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Thread: Child-led Night Weaning?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
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    Default Child-led Night Weaning?

    Is there such a thing? And if so, when does that typically happen?

    I'm nursing my 16 1/2 month old daughter and I'm trying to be patient and was hoping she'd night wean on her own, but I'm not sure she will for some time and I'm so exhausted. She still nurses quite often - every couple hours during the day and off and on through the night (we co-sleep). I'm fine with the day time nursing but the night time is really wearing on me. She's almost through getting some teeth in so I've been waiting until that's done before trying anything. I think the method I'm most comfortable with (I say most comfortable because honestly I'm so unsure if I should even do this) is Dr Jay Gordon's method, but we aren't going to start with 7 hours, we'll start with like 2 or 3 hours at first.

    Some of my concerns are that I'm worried that this is going to be really traumatic for her because it's the only thing that consoles her and soothes her back to sleep and she's an extremely determined toddler and really fights for what she wants. She has really good receptive vocabulary, but none-the-less I don't think she's going to understand "you can have milk when the sun comes up" as she doesn't have a clue what the sun is. She just knows she's always been given milk when she wants it and that's what she wants when she wakes up and isn't going to understand why it was o.k. one night and not the next. Am I going to traumatize her?

    Also, how do I know if she's really not ready? I don't want to force anything on her, but if all she needs is a little push to sleep longer, that's not so bad. I feel like as soon as we start this and she's crying and crying trying to get to my breast, I'm going to think she's not ready. But I also know she's going to protest.

    And, how does this work with continuing to co-sleep or should we try to move her into her own bed before trying to night-wean her? She currently starts off the night in her crib that's converted to a toddler bed and then comes in with us after waking.

    Daddy does help - he has started putting her to bed every so often when she's still awake after I nurse her. She cries while he rocks her for a few minutes, but then settles fine. However, once she wakes up for the first time at night, he can not resettle her. She only wants to see him if he comes in and brings her right into our bed to me. He doesn't want to night wean her because he'd prefer we all get the most sleep we can and hates when she cries, especially when there's something so readily available to fix the problem. He understands why I want to but he thinks she still needs it.

    I would appreciate anyone's thoughts and experience with this.
    Mommy to:

    Emmalynn Marie
    Born at 37 weeks on 12/22/06
    5lbs 1oz 19 1/2in

    Owen Charles
    Born at 29 wks 6 days on 01/17/09
    2lbs 14oz 15in
    In NICU for 2 months


  2. #2
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    Jan 2006
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    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    hey is she is starting out in her own bed thats the 1st step.
    IS she still in a crib?

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
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    1,987

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    We basically have been letting DS nightwean himself b/c my husband (especially) and I don't do nights well and nursing DS has gotten everyone the most sleep. At one point, he was waking within the first couple of hours of going down, and I just couldn't handle that, so we worked on gentling him back to sleep without nursing for about a week, then that waking stopped. DS has gradually nursed less. After I got pregnant and didn't have nearly as much milk when he first turned two, I started bringing a sippy cup to bed and being consistent about giving him a drink before nursing and then after if he wanted to nurse more than I wanted to. We've also tried to make sure he has a substantial snack before bed. This has worked really well for him. He is now going 6-8 hours at night without nursing. Sometimes he comes to bed with us before that point, but is able to get back to sleep without nursing. Just a few months ago, he was sleeping about 4 hours in a stretch. Over the course of our night nursing, there have certainly been time's we've tried to get him back to sleep without nursing, but if it doesn't work within about 5 minutes, I just went the easy route and nursed him. So, for us, it has gotten better with just waiting it out and letting him (mostly) do his own thing.
    DS 1/2006 9 lb. 2 oz. 22 in.
    DD 10/2008 8 lb, 2 oz. 20 in.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    Quote Originally Posted by andrea_ohio View Post
    hey is she is starting out in her own bed thats the 1st step.
    IS she still in a crib?
    She does start out in her crib that's been turned into a toddler bed (We rock her to sleep and it was much easier to put her down in that since we didn't have to lean over the rail of her crib). Once she wakes for the first time, there's NOTHING we can do to get her back in her bed - if I nurse her in her room, she'll fall asleep but wakes when I try to put her down.
    Mommy to:

