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Frequent night time waking at 2 years

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  • Frequent night time waking at 2 years

    I have a feeling that this might turn into an essay, so apologies for that, but I feel for the first time I've found a forum of people who will actually understand the journey we''ve been on with my sons sleep and offer suggestions that I'd be comfortable using!

    My son has been a frequent waker since he was born in November 2006. We had some trouble with breastfeeding/milk supply when he was tiny which I feel is the root of the trouble but that may just be because of how upset the whole thing made me. He needed supplementing (genuinely, we'd tried everying prior to that) but we were able to combine succesfully and we stopped the supplments when he started solids at 6 months. We did a combination of baby led weaning and the traditional puree route and he eats well and a range of foods in addition to about 4-5 breastfeeds a day.

    Temperament wise he's the happiest, sweetest little boy you could wish to meet. He's bright and funny, very sociable and confident and loves nothing more than meeting people and doing new and exciting things. And then there's night time!

    He fed to sleep until he was over a year old when he stopped doing so of his own accord and since then has fed and then got into bed and needed me in the room to go to sleep. He's now in a bed and needs lots of hugs and strokes to settle to sleep but he doesn't have any kind of aversion to going to bed or to sleep. Once he is asleep he doesn't stay that way for long though! We have had occasional stretches of 5-6 hours but its usually 2 or 3. More often than not he wants to feed back to sleep, though we do try other techniques first. He will usually only settle for me, though is Dad does go to him in the evenings when he wakes I have been the only one to get up for him at night because Dad has a long commute in the morning. In spite of low points I've stuck with doing things the way they were because it felt like the right thing to do. I've resisted suggestions to night wean because I think he's waking for a reason not related to feeding, but its a useful tool to get him (and so me!) back to sleep quickly! The waking is the same whether we bed share or not, and we've tried changing the lighting, heating and other things in the room to get to the source of the problem.

    I fell pregnant again in June and really struggled in terms of energy, and was quite impatient with th enight waking as I had visions of 2 of them doing this! Feeding became very painful too, but I really didn't want to wean my son under those circumstances. Unfortunately I lost the baby at the beginning of August but we are still actively trying for another. Since then my breasts have been very sore with feeding for the last two weeks of my cycle and although I'm having some complementary therapies to help me rebalance I'm wondering if I shouldn't make myself more of a priority and wean (at least at night) before I become resentful and 'spoil' the time we've had breastfeeding.

    The thing that makes me pause is that my son is a child of extremes, he doesn't do half measures. If you tell him no, however gently and positively, he goes from sweetness to screaming rage with no stops in between! None of the tactics I've read in books about night weaning seem like they would work, and as I don't want him that upset I know I wouldn't see it through. I am trying to prepare him in advance by talking to him about being able to sleep all night, and how tada (his word for breastfeeding) will go to sleep too but what else do you think I could try? His Dad works away 2 nights a week as well which means I would have no support.

    A part of me feels that having come so far with it being child led it would be a shame to stop that now, but I think that's just my perfectionist side

    Any comments or suggestions gratefully received!

  • #2
    Hello Sirona,
    I am happy you found us, and am pleased with the amount of background information you provided!
    My first child was very easy going with everything, but my second seems to have a personality like your son- very persistent, quick to be alarmed etc. I hear that you would like your night times together to involve more sleeping and less nursing and less fussing. You seem to have tried many things already, and your determined child has not responded to any of your techniques.
    A lot of people see past 24m as the ideal time to do some spot weaning (night or otherwise) because children of that age are more developmental ready.
    Do you feel that you have made no progress at all towards even a partial night weaning? Will he take a cup of another substance with your cuddling? Can you sleep on another bed in the same room for part of the night? Do you have a chance to catch up on sleep during the day?

    Keep asking questions!


    • #3
      Thanks for the reply Naomi, much appreciated, and you've understood the situation perfectly! So nice to hear there are other children like my son, other people seem to think you're being weak or having the wool pulled over your eyes when I explain how he is.

      We've made some progress towards partial weaning in the day, after trying 'don't offer, don't refuse' for a while and having no success and he's quite happy to take no for an answer during the day but its not so easy at night. He will take drinks and things but only once he's really wound himself up and is wide awake and by that time he's usually wanting to come downstairs and we're having that battle as well! I have thought about a bed in his room but there's not really space (and we don't have a bed!) but I'm not sure it would make a huge difference anyway as co-sleeping doesn't.

      Also, when he wakes he always does so crying. Sometimes he seems frightened but not always, but he's always upset. This is the same when he wakes up in the morning and from naps as well, unless he's had a really good sleep and then he wakes up chatting.
      Last edited by Sirona; 10-13-2008, 01:25 PM.


      • #4
        Hello Sirona,

        My LO seems very similar in temperament too. He has just turned one, so I dont really have anything too constructive to say as I am not at the same stage you are at yet.

        DS wakes from every sleep (nap or nighttime) crying. He co-sleeps and he does it even with me in the bed with him. I think that for my LO it is a disorientation thing. Once he has woken fully he is back to his smiley happy self, its just that transition stage. Interestingly if I actually wake him purposefully (like if he has napped too long - not that often! ) he doesn't get as upset?

        We have had a little success with 'the no cry sleep solution'. Its a great book and highly recommended. Its not something that I can really give examples from as there are heaps of different ideas and you actually custom fit a sleep plan for your family and baby.

        I will be reading your thread with interest as I have a feeling that in the near future we will be in the same position.


        • #5
          Hi Sirona---
          I don't have time to reply now, but will after book club!


          • #6
            my son was a regular night waker until we night weaned. we night weaned at 29 mos. when i became pregnant. we lost that pregnancy to miscarriage and due to the pain going away and moving into a "new" (we remodeled and moved back in) house i lapsed and let him start nursing at night again. i became pregnant again two months later and this time night weaned for good. sadly, we lost that pregnancy at 21 weeks and my milk has returned due to the birth and he's super enthusiastic about nursing--even at 5:30am. Anyway, i digress. Here's how we night weaned in feb. of this year in a loving way, because the lack of sleep (even with napping during the day with him) and the nipple pain were making me crazy. we kept his favorite snacks on hand and snuggled and offered comforting words when he woke up to nurse. we let him eat snacks in bed, patted his back, i offered to let him hold "the nunny" (my breast) and we offered water. bananas were a great weaning snack, so was cheese. we were very lucky and only had a couple nights of very short cry outbursts. he was okay with the snacks and water and went back to sleep as long as he could snuggle with us. it took several weeks before he slept through the night, but it was well worth it because we all sleep better now. the night weaning process was in no way traumatic for him. now that my milk returned he's super enthused about nursing and we're running into some issues with him waking up and not wanting to unlatch at nap time. i suppose this will change as the newness of the milk wares off, or if we're fortunate to conceive again then the milk will go away and we'll see where that takes us naturally. good luck in your quest for baby 2 and i'm sorry to hear about your loss. you sound like a loving and giving mama and you'll find the right balance for your family.


            • #7
              Thank you so much for your replies. We have had a rough couple of weeks with illness which made night wakings so much worse I am now relieved that he only woke up 3 times last night! We have a few disrupted weeks coming up with his birthday and visits from family etc. but I think once those are out of the way we will have a go with some gentle night weaning as runrebeccaray suggested.