June 18, 2009,
H.A. asks from San Francisco, CA on May 13, 2009
Any Toddler Co-sleeping, Breast-feeding Mommies Out There?
Our daughter is 20 months old and we are still breast feeding and have recently started co-sleeping. Anyone else out there in a similar situation? Honestly, I feel like we are the only ones!
I have two questions for you:
We tried all kinds of things before co-sleeping, even cry-it-out last summer. For the most part we have been soothing her to sleep in various ways (including breast feeding) and she had been sleeping about 1/2 the night in her crib, then coming to our bed because we are too tired to sit up with her in the middle of the night (we used to do that, but it would take 1-2 hours and we just couldn't stand it anymore).
But now she won't go to sleep in her own crib (at the beginning of the night) so my husband and I take turns TRYING to get her to sleep, but she is only sleeping there for a couple of hours, and most recently not at all (she just sleeps in our arms)! I never see my husband anymore because one or the other of us spends the entire evening trying to get her to sleep until we are ready to go to bed. It is just ridiculous and we can't keep it up. I don't want to do the cry-it-out again. Any other suggestions?
2) How the heck do you wean a toddler?
I believed La Leche League when they said babies self-wean... what a lie! :) I think my little one will keep at it until high school if I let her. Since we have started co-sleeping she has started to breastfeed a lot during the night. She isn't breastfeeding much during the day anymore, just at naptime and bedtime and during the night. So my question is, how do I get her to stop the breast feeding when we are so used to using it as a tool to soothe her to sleep? And since we are all sleeping together?
I am feeling kind of like a failure that our toddler isn't sleeping by herself through the night, even though I don't think we are the only ones. And how does one wean without being too harsh?
Thank you for any advice. Please don't send mean comments... it wasn't my plan to be co-sleeping and breast feeding this long!
p.s. Our daughter is healthy and happy, so that's not what's keeping her awake and on the boob!
A.R. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
i feel how hard this must be for you... and i get it. i've been there. i brought my daughter into our bed when she was 15 months so i could get some more sleep at night... she loved nursing so much i thought she would never stop. but to be totally honest, cosleeping at that age was a terrible move. i didn't ever get any sleep, and i wasn't helping my daughter learn to sleep through the night (an essential skill at her age). also, it's nearly impossible to wean a toddler who sleeps next to you and is used to nursing all night!
we decided that was it, we needed her to sleep in her own bed. we put her in her own crib and my husband slept in her bedroom with her for a week. I never went into the room no matter how much she cried, because if she saw me she would just want to nurse. after a week, my husband left her room but would go in to console her BRIEFLY when she cried. it's hard. however, it worked. it took a couple of weeks, but since then she has slept through the night in her own room without a peep. it's like a miracle! i highly recommend it. your daughter is capable of sleeping alone- she is old enough, and while she may protest the change in routine, believe in her ability to adapt. she can handle it.
same with weaning. i was terrified to wean, but my daughter accepted it pretty easily. first you have to get her on a regular nursing schedule -- always nurse at the same times each day and only then. naptimes and bedtime perhaps. then you remove one feeding at a time. i removed one feeding per week and it took 4 weeks to wean her. save the one she likes best for last. the key is to never ever give in and change the routine. she will accept the changes if you are firm and consistent. if you deviate from the rules you set up it will only confuse her.
good luck! let us know how it goes.
A.S. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
You are NOT the only one! I co-slept with my older boy (who now sleeps beautifully on his own at 4) and am co-sleeping with my 15 month old. My older boy only started to sleep with us when he was 2. He stayed until he was 3.5 (and the new baby was ALSO in the bed) and he concluded that it was too crowded for him and he transitioned fairly easily into his own bed. When I say fairly easily, I mean, he said he wanted to sleep in his own bed, tried it one night and then changed his mind. The next 3 nights he complained, but I encouraged him to stay in his bed. On the 4th night he stopped complaining. For the next month and a half, he would keep coming back to our room in the middle of the night and we allowed it until it just became less and less and less and he stopped altogether. Our second son (who is now 15 months) has been in our bed since birth. Most of the time he falls asleep ON OUR CHESTS! but he is slowly weaning himself of that habit.
