime, and I kept a sippy cup of water by the bed. When I was certain it wasn't hunger, I acted. She woke up and asked to go out. I said "no, sweetie, it's nighttime. Nighttime is for sleepies". She kept insisting. Thing is, she won't leave the bedroom unless I do, so she stood in the doorway. When I said no again, she wailed and threw herself on the floor. DH says to me "Do you think this is a good idea?". I replied "I don't know, but I want to try it and see...I'll keep a close eye on her reaction". Right after I said that she stopped, got up, and came back to bed. DH and I were stunned, lol.

She didn't do it again for several nights (oh, I was not attempting any restriction of nursing at this time. I figured if she would only stay in bed she could nurse all night long for all I cared!). Then she started again. She put up a bigger fuss this time, and I foolishly got up with her. I just held her and walked around the dark living room, and told her that we would be out here for "5 minutes" then we'd go back to bed. When it was time, she barely made a fuss, and nursed back to sleep. However, she did it again the next night. On the third night, I thought I might be making this all I told her no. She cried longer than she did that first time. I soothed her the whole time. She probably cried off and on for about 5 minutes, tops. Then she came back to bed. It took her a long time to go back to sleep, but bless her she tried very hard.

She has not asked to go out since.

The next step when this was well-and-truly over with, was to start the nightweaning. I'm pregnant and it is very uncomfortable for me to nurse her. I have been suffering from insomnia, and would also like to be able to focus on our new baby's nursing needs at night when he arrives. I have to admit, that I might not have been willing to try this if not for two things: first, we had this "five minutes left" thing down pat (see below). Second, on odd occasions, DD had unlatched herself while still awake, turned onto her tummy, found a comfy position (after a bit of jostling) and settled into me to fall asleep without the breast. This was the encouragement I needed.

I started by limiting the nightnursing. For months we had been doing this "countdown" when things were about to end. Five more minutes then we leave the playground. Two more minutes then we stop playing on the computer. Two more minutes then we go have a bath. I count down every minute or two, and then we do (or stop) whatever it is. She caught on to this so fast and it works like magic. So I decided this would be a good tool to limit the nightnursing. It worked just as I'd hoped. When her time was up, she would unlatch and try to settle herself to sleep by snuggling up to me. Bless her heart she really tried, and every so often she'd be successful, sometimes I'd have to give her another two minutes. But those times became less and less. Oh, when she was settling herself, I would always say "go sleepies now", so she associated that phrase with settling herself.

The final step was to say no to the nursing altogether. She would want milkies and I would say "milkies are sleeping, sweetie...go sleepies" and she would often do just that. Sometimes she protested a bit. Sometimes I gave her a sippy cup and that was good. But I was surprised at how often this worked. Again, it was just a few times at first....if she was really wanting milkies I'd give in and say "two more minutes". I was worried that this might set us back, but it didn't. And it was not often that I had to do that ("give in").

Well, it's been two months now, and we had already cut down from 3 - 4 nightnursings to 1 or 2. But in the past four days my DD has TWICE slept through the night without asking to nurse!! Last night was the second time. I was awake with insomnia and she did stir several times. In fact, she kept rolling off the bed, lol (we have just a mattress on the floor, and it barely woke her). Even with me dragging her back onto the mattress, etc she stirred but never even went close to asking for milkies. No rooting or anything. I was amazed. She would just snuggle up close to me (she seems to like having her body touching at least part of mine), I rubbed her back or her tummy sometimes...and eventually she'd settle back to sleep. She didn't nurse until she woke up for the day, and that I was happy to do for her.

I anticipate that these nights will become more and more frequent until they are the norm. I am very happy that all this has been done so easily and so gently. She has taken it all so well. I'm thinking this will make life with the new baby alot easier (the next step is to put her back between me and DH and have HIM be the snuggler/back rubber). But most of all, I feel very very good about the fact that I waited...I sensed she was ready for this, and it all went so smoothly.

I hope our story can encourage or help others.

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#2 of 13 Old 05-30-2004, 11:42 AM
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We have nightweaned successfully as well. DD is 27 months now and I started nigthweaning at about 24-25 months. For the first 2 years of DD's life, everytime she woke up at night, I just nursed her back to sleep. I didn't mind this until I got pregnant, right when DD turned 2. At that point, nursing became rather difficult and painful.

For some time now, DD has nursed to sleep, but actually pulled off the nipple and turned over on her tummy and gone to sleep that way, all on her own. That greatly faciliated nightweaning.

