Weaning a Toddler and Putting Her to Sleep Without the Breast!

Molly - posted on 11/11/2013 ( 9 moms have responded )

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My LO is almost 16 months old and I am 7 weeks pregnant. We are still breastfeeding. I am ready to wean her, and I think she is ready too, but my main concern is how to get her to sleep without nursing!!

She nurses to sleep almost every time, for bedtime and naps. Sometimes she will wake up in the night and I am able to get her back to sleep without nursing, but it's rare. I should also add that we co-sleep, but are about to transition her to a twin bed in her room. I would like for my husband to step in for night time duties for a while as she gets used to it, because I know it is hard for her to resist if my boobs are right next to her!

I just would like some help from moms who have been in my situation and how they were able to wean and how they got their LO to sleep without nursing. Also how long it took before they were totally weaned, as I do not want to tandem nurse so I want her to be complete weaned by June!

Thanks!

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Lori - posted on 11/12/2013

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Molly - your milk supply probably has dropped already. That may actually make it easier for you to wean. You can begin telling here there isn't much milk there so she can only have a little. Offer a substitute beverage - whole cow milk, almond milk, water, something. I weaned my first when i was pregnant with my 2nd. She was 21 months old when I found out I was pregnant, and I weaned her by 23 months old. I started giving her a sippy cup of water at bedtime and a story in the rocking chair rather than laying down with her and nursing her. I was so worried it wouldn't work, but she accepted it pretty quickly.
Depending on how frequently you are still nursing throughout the day, you can cut one feeding at a time until you're only left with one feeding. Then, as Sarah suggested, begin limiting the time for that session. I found that worked well with my 2nd when I was ready to wean her. I'd let her nurse before bed, but only for 10 minutes. Not enough that she'd fall asleep at the boob. After doing that for a while she got the idea that she didn't need the boob to be able to fall asleep.

Anju - posted on 11/15/2013

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HI...i am a working mom of a thirteen year old ...initial four months my daughter was completeky on my feed. Afterwards i started my job and she had to go on bottle to which she resisted full heartedly but still somehow started taking small quantitiy 2 or 3 times a day . in the evening i will come and nurse her. also she is a habit of nursing to sleep . but from past one week she has again stopped accepting bottle feed completely and will wait for me to return and feed her .i want to wean her off since i m not making that much milk which will be enough for her .also she wakes up every one hour in night to latch on me and sleep back . pl suggest how to get rid of this.

Molly - posted on 11/11/2013

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I just don't feel like tandem nursing will be for me. Also, even before I was pregnant I wanted to have her weaned before she was 2, which she will be when the baby is born. I'd like it to be sooner than later so she forgets about it a bit before she sees the new baby nursing.

And, I think my milk supply has already weakened. Lately she will want to go back and forth from one breast to the other during one nursing session. I'm talking like sometimes 5 or 6 switches!! It's weird, and she fusses, so it makes me think my supply has dropped since becoming pregnant.

At 16 months, I don't think she would understand if I told her to save the milk for the baby. I know she understands a lot, but I don't think she'd get that one.

[deleted account]

here is a post I wrote about weaning 2 years ago.

Penelope and I have been co-sleeping since she was a baby. Our story is a little different than most co-sleeping, breastfeeding, parent-child relationships. I didn’t get her to nurse till she was 5 months old, and then it was months before nursing at night became easier for us (it took a long time for her to get out of the habit of being rocked to sleep, to being able to nurse to sleep, while laying down), and then another couple of months before I could get to the stage of sleeping without my shirt off and she “finds” me in the middle of the night herself. I, being the light sleeper that I am, still wake up, even she latches on herself. She also likes to lay on top of me as she is nursing, and tweak my other nipple. Fun times.

Part of the reason it took me so long to night wean her, is because since we lost the first 5 months of nursing, I felt like I wanted to make up for that time and she always nursed the best at night. It was like, she was really able to let her body take over at night and she actually got milk. Whereas during the day, her comfort nursing was so light, that she doesn’t get much at all. I have gotten clues of how much milk she was getting at night before (like when she was sick and threw up a ton of milk first thing in the morning) and now as we have started the night weaning process, she gets up about 1.5 hours earlier and the first thing she says is EAT! She is hungry without her nightly snack of milk. Just in the last few days, she also started requesting a glass of milk with meals, like she is trying to make up for the calorie reduction.
I started night weaning Penelope about 3 weeks ago.The first night, I siked myself up and decided that the best way to attempt this would be to nurse Penelope and read her books in a rocking chair and then lay down together and tell her no Nuh-Nuh’s till the sun shines. Total disaster. I only let her cry for about 2 minutes. But you would have thought I was poking her with a hot stick and torturing her. So I quickly scrapped that idea and nursed her to sleep. I was pretty sure I traumatized her for life, so it took me a few more days to go to plan B.

Plan B, was to nurse her to sleep like normal, and then tell her no all night until the sun came through window. The first night, she woke up about 3 times and fussed when I said no, but did not fully wake up or start an upset cry. By the third night, she realized I was standing firm and that life was really not that bad, she still got to nurse to sleep and again around 6am when the sun came up. So she has settled into the routine of hugging instead. Now instead of calling out for nuh-nuhs,in her half-asleep, groggy voice, she says hugs. It’s pretty damn cute.

In the last week, she will sometimes go all night with only waking up once. But mostly she still wakes up 3 to 4 times a night. Our next step will be to get a toddler bed and put in our room and see if that helps a bit with the night waking.

And last week, I slept upstairs in our guest bedroom, while my husband was on hug/wake up duty. It was pure heaven. I have been lusting and fantasizing about sleeping by myself, since Penelope was a tiny baby. I would dream of going to a hotel, by myself, for like a week, and just do nothing but sleep. But this night upstairs was just the ticket. The next day, I was bouncing off the walls, I had so much energy. I didn’t go to sleep till like 3am that night either. I hope to try and do that at least once a month, and later once a week. I am very slowly starting to prepare my mind and body for my next pregnancy and catching up on sleep is at the top of my list right now.

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Sarah - posted on 11/12/2013

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I would just try by starting a new routine. My daughter took the pacifier at night and at naps. I thought it was going to be hell trying to get her weaned from that. It ended up being one of the easiest things to do. I would try by doing your night time wine-down. Bath etc. Then we always read a couple books in her room. Then it is lights out and prayers and then we lay her down in her bed with her blanket. She ends up playing for awhile and then falling right to sleep. It was SO easy.

Another way you could also try to wean her is to nurse less and less each time you nurse her. So if she is nursing for 15 mins. before bed cut it back to 10 mins. Then cut it down to 5 mins. Then nothing.

Megan - posted on 11/11/2013

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They won't forget for years.. My best friend was 5 and hadnt nursed for years when her bro was born, her and even the older siblings were interested, she wanted to try again. But with that said, I can't really help since my son is 32 months and has breastfed to sleep and co sleeps for a long time. I am also wondering how self weaned babies or gently weaned babies go to sleep without the boob. In my case I will let him decide when to stop but obviously there are tricks and methods to help him right?

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