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Does sleep even get better after night weaning?

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  • Does sleep even get better after night weaning?

    Question for those that have night weaned difficult sleepers: I’m wondering if I should consider night weaning my 18 month old dd. Sometimes I think it might be good for her if it helps her get a better quality sleep and definitely better for my relationship with my husband. But, I also feel heartbroken just thinking about taking her ‘yum-yums’ away. I know it will be very tearful and difficult for her. I’ve read a lot of different techniques from the no-cry sleep solution to Dr. Jay Gordon. But, she is very alert (never drowsy) and extremely persistent so no matter what approach I use, I know she’ll be awake, crying and really upset.

    I also wonder if she’s such a troubled sleeper, is it even going to get better once she’s weaned. What if she still wakes up all the time and then we lose a very effective way of soothing her back to sleep? Has anyone had experience with this?

    Some background it you have time to read it: My dd has always had a really hard time going to sleep and staying asleep. She needs to be bounced and nursed to sleep and still wakes every 1-2 hours all night long and needs to be nursed back to sleep. She would prefer to nurse constantly all night (and nap). I sometimes can sneak out for 30 min – 1 hour at night but she is very alert so if I don’t nurse her back to sleep immediately once she wakes (or if I try to soother her any other way) she gets completely woken up and then is up for 3-4 hours before she can go to sleep again. That is a killer!

    My husband can’t help at night because he sleeps in another room - he’s a loud sleeper and has irregular work hours – and DD doesn’t accept any comforting from him. So far dh has been supportive of our sleep arrangement and is still ok with bed sharing but he’s starting to loose patience with the frequent night waking, extended awake hours during the middle of the night and the zero time together.

  • #2
    Hi There!
    You gave excellent background on your child and situation! thanks.

    Hmm. Maybe you should think about lessoning night nursing at this point instead of cutting it out all together? Gradual grey areas are a good place to read what a child can deal with and you know how far to push.

    Have you read this page at Kellymom's?
    Gentle methods for encouraging less night nursing-

    I want you to pay particuarly attention to the 'eliminate discomfort' part and see if anything jumps out as a possiblity.

    later in the page is nightweaning toddlers-
    I had a lot of success deferring my first child’s early morning nursing by delaying just a few minutes till the next latch on. I also did this interesting technique where he would have to sit up to nurse ( I was laying down) so when he really fell asleep he would fall off my nipple and lay down!

    I think you should determine what is the most attractive thing he loves about it (soothing on his mouth, lulls him to stay asleep etc) and try to find something else that might help him (cup of water, white noise machine)

    You don't have to total night wean! I'm sure a little more break in between nursing will do a lot for you!
    (I have night weaned all my children around 12-14m but they were pretty easy going about it)


    • #3
      Thanks Naomi. That was a good reminder that I don't need to cut out night feeding all together. I feel a lot more comfortable with that. I think I got stuck on weaning because I can't really picture how to gently delay some feeds. She's pretty much on and off all night long. The big problem I have with trying anything different is that she goes from asleep to awake in no time and then she's up for hours in the middle of the night. It really discourages me from wanting to try new things.

      I've really thought about possible discomforts. I do think she's very sensitive and any discomfort does wake her. But, I can't think of any consistent discomforts. She's a bad sleeper in the hot or cold, since before teething, before solids... I did try eliminating my dairy for 2 months before she was on solids and didn't see any improvement.

      When she wakes up from a nap or in the morning she loves to cuddle & nurse for 20-30 minutes so it's definitely a comfort for her. At night, I think the attraction is that it soothes her to sleep. The instant she wakes up she reaches out for the boob and strains to latch on. She suckles and falls right back to sleep. She doesn't accept a soother, patting seems to only wake her up more. I have on a few occasions had success with shooshing and rocking often works but she wants to nurse while rocking so .... Hmmm...


      • #4
        Nightweaning helped my oldest sleep better, but did not help my youngest at all. It does really depend on the child. I like Naomi's idea of somewhere in the middle, but I wanted to point out that you say "What if she still wakes up all the time and then we lose a very effective way of soothing her back to sleep?", but you never "lose" bfing. If you decide to go back to it, it's a cinch!


        • #5
          I have on a few occasions had success with shooshing and rocking often works but she wants to nurse while rocking so .... Hmmm...
          try to use this! when she normally nurses back to sleep also shush...then maybe she will associate both as a back to sleep soothing. At some point maybe you can just shush and catch her before she totally wakes to notice she is not nursing yet!


          • #6
            Thanks Naomi. I'll give nursing & shushing another try. I had tried it a couple of times but found that it woker her up. She's just so easily alert... and very seldom drows. But, she's more drowsy in the middle of the night so maybe I'll start there. I myself am also more drowsy then so I usually forget to try anything but I really need to do something so maybe that's a start. Thanks again!