I started nightweaning by telling DD that we would nurse at night right before bedtime, and then we weren't going to nurse again the sun comes up. So, when she woke up at night and wanted to nurse, I simply reminded her of that, and tried different things to help her go back to sleep. Sometimes, I would simply turn my back to her, and she would kinda whine for a minute or two, but then climb on top of my back and fall asleep that way. Sometimes I would rock her and then lay her down and snuggle next to her and she would fall asleep that way. Sometimes I would lay her face down on my lap and pat her back. I only had to do that for about 2 weeks or so, before she learned how to resettle herself, and now if she wakes up at night, she just moves over in bed so she is right next to me, snuggles up and goes back to sleep. If I am not in bed when that happens (either in the bathroom or just haven't gone to bed yet), when she wakes up she comes and gets me, but I just pick her up, carry her back to bed, rock her for a minute or two and lie her down, and she is back asleep again. Likewise, the same process occurrs if she falls asleep in the car on the way home from someplace, I don't nurse her at all, just carry her in the room, rock her for a minute or so and she is back asleep. The whole process was really rather easy. When morning comes (light comes into the bedroom), she wakes up and wants to nurse, and we nurse then and then get up for the day (we get up really early, like 6:00 AM).

Now, I am working on getting her to go to bed without nursing. The nightime nursing before bed, seems to be particually difficult for me, (I think because during the day, when she nurses I surf MDC. LOL or check email or read so I am distracted), but at night I am just lying there in the dark. Plus, I have noticed that she seems to fall asleep much faster WITHOUT nursing at night than with nursing. It seems when she nurses at night, she kinda prolongs the nursing (maybe because she knows she won't nurse again until morning). So, what I have been doing is nursing her and then after a few minutes telling her you can nurse for 20 more seconds and then we will stop. I softly count to 20 and then take her off. Sometimes she cries and fights this, but she settles and down and stops within a minute or two. I then hold her in my arms and rock her, until she is alseep (takes about 2 mintues) and then lie her down and she settles next to me and goes to sleep. At that point, I usually just go to bed as well, but if I want to get up, I wait untils she is fully asleep and get up (usually less than 3 minutes).

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#3 of 13 Old 05-30-2004, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for sharing, Amelia!

Sounds like our DD's have a lot in common: the unlatching and turning onto their tummies, etc. I've also noticed that DD likes to be pressed up against me when she falls asleep. It's actually quite lovely!

I wanted to provide an update. DD is in this funny pattern right now.

Night 1: sleeps through with no nursing
Night 2: wakes about 4 times needing to nurse (still doing the "2 minutes" thing, btw)
Night 3: wakes only once or twice

then back to night 1 again...

She's done two cycles of this and we had a "night 2" last night, so I'll see if it holds...kinda funny, but also normal. I find the "successes" come intermittently at first, and gradually get more common.

I'm really pleased with how all of this is going, and hoping to hear from others and/or provide some inspiration.

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#4 of 13 Old 05-30-2004, 04:11 PM
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We nightweaned just a couple of weeks ago. It was really quite simple for us - DS had gotten in the habit of nursing for a bit, then letting go, then snuggling up and falling asleep, so I figured he wasn't relying solely on nursing to get to sleep anymore. When he'd wake at night (it was about 3x a night) I'd tell him that the "nummies were tired" or "nummies were sleeping" and the first two times or so he got a little ticked off at me, but after 'roaring' at me a couple of times he snuggled back down and fell asleep. He asked about 4 more times and fell asleep without a fuss those times, and then stopped asking. It was over in three nights. DS is 2.5. He still nurses to sleep but doesn't wake up or ask to nurse at night anymore.

My daughter night-weaned on her own (slept through the night without waking to nurse) at about 20 months.

Mama, homeschooler, midwife. DD (13yo), DS (11yo), DD (8yo), DD (3yo), somebody new coming in November 2013.

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#5 of 13 Old 05-30-2004, 06:55 PM
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Thanks for your stories!! I can't say we're nightweaned here yet, (my dd is 21 months), but after reading yours I can say that we're definitely in the natural proccess. Why does this make me happy? Because now the pressure is off. I can't remember how dd # 1 weaned, at night or day. It was so gradual and natural that I just don't remember!!!
So, when dd # 2 started waking up way too much at night, I decided to start nightweaning, but thought I was getting nowhere. Now, I guess, after reading your stories, I realize that I should really appreciate our progress and that the next step is right around the corner. So, thanks for sharing - this thread was such a good idea!