Do not feel like a failure! You are creating an independent and strong child by being so loving and practicing attachment parenting. Both of our boys are very independent and secure kids, because we do not let them feel alone at night time. Keep up the great work!
A.S. answers from Redding on May 14, 2009
Before my first child was born, I was opposed to co-sleeping. Then he was born, and the realities of parenting became apparent. At first the co-sleeping was because it worked best for the two of us, so Dad grew to accept it. After I went back to work, it was a way for us to reconnect at the end of a long day. He slept with us until he was 5 1/2 yrs because his younger brother did not like to co-sleep and moved into the toddler bed well before we were ready to set up the bigger bedroom (which is farther away from my room) for the two of them. By the time they got the big room, they were ready, and neither of them had any trouble with the transition.
1. My opinion is that you honor your daughter's desire to sleep with you (for now) and put her to bed in the family bed. Forget about the crib for a while. Develop a bedtime routine and stick to it. We use bath, books, then bed. Spend some time with her, then say goodnight and stick to it. If you have to go back into the room, keep it brief.
2. Weaning is also a personal issue. I was committed to nursing for one year, but my older son stuck with it until I became pregnant again just after his second birthday. He was losing interest but wasn't willing to give it up entirely. I kept us busy and avoided the situations in which he would nurse. As long as I did not sit on the couch after work, which was hard to do after standing on a construction site all day during my first trimester, he didn't ask for it. My younger son stopped cold turkey at 15 months, which took me (body and soul) by surprise. I cherish the time that I shared with both of them, so I encourage you to enjoy it while you can.
Most importantly, stop judging yourself. Follow your instincts about what is best for your daughter and your family. Good luck. :-)
G.A. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Wow, I really feel for you. My husband and I have had sleep issues with our 3yr old so I know the sleep deprivation and frustration. I would recommend to you the book, if you haven't already read it, "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child" by Dr. Marc Weissbluth. He gives alot of great information on how important sleep is for our children, starting at birth on. He has alot of stories given by parents on their sleep struggles with their kids and how they were solved. He has studies and such but what I liked about the book is the no guilt factor. He just lays out alot of information for you to choose from. I think as parents, we get so emotionally attached and feel guilty about so much with our kids, we forget how important certain things are for them - like a good night sleep. If you guys aren't sleeping good, neither is she. That's not fair for any of you. I breast fed our daughter til 15 months and she weaned herself - thank God. She was in her crib by 7months though because she was crawling out of her co-sleeper and into our bed and I was afraid she would fall out and break her arm. She never liked sleeping with us but liked sleeping next to us. We chose to do the cry it out method. It really does work if you can get yourself through the crying. It takes about 3 nights but it really does work. We got the camera/monitor system so we could see her at all times for our own soothing because if I couldn't see her, I got freaked out. In fact, I still have the camera in with her at night and the monitor with us so we can see her. I show her the green light and say " see the green light, mommy and daddy are watching you" and she loves to know we can see her. I think that helps her. Don't feel guilty about anything but do what is best for you and your family. LOL
L.B. answers from Stockton on May 14, 2009
Wow H.! Here I thought I was the only one! This is my fourth and I didn't have this issue with the others. Everyone (including my dr.) told me I'd end up nursing this one the longest since it's my last. I was like, oh no, I never had a problem weaning my others. Duh! We co-slept with all of our kids. Mostly they would start off in their own beds and end up in ours at some point during the night. This last one? Never starts in his own bed. I usually get him down in my bed and then go back out to join my husband in the family room for the rest of the evening. Yes, my husband is a bit tired of having a body between us every night. As far as weaning? Just not working out yet. I do however have an easier time at night because when he asks for it in the middle of the night I tell him "it's" sleeping, shhhhhh. Strange yes, but when you're desperate for sleep who cares? Let me know if you get any "miracle" cures!! Hang in there!
T.Z. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
H.- i just want to say that you post makes me feel confident and and relieved that there are mothers out there who are still listening to their instincts and doing things regardless of what society tells them. This is a BIG issue you have brought to the table, and I don't have time to go into it too much, but I really want to commend you and your husband both for tending to your daughters needs, even if you didn't plan to do it that way. Isn't that what parenthood is all about? I'm pretty sure this is just the beginning. I co-sleep and continue to nurse my 2 year old after much deliberation and trial of different things.
