How to break the nursing to sleep association? - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 03:06 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm hoping for advice from experienced moms out there. I have always nursed my 18 mo. DD to sleep and each time she wakes at night. It has always worked great for us, but now, I feel like it is the only way for her to be soothed back to sleep and I am getting really tired of it. She will also only sleep for naps on my lap nursing the whole time. I don't mind the naps so much as I get to have a little down time and she'll sleep longer on me, but I feel like I am allowing this habit to become so ingrained in her that she can't sleep any other way.

At night it has gotten so bad... every time she wakes she begs to nurse (which is several times a night), and I can't get back to sleep after the nursing sessions. I have tried night weaning her for a couple of nights--explaining that "nursies have gone night night", "no more nursing" (and I know she understands me--she's very good with language), but she gets so angry and demanding I eventually give in out of sheer exhaustion. So now I am afraid that I am teaching her that if she fusses enough I will give in.

For those of you who have had success breaking this nurse-to-sleep association and also have had success with night weaning, what worked for you? Do you just have to be really firm and put up with some unhappy nights? How long should it take and is there an age that works best? I've also heard about 18 months being a difficult age, any thoughts?

Thanks in advance!
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#2 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 03:32 PM
 
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I nightweaned at 22 mos. I just didn't give in (he didn't cry that long but he kept.waking.up on night 2). It took 3 nights then sleeeeeeeeeeeep. blissful sleep! I don't feel any more rested but I was SO SICK OF NURSING!! So it's wonderful.

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#3 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 03:39 PM
 
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this is about the age that my DH works with them some. He tells them they can play in their bed but that they need to stay in the bed. He reads in the room across from them so they can see him from their bed. He can remind them to get back in bed. Out of 3 kids, my oldest was the one to complain. She fussed and whined and protested.. no crying, for 40 minutes the first night, and less the second and less the third. I still nursed if they woke in the night, but once they'd been putting themselves to sleep at night for a week or so without nursing, they also woke less often in the night requiring my attention.. I guess they transferred the ability to lay down and go to sleep to being able to roll over and go back to sleep. My second oldest has had sleep issues her whole life, so I had to nurse her back to sleep much more often after that working at 18 months.. and have had to parent her back to sleep several nights a week ever since. She is 5 now, and sometimes takes melatonin under direction from our family doctor. But my oldest and my third child both quickly decreased their nightwaking once they learned to fall asleep without sucking.
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#4 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 04:05 PM
 
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Man, is this the million dollar question? I have an 18 month old DD with the same exact situation and I too am wondering when and how we will break the habit, especially since I would like to get her in her own bed soon.
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#5 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for the responses, and please keep them coming! I have a feeling there are a lot of us dealing with this!

D_McG: when you were in the process of night weaning (awesome it only took 3 nights!) what did you do instead of nursing each time he woke? Does he sleep with you? My DD sleeps with us and I'm wondering if that makes it harder to night wean.

pixiewytch: I also want to get DD into her own bed soon, but I am sooo tired I have no idea how to start the process while also juggling night weaning... what are your plans?

IfMamaAintHappy: Did your kids always sleep in their own beds or did you co-sleep and then transition them to their own beds? I would like to do this soon! And as far as getting my DH involved, my DD is so attached to me and will not settle for DH, so I always have to deal with the night wakings. Also, my DD always need to be parented all the way to sleep and I don't know how to make that jump from being awake to getting to sleep on her own without our help. Sometimes if I am not home at bed time she'll fall asleep in DH's lap after reading for hours, but it takes forever! With me, it's nurse or meltdown!

Thanks again ladies!
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#6 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 05:05 PM
 
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Well, my plans are to move her into her own room when she turns two. We have an empty storage type of room that is right off of our bedroom, no door or anything, so it seems like a perfect transition. My goal is to do it when she turns two but I would love to do it sooner. I put a post about moving an 18 mo old to a bed just this past week but nobody replied.

In our situation, I feel like she would be more comfortable in her own bed because she likes to sprawl out. As soon as she runs into one of us in the bed she wakes up and wants to nurse. I'm hoping that if she has plenty of room to stretch out that maybe she won't wake up as much...and well, if she does during the night, I can go in and nurse her I guess.