I'll keep you posted!
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#6 of 13 Old 06-06-2004, 03:50 PM
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I'm so excited, I just have to share our success!

DD has never been a great sleeper. Up until last week, she would wake anywhere from every 2 hours to every 20 minutes to nurse. Sometimes she would simply stay latched on all night. I was beginning to burn out.

When she was about 7 months old I tried NCSS and I couldn't get anythig to work. I see now that I lacked consistency and commitment...I was very ambivalent about limiting her night nursing at that point.

Around 15 months old, she started to have the occasionaly 3-5 hour stretch in the begining of the night, so I knew she was getting ready to sleep longer.

At 18 months I'd had enough and decided it was time to nightwean, and it took me 2 months to work up the nerve and actually try it. The first night I tried to just not nurse her, offer her a sippy cup, rock her, and whatever else might work to parent her to sleep. It was a nightmare. She cried for an hour and a half until I finally gave in and nursed her back to sleep.

The next night I tried a different approach. I nursed her until she was drowsy in the rocking chair, and then brough her over to the bed where I would only allow her to nurse for 20 seconds at a time. She seemed to know what was expected of her, and she would roll around and try to get comfotable, nurse a little, roll some more, and finally she popped off, rolled over and was still for a long time. She had fallen asleep. She slept peacefully for five hoursbefore waking to nurse, and when she woke, I repeated the 20 second rule. After a few minutes of this, she fell asleep on her own again.

After that we decided to rearrange the beds so that she would have her own place at a slightly lower level than ours. We have no intention of moving her out of our room, but we thought she would like to have her own space. Our queen bed is now up on the bedframe and the twin is flush against the queen and the wall with the boxspring on the floor. I skipped the rocking chair and brought her straight into her own bed. We read a book and turned the light out and she nursed and rolled again, eventually falling asleep on her own. This time I brought a sippy cup with us and she actually sucked on it for a long time, lying down and relaxing, as if she could fall asleep that way.

It's been almost a week since we started and she slept seven hours in a row last night. Her nightwakings are much shorter and easier to deal with. SHe only gets ten seconds now and she only needs to do it two or three times before she goes back to sleep.

What made the biggest difference for us was just being ready. At 20 months, she had the ability to go long stretches without nursing and also the understanding of what is expected of her. I am also sufficiently motivated to wake up, get into her bed, and do the 20 or 10 second rule for *every* nightwaking. I find it interesting that the techniques that failed at 7, 12 and 14 months worked so well at 20 months.

We've only been doing this for a few days so I don't know if it's technically a success story yet, but I'm so excited and surprised by the vast improvement that I just had to share!

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#7 of 13 Old 06-21-2004, 12:59 AM
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We're getting ready to nightwean and I want to hear other success stories!
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#8 of 13 Old 06-21-2004, 02:40 PM
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This is a great thread. Keep 'em coming.

My DS is only 13 months now. He has made small steps in terms of sleep (that only *I* can detect, i.e. rolling over when he's done nursing, etc.). Hearing these stories (and the fact that they seem to happen before 2 yrs, which is my current goal for nightweaning) really helps keep me going when I get frustrated.

Plus, this is giving me some great ideas!
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#9 of 13 Old 06-21-2004, 04:12 PM
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I'm happy to share our success story!

We nightweaned our son Riley at 20 months. Backstory: He had a rocky start with sleeping, but did pretty well between 2 and 4 months, and then sleeping went downhill in a big way. We started co-sleeping then and endured a hard few months. I started implementing methods from NCSS around 7 or 8 months and saw some improvement, but not a huge amount. We tried nightweaning using the Gordon method shortly after Riley's first birthday and had some success and even had Riley sleeping 6 or 7 hours straight most nights by December, but then he starting fighting it again in January and we still had a lot of problems with him being very restless around 5am so no matter how he'd slept during the night, I'd feel really tired because of being up so early in the morning. I finally reached a point, though, where I'd had it. Riley was waking several times a night and would nurse for 45 minutes or more when he woke up and sometimes I'd cut him off and tell him to go back to sleep and he'd throw a huge fit. And he was twiddling my other nipple so much while he nursed that it made my skin crawl. So we decided to go for total night weaning, dusk til dawn. I figured I could explain that to him most easily, instead of just a 7 hour windown like the Gordon method suggests.

