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Please Advise! Night time breast feeding and Co-Sleeping

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  • Please Advise! Night time breast feeding and Co-Sleeping

    My baby boy is 16 months old and I am trying to figure out how to wean him from night time breast feeding. I am not ready to move him to his own crib, although he sleeps there before I come to bed from about 7 pm to 10 pm. I hear it is easier to wean breast feeding at night if he is sleeping independently. Which should I take on first?? He still nurses at least 3 times a night- after 10 pm, but I am not sure if it is just out of habit or thirst. His feeding is very irregular though, so I can't imagine just eliminating one feeding at a time. Does anyone have advice? And is it typical for co-sleeping toddlers this age to wake this often? Thanks!

  • #2
    It is not necessary to wean from the family bed in order to wean from nursing. In fact co-sleeping can be tremendously beneficial long after. There are many ways to nightwean, you will have to figure out what works for you. Dr. Jay Gordon has some good tips on his site. Some moms have been successful by explaining to their child that they can nurse when the sun comes up. You may want to have water on hand in case he does get thirsty at night. I tried something that worked with my oldest, but not my youngest. If he wanted to nurse, we got out of bed to do it. That way, it wasn't so convenient for him. After about two weeks, he quit waking altogether. As to your last question, it is typical for people of all ages to wake throughout the night. "Sleeping through the night" is a myth. No human does it. Let us know how it goes!

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    • #3
      Hello,

      I just recently night weaned my daughter, though she still does nurse before she goes to sleep. I took a long time to night wean her - she is 3.5 now - but the approach of talking with her that milk needed to sleep during the night, then she could have more when the sun was here worked really well. I made a really big deal the first couple of days that she slept all night without milk and now it was morning!!

      We altered our nighttime routine to include me singing and snuggling her to sleep and she still bed shares. I was surprised by how hungry and thirsty she is at bedtime, so I am prepared to give her a hearty snack and water to drink. She does usually sleep through the night, though sometimes wakes up to have a drink, share a dream or go potty.

      I really enjoy the night time snuggles and I hope you find an approach that works well for you. Remember you can always try something and see how it works. Your child will let you know if it is not working. I tried night weaning just before she was three and it didn't work, but a few months later she was ready.

      My 7.5 year old no longer bed shares every night, but she also doesn't sleep through the night either!

      Warmly,
      Kathryn

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      • #4
        I know of another momma whose toddler slept with daddy in another room until he stopped asking to nurse at night. Everybody was pretty sleepy for a while! With our youngest, we put him on the other side of daddy to sleep so he couldn't snuggle up against momma. There might be some tears and frustration.

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        • #5
          Hi- Thanks for writing!
          I have tried to explain to him "Mommy's Milk goes nuh-night" and offer a sippy but that lead to hysterics. And I guess it was because I heard to resist giving in, the hysterics lasted a couple hours, and only ended because I gave in. The next day he was extra sensitive and emotional and insisted on nursing more than usual. I guess I should take that as he is not ready.

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          • #6
            Thank you for your post!
            How old was your oldest at the time? When I offer a sippy at night he acts as though I put something foreign in his face, but I like your idea of getting out of bed or maybe I should make him wake up all of the way?

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            • #7
              Thank you so much for the replies everyone!

              Since I go to bed about three hours after my boy does, I put him to sleep in his crib until I go to bed and then I have been taking him with me to bed when I go. This is how I have insured he wouldn't fall out of our bed. But now that I want to wean him from nursing through the night, I have left him in his crib until he wakes and cries for me. This seems like it might help but I am not happy with this approach because I fell like it will probably wean him from sleep sharing with us.

              I am just not sure what to do.

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              • #8
                Hi,

                It can be hard when it seems like doing one thing will change the other. Perhaps if you decide what you really want - what does night time parenting look like in your family right now and what would you like it to be like, you will have some ideas about what to do.

                I can tell you that it will change. My oldest was sleeping in her own bed, half night by herself and half night with me, at the ages of 2 -4. When she was 4 she came back and slept with me in my bed. Then she spent ages 5 - 6 sometimes with me, sometimes in her own bed. Now at 7.5 almost every night in her own bed for the past year. My little one used to need to be held to nap, but finally I could lay her down around age 1. Now she doesn't nap!

                So regarding night time parenting goals, for example, when both girls were younger we wanted everyone to sleep where they got the best and safest sleep and could be easily cared for by me (I was the primary night parent). So my DH often slept in the guest bed and our children slept with me. now Our 3.5 5 sleeps with me (night weaned, but still bed sharing) and our older child 7.5 sleeps in her bed. DH often takes care of her in the night - sip of water, trip to bathroom, bad dream. I take care of the little one. In the past we have had our mattress right on the floor and we've also pushed a king and a full size bed together. Lots of different sleeping arrangements through the years!

                We also wanted our children to feel that sleep and night time are safe and peaceful, so we kept them close, responded promptly and try do nurturing things before bed - a foot rub, a special way of saying good night, songs, hugs, kisses. Sometimes we have used night lights when fear of the dark has been an issue.

                So these are just a few examples of how we have parented based on our goals. What are the goals you and your partner have for your night time parenting? When you know clearly what those are, then you can slowly make some changes. Or you might now want to make any right now. You can start with the goal and brainstorm all the different ways you could try to achieve what you want, keeping in mind that your child will have some say on the goals and how you work to meet them. It might be fun and helpful to think about what he would say if you asked him about night weaning, bed sharing, etc. What would his needs and wants be for the night time?

                I am sure that you and your partner will find what works best for your family and meets the needs of your child at night!

                Warmly,
                Kathryn

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