How do I wean toddler who never gave up night feedings?

Melissa - posted on 05/23/2013 ( 1 mom has responded )




My 17 month old has done wonderfully with breastfeeding . She took to it naturally at birth and has been super easy to feed at night. In infancy to present, she never required burping, and fell back asleep without any issues. Because my husband is the only income earner and has a great deal of trouble sleeping anyway, I've always just kept the peace and gone to feed my daughter at her first cry. Ten minutes later, I'm done and back asleep in my bed in no time. No big deal... Except that I've gone 17 months and 1 week without a full night of sleep because she still wakes every 2-3 hours expecting to be fed!

I've successfully dropped several day feedings and she can even go 12 hours without breastfeeding when my mom keeps her (she takes the bottle, though she does put up some resistance). But the moment I walk back in the door, she's so dramatic about wanting to feed. I do go ahead and feed her, but she gets easily distracted and often doesn't come back to finish. When I have her all day long, she craves a mid-morning feeding and a mid-afternoon/pre-nap feeding. Otherwise, she has a decent appetite and eats regularly scheduled meals of healthy adult food with a snack in morning and another in afternoon.

I really want to drop the night feedings so I can get more continuous hours of sleep and have enlisted my mom's help. She will be keeping my daughter overnight, 3 nights in a row, I'll get her back during the day. After that I'll have my husband put my daughter to bed, which he is pretty good at. (If I have to put her to bed, she pitches a fit if I try to withhold breastfeeding and instead have a bottle replacement). My mother suggested weaning ALL feedings while we're trying to drop the night feedings so it doesn't confuse my daughter. I am not sure I'm ready to go cold-turkey. My daughter really enjoys breastfeeding and always turns to it for comfort if she gets hurt. Should I stop completely, or can I still do the two day feedings and occasional comfort sessions? Any suggestions for this sleepy momma? I am willing to wean completely if my milk dries up.


Sarah - posted on 05/23/2013




I would stop all comfort feedings....teach her how to comfort herself in other ways. If all she knows is how to comfort by feeding then she will struggle as she gets older and can't feed or comfort then becomes other forms of food. When she gets hurt teach her how to pick herself up and try again. Make sure she is ok and show empathy, but don't comfort with food.

I would stop all night time feedings as those are all comfort and habit feeds since she is old enough to not need them. Again teach her how to comfort herself in other ways. Try changing your routine also. When I stopped doing the bedtime feed with my daughter I did not sit long in the rocking chair where I would feed her before bedtime. It was not until she had adjusted to not nursing before bed did I add in that rocking chair and a new routine of reading books before bed.

I would also try getting her on the sippy cup. Usually around 12 months you want to stop with the bottle and start using a cup or sippy cup. By 3 yrs they should be using cup only no sippy. Depending on your daughter it may work to stop comfort nursing and also stop bottle, but if not work on one first and then the other once the first one is good. Sometimes breastfed babies take to the sippy easier then the bottle.

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