Once I stopped listening to other people about how I should do thing, I was able to listen to her, and to us. I figure, before long she won't want to be near me in any way shape or form, so the cuddles and sweet intimate time I get with her by co-sleeping and breastfeeding to me is worth it. It's a bit of a self-sacrifice, but one I finally decided feels right for us. When/ if you find it is time to really make a change, you will. Trust yourselves and keep communication open between all three of you. Talk to her and to your husband about what is working and what you'd like to try doing differently. She will really respond to your needs if you continue to talk to her like her opinion counts, but that you are the parent and you want to try sleeping through the night, or whatever.
Remind her that sleep is important for your bodies and helps her grow strong and smart just like her mama and daddy! Also reading this book: Mothering your nursing toddler: http://www.amazon.com/Mothering-Nursing-Toddler-Norma-Bum... really validated a lot of the feelings I was having around nursing my toddler and gave me a sense of confidence and ownership over it.
H.J. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
You are SO not alone! And you are definitely not a failure! Think about it from your daughter's point of view--she is much more secure sleeping with Mama and Daddy than in a crib in a room all by herself. We co-sleep with our 2 year-old and our 7 month-old. To get kids asleep before I go to bed is as simple as laying down with them and nursing them to sleep (both at once, often as not), & then getting back up. (If I fall asleep, too, I just figure I must need it--it happened last night). The nursing in the middle of the night, I can't help you with, but you'll probably get some advice from other Mamas. I haven't really tried to do anything about it, because my 7 month-old still nurses in the middle of the night, of course, & I have been trying hard not to have nursing become any more of a jealousy point than it just has to.
I have heard several people say that a 2 year-old will nurse like a newborn if you let them. It's probably because little ones go through a lot of changes right around this time. I have known kids that nursed till they self-weaned, though, so I have faith that mine will, too! Right now, she only nurses at naptime & bedtime & when she wakes in the middle of the night. If she asks otherwise, I just remind her when the next time for "mem" is.
Does my 2 year-old sleep in her own bed? Not usually (she has a bed in our room & sleeps in it sometimes) Is she weaned? Not a chance! BUT she is potty trained, she has none of the oddball fears little kids often have, she is not attached to blanket, binky, doll, etc, she is outgoing, confident, and never afraid to try something new--she rides carnival rides, goes down the big kid slides at the playground, pets horses at the farm, etc. If these are the benefits of co-sleeping, it's more than worth it! I can nurse and sleep at the same time.
By the way "healthy sleep habits" are whatever gets your family the most sleep! Even if it's letting your toddler nurse herself back to sleep when she wakes in the middle of the night. Realistically, what takes longer & involves more lost sleep--nursing a co-sleeping girlie (for us, this takes about 5-10 minutes), or waking up enough to get out of bed, walk to another room, soothe a crying kid, stumble back to your room, crawl back into bed, and then get back to sleep?
J.A. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
There is hope in all of this! We co-sleep, and did it with all three of our children. My little one still does, and she is 26 months old. I would take her up and stay with her until she slept, and then let her sleep alone until I was ready to sleep myself. She was breast feeding up until last month. Let me tell you, she didn't sleep through the night either, and I was tired, and she was even more tired than we were. It took us three days to completely wean her from breast feeding. My husband had to help with this because every time she saw me, she wanted to nurse. We made sure to have a cup with water beside the bed, and every time she cried to nurse we gave her the water. Eventually she realized that this was all she was going to get. It was heartbreaking, but she was OK. Your baby will be OK and she will sleep better for you once you stop nursing. In 3 days she started sleeping through the night, and I couldn't believe it. I would keep waking up just to make sure she was okay. Best of Luck to you and your family.
