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Thread: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

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    Unhappy My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    I've been thinking I want to wean my 18 month old, but as I've read through some of the posting here, I've realized what I really want is for the whole family to get a good night's sleep! (Well, several, actually!)
    My toddler wakes sometimes three times during the night, but more often it's just once, between 3:00 - 5:00 am. He can be temporarily consoled, but he'll just start crying or yelling 10 to 20 minutes later. This has gone on for up to 2 1/2 hours. Because he's not consistently crying or yelling, he never wears himself out to fall back asleep (it's like he's taking little cat naps between outbursts).
    Also, because of these big gaps in crying, I can't use the method of going in after 5 minutes of crying, then 10 minutes, then 15, then 20, etc.
    Once, two weeks ago, he slept all night and wow - what a difference the next day! Instead of wanting to nurse three times during the day, he was content with once. He could play by himself for longer periods of time and he napped better (he usually takes one one-hour nap) sleeping 2 hours that afternoon!
    The doctor says, in her experience, this might go on til he's 4 years old! On the other hand, I found a website (Kelly something) that says many toddlers at about this age start to wean on their own. Thanks for your reply, Amanda. I'd keep doing what you suggested except for the fact that he's clearly happier during the day when he's slept for 11 hours the night before (we consistently put him to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 pm).
    What can I do?:
    Last edited by cosettevaljean; January 14th, 2006 at 06:12 PM.

  2. #2
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    I know it is probably not what you want to hear but he IS sleeping though the night, lol. Sleeping till five is a long stretch of sleep IMO. My ds is 25 months old and dooes the same thing. HOwever because he sleeps with me I hardly notice anymore. If I were you I would just continue to go to him- this to shall pass. COudl you crash on an air mattress in his room at five so you can both snooze adn nurse for the last few winks?

  3. #3
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    >he's clearly happier during the day when he's slept for 11 hours the night before (we consistently put him to bed between 7:30 and 8:00 pm).
    What can I do?:<

    I can see that being awoken at 4 o'clock every morning can wear thin! No wonder you are exhausted!

    Clearly, he is *all slept out* by 4 am - wide awake, and since there is no way to MAKE a child sleep longer, we need get creative. Remember, Mommies are smarter than their children!

    Here is an idea that has worked for some other mothers:

    Would you consider putting him to bed a bit later?
    If so, decide what time you WOULD like him to get up in the morning.
    Then start putting him to bed 10 or 15 mins later than his usual bedtime. After a couple of days, move it up another 10 or 15 mins. Do this gradually, watching to make sure that he is not OVERTIRED and cranky.
    Pretty soon you will probably notice that he is waking up later too, and then you can fine-tune it until everyone is happy.

    Do you think this idea might work for you?
    warmly,
    LLLnormaR

  4. #4
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    Remember, this is just MY personal opinion.

    In that position, I would *not* encourage him to decrease nursing. The WHO and many other health organizations encourage nursing (in developed countries) for a minimum of two years. You have an 18 month old toddler that nurses 1-4 times daily. IME, 18 months is a high time of nursing and if you discourage him at this point he may very well wean before he is biologically ready.

    I was a little bit confused about what happens when he awakens at 3-4am. So you nurse him and then he cries for 2.5 hours? Or are you trying *not* to nurse him at that time and that why he stays up. Is there any consistent reason he is waking up?

    Both of my children did not sleep though the night (how you are defining it--- al the way through) until after 3.5. DD went 5+ hours around 2.5 and DS until not much later. BUT, knowing that the human norm for weaning is actually 2.5-7 years helped me know that was both normal and healthy.

    Could you, perhaps, offer to nurse more often during the day to see if he was able to go longer at night? (though, as previously mentioned, 8 hours is a really long time to go w/out waking!)

  5. #5
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    Just to say I agree with whoever said 'this too shall pass'. If you 'give in' to your child now and nurse when he wants, then he will gradually cut back. Sometimes a few months can seem like years when you are dead beat but in comparison to a whole lifetime it's nothing.

    Different solutions work for different families and perhaps being creative with sleeping arrangements might make all the difference.

    Sweet dreams!

  6. #6
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    LLLJacqui is offline Shares Widely And Frequently
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    Have you seen Elizabeth's Pantley's new book "No Cry Sleep Solution for Toddlers"? That might be something you will want to look at. What I like about her books is that it helps you really decide what it is that you want and what is working for you and what isn't... that might be what you want to consider - some sort of plan to really evaluate what it is that you want for your family in this situation.

    Now, on the other hand, I've heard many bf-ing moms really liked the night-weaning that they used from Dr. Jay Gordon, which can be found at:

    http://www.drjaygordon.com/development/ap/sleep.asp

    I hope you find what works best for you and your family...

    Jacqui

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    Lightbulb Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    Is it possible that your child is thirsty when waking up 3-5 AM?

    When I was working on night-weaning my son at 22 months, I offered him water instead of boo-boo and while he didn't appreciate the substitute for the first five days, he finally was willing to admit he was thirsty, took the water, and fell back to sleep.

    Just a thought. Best of luck!

    Jackie

  8. #8
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    Default Re: My 18 month old still wakes to nurse at 4:00am!

    My 22 month old has only done one 5 hour stretch and one 7 hour one since birth LOL. Recently. She wakes on average every 2-4 hours. Normal for us, and pretty normal for this age, considering growthm added nursing neccessity, and so on.

    Not much to offer you but to let you know you're not alone.

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