SO i co sleep with my 13 month old DD. she only nurses about 5 times during the day and i do nurse her to sleep for nap and bedtime. but it seems she is comfort nursing all night. which means i get NO sleep. i really want to wean her from the night feeding. I know there will be tears and lots of crying. can someone give me advice and how to begin?
this is very very long and i wanted to just send you the link but for some reason parenting.com isn't letting me post links to people. this is the best article i've seen out there. i hope it helps
Argh!! The sound of frustration. If you clicked here, you are TIRED! I am sorry. I’m right there with you. But wait! Why am I posting about night weaning if I haven’t done it yet? I’m going to, I’m going to, I swear. In the meantime, while writing my sleep plan, I’ve done a lot of research and committed to trying the following strategies. Well, hopefully I won’t need to try them all, but you get what I mean.
First, let’s talk a little bit about night weaning. Everyone does this differently. It seems as though most people find it easier to day wean and then go to night weaning, but I think this is people who are interested in fully weaning their children. Then there’s the other ladies (like me) who are totally fine with nursing, except if they don’t get a decent night’s sleep soon they are going to have a complete mental breakdown. Sigh! I cannot believe it has come to this.
Like many others before me, I believed that my child would eventually wean herself. I even believed that around 14 months was the normal age for this, so I waited. I have no idea where I got that information or why I believed it. I’m near certain, that given the freedom to choose, Rati would still be nursing as she nears her fourth birthday. I’m not interested in talking about how long people should nurse for. I don’t really care, but I can tell you this: There is no way ever ever ever that I am enduring 2 more years of night wakings. So I figure, if I have to night wean her eventually, why lose anymore sleep? Oh wait, I have an answer. Because every single time I commit to weaning her another set of molars come in, or we’re moving, or traveling. Timing is very important here and a good time to do it has not yet come up.
Aside from finding it pointless to wait much longer, I truly believe it gets more difficult the longer you wait. On one hand, I’ve been waiting for her to become a more rational being, so we can talk about it. But as this happens, she is also becoming more aware of what she wants, she takes things more personally and feels actual disappointment. I don’t think we’d have struggled as much if we had night weaned her when she was one. I was committed to full nursing for at least one year, that’s why I say one.
Anyhow, so here we are. She wakes up 3-4 times a night. When she’s teething, she’ll be latched on all night sometimes making it very difficult for me to sleep. I look five years older because of this. I’m short tempered and very tired. I’ll update you on how this process goes (after she finishes getting her 2 year molars)
I’m sure a few of these strategies would work for regular full weaning too. Good luck!
You can get more ideas from the KellyMom website and the No-Cry Sleep Solution book. These are just the ones I liked.
Feed more food in the afternoon
Work on improving separation anxiety issues by leaving as little as possible, do practice outings, saying good bye when leaving, connecting more in the day
If you co-sleep, move the milkies so they are not as easily accessible- i.e. sleep at end of bed
Stop drinking caffeine
Don’t let your child fall asleep on breast- break association. If your child always falls asleep at the breast, self soothing will be near impossible for them when they wake in the night. I highly suggest you work on this alone, before denying the milk in the middle of the night. Read about the Pantley Pull Off method for letting them half nurse but then breaking the latch right before they are sleep. I do this a lot and it really works.
Alternatively, tell story in the dark while rubbing their back. Make your child the main character and offer him/her something to drink before doing this, offer to pat them down, teach them about closing their eyes and resting. My trick as of late is to say “there is no more milkies, let me pat you down and sing a song.” It works because there really isn’t any milk after she nurses for 15 minutes or so and sometimes it actually frustrates her and makes her less peaceful. Not always, but oftentimes she’ll take the offer to be sung to. I think this works best when you say it sweetly, not in a frustrated mood although that’s usually how I’m feeling by the time we come to this.
Start introducing stories about weaning to your child (seen in picture above) or write your own where your child is the main character. This will help your child to bring more context to the reality of weaning and therefor lessen the negative emotions.
Pick one place to nurse in the day. Make it some place other than where your child sleeps. They will fight for a day or two and then like most battles, if you are consistent, they will catch on. This I’ve actually tried out of need once and it worked great. Once your child realizes the bedroom is not a place to nurse, some of the tension is removed from night weaning. It’s less about “no milkies at night” and more about “no milkies in this room.” You should even give in and go to the nursing room in the middle of the night a few times to make that point clear. Chances are, your toddler will not want to get up to nurse in a different room and that this effort will help encourage weaning.
You can try a cold-turkey approach but with a twist- start with a no milkies time from (i.e. 12-6) use language like milkies went night nights, milkies are tired etc. and approach your child as if he/she needs to help you out here. If this works, make the no milkies time longer and longer until you’ve succeeded in no milkies. Remember to offer back rubs, hold them, rock them or whatever is needed to help them sleep without your breast.
Enlist Daddy to take over night wakings and he might offer a pacifier or bottle in the beginning if it helps. Daddy taking over means there are no milkies. This is probably a less gentle way to do it and I don’t recommend it, but if it comes down to this, that’s what we’ll end up doing because I’m sure it’ll work. It’s basically like cry-it-out but as Dr. Sears says, crying to sleep in the loving arms of a father is far different than the CIO methods people recommend.