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Thread: nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

    I don't have any friends who nursed past 12 months. So, while I feel alone, I don't necessarily feel lonely. I just have no one to commiserate with.

    We started night weaning the beginning of November in preparation for a surgery I was having. The surgery and my absence caused a lot of stress, so we set nighweaning aside as I was able to push through the discomfort.

    Then he started getting 8 teeth. The canines, then the molars. So we'd start up, have teething for a few days, and go back. My body started to suddenly feel very, very tired.

    My son is 18 months, 3 weeks. Night weaning (Gordon-ish) is having a positive effect on lengthening his naps, but my son is not accepting the not nursing during 1-6 am. He screams, between my husband and I on the bed, upwards of an hour. He won't accept water. He screams the same way if my husband takes him to the other room and rocks him. And then promptly awakes when he tries to lay him back down. He may fall asleep briefly, but then wakes screaming again. This goes on until 5:45 or so when I then nurse him.

    Initially we saw less screaming, when we first tried nightweaning. But now, 2 1/2 weeks into try 3 there is so much screaming.

    I can't handle the screaming, especially when there is an easy fix. But my body is tired. From 4 months to 14 months, he awoke upwards of 10 times a night to nurse. And while nursing gave me the sweet "fall right back to sleep", it didn't change that I was awakened. (we did discover he was intolerant of wheat at 13 months, which is why his nightwakings did decrease to 5 or so after 14 months.)

    I need some encouragement.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Nov 2012

    Default Re: nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

    Hi! I also followed Dr Gordon's method for nightweaning toddlers, and, similarly, DD would eventually fall asleep but wake soon afterwards, asking (or demanding) to nurse again. We have moved past that stage, so I feel I can confidently share some of what I learned:

    -Consider reducing the block of hours that you are nightweaning. So if Gordon says to choose 6 hours, choose 3. Once your son is ok with that, extend by another hour.
    -find the middle ground. Yes, consistency is a very persuasive teacher, but this is real life. I believe persistence in the long run is more important. A night of backtracking, or 3, should not be the end of the world or of your resolve.
    -keep track of progress. It's easy to feel defeated, but look back and realize that maybe now LO is letting himself be put down with back rubbing more often. Maybe you can't remember that last time you nursed between 10pm and 1am.
    Mama to a sweet kitty born July 2012 and monkey #2 born August 2015.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Keepin' it weird

    Default Re: nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

    I tried nightweaning DS1 at 18 months, when I was pregnant with DS2. I attempted the Gordon method. After just a couple of nights of screaming (much like what you're experiencing) I abandoned it. I tried again a couple months later and was much more successful.

    How determined are you to night wean right now? If you really want to cease night time nursing, then push through, be persistant, be patient. Eventually he'll come to realize that he's not getting what he wants, but be prepared to be exhausted in the meantime.

    One thing that helped me night wean DS1 was a good nightshirt and nighttime bra. I called it my "armor". It kept DS1 from helping himself to the boobie bar (which happened more than occasionally!) and kept me from leaking all over the bed. I'd wake up when DS1 pawed at my chest, mumble "not right now, it's time to sleep", and snuggle with him until he fell back asleep.

    I feel I must warn you though... Night weaning does not necessarily mean cessation of nighttime waking. Even after DS1 night weaned, he still woke up every two hours. He didn't nurse, but he did wake me up each time.
    Breastfeeding, babywearing, sci-fi loving, total geek of a mom!

    Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter, and those who matter don't mind. — Dr. Seuss

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2012

    Default Re: nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

    Nursing at night is frequently uncomfortable. His teeth, lazy latch, and my dang period and endometriosis just make me want to be able to cuddle him instead of nursing. He's been a frequent nurser since he was born- every 1.5 hrs day and night until he was about 13 months, where he was able to go to 2 hours and I could push him to 3 if we were out. He nurses at least 8 times during the day currently, for at least 10 minutes. There are certain times it's a little longer.

    It's become clear that his 3ish am waking is because he's HUNGRY. I think that's why there is so much screaming. Nothing we've done has helped, and neither of us want to trudge down to the kitchen at 3 am and try to find a snack. I'd much rather just nurse.

    Initially I wanted him to just nurse less at night. I think we are making progress towards that. Ideally, I'd love to get more than 4 hours of sleep without being awakened. But I was aware that nightweaning didn't mean sleeping all night. I had a little hope though...

    I am a little sad that I can't cuddle my son at night, or to sleep. It has to be nursing or he's screaming. He screams when my husband tries. I think I'd like that to be different. I'm just not sure how.

    He's a persistent little guy, and I'm also starting to wonder what nursing will look like as he gets older and more sure of what he wants. I don't have a weaning date for him; ideally I'd like to get pregnant again and have him wean as my milk decreases. But I'm not counting on that. So maybe i need a plan, and need to know what my choices are for complete weaning. It's just such an integral part of our lives, it's hard to imagine parenting without it.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Northern Virginia

    Default Re: nightweaning, toddler nursing, and other things

    I kind of did sort of the opposite of the Jay Gordon method -- which is I set some limits like "unless there's really a problem (illness, bad day) I am not nursing before 10:30 p.m. or after 5:00 a.m." I think I read that idea in Dr. Sears' Baby Book. Bedtimes were about 8:00 to 9:00 p.m. and wakeup anywhere from 6:30 to 7:00. DH would handle the first wakeup, because she was generally easier to get to sleep for that one. If that didn't work, then I'd usually nurse her (one of the exceptions). Then as LO got older she started sleeping a little later before her first wake-up at night, sometimes taking her way past 10:30 or 11:00. The morning one was tougher, because sometimes she wouldn't rest or go to sleep without nursing. But the nursing didn't often fix that in the end -- if she was up, she was up. I know that doesn't entirely decrease your problem, but I found that worked better for us -- it made more sense to me than having blocks in the middle of the night where tantrums might happen.

    Also, my LO just weaned herself while I was pregnant (she's 27 months), but with no fuss or difficulty. She just seemed uninterested in it anymore. She hasn't nursed in a couple days now, but I expect she might still once or twice a week. But I know it's not so easy for everyone!
    Mom to my sweet little "Pooper," born 10/12/11, and "Baby Brother," born 6/23/2014, and married to heavy metal husband. Working more than full-time, making healthy vegetarian meals for family, and trying to keep up with exercise routine.

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