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Thread: Sleep deprivation-2.5yr old nursing all night -Advice??help!

  1. #1

    Default Sleep deprivation-2.5yr old nursing all night -Advice??help!

    Hello All! First post here- lengthy sorry
    I am still nursing my 2.5+ yr old on demand. We co-sleep. Im pretty much fine with the day time requests, but nighttime has gotten out of control. Or maybe her ways of expressing her want for boobs during night is doffeerent now and more draining to me. On top of falling asleep quite late despite my efforts to do earlier bedtimes, she'll fall anywhere between 9/930-11pm.
    She will wake probably 15-20 x per night and I'm so exhausted that it takes me a moment to register what's even taking place. I'm awoken by her almost cry shouting at me angrily for "boobahhhs!!!"
    Then after one side (even if they're both empty which is normal overnight these days)
    Then "other Boobahhhh!!"
    Sometimes she'll cry and scream if I don't adjust my body fast enough to give her immediately. I'm drained. Its all night. Then she wakes at 6am for good like nothing's happened and is full of energy and happy ready to go. I try to offer many foods during the day - depends on day with her how much she'll eat. I've tried explaining thT mama needs sleep just just snuggle. Never works. Have old her it hurts mama a big when she uses her nails to hold and pull on the other nipple she's not drinking from. Doesn't work. I feel semi defeated here. I think she will be my only child and I am not ready to give up breastfeeding all together. I love it a lot of times. But nighttime is rough. I have zero alone time for me or with my husband. And no solid sleep since pre pregnancy 3.5 yrs ago. I feel it's making me short tempered wth her which I don't want. I have no energy during the day. Which means less creativity or patience or desire to do much. I feel I just push through day because of lack of sleep for years. Night weaning sounds horrible and sad to me to take away her comfort since being born but I also don't want to be an angry exhausted mom. Thoughts ideas experience from others ??? All appreciated -

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2009

    Default Re: Sleep deprivation-2.5yr old nursing all night -Advice??h

    Hi caja, welcome to the forum.

    Just so you know where I am coming from, I have had three kids, all nursed well past their 4th birthday and we bedshared with all of them almost as long or longer. All had periods of waking frequently overnight to nurse, especially in the age range of about 15 months to 2 and a half. But even so, what you are describing sounds unusual to me.

    My suggestion would be, as a first step, try looking at this as a sleep problem (your child's) and not a breastfeeding problem. Breastfeeding may be part of the issue, but to my mind, the main issue is that this behavior does not sound normal from a sleep standpoint.

    I have learned that no matter how much we may want kids to go to sleep at 7:30 or 8pm, some kids are just not tired by then. And while we might want kids to sleep until 6:30 or 7am, some are going to be up at 5:30 every morning no matter what time they go to sleep. It is just the way they are (and these patterns do change as they age.) However, my experience is that children who are naturally a late to bed type will also sleep later, and the ones who cannot sleep past 6 or so really do need to get to sleep earlier even if they protest. Because they need a certain amount of sleep and normally, their bodies make this happen. Yes some kids need less overall sleep than others, there is a range of what is normal. But a child of this age who is not falling asleep until 10 or 11 and wakes at 6 am as a regular pattern is unusual. A child who is also exceedingly wakeful all night long on top of that pattern? I have to think something unusual is going on.

    I would suggest talking to your child's pediatrician about the sleep patterns but leaving nursing and bedsharing out of the conversation. There are things that could legitimately be causing such a severe inability to sleep- allergies spring to mind (food or environmental) GERD, teething...but I do not know what else. If the doctor just tells you to sleep train, you can either say you are not willing to do that, or say you tried and it did not work and you think the next step is to rule out a medical issue.

    I would suggest looking at sleep environment. Could your child be too hot, too cold, is there too much noise or too much quiet, too much light or not enough?

    I would suggest look at daily activities. What is happening the rest of the day? Are you and your child together or separated? What is happening as far as naps go? Naps impact night sleep, sometimes in not obvious ways. For example, sometimes parents eliminate or shorten naps thinking it helps the child sleep longer at night, but this can often backfire and cause more overnight sleeplessness. But timing of naps is something to look at...a child who is crashing for a long nap at 3PM is most likely not going to sleep well overnight...but probably, neither is the child who is not napping at all at this age. At least one nap a day would be typical for this age and a child who is not getting that might become overtired, which leads to more sleeplessness in some cases.

    Also, is your child getting enough outside time? Super active playtime? Are screens avoided as much as possible, and especially in the hours before bed?

    Could anything or anyone your child is coming into contact with be scaring her- or even hurting her? The crying and screaming sounds almost as if she is having lots of little nightmares.

    Night terrors possibly? There are multiple causes...This is different than nightmares. Also known as sleep terrors. Interestingly, sleep deprivation is both a cause and a result of night terrors.

    I assume when you say you are co-sleeping you mean your child sleeps in the bed with you. Have you tried moving your child to her own sleep surface or own room? I am all for bedsharing for as long and child and parent wishes. My daughter is almost 5 and we are still enjoying bedsharing. But in my personal experience as well as the experience of others, some kids especially as they move toward 3 or beyond sleep "better" (longer stretches of not overtly waking) in their own bed or room.

    As far as night weaning, I think that can only happen after you figure out why your child is having so much difficulty with sleeping. And if you have identified and adjusted for that, maybe actively night weaning will no longer be needed. If you DO need to be more proactive, you can concentrate on getting longer stretches of no nursing rather than thinking of it as Night weaning or full weaning. night weaning means dropping some nursing sessions overnight. There is no hour limit attached. You decide how long a time of not nursing you would be wanting and when. In other words, no need to 'totally' night wean. For night weaning ideas (not rules or a set plan) a good book is The No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers and Preschoolers by Elizabeth Pantley.

    I've tried explaining thT mama needs sleep just just snuggle. Never works. Have old her it hurts mama a big when she uses her nails to hold and pull on the other nipple she's not drinking from. Doesn't work.
    I know everyone says to set limits with verbal requests and explanations. Here is what I think about that. A 2.5 year old is MAYBE just beginning to be able to understand limits and rules and control her impulses when she is fully awake and alert. And even then, not much. Since this behavior is happening at night when she is less than fully awake and in fact may be more asleep than awake, it is not something she is likely to be able to control in any way. She is not deliberately waking all night, or hurting you, or even shouting. To a large extent I would guess this behavior is involuntary.

    Short term or more immediate strategies:
    Refuse to nurse and lie on your chest/tummy
    Cover your breasts with your arm or hands.
    Have husband take child to another room to settle
    Offer bedside snack and water
    Cut nails very short or have child wear mittens to bed
    Give child something else (toy, stuffed animal, etc) to hold and twiddle when nursing.
    Last edited by @llli*maddieb; July 9th, 2017 at 11:53 PM.

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