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Thread: conflicted about night weaning

  1. #1
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    Mar 2013
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    Default conflicted about night weaning

    My daughter is 15 months. She has always had lots of trouble with sleep. She woke up every 45 min of her life until about 10 months old. We cosleep and nurse to sleep, she nurses very often at night and right now she nurses a ton in the day as well. She is not a big fan of solids, but is healthy, gaining, etc. No developmental issues.

    So, for the last 5-7 months her night wakings are so much worse. She sits up crying, even howling, every time she wakes. On a typical night this is about 4+ times during the time we sleep together, which is about 10pm-6:30am.

    Part of me wants to try a slow, gentle night weaning. Mostly because her wakings are very loud, crying out for "babies", which is nursing. She yells. She sits up, she is obviously upset each time she wakes but I've never left her side.

    But the other part of me is so upset even thinking about it! Did anyone else have this problem? I am so emotional about it. My husband and I decided he would do bedtime with her and she seems to be fine so far (we switched to nursing on the couch and reading before bed vs nursing to sleep). But at dinner tonight I burst into tears about the whole thing. I'm thinking this means some part of me senses this is wrong for us? I know everyone says it's fine to place limits, but it just feels so weird when we worked so hard for her to want to nurse!

    Just wondering what others have experienced. I think it's also really hard because she and I kept our relationship alive with night nursing for so many months when she generally refused to nurse in the day. The night wakings, even as disruptive as they are, are bearable as long as I'm not sick or over tired. Then it becomes a real issue.
    and Mama to two little girls

  2. #2
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    I was thinking about your post last night as I was in bed nursing my almost 19 month old. I was remembering how she was still nursing multiple times/night at 15 months, and how much better it is now. Although she never woke up crying every time, there were times when she did sit up howling in the middle of the night and seemed to have migrated further away from me in her sleep. Anyhow, her night nursing has gotten so much better. I'm not sure if that's just because she's getting better at sleeping and self-soothing, or if it has to do with the midnight shifts that I've worked -during those nights, my DH says she almost sleeps straight through, or else goes back to sleep without any help. Who knows.

    So I'm just sharing this to remind you that things can change so fast with their nursing habits. And also that just because you night wean her, does not mean she'll stop waking up, just that you'll have lost that tool. As for the feeling emotional part, I think that's natural -if your baby is crying, you want to comfort her as fast as possible, right? You seem like a very responsive mama, and I think you should follow your instincts here. If you feel like you're not ready to night-wean, maybe hold off for a little while. Have you tried any analgesics before bed to see if that helps? Maybe it is teething pain? Just throwing it out there!

  3. #3
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    with the PP.

    You're right that it's totally okay to place limits. But I think if it doesn't feel right to you, there's just no need for you to do it. For what it's worth, I'm pretty sure my daughter is a very similar sleeper to yours. The frequency and timing of wakeups is pretty much identical, although she does not usually wake crying. She has been crying in her sleep a lot this past week, though--she just cut her first molar this weekend, and though she's never had trouble with teething in the past, I really do think that's the culprit this time around.

    Anyway, my daughter is 16 months old, and night weaning just does not feel right to me at all, so I have no plans to do it. Even though her sleep has been pretty disrupted as of late, and even though she nurses at least 4-5 times overnight at this point, I can still see all of the progress she has made in sleeping, all on her own. At 5-6 months old, she was latched all night long. At 10-11 months old, she was still night nursing about every 45 minutes. So, we're getting there. I guess what I'm trying to say is, if the only reason you are considering night weaning is for the benefit of your daughter's sleep, I think she's slowly getting there all on her own, too! If *you* feel that you need to night wean for your own sleep or sanity, that's a totally different story.
    Apologies for the short responses! I'm usually responding one-handed on my smartphone!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    Thank you both for the replies. I got a sleep book from the library, and even though it's the no-cry sleep solution for toddlers, it still doesn't sit right with me. I kind of got the feeling it's for parents who feel their child actually does not need nourishment during night hours. I don't think we're that family yet. I've been thinking a lot about my motivation for the night weaning. Mostly it was how disruptive the crying is, it's loud and it's not quite as easy to sleep through! however, my real guess is that the crying isn't necessarily a desperate search for mama milk every time. She is still cutting teeth, she's been sick, etc. She is slowly learning how to turn over in bed without upsetting herself too much.