    Emmalynn Marie
    Born at 37 weeks on 12/22/06
    5lbs 1oz 19 1/2in

    Owen Charles
    Born at 29 wks 6 days on 01/17/09
    2lbs 14oz 15in
    In NICU for 2 months


  5. #5
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    Mar 2006
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    8,591

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    My dd has the understanding now, but it would still be a fight to get her to stop wanting milk when she wakes at night. She's 28 months. No good news here , but she doesnt' wake as often as she did at that age.

    Erin
    Wife to a grizzly
    Mama to my little deer (12/05) my loving bear cub (9/07--), and our little tiger (3/22/10)
    Born by one c-section and 2 amazing VBACs


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  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2007
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    213

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    My nursling is over three and starting to nightwean.
    I have also gone through these phases of extreme tiredness, and having enough and then she seems to cool it a bit!

    I also feel that nursing her back to sleep is the easiest and that's why I haven't tried anything like Dr. Gordon...

    One thing that has helped sometimes is letting her nurse a little and then saying 'Den(name for bf) needs to sleep now.' She sometimes has let go, rolled over and fallen asleep.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
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    201

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    My son just night-weaned himself recently, and he is almost 4. It does happen, but I doubt most 16 month olds would night wean themselves.

    OTOH, my experience may be a little different than others, as my son day weaned before he night weaned. We tend to keep ourselves very busy during the day. I won't say that day weaning was completely child-led, because I am pregnant and nursing is quite painful, so I had to impose some limits for the sake of my sanity. He is still nursing, but only ocassionally at the beginning of naptime or bedtime. I personally am way too lazy to expend a lot of effort attempting to get a child to sleep using other methods when nursing works so well, with a lot less tears. When my son started sleeping through the night, he night weaned, and that was that. My dd just turned 2 and has no interest in night weaning, although she does sleep through the night ocassionally. Anyway, that's my experience.

  8. #8
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    Jan 2008
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    1,081

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    Hhmm...I'll have to give this some more thought. I was really hoping people would say their lo's night-weaned like between 18mo and 2 years or something - then I would try to reason with myself that I only have a little longer to go, but sounds like that's not the norm!
    Mommy to:

    Emmalynn Marie
    Born at 37 weeks on 12/22/06
    5lbs 1oz 19 1/2in

    Owen Charles
    Born at 29 wks 6 days on 01/17/09
    2lbs 14oz 15in
    In NICU for 2 months


  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2006
    Posts
    8,018

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    We didn't co-sleep with DD1, but I will say that she night-CLWed down to 1 feeding a night all on her own by about 20 months. She had been waking up to 3-4 times earlier in her second year.
    When I got pg with DD2 I decided to push her into letting go of that last feeding. I wanted to get more sleep, being tired with the pregnancy, and I wanted her to be completely night weaned well before the new baby came.
    Anyway, your LO might cut back at an earlier age than 4 yrs. like my DD did.

    Molly

    Loving mama to JP (DS, 1/03 ~ nursed 6 mos), EL (DD1, 9/05 ~ nursed 4 yrs), EJ (DD2, 3/08 ~ nursed 3 yrs 9 mos), and
    JM (DD3, 6/12 ~ currently nursing), all born naturally
    Devoted wife to SAHD P, my hero
    A few of my favorite things that I've discovered on the forum: co-sleeping, baby-wearing, tandem nursing, baby-led solids, cloth diapering, APing, selective vaccination...the list goes on

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    1,197

    Default Re: Child-led Night Weaning?

    My son is 22 months old and he cut back on night nursing on his own though still far from being night-weaned. He used to wake up like every 2 hours, now he is up twice per night (most nights). He wakes up once around midnight and then once more when I go to bed around 2am (I work until 2am) and then he comes to bed with me and sleeps until 6-7am. There are times he starts waking up more, when his teeth hurt for instance but there is definitely some improvement.

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