Night Weaning Questions

I’m considering night weaning.

Peanut is officially 22 months old and nighttime nursing is the only time I genuinely dislike nursing—mostly because she’s handsy at night and I’ve tried everything to stop it and she just continues. It’s gotten better since I wrote that post (mostly just better in my head), but it’s still very bothersome. That’s not the point of this post though.

Right now she nurses 1-3 times a night. On a “good” night, she goes to sleep at 8:30pm and doesn’t wake up until 5-6am, nurses once to sleep, then wakes up around 7am. She sleeps in her own bed (a twin mattress on the floor in her room) and usually when I nurse her back to sleep I fall asleep in her bed.

I don’t really mind the “good” nights, but it’s when she has “bad” nights that bother me. Sometimes she wakes up a 1am then 3am then 5am, then 7am for the day. She has always woken frequently at night, but getting used to her waking one time and then she suddenly wakes every two hours. It just throws me off. On top of that, with her being handsy during nighttime nursing, I end up staying awake because I’m pushing her hands off and when she’s handsy, it takes a while for her to get back to sleep. We’re also planning on trying to get pregnant relatively soon and I don’t think my supply will stick around because I’ve always had issues with keeping it up, so I don’t want her to rely on the milk to sleep and then have it suddenly be gone and her trying to nurse to sleep and she can’t.

So I’m wondering about night weaning. At what age did you night wean? Could a 22 month old even be ready? Could she understand if I tried the “no milk until the sun comes up” approach? How did you night wean? My husband could help. What do I do if she gets hysterical at night? Any time that I’ve ever tried to just comfort her back to sleep and not give her milk she literally goes nuts. She thrashes around and has tantrums. She won’t let me touch her. She’s entirely inconsolable. Entirely beyond reason. How do I reason with her when she’s beyond reason!?

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7 thoughts on “Night Weaning Questions

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Night Weaning Questions « The Adventures of Lactating Girl -- Topsy.com

  2. With Sophie we were the opposite. She was down to only nursing at night/naps. I stretched it out over a month. The goal was to get her to sleep without nursing.

    I had Denny offer her warm sweet milk at bedtime while he read her books. Then I would offer it to her when I came in to sing and rock with her. It helped to have her lay on my chest and wriggle the drink between us, so she was still snuggling.

    When we were down to the last feeding (about 3 am) I got up with her to offer her a snack, after she was super pissed about being denied boob. She got some crackers and fell asleep on the couch. The next night she got another snack. After that she would just ask for her sippy cup at night, or I would put it up between her pillow and the wall and she would grab it herself.

    Good luck 🙂

  3. Oh, that’s a good question!
    My first nursed through til my second trimester. The night nursings were the last to go and as my milk changed and decreased due to pregnancy she slowly night weaned over a month or so. It was nice but I don’t think it would have happened so easily if I weren’t pregnant.
    With my second, now 19 mo, she nurses like Dea does but isn’t so handsy as you say. If I don’t nurse her she’s beyond hysterical! I, personally, don’t think it’s worth getting her hysterical because if I just nurse she’ll go right back to sleep. I think if I were to night wean totally I would have to sleep in a different room (so she couldn’t see me) and have my husband wake with her and offer her expressed milk or water in a cup and if she was off the hook I’d nurse (so she knew I was still there for her if she really needed me) and gradually back off when she wasn’t so upset (if that would ever be the case!).

    Baby steps I think. Just because you are trying something like night weaning doesn’t mean you’d have to stop immediately and just because it doesn’t work so well for a few nights doesn’t mean she won’t eventually understand what you are trying to do.
    I think she’d understand “when the sun comes up” etc…especially if you start talking about it ahead of the time when you start holding off.
    I think it would take a few weeks (if not longer) at least if you are doing it gradually as apposed to sleeping in a different room so your hubby can comfort her at night instead.
    I also think I would continue to nurse to sleep though.
    p.s. I am no where near night weaning Jules because it’s too much effort than what it’s worth for me right now. But I also don’t have those same feelings you do at night.

