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I have a 5yr old dd (weaned last year) and a 28 mo old who is still nursing. He nurses to sleep for a nap in the late morning/lunchtime everyday, and also he nurses to sleep for bedtime, although lately he has been nursing 3-4 times in the night. (I think maybe from teeth or separation anxiety...it always seems to be for a few nights after I work...I am a part time RN who works about 7-8 shifts a month)

I can't help but think lately about his strong nurse to sleep association. We have gotten to the point that he doesn't fall asleep with a nipple in his mouth...I can take it out and he just rolls over and he has done that since about 6 mo old....but we just can't get past this point. Sometimes it is frustrating that I have to nurse him to sleep, dh just lays with him and lo and behold he even goes to sleep for grandma that way! Go figure! I would some days just love to lay down and pat his bum to sleep like dh does but he will just WILL NOT take it from me, sometimes he does when he wakes in the night but definitely not at naptime. We go downstairs to nurse in the bedroom for naps while dd entertains herself upstairs, he is just too distracted if he is not in a quiet room.

Did your dk's stop nursing to sleep for naps because they had just plain given up naps? I don't think ds is ready to give up naps yet. With dd we made her stop napping (she was still nursing to sleep for a nap at 3 when ds was born, but with dh working night shifts and me alone at night it was the only way I could guarentee that she was tired enough and not still up at 11pm!) so I have no experience as to how she would have naturally weaned at naptime.

I guess overall our routine of going down to the bedroom and nursing to sleep at roughly the same time everyday is working, I just have days when I wish it could be a little different. Sooooo... for my big question for discussion...how do you know if something is a need or a habit? I see so many moms discussing on this board how their nurslings will go to sleep for someone else or that if they are in another room not in as close proximity their child will sleep better. Are they waking up for mama or do they really "need her"? I have never really sorted this all out in my own mind...dd nursed till somewhere around 4 1/2 I think and I remember wondering this many times but it all worked out in the end I think.

Just wondering what you all think mamas!

Tina, dp James, dd Stephanie
and ds Jonathan
 

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my 31mo will go to sleep for others like that, but wants boob 99% of the time with me at nights. she has been phasing out her nap for quite a few months, she gets more sleep without a nap as her natural wake up time is pretty standard. when she does nap, it's from being in the car aout 75% of the time now, boob the rest of the time. I see this pattern continuing awhile, it's really pretty convienent to be honest, we seem to manage night time social events still.
 

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Both my kids gave up naps *long* before they gave up nursing (or nursing-to-sleep for that matter).

DD started consistently fighting her last nap shortly after her 1st birthday. I *finally* gave it up when she was over 18 months. She nursed to sleep at bedtime for at least two more years consistently.

DS gave up naps before he turned two. Last night he nursed to sleep and he is 4.

When DD was ready to not nurse to sleep it really wasn't an issue. I think that if you let them outgrow the need, it is generally just not an issue--- because they have *outgrown* it.
 

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FWIW, my kids all stopped napping before they stopped nursing to sleep. They all stopped napping roughly around 12 months. I couldn't get them to nap consistently after that, even offering nursing (though they would nap randomly sometimes, more likely in the sling or the car, but nothing predictable). My oldest two nursed until 5-1/2 and 4-1/2, respectively. My younger two are still nursing at 3 and 1-1/2. I think my kids are just genetically predisposed to not napping. (Unfortunately, *I* am a napper! Or would be...)
 

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My oldest DD and my DS gave up naps before they gave up nursing. My middle child used her bottle at naptime after weaning (much to the detriment of her baby teeth.)
 

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Ds dropped his afternoon naps and still nurses to relax before sleep at bedtime, but no longer needs to actually fall asleep at the breast. His before bed nursing session is the only one he never misses, it sometimes is his only one of the day, so nursing at bedtime, if not to sleep, will last as long as he continues to nurse, for us.

I have chosen to purposely encourage the nurse-to-sleep routine and use it as a tool. (not that babies usually need much encouragement to do it, lol) It has been ds's choice/natural development to switch to relaxing during nursing then falling asleep on his own after I lay him down. When it got frustrating for me, I decreased the time I would stay with him latched on. Since you say you can unlatch him with no protest, you could likely do that too. Knowing I wasn't "stuck" there until the moment he decided to let go was really helpful for me.'

Hmm, the need vs. habit question.... I prefer to allow things to develop as naturally as possible, when I saw clear signs of ds not "needing" to fall asleep nursing, then I knew it was happening on its own and gently encouraged it. (he actually would unlatch,sit up and proclaim "done!"
)I think that being able to get to sleep with other people by different soothing methods isn't a sign that he doesn't need you to nurse him down when you are together, they just know and accept that the need cannot be met when you are not there. A need unmet doesn't go away... it can be tolerated to an extent though, if necessary.

My personal take on sleep issues is influenced by the fact that the development of sleep patterns is governed by the central nervous system, naturally allowing children to get to sleep and remain asleep without parental help sometime between two and three years for most. So until that process is complete, I consider the need for mama's help to settle, to be just that, a need.
 
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