    Anyway, I feel like it would be a wrong move to night wean. I would never deprive her of something she really needs, ever. She doesn't eat a lot of food, despite BLW always and being offered healthy solids all the time with no pressure. Maybe she's just a slow developer in that department. I also nurse only from one breast (the other has mostly dried up, she always pretty much refused it), which carries the entire milk supply. I'm sure it's a lot of milk, because I know how little solids she eats and she is still gaining enough to be in the 75th percentile. I think if I were to limit night nursing it would hurt my supply and it seems like she truly needs that much milk right now until she's ready to accept more food.

    Thanks for the input. A good take home message...if partial weaning feels wrong, it probably is! Hence the crying at the dinner table from me!
    and Mama to two little girls

  5. #5
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*karrieperry View Post
    A good take home message...if partial weaning feels wrong, it probably is! Hence the crying at the dinner table from me!
    Trust your instincts! No-one knows a child better than her mama.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

  6. #6
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    Wow I have never heard of parents wanting to not night wean at this age and I love it! Where I live, sooo many children are night weaned by 5,6months!! And a year is considered a good time to have breastfed. My daughter is 15m almost 16m and I want to night wean her cause It seams like I never sleep and my body is just plain hurting. I had to fight for her to want to nurse like you did and I feel sometimes just like u. She was little premature and she got very sick. The first weeks were so hard and I feel bad about wanting to take it away from her now when she is so attached to my breasts.
    Do what your heart tells you. That is what I need to start doing.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    No great advice, but this is a very encouraging thread for me, too. Daughter is also almost 16 months, some nights are "better" than others, but some nights she is attached more often than not, or at least it feels like it. It's tiring at times, but it also feels right for us, still.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*boob.traveler View Post
    No great advice, but this is a very encouraging thread for me, too. Daughter is also almost 16 months, some nights are "better" than others, but some nights she is attached more often than not, or at least it feels like it. It's tiring at times, but it also feels right for us, still.

    Update:
    You are all so nice and helpful...I love these forums because I don't even know a person who nursed a toddler. Ever. And I know a lot of people. Let alone nursed a toddler all night long each night.

    We had a pretty good few weeks to a month of sleep, and then it's been rough this week. I notice she is getting 4 teeth at once, which I'm sure is much of the issue. At this point we have done no sleep training whatsoever and I am not going to pursue that. I did fill out some worksheets in the Pantley toddler sleep book and that was as far as I got.

    It still feels right to respond to to requests for "bee bees" during the night, especially since now I feel that she is using me for comfort during teething. She knows how to fall asleep without nursing because my husband can put her to bed. She also has her own sleep space attached to our bed and a pillow, which seems to help sometimes. We have one huge bed with two mattresses.

    Anyway, I'm glad we can all be here for each other. It makes all the difference for me!
    and Mama to two little girls

  9. #9

    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    I hear you!!! This sounds so familiar... I hope it's okay to throw in my own concerns here, too...

    My 17 month old toddler also wakes up very upset, sitting up screaming, about 8 times a night including a session that is even more intense with daddy.The drama with daddy is when by 1am, I still didn't get the chance to actually drift off to sleep, am overtired, and need my husband to take over. Seeing that DS is glued to me like a wet spaghetti owing to separation anxiety that kicked in just 3 weeks ago, DH gets to deal with some worrisome crying, as DS screams until he's hoarse. I get real upset when I hear it too, but I need that hour of sleep (with earplugs..) to deal with the remainder of the wakings.

    I am unable to sleep while he's latched on - how do you girls manage? Also, I have to help and rearrange breastpads to avoid everything getting wet! My let down is so strong that LO detaches and latches again only after 10 seconds, usually being annoyed with that particular breast and wanting the other, leaving the mattress and DS covered in wet sticky milk and my clothes soaked if I don't pay attention - I am starting to realise this may not be normal?!? Is it?

