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Thread: Balancing toddler's sleep nursing needs with my own?

  1. #1

    Default Balancing toddler's sleep nursing needs with my own?

    My daughter will be 2 in May.

    I breastfed on demand until I returned to work 3 months after she was born. After that, I pumped and nursed as much as possible, but struggled with pumping and started supplementing with formula at 9 months at my pediatrician's recommendation. At that point, I stopped pumping, nursed when we were together, and supplemented when we were apart.

    We have continued that approach, and now she gets most of her nutrition from solids and cows milk, and rarely nurses during the day. BUT she loves to comfort nurse at night and for naps. I had hoped to just follow her lead until she self-weaned, but am starting to feel overwhelmed by her unwillingness to sleep without being attached to me.

    At her daycare, she takes a daily nap with no problem, so I know she can do it.

    However, on the weekend, when my husband or I try to get her down for her nap, she just tantrums and screams "mama milk!" over and over. We tried having me leave the house, and it still didn't go well. So, the only way that has been working for us is driving her around in the car and then sitting in the car with her in the garage while she sleeps - which feels ridiculous and I just don't want to do anymore.

    At night time, driving around seems even more ridiculous, and we don't feel great about the whole cry it out idea, so I end up just giving in and nursing.

    I'm not opposed to the idea of nursing to sleep in theory. However, in reality, she typically wants to nurse for an hour before even falling asleep, and then wakes up multiple times to relatch. I try to nurse her to sleep on a floor bed in her room and then sneak away, but the sneak away rarely works for long. When she wakes up, I end up bringing her into our bed. We've tried a crib next to our bed as well, but she doesn't stay asleep unless she's latched on. She likes to grab at my other breast while nursing too, which makes it hard for me to be comfortable. I honestly feel that she wants to be latched at all times while sleeping but some nights, I just get so bored and frustrated and physically overstimulated that I feel like my skin is crawling. I've had a pretty positive nursing journey so far, but am starting to feel trapped by her sleep nursing desires and more and more nights are ending with me in tears.

    By the same token, everything I read about toddlers needing the comfort, etc, makes sense to me, so I feel terrible that I want to take that away from her. Just not sure how to balance her needs with my own here.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Balancing toddler's sleep nursing needs with my own?

    Hi, so sorry you are having this struggle.

    Unfortunately my honest opinion is that this age is the hardest time to wean or reduce nursing frequency. Especially to night wean. I am sure people do it, I just do not know how they do it. I night weaned an 18 month old once, and that was hell. I was never so happy in my life as when we stopped and I nursed him again at night. A little over a year or so later, night weaning was relatively painless.

    But, if you are done, you are done! It sounds like you want to approach this as gently as possible so with that in mind, here is an idea.

    I would suggest think about breaking up the problem areas and assign a priority to each. Just to make it more manageable in your mind and also to make it easier for your toddler to understand what you want and so they are not "losing" everything at once. You mentioned weekend naps, nursing at bedtime, and the frequent all night nursing as problem areas. But which is the area that you have the most strong need to eliminate?

    If the all night nursing is the main thing not working for you, that is a big one and might have to broken down further. For example, you can set a goal (6 hours without nursing maybe, or no nursing after 1 am, or no nursing before 4 am, or however you want to break it up.)

    If the prioritizing idea makes sense to you, once you know what area you want to work on first, if you like, let me know and we can try brainstorming further.

    Good books with many ideas in this area are
    The No-Cry Sleep Solution for toddlers and preschoolers
    The Nursing Mothers Guide to Weaning
    How Weaning Happens.

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