J.N. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
First, don't feel bad at all! :)
My daughter was born in June 2006 and breastfed til April 2008. Yes, 22 months! I was home for the first 11 months and then went back to work. Then she was just nursing when I got home and at night. Obviously then, it was mostly for comfort, and after being away from her all day, I loved the bonding time with her. She slept with us in our bed, and I would lie with her until she fell asleep, usually around 9. If I had the energy, I would be able to get up and spend some time with my hubby, but most times, I would just fall asleep too, since I had a long day at work (with a long commute). I did try to get up at least 2 nights a week and on the weekend nights so that my hubby and I had some time together. Do you have a bedtime routine? We used to wash up, brush teeth and read a couple of books... then our daughter knew it was time for bed. I nursed her lying on my side, so that I wasn't holding her, and I could slip away once she fell sleep. You can try rolling up a small blanket (or a small pillow) to push up against her so that it feels like you. Mostly they are just looking for warmth.
I got pregnant again in Jan. 2008 so I knew that I had to stop nursing soon. Self-weaning does happen! I tried to stop nursing in March, with the goal of the last day of the month. I would try to soothe her with other comforts, like rubbing her back or back of her ear, while letting her hold my boob. She kind of fought me, so I let her nurse. But I noticed that her nursing time got shorter and shorter. So I started telling her in April that we wouldn't nurse anymore, and again set the goal for the end of the month. I let her nurse (lying on my side) holding my other boob, and would un-latch her as soon as she looked asleep. April 30th came and on May 1st, I told her no more boobie, and just let her lie next to me as usual with her hand on my boob. She was okay with it and fell asleep with no fuss! By mid-June, she was no longer holding my boobie! We do our bedtime routine, read books in bed, and then lights out. She lies next to me and is asleep in a few minutes.
I hope this helps and gives you some hope. Our daughter likes it when we explain things to her and have a routine -- it helps set up the expectations and then she feels part of the process.
Hang in there!!!
R.D. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
You are not alone! We have a 30 month old doing the same thing! I explained to him that when the moon and stars come out he can't have any more "nummy" until the sun wakes up. It works for during the middle of the night (of course it took a few nights to convince him). He still wakes up about 4 or 5 a.m. and then the pleas begin, but they lasted shorter and shorter periods and he slept longer and longer. Now I'll nurse him if it's light out and he'll fall asleep for another couple hours (if I'm lucky). Otherwise he will use me as a pacifier for those hours (yeesh!). To get him to sleep right away we were using a musical light show device/toy. That distracted him with the animals on the ceiling and he knew that when the lights went off it was sleeping time. Unfortunately the thing broke and now he does what your child does to some degree. We have found he does best when he goes to sleep in a pitch black room with some white noise going. It was tough to get him to stop nursing to sleep, no doubt about that. He still says that's what he wants, but I told him it will make holes in his teeth so after we brush his teeth no more nursing. By the way, my now 13 year old son did eventually wean himself. He was about 3 1/2 years old. My 2 1/2 year old rarely nurses during the day now, unless he is tired. I hope this all helps. We are with you cosleeping, nursing mama! :)
K.H. answers from Sacramento on May 16, 2009
Hi H.! I know that you have a lot of responses, I could not read them all so hopefully this isn't a total repeat of the other Mamas! :)
My son is almost 2.5 and I still breastfeed him to sleep at night. I too am sceptical about this "self weaning". My son needed some assistance in this area. I'm a single mom and we co-slept up until a week after his second birthday. I also co-slept not originally by choice but it was the only was I was going to get any descent sleep.
I have gradually weened him (almost). I started with nursing him to sleep laying down and nursing all night-on demand until he was about 1.5. At that point, I started nursing him in a chair with a stuffed animal in his arms and laying him down in my bed so he would get used to that transition (I think this really made a difference in getting him in his crib). As I was nursing him, I would say milk (or Nanas or boobie..) are going "night night". I would lay him down and I would sit up in the bed and watch TV on mute. It was nice not being glued to him for the first part of the night. When he would wake up I would get up and nurse him is the cahir again with the stuffed animal. This helped me not beign nursed on ALL night long. I gradually changed the nursing to rocking him (with the stuffed animal) to sleep I pushed the nursing back as far as I could by repeating "nanas go night night". He slowly got tired of being rocked and would just stay sleep. We eventually made it to 3am then to 5am then to 6:30am which was our "let me nurse him to see if I can get another hour of sleep" nusing session...sometimes it worked.
