Teach her how to sleep instead of nursing to sleep

Cara - posted on 07/30/2010 ( 30 moms have responded )

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Anyone have any advice on how to get a 13 month-old to sleep without nursing? She still wakes up frequently at night. Sometimes she will wakes up every hour, sometimes only once or twice. I have always just nursed her back to sleep as we sleep together. But, often I am absolutely exhausted in the morning. I have started to think that I should try to "teach" her to go back to sleep by herself. But I don't know how to do this without having her cry. I think it is alright for her to cry if I am holding her. However, even when I am holding her and rocking her, she still does not fall asleep unless I nurse her. Furthermore, about once a week, she wakes up in the middle of the night and wants to play. We have tried playing "possum," but it never works. I always end up getting up, playing and than nursing.

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Geralyn - posted on 08/05/2010

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Christina, you have happened upon an attachment parenting/co-sleeping community of moms, who are discussing and sharing advice within the AP/co-sleeping philosophy which is not consistent with your recommendations. Sometimes, I think that topics show up on hot topics on the introductory COM page, and moms may join to respond with advice or assistance. While this community is open to everyone, and everyone is welcome, our discussions really are within the AP/co-sleeping philosophy.

Julie - posted on 08/15/2010

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Christina, there is lots of psychological statistical research to back up long term attachment parenting, especially as it comes to the independence and confidence one sees in the child as they are older, not necessarily still small.

This is an attachment parenting group. No one here wants to debate their values. They want support.

I have a master's degree in psychology and many years experience working with children. Dr. and Martha Sears have had decades of experience with probably thousands of children.

It is okay to disagree, but in this circle, we are all here to get support strictly for attachment parenting.

I, for one, would appreciate it, if responses to posts are limited to responses that are supportive of the lifestyles we have chosen.

AP parents do not throw balance out of the window, they just define it differently than non-AP parents.

Brenda - posted on 08/05/2010

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I guess I should add I disagree with seperate bed arrangements at all (until around 5 or so), even for naps, and I don't believe in schedules or rituals of any sort. I let my kids lead me in everything they need, child led all the way here.

Marcy - posted on 08/04/2010

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Cara these are really two different issues--nursing to sleep and frequent nursing at night (in my opinion at least). Anyways, here is what we did. Now, and most of the mommies who post frequently know me on this site, so let me start by telling you we just stopped nursing and my son turned 4. First off, I would just let her do her thing right now. I found that as my son got older and we were able to verbally communicate I could actually reduce the amount of time he nursed to sleep by telling him 5 minutes and then night night time. At first he was a little upset but there was no crying. After 5 minutes he would unlatch and then roll over and go to bed. I would rub his back and he was out cold a few minutes later. As far as the frequent night nursing goes I think many of us experience "The all night boob buffet) especially when you co-sleep and its right there for the taking. My son got up 2-3 times per night to nurse at your daughters age. Its exhausting. The only trick I came up with was to "dream feed" him right before I went to bed. Typically I would nurse him to sleep in the living room then go put him on our bed. It was around 8 or so at night. I would then get up, do things around the house or sack out on the sofa for a few hours. Right before I went to bed (around 10ish) I would get right next to him or pick him up and nurse him for a good 20 minutes or so. This seemed to buy me a good 4-5 hours on uninterrupted sleep.

it will get easier...I promise.

Geralyn - posted on 07/31/2010

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I can only speak from my experience with my son. I did not start cutting back on nursing at 13 months, as my son was really just getting to be "solid" with solids. But I would say at about 15-16 months, my son was nursing solely at night. Part of it was the gradual decline - deeper sleep for him, less waking to nurse, etc. - but I would also make it less available, too, by wearing a sweatshirt to bed, having (occassionally) my hubby hold him and he'd drift right back to sleep. No tears, it was more readjusting the way that we would nurture him as he went back to sleep. [To put things in perspective, I am a believer in self-weaning, and would have preferred to do that, but my husband and I were gearing up for IVF treatment for another baby, and I could not nurse him through the months of shots.... so I did have to "encourage" weaning.... but it occurred over 4-5 months of gradual movement toward it once he was night nursing only.]