Of course this will probably not all go according to plan, but one can hope, right?
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#7 of 21 Old 05-08-2008, 06:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I also want to get her into her own bed by the time she turns two. She's a really restless sleeper and thrashes all night long, and also wants to nurse every time she wakes herself up kicking me! We tried getting her to sleep in her crib when she was @ 8 months old, and she did great for about a month and then was waking up too many times and seemed to hate the crib so much, so we just gave up. now I'm wondering if I should try again--her crib is now converted to a toddler bed and she likes to play in it but haven't tried to get her to sleep in there... just feeling unsure and don't know if maybe it would be better to get a larger mattress to put on the floor so I could lay down with her when she wakes up and then sneak out of the room when she's asleep. I don't know, but I need more sleep!
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#8 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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This is also something I'm looking ahead to, although we're happy nursing to sleep and back to sleep for now (DD is going on 10 months). But she always goes to sleep nursing or sometimes with her "plug" if DH puts her to sleep--always sucking. If she's not sucking when she's going to sleep, she cries. Will she just grow out of this eventually?

So yeah, I'll be watching this thread for ideas!

DD 7/07 DS 1/11

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#9 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 01:23 AM
 
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: I'm really ready to get off this wagon too with my 2 year old!
DH wants her OUT of our bed (can't blame him he ends up getting kicked in the face every night) and I'm ready to quit nursing and actually sleep through the night! I got past the nap only in my lap stage (yep for us it was just a stage ) although she won't sleep in her bed still, she doesn't have a speific nap time she'll just pass out on the couch, (or the floor or in her food or ) I guess I figure she'll sleep when she's tired, but I do need to get working on the "where".
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#10 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 01:23 AM
 
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I'd never break it. It is just so easy this way...

Liv, SAHM of 3 kiddos 

 

 

 

 

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#11 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 03:09 AM
 
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I'm with the PP. We never broke the habit with my two older children. They just stopped nursing to sleep when they weaned all together. It was the last nursing they both gave up. When they weaned, they both immediately started sleeping all the way through the night. My current baby-child is 16 mos so I am getting anxious for more sleep too so I can understand the wish to break the habit, but it worked so well for my first two to let them do it themselves. They both sleep so wonderfully. So, I don't want to jinx it this time!
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#12 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 03:48 AM
 
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I do sympathise with the OP - when ds was 18 months, he nursed all the way to sleep, I had a hard time unlatching him, and he woke about 5 times a night and had to nurse to sleep again. When I felt I was at the end of my tether, I would get up for a drink, and he would HOWL, seemed really distressed (not just angry). So I never considered nightweaning at the time.

Well, fast forward to 25 months; like the OPs, I haven't tried to break the habit, but it is happening gradually anyway. He now only wakes up a couple of times a night, nurses for a few minutes (instead of half an hour), then rolls over onto his own pillow and goes back to sleep. Even to go to sleep at bedtime now, he will pull my top down, roll over, and will sometimes ask me to tell him a story about himself - and he goes to sleep while I'm talking. (And this is much more effort than nursing alone.)

I am quite comfortable with the night routine and nightwaking as it is, so I will probably just let him continue his own process.

I will say, one thing that has probably helped lessen the nightwaking is getting a twin bed pushed up against our queen. Usually dh sleeps in the twin bed. Just having more space I think stops him from bumping into one of us during the night and waking up.
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#13 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 11:23 AM
 
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Originally Posted by kandcy View Post
D_McG: when you were in the process of night weaning (awesome it only took 3 nights!) what did you do instead of nursing each time he woke? Does he sleep with you? My DD sleeps with us and I'm wondering if that makes it harder to night wean.
I would sing/talk/pretend to be asleep whatever it took! I never got up with him - was about to one time but then he calmed down.

He still sleeps with us and I think that made it easier. At 22 mos I felt pretty sure he could go all night without nursing but I know he's too young to be alone ( not all kids,but mine is)

DS (6.06), DD (10.08), DD (05.11).

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#14 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 11:54 AM
 
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I know exactly what you are going through. Here is what I did. When we decided it was time to night wean I started off still nursing to sleep (we co-sleep) then I picked a time frame say from 11:00pm until 4:00am. DS could nurse anytime before 11:00 or after 4:00am. If he woke up in between and he did a lot at first, I would tell him that it wasn't milky time it was sleepy time. He protested, fussed, cried, crawled on me, tried to pull my shirt, but I put a pillow over my chest and held him, patted his back and did a shushing sound over and over until he fell back to sleep. After 3 or 4 days he started sleeping those 5 hours without waking up. We then extended the timeframe from 10:00pm until 5:00am, every once in a while he would wake up now, but he was pretty easy to get back to sleep. We did this for a week or so. Then we extended the time again. Now I do have to say that I did not stop the "nursing to sleep" part until we fully weaned, but that was only a month or so later. I actually had a harder time weaning him from the daytime feedings than the nighttime ones. I think I cried more than he did during that daytime weaning process! Now instead of nursing to sleep, we take a bath, read books, snuggle and he puts himself to sleep, sometimes it takes a few minutes, other nights it may take 20 or more. So it didn't happen in a few days, we took it very slowly and let it happen over a few months, but it was totally worth it, we sleep all night now! I do want to say that as soon as we night weaned I ended up getting pregnant. I know it was from my drop in nursing that did it! Be careful if you don't want another.
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#15 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 03:09 PM
 
