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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Here's a little background, I'll try not to go overboard:

K has been a booby addict since two hours after he was born. Despite my efforts to put him down awake he'd ALWAYS wake up and fuss himself more and more awake the longer he didn't have a breast in his mouth. He's not latched on 24 hours anymore, but he does rely on me to nurse him to sleep and BACK to sleep when he stirs in the night.

We cosleep, so it's not bad once I'm in bed, but I really, really, really-really would love for him to sleep the 2, 3 or more hours after he goes to bed that I'm up working without me running upstairs to spend 20 minutes nursing him back down. Besides that practical necessity, I feel like at this age I should at least find out what ways I can teach him to soothe himself as a life skill, a step toward grown-uppiness. At this time there is no one else who can put him to sleep, if I'm not around at nap time, no nap is taken, if I'm not around at bedtime (only happens very rarely) he stays up until I get home.

So, for a two year old who's never had a dummy or lovey of any kind and has only very very rarely been witnessed to come partially awake and then go back to sleep again, what would you recommend as a first step toward teaching him ways to comfort himself when he wakes up at night? Should I somehow try to stop cosleeping so he doesn't expect me there? Should I just wean him alltogether? (I'm so not a fan of that idea, but am willing to consider it)

Thanks wonderful Mothers, I'm looking forward to your replies.
 

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I have a 9 month old with a very similar pattern. I know it's a long way off... but I can see myself in your shoes down the road! I have recently read the No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley and would highly recommend it. I've only done a few of her suggestions so far, but I have seen some improvement even with just that. She gives suggestions both for co-sleeping and crib sleeping. Good luck.
 

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He's still a baby
What you're expecting of him will come, in time, on his own. IMO, the first thing you can do to help this occur is to allow him the opportunity to have his mommy while he needs you, without any arbitrary goals/deadlines/expectations of his grown-uppiness (love this word, btw
). The tools you can provide him with might be the reassurance of your continued presence, the comfort you provide him, the security of the breastfeeding relationship.

IME, what he's doing is totally normal, natural and developmentally necessary for his age. It's not all that convenient, and it can be frustrating for sure, but it's not something that we're supposed to be 'fixing.' Because nothing is broken. He's going to get there, I promise
I see that you're a single parent---it's so important to remember to make time, however you have to, to carve out some personal time to recharge yourself so you can continue to give your best
Meeting your needs is important so you don't get burned out and start thinking it's time to wean or something extreme like that


The following passage is from Peggy O'Mara's book Natural Family Living, and she sums up perfectly (and much better than I could ever do) the way I feel about nighttime parenting:

Quote:
Once we become parents it is easy to blame ourselves when our children's behavior seems out of control. The pervasive idea that we should be able to control sleep habits leads us too quickly to call night waking a "sleep disorder" and to wonder what we are doing wrong to cause it. Research gives no indication that anything parents do causes night waking. Babies whose cries are responded to rapidly are not more prone to it. Assuming that there is some method out there to treat sleep "disorders" undermines a parent's confidence. Despite the notion that "healthy, normal" babies sleep through the night, surveys of parents show that most babies do not sleep through the night, at least until all their teeth are in.

While waiting for our children to develop physically and emotionally to the point where they can realistically soothe themsleves to sleep, we need to work on our own development toward tolerance, patience, and acceptance of those aspects of parenting that are beyond our control. What remains in our control is the ability to continue to care for our children even though they are keeping us awake at night; to continue to hold to our own integrity as feeling people.


To embrace a philosophy that takes into account the individual needs of each child is not to ignore the unfortunate reality that we need sleep. We need to nurture ourselves in this process of raising children. The key to tolerance, and the natural passage through the nightwaking years, is to observe, accept, and work with your child's own inner rhythms and timetables, which can lead to the understanding that nurturing your child and nurturing yourself are not mutually exclusive enterprises.
Weaning and stopping co-sleeping are absolutely not the answers, btw! Weaning doesn't make his intense need for you any less...and then, you'd have lost the one sure way you have of calming and connecting with him. Taking away your presence so he doesn't expect it won't help either...it would only exacerbate or create issues. IMO, reframing parental expecations can really be the most helpful, sure-fire way to ease conflicts.

Hang in there, mama
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by georgia View Post
He's still a baby
What you're expecting of him will come, in time, on his own. IMO, the first thing you can do to help this occur is to allow him the opportunity to have his mommy while he needs you, without any arbitrary goals/deadlines/expectations of his grown-uppiness (love this word, btw
). The tools you can provide him with might be the reassurance of your continued presence, the comfort you provide him, the security of the breastfeeding relationship.

