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Thread: Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

  1. #1

    Default Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

    Hi Ladies, I'm new to this site and just looking for a little support/suggestions on weaning a very resistant 16 month old.

    My little man wakes up anywhere between 3-8 times a night and will only go back to sleep if I go into his room and nurse him (I never nurse him until he is asleep in my arms). Up until now I have loved breastfeeding but I'm feeling a little frustrated because before he would wake up, nurse and be back to sleep within 5 minutes. NOW, he is up for 20 minutes + every waking and often won't even go back to sleep after we have nursed. Furthermore, I am not getting much support from my spouse in regards to breastfeeding a toddler as he thinks it is "wrong".

    He has also, all of a sudden, decided he wants to nurse multiple times a day (5-10). Teething maybe but I feel like he is always teething lol.

    I've tried the first few nights of Dr. Gordon's method by letting him only nurse for a couple minutes and then unlatching him and putting him back to bed. That worked ok. Once I got to the days where you completely eliminate breastfeeding, he just became hysterical and would not go back to sleep after 2 + hours. I broke down and couldn't do it. I just can't listen to him cry/scream for that long.

    My husband works shift work and therefore does no night time parenting and as stated above doesn't support me breastfeeding anymore anyways but doesn't want to/can't help out with night time weaning so having someone else help is not an option.

    I don't want weaning to be traumatic for my son, but I feel it is time for me to cut out night nursing. He has always slept in his own bed, he eats lots of solids throughout the day, won't drink any other liquid but water.

    Any thoughts/support/suggestions would be so very much appreciated. Not really sure who else to talk to as most of my friends/family say "just let him cry" or "he is pretty old to be nursing" or most moms I know went cold turkey after 6 months. Thank you wonderful mommas!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009
    Posts
    10,480

    Default Re: Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

    Here is the problem with night weaning (or weaning at all) at this age. It is a huge age for developmental leaps. It is also a huge age for frustration ("no one understands what I want" and "I know what I want to do but I can't do it or say it yet" etc.) It is a huge age for separation anxiety. This is an age many a child who may have been more "independent" late in the first year or early in the second decides independence is not all it is cracked up to be and basically reverts to more infant like behavior, including wanting to nurse lots, often lots more than before, carried lots, etc. This is also an age when night time and darkness, which may have been no problem at all before, can become scary.

    Yet this is the age some crackpot decided babies "should" wean by or no longer need nighttime parenting by (obviously someone who had never actually met a real one year old baby) setting up a terrible struggle between parents and their very young child that is unnecessary at best and possibly harmful at worst.

    I tried to night wean my oldest son at around this age, and was never so relieved in my life when I stopped and just went back to nursing him all night. Night weaning just did not work and resulted in less sleep for me, not more. Later- well after he turned 2- we did night wean when I was pregnant. I was able to institute something of a "nursies are for morning, naps, and bedtime" type schedule with not too much trouble at that point.

    Frankly my best suggestion to you is to try bedsharing, at least part of the night, and/or for naps, as that is very likely to result in you getting more sleep which is very important for the mother of a one year old who is at her wits end most of the time even in the rare circumstance she gets plenty of sleep.

    I am really sorry your husband and friends/family are not more supportive or at least able to mind their own business. But what your friends and family think is not anything you need to really worry about. I would suggest if you think there is any way your spouse would be open to some education or facts about the complete normalcy and in fact benefits of nursing a child this age, that might at least take the pressure off you a bit. It must be hard co-parenting with someone who thinks you are doing something "wrong" with your child.

    Teething maybe but I feel like he is always teething lol.
    He IS always teething. And will be for the next 12 years or so. Hate to tell you! Of course teething will not interfere with sleep for all that much longer.

    I know the above is not really what you asked, but I just wanted to offer the radical idea that your child is 100% normal and so are you, no one is doing anything wrong.

    If you want to pursue night weaning, I suggest reading either The Nursing Mother's Guide to Weaning or How Weaning Happens. Both good books on gentle weaning (or gentle night weaning or gentle partial weaning) at any age.
    For night strategies in particular, (various strategies rather than some specific "plan") you can try either The No Cry Sleep Solution or The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers both by Elizabeth Pantley.

    For support regarding your parenting choices and general reassurance for you, you can look at Sweet Sleep from LLL and Kiss Me! by Carlos Gonzalez.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; January 6th, 2017 at 09:55 PM.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

    Wow who are you? Thank you so much for your kind words and support!!

    I agree and believe everything you said regarding teething, separation anxiety and independence. I see ALL of these I need my son.

    To be honest, and if I'm honest with myself, I feel fine keeping things the way they are and reminding myself these long waking are a phase that will soon pass. It is getting my husband on board with that, is what is hard. He feels that by me not weaning when he suggests it, is me not including him in parenting decisions. He wanted me to wean by 12 months and I said we weren't ready and he was upset. Now he feels it is just unnecessary and that I continue to nurse only because I want to.

    Ugh, parenting is hard! The one thing I've found so far though is when i look back at something that really stresses me out and that I tried to change/control, I realize that it all worked itself out. I hope this will be the same. I don't want to feel ashamed for breastfeeding my toddler!

    Again thank you. I have been thinking about what you said, all day!

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2015
    Posts
    154

    Default Re: Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

    maddieb, I feel as if you couldn't be more spot on in terms of what I am going through with my 15 month old. Boy, do I wish such information was more common knowledge, so I didn't feel I needed to fight his biology.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Posts
    24,912

    Default Re: Night Weaning a Very Resistant Toddler

    with the PPs regarding sleep! The idea that babies "should" be sleeping alone and sleeping through the night at such an early age is bonkers. Historically, no-one ever slept alone. Babies went from sleeping with their mothers to sharing a bed with siblings. I read an autobiography of a guy who grew up in early 20th century NY City. He always slept in a bed with several brothers, an experience he described as "always warm but never dry."

    To be honest, and if I'm honest with myself, I feel fine keeping things the way they are and reminding myself these long waking are a phase that will soon pass. It is getting my husband on board with that, is what is hard. He feels that by me not weaning when he suggests it, is me not including him in parenting decisions. He wanted me to wean by 12 months and I said we weren't ready and he was upset. Now he feels it is just unnecessary and that I continue to nurse only because I want to.
    This must be so hard.

    Sometimes a spouse is enthusiastic about weaning until they discover just how much harder their life is when the baby can no longer be comforted with nursing. A night of dad being on call with a night-waking, difficult-to-console toddler might make him realize that he should just let you- and your breasts- handle it.

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