Either my husband or I would talk to him about just being held, and there were the initial repeated requests/attempts, but it actually went quite smoothly. Then by the end, I had to travel out of town for work for one night, and my hubby and son did great. My son woke up several times and asked for me (not necessarily for nursing solely), but that was the first night that I had been away from him in 19 mos.



Ultimately, and I just posted a similar comment on another post, it was harder for me at the end than for my son. I missed it, I was reluctant to do it even though it was for pretty much the ONLY good reason why I would have encouraged weaning.... My son did great. The things that helped: communicating with him about it; not having as rigid a time line, like a cut off date or cold turkey. Your daughter is starting that process where there are some nights that she is sleeping longer and nursing less. Over time, the waking will become less frequent, the length of the nursing will decrease, and she will adjust to other forms of cuddles back to sleep. There is not a lot of information on gentle weaning that I could find. Also, take care of your breast health, as it takes a bit of time for the supply to decrease and eventually stop. So having a bit more gradual process will also help you not to be so uncomfortable.... I wish you success with no tears... for you or her.

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Jay - posted on 12/08/2012

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Have you tried playing white noise. We use https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/soothe-my-baby/id563177086?ls=1&mt=8

Desarae - posted on 02/22/2012

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I know how oyu feel! And I am in a worse predicamint. My LO is 21/2 and she cosleeps with me and my bf. AND she nurses to fall asleep. I am trying to stop nursing all together. So far she will fall asleep in her bed for half the night then by the time she wakes up I am to tired and she ends up in our bed again. It is a long process! She nursed for comfort. I am basically a human pacifer!

Geralyn - posted on 02/21/2012

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This is an old post and, therefore, the post will be closed for further comment. If you would like to start a new conversation to discuss sleep issues or any other AP issues, please feel free to do so.

Geralyn - posted on 02/21/2012

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Alysa, I have heard good things about the No Cry Solution. Good luck to you on finding the balance that you seek. Me, on the other hand, nursing on demand does not in any way mean that I am being bullied by my baby. A baby is not capable of bullying. That idea is just silly.

Alysa - posted on 02/02/2012

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Baffled as to how y'all function with such interrupted sleep. I hope you are stay at home moms! Regardless, this all seems a little too child-centered for me. I want to love, nourish, and embrace my child as he grows and develops, but most of the comments here I couldn't be further from in agreement with...I want to find the happy medium...Baby gets what he needs, I get some sleep to rejuvenate me so I can be the best mommy to my two very active boys, and I am not be bullied by the baby as to how, when, and where we will nurse. I am going to check into the No Cry option. My four month ago has orthopedic issues which I believe impacts his comfort sleeping, but my pediatrician said sleeping on the couch with him is dangerous and could bring on SIDS...so, that was the ONLY way we were getting him to sleep consecutive hours--of course nursing on demand at this point. Curious if anyone has ideas on positioning for prolonged sleep. My son has bilateral club feet (ponseti shoes 23 hours per day) and a left hand splint for night only--he will settle in for a "nap" but wake up an hour later if he isn't on one of us. Per my pediatrician, I need to get him to sleep in a safer setting. My go-to was the swing, but he is getting so strong and it doesn't have a 5 point harness, so he is flexing his body laterally and almost "hang" the off the side now--SCARY!!! What I need is an improved sleep pattern--don't know how much his position impacts his ability to "self-soothe" at this point.

Julie - posted on 08/15/2010

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Also, AP parenting, in absolutely no way is permissive. It is permissive parenting that makes it obvious that children have not had boundaries. AP and permissiveness are NOT one and the same and should not be judged such.

Christina - posted on 08/15/2010

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In response to the responses to my post, I actually am an advocate of the family bed-up to a point. Myself and my daughters have all practiced this philosophy of mine with success and enjoyed many precious years of co-sleeping with our children. It is the time of toddlerhood, when frequently moving little ones and crowded beds nudge a parent to start the transition to independent sleeping. My philosophy is not all or nothing, but a healthy balance of ensuring children have their needs met while parents also have theirs. This is an important lesson for our children as well and after working with literally hundreds of children at a young age and then later in school, it is obvious when a child has not been taught these lessons. The parents in this group are a very loving, caring group and I applaud all of you, though remember that balance is the key in everything.

