Night-Weaning a Toddler: Night One

>> Sunday, January 23, 2011



The Reason:
This week we decided we were going to night wean our little guy. I have been waking up to breastfeed him on demand for 18 months now, and it was just getting to be too much. I knew I was finally ready to take the plunge because the thought of three nights with absolutely NO sleep seemed better to me than continuing as we were. In the past I'd always put it off because I just wanted to sleep that night. I think now I'm officially in a place where it would be impossible to be more tired, so I thought why not go for it lol.

In all seriousness, I was starting to resent him, resent the fact that The Hubbs hasn't had to get up with him since he started refusing the bottle at 10 months, and above all, I just felt like I was starting to lose my grip. I felt myself slipping into a bit of a depression, honestly, crying at the drop of a hat, and barely able to function during the day. Sleep deprivation will do that to you. It was time to make it stop.

The Method:
At first we were going to use the Dr. Jay Gordon method, which takes nine nights. You choose a seven hour period in which you don't want to nurse (he suggests 11-6). The first three nights you nurse your baby whenever they wake up, but you don't let them fall asleep on the breast. This is supposed to help break the association between milk and sleep. The next three nights you don't let them nurse at all, you just soothe other ways (rocking, singing, patting their back, talking, etc). The next three nights you don't nurse, and you soothe them very minimally. We were looking at this method because it can be done while bed sharing, and it doesn't require that you suddenly wean completely.

We were supposed to have started the night before (Friday night) but as I geared up for the fight night of step one, I realized that our Sweet Baboo doesn't nurse for very long OR fall asleep while still latched on. I'd be all ready to pull him off and make him fall asleep on his own, except he beat me to it. He would nurse for 30 seconds, then roll over and drift off by himself. So I called that night a freebie and decided just to scrap the next nights of step one all together.

The second modification we did to Jay Gordon's method is that we decided against having milk be allowed before 11 and after 6. I just thought it would be too confusing. Our Sweet Baboo doesn't go to sleep at the exact same time every night. Depending on the day he's had, and how tired he is, he goes to bed anywhere between 6:30 and 9:30. I just felt it was too arbitrary to assign certain times for him to not be able to nurse, because he doesn't know what time it is, know what I mean? And I get the idea of conditioning their biological clock to not nurse for a certain amount of time, but since his bedtime varies largely, I decided that I am just not going to nurse at all during the night. That way every time he wakes up he doesn't have to wonder if he can nurse yet. He just knows he can nurse when the sun comes up, and not before.

The First Waking:
So last night I nursed him to sleep as usual. Two hours later he woke up and wanted milk. I went in to bed and informed him that the milk had gone Night Night, and he could have some again in the morning. He, predictably, flipped out. He was MAAADDDDDDDDD. He cried, he tried to fight his way through the multiple shirts I was wearing to make this a little easier, he yelled "Milk!" over and over and over. After about a 40 minute tantrum, with me rocking him, singing, rubbing his back, and telling him that the milk was night night and he could drink it again in the morning, he decided he wanted to leave the bedroom. I knew that would happen, because whenever he can't sleep he decides he'd rather play. I decided to bring him out to the living room for awhile just so that he could take a breather and calm down, since he was so upset. I also let him have a sippy cup of water since our house can be dry. He drank it and seemed genuinely thirsty, so I'm glad I did that. I decided to keep the sippy in the bedroom from now on so he can access it at night if he needs a drink, since the milkshake shop is closed from here on out during evening hours.

The Second Waking:
When we went back to the bedroom half an hour later, I reminded him that the milk was sleeping for now and he would have milk in the morning. He wasn't happy. He cried and fussed, but he didn't scream like he had earlier. He was upset for about 20 minutes. This time I decied not to rock him or sing to him (which seemed to just rile him up more) but instead I just laid down and said "It's time for night night, come lay down beside mama and go to sleep." He sat still for a moment, considered this, then came over and laid down beside me. He snoozed for about 5 minutes, then woke up again. He fussed and tried to get milk for another two minutes, but when I asked him to lay down beside mama and go to sleep, be obliged. We slept for two hours.

The Third Waking:
He woke up again at around 2 a.m., but when I said "The milk is sleeping. Go to sleep," he cuddled up and nodded off immediately.

The Fourth Waking:
The next wake up was at 5, and I was tempted to give in since it was close enough to his normal waking time, but I really wanted him to grasp that we don't drink milk until we're up for the day. I didn't want him to be up for the day at 5, so I told him that the milk was sleeping and to go to sleep. He tried to get me to get up, saying "Go, go!" which is what he says when he's ready to get out of bed in the morning, but it was too early so I just told him it was still night time. He was upset for about 5 minutes, and tried physically prying my head off the pillow, but then he realized it wasn't going to happen and decided he'd deign to snuggle his mom and go back to sleep.

The Morning After:
When he woke up next, the sun was coming in behind the curtains, and I said "It's morning! The milk is awake!" He had a big smile and said "Milk!" I let him drink for as long as he wanted. When I looked at the clock, I was suprised to realize that it was 8 am! He never sleeps that late! Makes sense, though, since we had such a rough night. I hope tonight is easier. I'll keep you posted.


1 comments:

Jennifer January 23, 2011 at 6:47 AM  

Way to go mama! You did it. Now on to night two.

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