IME, what he's doing is totally normal, natural and developmentally necessary for his age. It's not all that convenient, and it can be frustrating for sure, but it's not something that we're supposed to be 'fixing.' Because nothing is broken. He's going to get there, I promise
I see that you're a single parent---it's so important to remember to make time, however you have to, to carve out some personal time to recharge yourself so you can continue to give your best
Meeting your needs is important so you don't get burned out and start thinking it's time to wean or something extreme like that


The following passage is from Peggy O'Mara's book Natural Family Living, and she sums up perfectly (and much better than I could ever do) the way I feel about nighttime parenting:

Weaning and stopping co-sleeping are absolutely not the answers, btw! Weaning doesn't make his intense need for you any less...and then, you'd have lost the one sure way you have of calming and connecting with him. Taking away your presence so he doesn't expect it won't help either...it would only exacerbate or create issues. IMO, reframing parental expecations can really be the most helpful, sure-fire way to ease conflicts.

Hang in there, mama

This is a beautiful, thoughtful, helpful post and as a parent who wants the best for her child, I apprecicate it. But...I need sleep!!!!! I've waited 21 months, she's waited 27...how long and how far must we go to meet our children's needs? Yes, I understand that in an ideal world I would carve out time for myself, but how do I do that w/ no family nearby? No babysitter as of yet? I'm unable to sleep during the day but that makes sense--people are supposed to sleep at night! Anyway, I don't need a pedicure or a nap, I need 4-6 hrs of uninterrupted sleep nightly. Not the 8-10 I used to get--just 4-6 so DH and I don't feel postal. Am I so crazy for thinking this???? Has everyone else here nursed every 2 hrs for over 2 years around the clock? How are you keeping sane?
 

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I second the No Cry Sleep Solution. She has something she calls the Pantley Pull Off, which is basically where you nurse him and wait until his swallowing starts to slow, and then you break the seal with your finger and pull the nipple out of his mouth before he's completely asleep--that's the key--don't let him get all the way to sleep. If he cries, give him the nipple again, count to 20 (or however long you think is best), and then try it again. Repeat as many times as necessary until he drifts off to sleep without the nipple in his mouth. It could take quite a few tries.

This didn't work at all for us when my DD was an infant (I think the sucking need is too great for this to work for most infants), but I think it would definitely work with a toddler. It's worth a try at least! Good luck!


ETA: Another thing she suggests is that the way a child falls asleep is the way he will expect to get back to sleep upon waking the next time. So, once the Pantley Pull Off starts to work, I'd try making new associations for him when you head to bed. At bedtime, maybe nurse him in the living room, lights on, lots of noise. Don't let him fall all the way to sleep. Then head to bed with lots of books (have DH help out with this), lights off, tell stories and sing songs in the dark, etc. Just this step helped a lot with cutting down my DD's nightwaking. Again, I don't think this is appropriate for infants, but I think it can work for a toddler. And it probably won't work until the Pantley Pull Off starts to work (where he starts to disassociate being latched on with falling all the way to sleep).
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by newbymom05 View Post
Has everyone else here nursed every 2 hrs for over 2 years around the clock? How are you keeping sane?
yep... actually up until my DD was 2 I think she nursed every hour, LOL! I have learned tos leep through the nursings at night for the most part
 

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I know my post will be very unpopular and frowned upon by many mamas here, but I hear your pain - and I didn't even night-nurse for as long as you did. I night-weaned ds when he was 15 months. Dh and I agreed that I wasn't getting enough rest and needed to sleep more at night. Before the night-weaning, dh slept in another room while I co-slept with ds, waking up every 2 hours or so on average to nurse him back to sleep and change his diaper.

When dh and I made the decision, we decided to wean ds cold turkey. Dh co-slept with ds and I slept in a different room. Dh kept a sippy cup of water in the room in case ds got thirsty. We made sure ds ate a lot during the day so he wouldn't feel hungry at night. I think it took a couple of nights...about 2...before ds slept for 5 hours straight. After that his sleep got longer and longer at night. He is 20 months now and sleeps approximately 10 hours at night, waking 2 times on average, due to wet diaper. Sometimes he sleeps for only 9 hours. Sometimes he wakes up 5 times. But usually it's 10 hours of sleep, with 2 wakings.

After one month of ds co-sleeping with dh, we switched back to the original arrangement of me co-sleeping with ds while dh slept in another room. We waited one month to ensure that ds got used to sleeping without nursing. Lo and behold, when I went back to sleeping with him he did not ask to nurse at night, and I did not offer. We had successfully night-weaned him.

I know many moms here will think that I was mean and probably stunted his emotional development to some degree, but there were some nights where I got so little sleep that I was delusional from fatigue. For instance I once literally mistook a pillow lying next to me on the bed for ds and I kept poking it, wondering, "Why isn't he moving? Is he dead???" So, I guess the question is, was it better for me to continue night-nursing or was it better for me to be clear-headed in order to keep ds safe and raise him properly during the day? So, judge me if you will, but I feel like I made the best decision for my family and our unique circumstances.