User - posted on 08/12/2010

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I agree with Julie...my little guy has a corn intolerance :( which caused him to wake frequently and would nurse for comfort. Now that we identified the issue and adjusted mine and his diets, he only wakes 2xs per night to nurse. He will be 2 at the end of this month.
Also your child may just be one of those kids that isn't ready to meet that milestone yet. Some kiddos come to this world ready to sleep through the night. While others figure it out around 3 or 4 years. Just be gentle with your LO process and needs. Good luck!

Julie - posted on 08/11/2010

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I know that someone once told me that if kids are waking frequently, it may be related to allergies, anything from dairy to gluten to the chemicals that make pajamas flame resistant, etc.

You could try going off of dairy, and see what happens.

We also found that when our child was teething, if we took him to cranial sacral/ chiropractic, his sleep immediately improved! I think this is especially important with toddlers who are falling frequently.

With older children we tried homeopathic calms or homeopathic coffea cruda before bed. We also have white noise in the room and very darkened windows-literally have aluminum foil over them as my husband works nights and needs to sleep in.

Try during the day to sleep when he sleeps. I know that is so hard. If you have older kids, at least sit down and rest. The house work will still be there when your kids are older. Try to let it go and just take care of your physical needs. Make use of family that your son trusts or friends that your son trusts, even if it's just so you can get a nap.

Breanne - posted on 08/08/2010

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It doesn't last forever. My son is 21 months now and he'll nurse but will pull off and roll over then go to sleep. Just try to get help in the morning so you can get some rest if you're really tired.

Brenda - posted on 08/06/2010

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I forget how easily these topics pop up on the into page since we here tend to post back and forth several times in a day...just shows how chatty we are...lol

Brenda - posted on 08/05/2010

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Lets not forget a huge reason for nursing: pain relief. Maybe teething, maybe growth spurt, but breastmilk provides a pain relieving hormone to them no matter their age. So like April said, I nurse however often mine needs it because I know he really does need it. Some nights it is exhausting, but its okay, because before long he'll be weaning himself (hopefully not before 3), and won't need to anymore. :) Small price to pay for helping create a healthy and happy babe. :)

April - posted on 08/05/2010

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i disagree with the previous poster. i know why my son nurses so frequently at night. It's because he needs to...and that's all the information i need about it to keep on nursing through the night.

also, we DO have a well-established bedtime routine and that hasn't dettered him from night nursing. He is 19 months old and very active...he gets a fair amount of exercise both indoors and out.

it is also important to note that the natural age for weaning (child initiated) ranges between ages 3 to 7.... and that breastmilk tends to be more abundant at night time.

Christina - posted on 08/05/2010

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Well, it sure can be exhausting when your kids are still waking up several times a night after 6months. Here are some preventives that I have found to work with great success for many children, including my own & my grandchildren:
* Make sure they have a lot of outdoor exercise everyday & good running, climbing exercise in the early evening; even dancing & chasing around the house can work if they can't be outdoors.
* Make sure they have a hearty dinner or healthy snack before bed.
* A soothing bath before bed helps to decompress the day, leading to a more restful sleep.
* Create a storytime ritual as part of their bedtime in the space they are sleeping in by themselves.
* Make sure little ones have their own bed for naptime and work on naps by themselves in the same place they will be in bed at night too by themselves. Start with naptime and then later on when this works, work on nights.
* Put a mattress on the floor in "their big boy/big girl bedroom" or corner of a room (for toddlers & older).
* Nurse them to sleep in "their bed" at bedtime & during the night.
* Talk up the "big boy/big girl bed" if they are old enough with some sort of extra to help them transition like a special animal or lights or music. SOmething that they only get when they are in their own bed.