I braced myself for the worst. DH was very willing to help but it seemed to enrage Riley more to have him try to soothe him at night, so I was ready to take on the burden myself. We steeled ourselves, wasn't bad at all! The first night, the first time Riley woke up, he cried for about half an hour, but it wasn't hysterical crying, just sort of mad fussing. He woke up a couple of more times and just fussed for about 15 minutes each time. And he was restless from about 5 on. I'd set the alarm for 5:45, when it first starts to
get light, and when it went off (he loves the beep-beep sound it makes), I made a big deal out of saying, "it's light! beep-beep, time for nummies!"

The second night Riley woke up the first time around 10 and only cried (fussed, really) for about 30 seconds before going back to sleep! He sort of woke up a couple of more times, but all he did was roll around on me a little bit, hoping to find a nipple, but gave up quickly when he didn't. Still had early-morning restlessness.

The third night he sat up around 10, looked around for a second, reached over and touched me, then lay back down and went back to sleep! The only time the rest of the night that he even stirred was around 2, and that was just a little more rolling around!

After that, things only got better. Riley just woke up once a night and would settle back down very quickly. At the end of May we made another big decision, to move Riley to a bed in his room. At this point, we had been doing the crib side-car arrangement for a long time, but I had a feeling that I was responsible for Riley still waking up at night with my movement and sounds. So we got a twin bed set and put it in his room. I felt sad about it, but also felt like it was time. And wouldn't you know it, within a couple of nights, he started sleeping through the ENTIRE night without waking up! Now, this doesn't happen every night, but he sleeps through about half the time. Some nights when he wakes up, I'll go soothe him, then go back to my bed, some nights I just stay with him--that's why we got a twin bed instead of a toddler bed!

I know that Riley was ready for this. We'd made a few attempts at scheduled feedings and partial night weaning prior to this that didn't go well; the fact that this went so smoothly and beautifully and that Riley is now pretty much sleeping the whole night through tells me that he was ready, both to be nightweaned and to sleep on his own.

I wanted to offer up a few tips for things that particularly helped us:

1. White noise!
2. I put Riley's crib comforter on his mattress. He seemed to like the softer surface. Obviously you can't do this with a very young baby, but with an older baby or toddler it should be perfectly safe.
3. Riley seemed to resent it more when I tried to rock him, sing to him, or otherwise soothe him when he woke up. Pretending to be asleep or just occasionally patting him lightly on the back worked the best!
4. Riley needed lots of extra snuggles after the first few nights. He was sleeping mostly in the crib before we night weaned (again, the crib is side-carred to the bed) but for awhile he needed to be snuggled up to me more. When you night wean, make sure your child still gets all of the touch that they need!

I cut and edited this post from an old post that I did when we first started seeing our success, so I hope it all makes sense!

Good luck to everyone. When it's right, you'll know it.
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#10 of 13 Old 06-21-2004, 05:44 PM - Thread Starter
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It's interesting how many things we have in common, even with the different techniques.

I, too, have found that rocking, etc seems to make things worse. DD seems happiest just to be pressed up against me, with me laying still. She's also much more "touchy" at night now, preferring to be snuggled up against me more.

So an update:

We took a few steps forward, then back, as seems to be the case. For a few days there, she was waking frequently, but then last week we had three nights in a row where she slept right through, and didn't nurse until morning. She usually stirs on these nights, but goes back to sleep without nursing.

I've also found that it's okay not to be 100% consistent when my judgement says otherwise. There are nights when she'll wake almost in mid cry, and root really hard, and then I'll give her the breast. I can almost always pop her off after a minute or two and she's fine with that. Other nights, she wakes gently, stirs a bit, but never seeks the breast, and doesn't need it to go back to sleep. These nights are becoming more and more frequent.

Sometimes I feel we still have a long way to go, and I worry about those nights I'll be in the hospital with baby, but then I see how far we've come in only 2 months, and I figure in another 4 or 5 months we'll be just where I want her.

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#11 of 13 Old 06-22-2004, 04:48 AM
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Well.....I would say that ds - 28 months has been completely nightweaned for a few months now. He will occasionally ask to nurse, and I swear its like he's just asking, just in case....funny kid, and I say, no, its dark outside, the stars are out, the moon is out, we sleep now. He rolls over and goes to sleep!!