Good luck to you in whatever you decide.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by alegna View Post
IME just wait a few more months. Dd always had to be nursed back down at that age and by 30 months MOST times she could go back to sleep on her own.

good luck!

-Angela
I 2nd this...I would just give it a little longer. NCSS for toddlers has lots of good advice as well though. It's definitely a good tool - info on napping issues as well as nighttime sleep.
 

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I understand the bedtime dash to put the baby back to sleep. We've been doing that shuffle for a long time. Bonus for me, I have a partner who can rock Ds back to sleep. After months of this, Ds will, on a good night, sleep one hour, wake, two hours, wake. Most nights its 30-60 min between wakeups until we go to bed too.

What happens if you don't offer the breast immediately? Would Dc fall asleep bouncing, walking, rocking, cuddling? At 27mo I think you could also talk about nursing to a count of 10, or nursing during one song.

I think introducing a lovey (animal, blanket, etc) would be a good start. Since Dc has a strong suck for comfort reflex still how about a bottle of warm water? A dummy/pacifier? If these are things that would buy you time, or encourage Dc to sleep longer since the breast isn't being offered upon waking, maybe.

The NCSS for toddlers is a good reccomendation that I'll fourth. One suggestion I've read about is only nursing in X location that is NOT bed. So if Dc wants to nurse then s/he has to get out of bed and come nurse in a special chair or sofa. The idea being that its undesirable for them so they'll accept other methods of comforting and maybe start sleeping through instead.
 

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Nightweaning is definitely possible at that age- however don;t wean entirely!!! Just remember that the nursing does put your child to sleep. If you wean altogether you lose that tool- and that could be a disaster in certain scenarios! ( sickness, storm ,nightmare, etc...)
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Thank you all for your input so far.

I've been hesitant to get NCSS for toddlers because the Pantly Pull Off when we've tried it only escates into hysterical clawing at the breast. It's been a while since I've tried it, though, so I might give it another go.

Nursing someplace specific besides the bed is something we're working toward. We've got it down to two chairs and the bed, and no nursing while watching TV. The final step is going to be hardest on me, having to get up in the night to nurse when I'm so used to sleeping through it. k will like it, though, he prefers the chair to the bed and will sometimes even roust me out of a sound sleep insisting on the chair.

As for dummies and bottles, I can't see him having much interest. I've offered him each at different times and he's just confused. It would be nice, though.

We've come to an understanding that sometimes he may have the breast but only for a limited time, like count to ten, which has helped our relationship during the day, but hasn't done much for night time when neither of us is fully conscious enough for that kind of higher reasoning.

And finally I should clarify that the breast is the ONLY way he knows to go to sleep. Not the car, not rocking, not tummy or back rubbing, not reading a book, not with a bottle or dummy. I did try all those things but he's truly a boob man.

I'll give the Pull Off another try, work more toward nursing in the chair during the night, and try to build some non-boob sleep associations. maybe not all at once...

Again, thanks for your thoughts so far. Everyone of you has helped me.
 

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Even if all those other things didn't put him to sleep in the past, you might try them again now. First, because he's older and might be more amenable. Secondly, because if you do all those things and then nurse consistently, every night, those other things pick up some of the warm, snuggly sleepy feelings that only the boob have now, and may make the pull-off work better in the (hopefully near) future. It's been a while, but I think developing a consisitent bedtime ritual is part of NCSS.
 

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you might also try the floppy sleep game book by patti teal. i think it is geared more for ages 3-11 or so, but i am taking a look at it and the concept makes sense. my son is not quite 2.5 but im looking into it. it is based on teaching your children how to learn to relax and put themselves to sleep. it makes a lot of sense and for the 3 and up i think is a great idea. it might be harder with a two year old if they cant follow the directions in the game or guided relaxation but its worth a try. if i could i would contiinue to nurse ds to sleep for the next year or so, then do the floppy sleep game, but with a 5 mos old and other things that have to get done i just cant. goodluck.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by batsora View Post
you might also try the floppy sleep game book by patti teal. i think it is geared more for ages 3-11 or so, but i am taking a look at it and the concept makes sense. my son is not quite 2.5 but im looking into it. it is based on teaching your children how to learn to relax and put themselves to sleep.
I am going to look into this. I have a previously boob-dependent boy (now 3.5) who has been having more trouble falling asleep lately. At first, we thought he was finally learning to go to sleep by himself; then we realised he no longer knew how to go to sleep!

To the op, I totally feel your pain, and was in your shoes for a long time. I waited it out, from inertia as much as any parenting ideals. Ds still nurses once in the night most nights, but he typically doesn't wake up before I'm back in bed. The days when I had to go to him every hour or so are now a convenient blur.
 
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