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How to help ds sleep without comfort nursing . . .

535 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  zansmama
Someone over in the Toddler forum suggested that I x-post this over here, so here goes . . . My ds has always been a poor sleeper, and from the time he was born I've had to nurse him to get him to sleep. Now, of course, he can't go to sleep without being latched on. That wouldn't be so bad, except he needs to stay latched on through most of the night.

Here's the routine. I have to be with him until he falls asleep (bedtime and nap), nurse him back to sleep again when he wakes up (in as little as 30 minutes), and then from that point on he needs to be latched on to stay asleep. I feel like a pacifier! If I try to move, he'll start crying. I'm getting so sore from sleeping in the same nursing position for 2 years now and I was wondering if anyone's had any success getting a toddler to sleep w/o nursing/comfort sucking all night. I don't want to wean, I just want some better sleep. Thanks for any suggestions you have.

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I'm starting to nip this problem in the bud with my little 6mo old son! You're a trooper for lasting so long, being so selfless!

Your son is more aware than mine and is accustomed to having things a certain way for a much longer period of time, so I suspect that any change you try to make is not going to be accepted without any fight from him. Mine is unhappy at my maneuvers, but gives up the fight after a few minutes of fussing.

I've been nursing to sleep at the beginning of the night, then popping off, and putting on a shirt. I nurse once in the middle of the night, and once again in the morning before we get out of bed, because he's still so young, but I cannot survive on sleep in 30 minute intervals with him latched onto me all night, so that's it.

It helps my son if I scoot away from him to where his limbs don't brush up against me, until he's pretty deeply asleep. It also helps sometimes if I put him in his crib that's sidecar-ed up to our bed. I think he's just naturally a light sleeper, and I wake him up with just normal sleep movements, and I'd have to put him back to sleep. So part of my solution, outside of covering the girls up, is to not disturb his sleep.

An unpopular idea around here, sometimes, but a couple of my co-sleeping friends have told me that you have to do it on a case-by-case basis, and take into account a baby's sleep habits. Some babies do alright with all the turning and tossing in a community bed, and others are bothered by it. Could that be the case with your ds?

Good luck,
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When dd was 2 a horrible case of thrush kept me from nursing. We got the book The No Cry Sleep Solution ( Ive since given it away) - I cant remeber hte exact method in the book, but our modified method was for me to get dd to sleep in the family bed and then go the couch
Dh had a sippy cup of water for when dd woke up, and he soothed her back to sleep. She did cry a bit at first, but dh was able to rub her back, etc to comfort her. After a few nights I was able to give her the cup of water when she woke up instead of nursing.

Like everything else, there are no quick fixes and I was willing to come back if dd was unable to be comforted by dh. I was just in so much pain I was desperate
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Wow, are you me?!?! LOL - my daughter MUST be latched on to sleep, but she's only a baby, haha, so I guess it's not a HUGE deal...yet. (She'll be 3 weeks tomorrow...) But if I have to have my nipple in her mouth all night at age 2 I WILL be posting for help, LOL, so maybe I should pay attention NOW...she's a TAD high needs!!
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MrsTC--I've never thought about that. Maybe I am waking him up with my movements. I'll try to push him a little further to the other side of the bed to see if that helps. We don't have a cosleeper, but maybe it's time for a toddler bed up against ours. I wish I had seen this coming early on, like you have, but early on I was just happy when he slept!

sweetest--I do have that book, but it hasn't been very successful for me. I'm glad it worked for you! That's great. If dh tries to comfort ds after he wakes up, ds screams louder and louder until I come in there. Sigh.

rmzbm--I really hate giving advice to others, but in this case I speak from such experience that I can't help it. I'd help your dd get used to falling asleep some other way, and soon! It's a very hard habit to break later on!
Oh yes, I second that suggestion to you rmzbm!

I am swearing if I could just turn back the clock I would shove that dummy that I always disapproved of and that he never fancied in his mouth repeatedly until he got used to it or SOMETHING so as not to have to deal with this now!

Having said that, I did try all sorts of clever strategies all the way along, and got him to sleep with patting on the back when he was 3 1/2 months - we just always hit bad patches and lost it again. Now he is an 8 month-old confirmed either nurse-to-sleep, or if and only if he is stuffed to the gills and can't take any more and really wants to get back to sleep, then walk-rock-sing will do it - but sometimes only after 1/2 hour of it, which after the 8kg stage isn't such a joy and delight any more either.
Slow and easy is the bext approach....For my middle one we began to talk about how when it was dark or the sun went nigh-nigh, or "whatever" that mommy's na-nas went nigh-nigh too. It took a lot of talking and finally one night she "bought it" - meaning she was a little sad but willing went back to sleep without nursing.

Now, my youngest....its a diff. story...She nurses to sleep - and the proceeds to wake up many many times to make sure I'm there (not to nurse)....
Have you read The Aware Baby? I strongly recommend it, as well as NCSS for Toddlers and Preschoolers. The combo of the two is helping me nightwean my dd AND has resulted in the most amazing shift in her personality during the day. Read The Aware Baby, it's an incredible book and she talks about this in there, I can't recommend it enough.
You could try telling him they're empty...
With ds, I started by letting him nurse for just a few minutes each time he woke up, and then telling him the nanas were empty ("okay, this one's empty now")... so that he could begin to fall asleep without something to suck on. Then we progressed to them being empty after he nursed to sleep the first time, with no more until the sun comes up. He did whimper a little the first couple of nights, but with gentle back-rubbing, fell pretty quickly back asleep. Within 3 nights, he was sleeping 7-9 solid hours, more deeply than ever before.
Also, in case he does wake up and ask to nurse before sunrise (maybe every third night or so) I have a sippy cup of water by the bed that he can reach for himself. Sometimes he just wakes up, drinks a little, and falls right back asleep.
We started this process about 2 months ago, and he's almost 3. I don't know why on earth I didn't do it earlier! We both sleep better, and I have SO much more energy and patience during the day.
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