It was very hard at first. He would just cry and cry, but at the time, 25 months old, I was just done. It was becoming a strain in our relationship and I felt like weaning completely at times so I made the bold step towards nightweaning. I'd say the hard crying ( in dh's arms of course !) lasted just a few nights.

I nurse him to sleep every night and then I put him in his crib till first waking. WHen we nightweaned he was very confused when we brought him back to bed why he couldnt nurse and couldnt past the bed/nurse association. SO....we decided to rock him back to sleep in his room and place him back in his crib. Dh would rock him and I would talk to him softly and sing to him too. I would also repeat at night and during the day, "At night we sleep. THe sky is dark, the moon is out, the stars are out, and we go to sleep" . This really helped.
Soon, as soon as dh went to him, he would be back to sleep by the time dh was in the rocking chair!!! He stopped asking to nurse and asked to "rocky". Then he really backslid and started waking ALOT more. He didnt ask to nurse but needed us to soothe him back to sleep many times during the night.

A month ago, I started to be too sleepy to rock him at night as I have just become pregnant. Soooooo, we have revised things a bit, as though he is nighweaned, he is still nightwaking. So, after first waking dh goes in and rocks him back to sleep. He loves this and actually expects dh, not me! Then when he wakes for the second time, around 430isn/5 I go and get him and bring him back to bed and we sleep until 645 or so and then nurse and snooze till 745. This is a definite improvement from waking and nursing 6+ times a night!!!

We have had days of sleeping through, but not more than a few times. He did sleep till 3 am last night and then awoke at 5, came to bed and slept till 745!! hey, thats great in my book. We've also had him sleep in our bed from the first waking on and if he awakens I just tell him to go back to sleep and he does. I am just not sleeping well due to pregnancy and having a hard time sleeping with him or I would move him back in permantly.

Sooooo I believe we have achieved nightweaning success but not nightwaking success. ANybody go through this too? Did they ever start sleeping through the night?

Heather , momma to ' Parker- 10, Carlee- 7 and our baby Genevieve Faith - 8-27-10

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#12 of 13 Old 07-07-2004, 04:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Update...lately DD has been sleeping through the night about 50% of the time. A huge improvement from when we first started. She has been going down anywhere from 7 to 9 pm. I go to bed around 10 or 11. I've never had to go to her more than once (if at all) before I get into bed myself. She often sleeps right through until morning. If she does wake, it's usually just once. Then every now and then, we have a night like last night where she woke about 3 times. But it was VERY hot and we were all having trouble sleeping.

I'm really pleased. This also reminds me to look at the big picture. It can be hard when you have a few "bad" nights in a row, but then you look at where you came from, and I can see the dramatic improvement.

We've now started having DD sleep between us, and DH is the first to try to comfort her back to sleep. If he can't, then I (and my breast!) take over. We're hoping this way to get her used to him being the one to respond, looking ahead to when I'll be in the hospital for the birth of our son.

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#13 of 13 Old 07-09-2004, 12:11 AM
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Here's my nightweaning story. I'm 36 weeks pregnant with #2, and as of December/January of this year DS (2 in January) was still waking 1-2 times a night to nurse. Also, if I or DH accidentally woke DS up at all, he would wake, want to nurse, and if I tried to rub his back or hold him, he would cry, scream, and try to push me away if I offered something other than my breast.

Well, I read some of Jay Gordon's advice on nightweaning. And I tried this maybe one or two nights. And although I didn't "follow" Gordon's advice, I got a lot out of reading his information. I liked his words about how an older baby or child needs to learn (or at least CAN learn) that at a certain point the needs of the FAMILY need to be considered. That the child certainly always has a VOTE, but so do the other members of the family.

Anyway, I can't really remember how long it took to fully night wean. But after talking about our family needing to sleep at night and in order to all sleep together we actually needed to SLEEP, DS seemed to start catching on. Also, when DS would ask to nurse in the middle of the night I would say, "Let's wait 'til morning". And as long as he knew he would get to nurse at some point in the near future, it seemed to help.

I was not alway very inventive with my words on limiting our nursing. In fact, I often just said, NO, we sleep now. And you know what? After a short time, he GOT IT. I would say it took about one month of me really setting nighttime boundaries until DS slept through the night for the first time in his little life!

So, my always sleep-challenged boy has been a very sound sleeper now since about January of this year (his 2 year bday). Sure, if he's sick, or uncomfortable, etc., he'll wake up. But he actually knows now that nighttime is for sleeping!
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