    So it often crossed my mind too: should I night wean him? I only hear of proud parents with babies sleeping through the night, which seems some kind of indicator of whether you are doing well as a parent (it was the first and only question that total strangers asked me on the bus, daily). And while it seems cruel initially, these parents now have nights full of sleep, and during the day they are responsive and loving to their babies that had an undisturbed night themselves...
    I am torn between: 'my toddler needs to know I am always available', and 'the stress levels during the night cannot be good for his development'. Do you girls have any thoughts on this trade-off, in particular on the effect of stress hormones on his development?

    DS coped badly with nursery illnesses in comparison to his non-breastfed peers for the past 9 weeks, losing 1kg body weight (2.2 pounds) and even ending up in hospital. Apart from wondering whether my breastmilk provides any antibodies at all (what's wrong with my breastmilk??), it has been his only source or food during illnesses, which is why we wouldn't night wean. But if night weaning would eliminate night stress and encourages him to eat some iron rich solids, however, that would be good for his health and we would consider it!

    We are both happy to wake up several times a night for DS, and we would try to catch up on some sleep in the weekends. But the amount of time spent being upset by DS makes us both uncomfortable!

  10. #10
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    Default Re: conflicted about night weaning

    I am unable to sleep while he's latched on - how do you girls manage?
    I think this is sort of an individual thing. Some moms can drift off to sleep with baby still latched, some can't.


    Also, I have to help and rearrange breastpads to avoid everything getting wet! My let down is so strong that LO detaches and latches again only after 10 seconds, usually being annoyed with that particular breast and wanting the other, leaving the mattress and DS covered in wet sticky milk and my clothes soaked if I don't pay attention - I am starting to realise this may not be normal?!? Is it?
    Totally normal. Annoying, but normal!

    I only hear of proud parents with babies sleeping through the night, which seems some kind of indicator of whether you are doing well as a parent (it was the first and only question that total strangers asked me on the bus, daily).
    Aaaaannnnd THAT is what's wrong with our society today!!! We've forgotten what normal is for babies, and we've made abnormal into a badge of proper parenting. We make parents whose child doesn't conform to the "sleep through the night" standard feel like they have done something wrong, and we heap praise on the parents whose kids do sleep even if the way they got there was with harsh cry-it-out methods.

    And while it seems cruel initially, these parents now have nights full of sleep, and during the day they are responsive and loving to their babies that had an undisturbed night themselves...
    I am torn between: 'my toddler needs to know I am always available', and 'the stress levels during the night cannot be good for his development'. Do you girls have any thoughts on this trade-off, in particular on the effect of stress hormones on his development?
    If sleep disturbances are affecting your happiness and ability to mother during the day, it might be time to look into changing your nighttime parenting approach. But not because you're affecting your child's development. Remember, night-waking is NORMAL for young children. Waking up doesn't stress him out. Just you and his dad.

    DS coped badly with nursery illnesses in comparison to his non-breastfed peers for the past 9 weeks, losing 1kg body weight (2.2 pounds) and even ending up in hospital. Apart from wondering whether my breastmilk provides any antibodies at all (what's wrong with my breastmilk??),
    There is nothing wrong with your breastmilk. Breastfeeding is not a guarantee that your child will never get ill or will never get seriously ill. It only reduces the likelihood of your child getting sick and reduces the severity of the average illness. So if your LO got so sick that he lost 1 kg, imagine how sick he might have been if he'd been formula-fed!

    if night weaning would eliminate night stress and encourages him to eat some iron rich solids, however, that would be good for his health and we would consider it!
    Removing breastmilk from your child's diet will not magically make him ear solids. It will only remove from his diet one thing that you know he will eat.

    I'm not saying you shouldn't night-wean! Just do it for the right reasons- because you're ready, because you sense he's ready to sleep through, because you know he doesn't need to nurse at night- instead of the wrong ones.
    Coolest thing my big girl said recently: "How can you tell the world is moving when you are standing on it?"
    Coolest thing my little girl sang recently: "I love dat one-two pupples!"

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