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Thread: How to night wean a 3yr old?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2007

    Default How to night wean a 3yr old?

    My DD will be 3 in Sept. and still nurses to sleep. We co-sleep, so she nurses off and on through out the night. I am really ready for her to be totally weaned, but I have no idea how to do this without a lot of tears. If I try talking to her about it, she just screams and cries. I really want our nursing relationship to end with happy memories! I would love any suggestions. Thanks!

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Re: How to night wean a 3yr old?

    Your DD is the same age as mine. We never co-slept but I night weaned her about a year ago when I was pregnant with DD2.
    She was down to one feeding at night (usually around 2 a.m.). I told her that she could have cuddles, rocking, a drink of water, whatever, but no more nursing in the middle of the night. I wore a crew-necked shirt. She threw a fit for the first 2 nights but I stayed with her and after several minutes of crying/throwing a tantrum she finally let me hold/rock her.
    I also gave her a bedtime snack.
    You could still nurse her to sleep but not when she wakes in the middle of the night. You can start gradually by setting aside a certain block of hours during which she cannot nurse. You or your partner can comfort her when she wakes in the night instead.
    The way we nightweaned was basically a variation on Dr. Jay Gordon's suggestions.


    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

  3. #3
    Join Date
    May 2006

    Default Re: How to night wean a 3yr old?

    I applaud you for keeping on with night-nursing for 3 years! I nightweaned my DD when she turned 2. I was done, done, DONE.

    Here's how I did it:
    - Before bedtime, talk to your child about the night to come. (Guess you'll have to talk over the screaming...) "Honey, Mama's going to sleep. You're going to sleep. Nursies (or whatever you use as your nursing word) are going to sleep, too. Everyone sleeps all night long. You can nurse again when the sun comes up."
    - In the morning, reinforce the lesson: "Good job, honey! Mama slept all night. You slept all night. Nursies slept all night. Let's nurse again now that it's morning!"
    - Keep a sippy cup full of water available. A night-waking child may be genuinely thirsty.
    - Wear a bra or restrictive pajama top. If your child can't easily get her hands on your goodies, she may be more likely to give up.
    - Accept that there may be some tantrums. But don't feel like you must give in and nurse your child just because she is crying- so long as you are offering some form of comfort, even if it's not her favorite one, you are being a good, responsive mom.
    - Accept that you may be getting even less sleep for a while. It takes time for a new sleep pattern to become established.
    - Be consistent. The night-weaning process will be shorter and less painful if you can stick to your guns.

    Finally, this isn't something I did, because my daughter was too young, but I've noticed that as she gets older my DD will do a lot for a sticker. Maybe you could give out stickers as rewards for successful nursing-free nights?

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2006

    Default Re: How to night wean a 3yr old?

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