I then began nursing him only for nap and bedtime. During the day, I would tell him "milk all gone, you have to wait" and I would offer another beverage and do some major disracting with books, toys, music... I would just try and keep in active because I noticed he would want to nurse when he was bored.
I also used to have to lay down with him for naps. But when I pushed his nursing back to just nap and bed time, he was so happy to get his "nanas" that he was okay to lay down by himself. I would nurse him in the chair, lay him down in my bed ( with pillows all around) and sit outside the room (folding laundry, checking emails, taking a light nap myself...) his naps started off short but when I transitioned them from my bed to his, they became longer. He also began associating bed time more with the stuffed animal and less with me. At two years and one week. I moved the nursing in a chair in my room, to the chair in his room. I had a sound machine in my room that we slept with (white noise). When he moved to his room, the machine went with him. The animal and sound machine helped with keeping bedtime familiar in his room. Getting him used to this was hard. I also don't like the CIO method. There were a few tears but I always went in to comfort him, every 2 min, then every 5 then 7 and we made it to every 20 minutes. (I had a friend who would text message me and give me support not to just put him back in my bed.) Once I made the descision, I could not go back. After about the 5th day he got it and slept till 6am!! He knew he was safe and that mommy was there when he needed her.
At 2.5 he still takes naps, but now with a bottle of water that he just holds onto mostly, he picks a stuffed animal to go to bed with and I read a good book or I make up story before I lay him down. Same with bedtime (except I nurse him). Get a routine and stick with it. That part is really important! Soon It will be "this is just what we do". and no tears or hurt feelings.
Don't feel like a failure! You are doing what works best for you and your family and that's what you're suppose to do. Wean in a way that feels natural and loving to you. At 2.5 and still nursing, cold turkey doesn't feel right so we'll slowly back it out of our "schedule" when it feels right!
You're not alone!
Kim (sorry soooooo long!)
(email me if you have any questions!)
K.R. answers from Bakersfield on May 14, 2009
We infant potty train, baby wear, co-sleep, breastfeed & home birth unassisted.
You are doing just fine but in my opinion, contrary to popular belief I think you are rushing things. Most families do, so they can fit into the "norm". This is mostly in America mind you. You are perfectly normal in any other culture outside of the U.S.
We co-sleep and our child usually goes to sleep when we do. When they move on to their own bed then we establish a set bedtime. This varies from child to child as their needs are different. My oldest co-slept till 5 yrs my youngest only 20 months. This eliminates the need for my hubby and I to be separated and the co-sleeper has always been happy with this.
Breastfeeding also is aceptable in our home until they are 5 yrs or wean themselves sooner. This is because the average worldwide weaning age is 5 and that is also when they no longer physically benefit from it. So that is our cut-off. My oldest breastfed until 4 1/2 and my two youngest are currently still breastfeeding. One is 2 years old and the other is 3 weeks old. This works wonderfully for our family . It is very easy, beneficial and rewarding in many ways.
You are not alone but I totally know how you feel. Many times I've suspected we were.
Mommy of 4 boys (9 yrs, 5 yrs, 2 yrs & 3 weeks)
M.M. answers from Modesto on May 13, 2009
I have a five year old and an 18 month old. Not breastfeeding, but we are all cosleeping in our big, wonderful family bed.
A.E. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Hi! We were ina similar boat until a few months ago. Our son was born 9/19/07 and has never been a great sleeper.he did the half or less in his crib/the rest w/us routine for a long time.
Then I stumbled on www.sleeplady.com and a modified version of her method worked for us.I will say that it took almost 2 months for Kai to sleep in his own bed all night, but now he does AND it was all worth it. We did read her book, and we did read her website thoroughly.
You and your daughter can do it!
Write if you'd like to chat more abt this.
A.H. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
I felt the way you do at around the age you are at!
At 18 months I decided to get rid of the nighttime nursing. I simply told him night time was sleep time. There was crying the first few nights and it took him a couple weeks to stop asking, but finally, he did.
