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Thread: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

  1. #1
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    Unhappy Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    We are ready to wean. Wonderfully, we've made it to 17 months. The LO now has a few bad habits to show for it, but otherwise is totally happy. It is very hard to find information out there that is unbiased and realistic, so PLEASE if you hve any advice, I will greatly appreciate it.

    The problem: The LO has never been a good sleeper. Frequent wakings and nursing at night. Now, he wakes once or twice, nurses and goes to sleep. Most nights he starts in his own bed and ends up in ours...mostly becasue it is just hard/annoying/uncomfortable for me to be on his mattress i the middle of the night, etc...

    Also, he breastfeeds to go to sleep and refuses to fall asleep (except for once or twice) with anyone else. He needs to be held/rocked/walked to fall asleep.

    It's gotte so ridiculous that now we try to play a video game around his nap time that makes him fall asleep while we hold and walk with him to try to avoid the breastfeeding.

    Its worked a few times. But I realize it is silly.

    So, now....I want to wean, and I want to help him sleep better and be able to fall asleep sooner. Am I asking for too much?

    Where should I start? Have you had a similar experience and made it through?

    Thanks,
    mamaJasia

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
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    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    I think that taking it slow is probably the best place to start. Most people suggest weaning the least favourite/comforting sessions first.

    Also, I would recommend taking a look at what is going on in your son's life right now. Is he teething? Those eye teeth and molars were hell for us. We tried night-weaning when my son was cutting those and it was like hitting a brick wall. We tried again a few months later, after the teeth were through and the night-weaning went relatively smoothly.

    The method we used for night-weaning was Dr Jay Gordon's: Changing The Sleep Pattern in the Family Bed We were able to continue co-sleeping using this method.

    I think its so important to remember that its all about give & take. There were times where I felt guilty for "giving in" and nursing when he would cry and cry and cry. I realized, "No I am not giving in, he is telling me he needs it badly, and I need to respond to that." Its ok to not be 100% firm on this and follow your child's lead too. There were times where he would cry, but it would be more out of anger like "Why arent you doing what we normally do?" But then he would accept my substitute of rocking/singing/hushing, etc.

    I thought DH would play a more active role in night-weaning, but it wasn't the case. Daniel was used to me and only me. Putting DH into the mix only made things more uneasy and unfamiliar for Daniel.

    I hope that my experience helps you a bit. I wish I had more general weaning advice, but I'm sure some other Mamas will be by to help you with that.



    Lyn
    Lyn
    Nursing the girl with kaleidoscope eyes


    Mama to Daniel (12/3/06) and Lucy Jane (8/28/08)

  3. #3

    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*mamajasia View Post
    We are ready to wean. Wonderfully, we've made it to 17 months. The LO now has a few bad habits to show for it, but otherwise is totally happy. It is very hard to find information out there that is unbiased and realistic, so PLEASE if you hve any advice, I will greatly appreciate it.
    We'll absolutely give you all the advice we can! Do you want to wean completely? Or just night wean? Or maybe start with night weaning and move on to completely weaning? It's not all or nothing, you can do any combination you like.

    The problem: The LO has never been a good sleeper. Frequent wakings and nursing at night. Now, he wakes once or twice, nurses and goes to sleep. Most nights he starts in his own bed and ends up in ours...mostly becasue it is just hard/annoying/uncomfortable for me to be on his mattress i the middle of the night, etc...
    I have experience with this. FME, I've found that nightweaning does not necessarily equal an end to nightwaking. Some folks will try to tell you that the only reason baby is nightwaking is because they're addicted to the breast. That's not true.

    #1. It could be that baby has a legitimate need like thirst, or hunger (and what adult hasn't gotten up in the middle of the night for a drink of water, yet we expect our kids to not be thirsty). Having a sippy cup of water near the bed can sometimes help a thirsty child.

    #2. It could also be that the child isn't developmentally ready to sttn yet. Sleep cycles vary from child to child and person to person. Nobody actually sleeps through the night. Most adults actually wake slightly and use the bathroom or get a glass of water or just wake enough to realize their surroundings and then go back to sleep. Some don't even remember they do it, but they do, because our sleep cycle varies from light to deep sleep throughout the night. It's unrealistic to expect a child to actually sleep completely through the night, when no one else does that. This link has a ton of info on sleep and babies: http://www.askdrsears.com/html/7/T070200.asp After you check out the main sleep article, there are more sleep resources on that website. Just click "sleep problems" on the left side of the screen.