A few things to keep in mind are: WHy is he/she nursing? Start to eliminate factors with food before bed & plenty of exercise, then the stress of the day with a bath & story. THen, you can start explaining with few words what the new schedule will be. The important things is to remember who is in charge and insist on this, while reinforcing to the child that they have their needs met and the benefits to them of the new schedules as they mature. When children understand there is no bending and no gray area, they are more willing to do follow the new schedules. Dad, if available, can also be the person to handle the the bath & story before bed. Sometimes children are feeling cheated about their focused time during the day or picking up on Mom's stress and/or guilt & they try to compensate at night. In these cases, more quality time during the day can remedy this. Good luck, Hope this helps!!!!! Above all, they will grow out of this, but these habits set up patterns for life so remember who is in charge! Granny Pants

April - posted on 08/04/2010

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erm...the dream feed never worked for me! my son still gets up 5 to 7 times a night to nurse at 19 months old. i agree with marcy that nursing to sleep and frequent night nursing are 2 different issues. but i'm not one to talk to....i don't know how to do anything but nurse to sleep every time. i wouldnt know what to do if i wanted to try something else (which i don't. i feel he needs the food, calories and comfort...)

Nicole - posted on 08/04/2010

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I agree with everything Lisa said. Like she said, it will pass and if you need help in the meantime, the "No Cry Sleep Solution" is a good way to go.

Jessica - posted on 08/03/2010

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We are having the same problem at the moment and both me and my husband are going crazy from lack of sleep!

I have read the "NO Cry Sleep Solution" and highly recommend it! The only thing is didn't really work for us as it's mainly about encouraging your baby not to nurse to sleep when they wake! So might be of help to you Cara! but for us my son doesn't usually need to nurse to go back to sleep but he still wakes very often at night, sometimes i nurse back to sleep but otherwise lots of patting/hugging etc!

Minnie - posted on 08/01/2010

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For desperate mothers I suggest the "No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley.



I don't have any personal experience with this, however. THe book is recommended by LLL.



Would sleeping while she nurses help you get more sleep?



Thirteen months is a difficult age sleep-wise, at least in my experience. Frequent wakings, waking as soon as unlatched, waking in the middle of the night to play...these things pass, they really do, although it can feel like a nightmare when you're in the thick of it.

Brenda - posted on 08/01/2010

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Unfortunately there is no way for them to distinguish between "comfort" nursing and food nursing. So if you want to discourage one you'll discourage the other. About the only option is to work on night weaning that I can come up with...

Cara - posted on 07/31/2010

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I don't want to wean her all the way, just encourage less nursing for comfort at night.

Brenda - posted on 07/31/2010

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We don't do anything except nurse to sleep here at 14 and a half months. I probably nurse once an hour most nights, if not more. I'm up right now at 2am because we slept all day today for whatever reason. He was tired so we slept. I never force mine to sleep if he wants to get up and play.

Try looking at kellymom.com for nightweaning tips or the no cry sleep solution. It is a very gradual process though, so it might take a couple months to work.

Katherine - posted on 07/30/2010

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Are you trying to stop nursing altogether? Or just while sleeping?

Karen - posted on 07/30/2010

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I was right there with you when my daughter was that age. Some days I felt okay (maybe there were enough 2 hour sleeps in the night) and other nights I felt like I was going to lose it and didn't think I could be a good mom during the day. To survive I got as much help as possible during the day (grandparents/aunties etc) to give myself a break.
I don't have any magical thing to tell you except that now my 20 mth old wakes up more like 3-4 times a night and I'm feeling more human. I've tried shortening the nightime nursing sessions (I tell her mama needs to sleep now and pull away), and at that age she started to pull off the boob, roll over and then fall asleep (instead of falling asleep on the boob). This has seemed to help. So, basically my advice is just wait it out if you can - cause if you're like me you just don't have the energy to "teach" her to sleep any other way.
Good luck - sending good sleep vibes your way.

Stephanie - posted on 07/30/2010

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I'm going through the same thing right now. My son is 13 months and we are nursing/co-sleeping as well. Anxious to hear the responses.

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