There was no magic bullet formula for getting him to start the night in his room. Every physical and cognitive change brought some new challenge that required a modification to our approach. Don't give up on it though - it's important to your sanity to have that time!
Incidentally, shortly after he turned 2 he decided to stay in his room all night - just like that! Still hits me up for the boob at quiet time and I plan to throw him off after he turns 3 in about 6 weeks from now. It's obviously becoming less important to him at this point so I don't feel bad about it.
I now know I did the right thing for us and my only regret is that I let people give me flack about it!
S.M. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Sounds like you need to decide if you want to co-sleep or if you want your baby in the crib. If you want to co-sleep, then just let her go to sleep in your arms, and whenever you're ready to go to sleep, just climb in with her. I really loved co-sleeping, and we co-slept until my first son was 4. Then he went directly to a mattress on the floor in his room, with no fuss.
If you actually want her to sleep in her crib, and don't want to co-sleep, you have to use cry-it-out. The great thing about cry-it-out is you only have to do it once or twice, and then you get to sleep all night!
On weaning her, if you continue to co-sleep, just wait a little longer, and as your milk slows down, she'll gradually wean herself. I didn't breastfeed, but if I could have, I would have done it for as long as possible.
K.I. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
I do (or did) both.
My son is 30 months currently. Start with the cosleeping. We still do this. He has a choice between his bed and our bed. He goes through phases as to which he chooses. I find that if I dont push a choice on him it goes a lot smoother. We have a couple of different things we do. Our typical routine is bath, pajamas, teeth, books, bed. I will usually lie or sit with him until he falls asleep this is usually under 30 min, but it has been up to 3 hours. As the lights are off after kisses and hugs we lie head to head and talk a little bit (even if I dont know all he is saying). I call it debriefing the day. I always end it with do you know I love you? If it is my husbands night he either does the same thing as I or he lays him down tells him it is sleepy time and that we need to stay in the bed he chose,turns out the light and comes out. Sometimes he will still come out but he knows that he is just going to be sent back. There is a book called the no cry sleep solution that you should check out. It helped us with ideas. I can not handle the cry it out method. this is a great alternative. also we sometimes move him to his bed after he is fast asleep. Time for us.
Now to breast feeding. I breast fed until 24 1/2 months. My goal was one year. Do not feel bad. You are doing a great job and it does not matter what nay sayers think.
Weaning. I am not sure my son would have on his own. Due to some infertility challenges in my life I had to stop, if I wanted to continue to persue getting pregnant again. We picked a day and told him no more NANU. His word for breast. I told him they were broke and he could not do that anymore. We would offer him his cup with water in it if he asked. He asked to touch, hold a breast, his comfort as much as nursing. I let him do this and it worked great to comfort him. He still asks for nanu from time to time and I tell him no and he goes on. he usually does this if he is not feeling well. I guess he remembers getting comfort. It was hard and be prepared to be engorged even thouh it is only a couple times a day. It took me by total suprise. Find his comfort item other than the breast and encourage it leading up to weaning. I found trying to do it gradual was confusing and that Cold turkey worked best for us.
As far a feeling like a failure. Sleeping through the night is simply 6 hours of continous sleep. Not all that it is cracked up to be. They will, as long as you are happy, your husband is happy, and your baby is happy, who cares. It is a comfort thing and what better could she take comfort in than her parents. She will sleep have faith. By the way all those wakings to feed and sleep with you have been linked to a lower sids rate.
If you want to chat more let me know and I will give you my info.
Hope this helps. You are not alone out there. I am the only one of my friends that fed past 3 months.
B.L. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
In response to Seana B's response, I am glad she said so many supportive things--I agree. Except for the part about them growing up soon to be teenagers that hate us: I co-slept with my kids and nursed for longer than you have, and now they are age 10 through 18 and definitely still love me! I feel good about saying yes to being that close then, and feel like it has affected how close we are now. (And I know the logistics can really be a pain on the days that you want something else.) Enjoy those cuddles guilt-free when you can--it'll all work out!
N.M. answers from Redding on May 18, 2009
We mommies are so hard on ourselves, especially when our babies don't quite want to do what we want them to do. I recently weaned my 17 month old and I have some tips that worked for me. I don't know if they will work for you, but I certainly hope they help!
