Mothering Forum banner

1 - 4 of 4 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
4 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I have to travel for a week-long mandatory conference for work in late June and cannot bring my husband and son with me. I had to travel for 3 days last fall and it was a disaster. Our toddler only fell asleep after prolonged crying, and woke up within a few hours to full wakefulness and sobbing till he exhausted himself enough to sleep again. I do not want to put either my husband or son through that again.

Because of this, I've been slowly trying to edge towards weaning for awhile, but we haven't really been making much progress. I've now learned that I also need to travel for work for 3 days in late May, which makes weaning more urgent (and anxiety-inducing). At present, he nurses right before falling asleep, about half the time when he wakes up during the night (every other day or so), and before naps on weekends (he's in daycare during the week).

Key Question:
Do you have advice/experiences to share on weaning a toddler somewhat quickly? Especially one who strongly associates nursing with sleep, despite months of trying to gradually loosen the association?

A few more details (for those who want them):
My son is definitely on the clingy side, and has never been a good sleeper. He only started to sleep through the night on a semi-regular basis over the last couple months, and still wakes up most nights. Lately, I've been trying to put him back to sleep with a backrub, which works about half the time. He only goes to sleep at bedtime for me, and does not seem to go back to sleep for his father during the night at all. Dad was pretty traumatized by his experience last fall and has been reluctant to try bedtime or even naptime on his own since then.

Until he was about 28 months old, our son would only fall asleep at the breast. After the fall trip, I stopped allowing him to do so at bedtime, which meant 2 months of cuddling a crying toddler for 40-90 minutes. These days, he doesn't usually fall completely asleep at the breast, but if he isn't close, then he tends to wake himself up again once he's in the crib and either wants to nurse again or gets totally hyper. I've been limiting him to 3 verses of "My favorite things" on each side, but if he asks for more once he is in the crib, I usually allow one encore.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,284 Posts
Does he take a bottle at day care? What is their nap routine? I would try to have DH do whatever daycare does. Also, try to have DH do the steps you're doing at night that don't involve nursing. Can DH give him a bottle? Can he co sleep with him while you're gone? Consider completely changing the routine for dad and baby. They can make their own bedtime routine and it can be completely different than yours. Last fall was 6 months ago. Baby is a lot bigger and can understand more. Have DH tell baby that mommy is gone tonight, but will be back soon, but daddy's here so it's going to be fine. A 2 year old understands a lot.



Maybe a different bedtime routine will be what works for them. For example, my sitter dances the baby to sleep. He's completely upright and falls right to sleep. I try this and it completely doesn't work. What things does DH think will help parent the baby to sleep? Maybe you could try those before you go maybe on some night you need to work late or get a night out with the girlfriends. If DH is a loving caregiver, everyone will be alright.


Have DH stick with baby. The rule in our house, is everyone cries sometimes, but you don't have to cry alone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
739 Posts
My general philosophy here:
Decide on a routine for bed, then stick with it. There will be crying, maybe a lot, but your son won't be alone. When we night weaned, basically, I didn't care for her from bedtime until she woke up. We gradually decreased what she got- DH gave a bottle with formula for a few nights (which I know she doesn't really like but will take), then water in a bottle, then just holding/ soothing. Once we made steps forward we didn't go back. It was very hard and took a few weeks. Maybe we could have just skipped right to just soothing, and it would have gone wuicker- but I felt reassured that she wasn't crying from hunger, but anger.

Your husband will need to get past his trauma. If he had a plan of what to do, and he knows it will be loud, he may feel more prepared. Worst case- maybe awake all night holding a crying baby. Each night will be a little better. But if the next night you nurse again, because the previous night was so hard, you won't make forward progress. Help him (husband) more during the day- like, planning for him to nap or something.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3 Posts
My now 2 and 3/4 year old kiddo is not a great sleeper as well, but I've found something that has helped a lot with big changes is talking things through while also using a visual like a calendar. I make a weekly calendar for him to help walk through what the week is going to look like, with a picture of what's happening each day, so that he can see, today is a daycare day, tomorrow is a Mama day, the next day is we're visiting the cousins, etc. I make sure to add in things like a trip to the doctor, etc., so we can talk about it in advance, and I tape it to the wall at eye level and make sure he's always got a few days in advance to check out. How this has helped with sleep is that when we know we want to make a big change (like stop nursing at night, or Dada will start putting you to bed -- two of the major changes we've successfully made to his routine in the last 6 months or so) we mark it down on the calendar and then talk about it each day, counting down the days until the big change happens. We usually do it one week in advance so he has plenty of time to work through big feelings beforehand, so we end up not having so many big feelings come out at night. It's been really helpful. We've been doing the calendar for almost a year now and it has helped so much with transitions -- especially so he can see when one of us is going to be traveling, and when we're coming back, so that it's not so frightening -- but also just the day to day stuff.

Another piece that worked well was that each time we made a big change to the routine, we also made a big change to the room so that there was a visual signal in the room reminding him that we do things differently now -- like moving the bed to a different position (to make it a no-nursing-in-bed kind of bed), or switching the rocking chair (which had always been a nursing chair previously) to another side of the room. We also set up an OK to wake kind of clock -- nothing fancy, just a low-light lamp on a cheap timer that turns on at wake up time, and that tells him he'll be able to nurse if he wants to. This stopped the asking throughout all the night wakeups whether he could nurse -- now he can just check the lamp and see that it's not time yet.

And the most important piece with all of this was talking about it with him: "Sleep/bedtime has been tough for all of us lately, and you need sleep to grow and let your imagination rest, etc. -- and we need sleep too. So we're going to try to something different to help us all get the sleep we need. Starting in a few days, we're going to XYZ. And when we do the change, on this day on the calendar, we're going to move your room around." And just repeating that every day, and talking through any questions / feelings he has. I know it all sounds kind of laborious, but it's been really effective for us. Maybe something less intensive would work for others, but we have a kid who has a really tough time sleeping, and is very strong-willed etc., who likes to do everything himself, so giving him some ownership and preparation for and understanding of what's happening has helped a lot. We've also worked with a great sleep / child behavior consultant which has been very helpful in thinking through how to do this stuff with him. But the thing that always surprises me is how helpful just talking about this stuff can be, even before he was very verbal.

There are a couple of childrens books out there about night weaning that can be a helpful tool. We haven't weaned completely, just night weaned, and it's really been helpful. Now he just nurses in the morning and once before his bedtime routine, and it doesn't feel like the burden it was when he was still nursing at night. I know it's not the same for everyone, this is just what worked for me.

We've also been using a kids meditation book on CD that has helped a lot with falling asleep at bedtime and also getting back to sleep if he has a bad wake up in the night. The book is supposed to be for 4 and up but it's a set of simple stories that is easy to follow and really helps him relax.

Another side benefit of all of this is that his relationship with his dad has become stronger -- bedtime is now a special time for them. That was something I hadn't anticipated but is a really nice bonus.

Good luck, I know how hard this can be.
 
1 - 4 of 4 Posts
Top