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We've been doing almost the same thing, but we just started last week. I nurse DD to sleep then if she wakes up before midnight DH gets her back to sleep-usually he just holds her on his chest and when she's back asleep he rolls her back onto the bed. Besides two nights ago when we had a total setback and she was up 3 times before midnight, it's been working and we are going to try for 2 am. One thing I noticed seems to make a bit of a difference is I've been putting a pillow between me and DD. Since she can't just roll over and latch on, sometimes she just falls back to sleep.

Amanda
Mama to Amelia (9.8.06) and Jonah (6.19.09)
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#16 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Great responses! Thanks!
For those who just let them self-wean and grow out of the habit by themselves, how old were they? Usually, (unless I am really sleep deprived), I feel like I want to let her self wean and grow out of the habit on her own time, but I really don't want to nurse much past 2 yrs. old, so I feel like maybe I should gently nudge her along... but I do agree that it is so easy to nurse to sleep and for naps, I just don't want it to become so ingrained in her that she can't sleep any other way, you know?

I am happy to report that last night she didn't wake to nurse at all! It happens once and a while, so maybe it will get easier soon!
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#17 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 06:31 PM
 
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Great responses! Thanks!
For those who just let them self-wean and grow out of the habit by themselves, how old were they? Usually, (unless I am really sleep deprived), I feel like I want to let her self wean and grow out of the habit on her own time, but I really don't want to nurse much past 2 yrs. old, so I feel like maybe I should gently nudge her along... but I do agree that it is so easy to nurse to sleep and for naps, I just don't want it to become so ingrained in her that she can't sleep any other way, you know?

I am happy to report that last night she didn't wake to nurse at all! It happens once and a while, so maybe it will get easier soon!
Dd stopped nursing to sleep on her own between 2 and 2.5yrs. WHEN she naps (once every week or two these days) she often still nurses down.

-Angela
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#18 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 11:34 PM
 
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DD still nurses to sleep (at 14 mo). We're trying to cut back on nursings at night. She usually wakes 2-3 times a night. If she wakes more than every 3.5 or 4 hours, either me or DH stays with her, but no nursing. Sometimes she'll fuss for as long as 20 min, and then suddenly fall down in her bed, asleep. Gradually, she's starting to sleep for longer periods, and accept that she won't nurse every time she wakes. It also depends on what's going on. If she's going through intense teething, or some other difficulty, I am more accomodating and will nurse her when she wakes.
She sleeps in a futon on the floor next to our bed, which has helped her to wake less, and allowed me to sleep better, as well, yet still be responsive to her. But I'm happy to say that the few times I've left her with loved ones at bedtime, she was able to fall asleep without much fuss, just with rocking or walking. It's nice to know she can go to sleep without me, and not freak out.
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#19 of 21 Old 05-09-2008, 11:55 PM
 
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We're going through the same thing at 10 months. It's like being stuck between a rock and a hard place. I don't want her to scream in my husbands arms and I have a tough time staying up to do the pantley pull off all night long.
Is 10 months too early to break the association?? She just wakes up so freaking much!! I have surgery coming up on the 29th I'm worried to death about how things will go for the two days I'm in the hospital....
btw the info so far has been great..
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#20 of 21 Old 05-10-2008, 12:12 AM
 
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kandcy: we cosleep till 13-14 mo and then move them to their own bed once they can climb up into their own bed. A few months later we work on the nurse to sleep association.
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#21 of 21 Old 05-10-2008, 12:30 AM
 
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Dh putting her to sleep has been the best thing ever....
she will let him get away with so much more (or less) as the case may be than me.
we had to move her out of our bed in the last few weeks because she was waking up 25+ times a night and thrashing around had been going on for about 5 or 6 months. i figured it wasn't a phase and we needed a change.

At first i nursed her in the other room (on a fouton on the floor). it is not far from our room and their is no room on our floor... anyway- this was killing me 6= times a night. So Dh started patting her to sleep. She put up a little bit of a fuss the first time, but it has lessened each time and he is always right there until she goes to sleep.
tonight she decided she wasn't going to sleep and popped up when he first rocked her down. he stayed with her for a while, but left her in ther and she played for about 8 min then crawled almost all the way onto the fouton and fell asleep.

anyway this has been a total corner turner for me. i don't know if it would have wroked earlier and she still gets up 4-5 times most nights and nurses ffrom about 2-4, but i can see the light.

good luck

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