    The problem then isn't so much that the child is night waking, but that the child doesn't have the skills to put themselves back to sleep afterwards. Right now, nursing to sleep is helping your baby figure out how to go back to sleep. That's all he knows right now. If you want to wean, you'll need to teach her how to fall asleep without nursing, because weaning isn't going to teach her what he needs to know so she can put himself back to sleep. It will probably just make a mess of things. The nursing isn't the issue. The issue is that he doesn't know how to go to sleep without nursing. He's still very young, but if you want him to have that skill, you'll need to teach him how to do it. Some kids are naturals at that, but not most I think. If you practice ways of helping baby fall back asleep in the middle of the night...rubbing baby's back, singing a lullabye, co-sleeping even if you want to, it will go easier too.

    I'd suggest that before you start the weaning process, that you alter the bedtime situation. I'd suggest a routine that you repeat every night, and that you partially repeat for naptimes. Bath, stories, prayers and a lullabye, and then bed works well for our kids, but you'd need to figure out what will work for yours. You repeat the bedtime routine in the same order, the same way every night. Time of day doesn't always matter so much to some kids, as long as the routine is something they can count on and they know what comes next. At 17 mos., you may need to do some rocking in a rocking chair, or lie down next to baby and rub their back and such. It may take awhile in the beginning, and you can continue to nurse initially and phase that out when baby is comfortable with the routine.

    Also, he breastfeeds to go to sleep and refuses to fall asleep (except for once or twice) with anyone else. He needs to be held/rocked/walked to fall asleep.
    This will take alot of effort on your dh's part. Both of my boys had this issue at some point, and I learned after George (1st) what I needed to do to help Fred(2nd) have an easier time of it. With George, I would always take over when things were going rough and dh couldn't get him to go to sleep at naptime or bedtime. I was in the room, stressing, and worrying about my little baby who couldn't go to sleep and wanted his mama. Eventually I figured out that I had to let dh and George find their own way and figure out what worked for them. What worked for them wasn't going to be the same in any way as what worked for me to get George to sleep. I had to leave the room or the house, and let them work through it and figure it out. DH is super patient, and I admit there were tears in the beginning, but George needed to learn that he could trust dh to meet his needs just as much as he trusted me to. DH doesn't do things my way. So I also had to learn that my way wasn't the only right way, and to let dh do things his way.

    So anyway, I made it a point once little Fred came along, to make sure dh had plenty of opportunities to help baby to sleep for his naps and at night if baby didn't need to nurse. Fred learned from early on that Daddy helped him to sleep one way, and that mommy did it a different way, but that both ways were good ones. DH has this little way of snuggling Fred up on his shoulder and walking around that will totally put ds to sleep within minutes now if Fred's having issues and won't go to sleep. (Fred's 2.5, and there are days where he resists a bit even now) He falls asleep in like 3 minutes once daddy picks him up though.

    It's gotte so ridiculous that now we try to play a video game around his nap time that makes him fall asleep while we hold and walk with him to try to avoid the breastfeeding.
    I just wanted to mention that it is ok to nurse baby to sleep. You won't damage him or his ability to fall asleep. You can work on a sleep routine at bedtime at first, and then move the routine over into naptime and slowly drop the naptime nursing session. Once he can fall asleep without nursing in a reasonable way before a nap, you can move on to the other nap, or to the bedtime session and repeat the routine.

    So, now....I want to wean, and I want to help him sleep better and be able to fall asleep sooner. Am I asking for too much?
    I haven't figured out if you're wanting to wean because you feel you're ready to, or because you're son is ready to, or because you're hoping it will cure the nigthtime issues. Any reason is fine, and we'll help you through it, but jic it's because you want him to sleep better, beware that weaning might not cure that issue. Sleep cycles have more to do with development than weaning. Some women find that when they first nightwean, that their children do sleep for longer stretches at night, and that's wonderful, but it's not what happens with all children. More than likely, the ones who do sleep through were ready for it anyway.