  4. We have this same problem, but we have found some things that help. First off let me say, our son starts out at night in his own bed and usually sleeps in there until about 6am and then he comes and gets in our bed. We stick to a nighttime routine, I always nurse our 26month old to sleep at night. If he wakes up after he’s been put to bed I have the hubby go in and tend to him. Usually all he needs is a little patting, reassurance, and a drink from his sippy cup(he takes a glass of ice water to bed). Rarely does he need me to nurse him back to sleep in the middle of the night. Some nights he does need/want to sleep in bed with us so when that happens he lays by my husband and that keeps him from trying to nurse. Kind of an “out of site, out of mind” type thing. I also try and make sure he has a good snack before bed so that he isn’t waking up hungry. Night weaning is hard at first, but it does get easier. I also started off saying things like “You already nursed, now it’s time to go to sleep” or “You can nurse when it’s time to get up, you have to sleep first”….Sometimes I also lied and said “it’s broke”….I’m not proud of it, but it worked! The excuses didn’t really satisfy him at first but he got used to them and now when I say “I don’t want to nurse right now” he’s respectful.
    When it comes to weaning I think it’s all about just finding something that works for you. Because I’m pretty sure my method isn’t everyone’s and vice versa. However I do hope that some of my suggestions will help you!

  5. To a point, I think it’s just about when they’re ready.

    When J was 17 months, I tried to nightwean (we fulltime coslept). It was AWFUL. Crying, screaming, freaking out.

    After a few hours of that, I gave up.

    We tried again at 22 months. That time, it went WONDERFULLY. I’ll tell you what I did, then tell you the changes I would make.

    We decided to start nightweaning on our beach vacation last summer. There were 2 reasons for that 1) DH was going to be off work for 9 nights straight, which meant if the night was AWFUL he could let me sleep the next day or vice versa and 2)I figured Jack would be so tired from the beach, he’d wake up less. A few days before we left, I started really working on teaching Jack light and dark. At the beach, the first evening, I asked J if he needed to nurse, and told him that once it was dark out, “nursies” would go night night.

    That night, he woke up, asked to nurse, I told him nursies were night night, he fussed and turned for a little while (20-30 minutes?), but never got really upset (remember! he was in bed with me), and went back to sleep.

    By the 4th night he was STTN. It was awesome. And easy.

    When we got home, though, aand he wasn’t exhausted, while he’d still sleep all night, he’d want to wake up at 5-5:30. I KNEW he would go back to sleep if I nursed him, but it was still dark. I slowly started backsliding and unnightweaned him. (after 6 weeks or so). It was TOTALLY my fault!

    We started over on his 2nd birthday. It was harder the 2nd time, but this time we had a new trick. I bought the http://www.mytotclock.com (ignore her parenting advice. The clock is great!). What I like about this (or any of the other toddler clocks) is that I can control day and night. Which means on nights when we gget home late, I can still nurse him before bed. So, I set the clock to turn yellow (daytime) at 5:30. He knows (most of the time) now that he can’t nurse until then. It stays light all day and then the light turns off (with story and music)at bedtime. I love it.

    I would TOTALLY recommend starting with some sort of CONTROLLABLE device to let her know when it’s appropriate. It’s just too hard to rely on the sun (not to mention, as the time changes and whatnot, bedtimes/wake times will change. ANNOYING!!!)

  6. We’re working on it now! But mostly because I have thrush again and my nipples are red, raw and peeling. Last night when we laid down (we co-sleep on a full size mattress in the floor of his room) I told him my “Ninnies had an owie”. He was hysterical! After 2 1/2 hours he finally stopped crying and passed out. It was terrible. I rubbed his back and offered him milk in a sippy cup but he refused. Tonight he fussed for 45 minutes. I offered him food and he got up and pigged out. My baby was hungry! He played for 3 more hours then was ready for bed again. We laid side by side and cuddled. He fussed a bit but understood. I allowed him to nurse for a second and told him to be easy because it hurts mommy. He nursed for just a few minutes. When I told him to pull off he did. He even kisses my owie! Lol! Sweet boy. The middle of the night waking was harder. He rolled around the bed thrashing and crying, but it was about 30-40 minutes instead of 2 1/2 hours! I wasn’t planning on night weaning but might as well since this thrush is taking forever to heal. Oh, he’s 20 months old. Just be firm. If you offer it put limits in place. Maybe a small timer and slowly cut back on the minutes saying the milk is running out. Just a thought.

    • I’m gradually working down according to Dr. Jay Gordon’s article about night weaning. Tonight is the first night of no milk at all after going to sleep, so that’s not going to be fun. Good luck!

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