    I nightweaned my oldest son at about 14 mos., and I thought it would cure all the issues with nightwaking. Turns out that he was just a nightwaker who had night terrors, and they didn't stop until he was 4, though they had slowed and weren't every night by the time he was 2...probably a couple of times a week from 2-3.5 and then once a week or so until age 4. In my case, I found out that I created more work for myself by nightweaning. Nursing him to sleep and co-sleeping for awhile would've been far LESS work than getting up to comfort a freaked out child in the middle of the night. That was just one child's situation though...it doesn't happen to everybody.
    Last edited by @llli*francis.breadandjam; August 15th, 2008 at 08:34 AM.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    The Dr. Jay Gordon method has worked/is working for us as far as night weaning, but I'm not very strict about it so it's taking a while for us.

    For nursing to sleep I started a routine at night where I'd tell dd that I'm going to sing "Twinkle Twinkle" 3 times and then no more milk. Then I let her nurse and I sing- counting as I go "this is #2" "this is #3, after this no more milk" and at the end I say, "mommy sang twinkle twinkle 3 times and that's all. no more milk." She'll usually unlatch by herself, fuss for a minute or two and then settle down (I'll sing a different song to get her to sleep). This worked amazingly quickly for me and it's consistenlty worked whether I'm at home or visiting at my parents or wherever. She's been sick the last week, so I laid off for a day or two and she's now readjusting, but I think the technique works really well in general. In fact, now when I say it's time to go night night, she asks, "mommy sing twinkle twinkle?"
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*norasmommy View Post
    The Dr. Jay Gordon method has worked/is working for us as far as night weaning, but I'm not very strict about it so it's taking a while for us.

    For nursing to sleep I started a routine at night where I'd tell dd that I'm going to sing "Twinkle Twinkle" 3 times and then no more milk. Then I let her nurse and I sing- counting as I go "this is #2" "this is #3, after this no more milk" and at the end I say, "mommy sang twinkle twinkle 3 times and that's all. no more milk." She'll usually unlatch by herself, fuss for a minute or two and then settle down (I'll sing a different song to get her to sleep). This worked amazingly quickly for me and it's consistenlty worked whether I'm at home or visiting at my parents or wherever. She's been sick the last week, so I laid off for a day or two and she's now readjusting, but I think the technique works really well in general. In fact, now when I say it's time to go night night, she asks, "mommy sing twinkle twinkle?"
    Mine is Nora too!

    How old was your little Nora when you started this? Thanks!

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
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    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    Thank you all for the great advice. IT's incredibly empowering to hear of other moms out there going through the same and similar problems and getting though it. I will be reading through some of the links youve provided.

    I appreciate the idea that night weaning will not decrease the night wakings. This is not something I really considered.

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*danlynclark View Post
    Is he teething? Those eye teeth and molars were hell for us.

    Lyn

    It's not always clear, but yes, this is a teething time. I didnt consider the eye teeth, but seeing him rub his face for the last 2 days is leading me to believe that its the "eye teeth". So, I will be easing up (but not giving up the progress we've already made) off the night weaning plan.

    To clarify the reasons for weaning, I am ready to have more independence, and I believe that the LO is also ready, but mostly just in the 'habit' of the boob. We've actually been able to wean from the afternoon nursing rather easily (though its not concretely forbidden, and available to him if he insists). He has the sign for milk, so if he actually ask for it, I dont ignore him. Also, his eating improves when he drinks less mommie milk. At 17 months I would like him to eat a bigger variety and to at least try bites of fruits and veggies and until I am noticing in an improvement in his eating habits as well.

    Thanks for advice and links, all very useful.

    -mamajasia

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Help please...advice needed...weaning and sleep

    Quote Originally Posted by @llli*stacie78 View Post
    Mine is Nora too!

    How old was your little Nora when you started this? Thanks!
    Love the name! Ours is short for Eleanor.

    When we started the Gordon method she was right around 21 mos I think. Maybe 20, I can't remember. I just started the twinkle twinkle thing a couple of weeks ago, but it was really quick to work for us.
    “We are not put on earth for ourselves, but are placed here for each other. If you are there always for others, then in time of need, someone will be there for you.”
    --Anonymous

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