It is so easy to nurse to soothe (it is the baby's happiest place on earth), I had to figure out a new way to soothe. What really worked for us was standing and bouncing (gently) to classical music. Especially for naptime. I never thought I would EVER lose the naptime feeding, but one day we were at church and he fell asleep in the car ride home. I started from there. I also picked a naptime and stuck to it. I rearranged my whole schedule around naptime just so my son would know it was time to sleep at that time. We would eat a snack, then dance to some music and he would fall asleep. At first, I would dance for over half an hour, but it would eventually work. I was never one for scheduling baby, but, for weaning it worked really well.
Also, at night time, I would try the dancing to music in the middle of the night. Sometimes it worked, sometimes it didn't. If it didn't, I would nurse him for a very short period of time (to calm him down) then offer water. I know everyone says to have your husband do it, but my son would just shriek uncontrollably for me when my husband tried to get him. He loves his daddy, but he wants mommy at night. I would sit in a place where we never nurse, and sing to him, dance with him, talk to him and tell him he's my baby and I love him. Eventually, he stopped waking up to nurse. He was also in his own room, so I don't know if that made a difference.
I know this is really hard because you don't want your little one to feel abandoned. Even now, my son will occasionally ask to nurse. He is so cute when he does it that sometimes I'll let him. I don't really have any milk, but I think it is just nice for him to know that I'm here. He will just latch on for maybe a minute, then go and play.
Good luck! I hope this helped!
C.I. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Hi H.! Sorry this is a super long response…
There are ALOT of co-sleeping/still breastfeeding a toddler moms out there. You are definitely not alone. My son is almost 2 and 1/2 and still breastfeeding. Although I am trying to wean him slowly because I don't think he'll do it himself!! So, I'll start with your night nursing question. My son night-nursed for 2 years. The co-sleeping kind of went hand in hand with that. Since he was sleeping right next to me he always wanted to nurse. It was a very sleep deprived 2 years. And being so tired, I had very little desire or motivation to change that cycle. It is very hard to change something like that when you are already sleep deprived, knowing that it may require you get even LESS sleep. But I did hit a point where I had to make a change because I felt like my son wasn't getting a full nights sleep either and I really needed more sleep. So, I enlisted my husbands help and for 1 week he put our son to bed (and like your daughter we have to put our son to sleep with nursing, rocking, until he is asleep). So, even though my son cried for me, my husband stuck with it and he slept with our son (in our bed) that entire week, putting him back to sleep when he woke up. Then I took over around 4:30/5:00am. And after that week, I re-joined them and would not let my son night nurse anymore. I would tell him, that he would get "milkies" in the morning when the sun came up. It was hard to do and he would cry a bit but I stuck with it and he actually would go back to sleep. He started to sleep much better, maybe waking up once or twice in the middle of the night and I would pat his back or hold him a few mins. And I did give in a number of times around 5am but you do what you have to do as a mom sometimes to get a little extra sleep!! :)
After about 1 month of this new routine and him sleeping better, we moved him into his room into a toddler bed. It worked amazingly for 2 weeks and he was sleeping all night until 5am or so. But after 2 weeks, he figured out that he could actually leave the bed and walk to our room! So, I would bring him back to his bed repeatedly for a few days, even sleeping on the floor of his room a few nights. Ultimately, I decided that what was most important to me was that we all get some sleep. And since stopping the night nursing allowed him to co-sleep with us without waking up all night, that was okay with me as long as he slept!
So now, I put him to sleep, lay him in his bed and at some point in the middle of the night (1am, 2am, 3am) he walks over to our room and climbs in bed. He does wake up early, like 5:30-6:00am, but hopefully that will get better eventually.
But going from him waking up to 8 times a night at age 2 to waking up once (sometimes twice) at age 2 1/2 is actually wonderful and great progress.
I really think stopping the night nursing was key for us.
And now onto weaning: Since I haven't actually done this yet, I don't have too much advice. So far, I have cut out the morning feeding for about 1 month now. He still asks for it every morning though and will cry a bit sometimes too. I have been telling him he will get milkies at nap time. I am going away for 1 night this coming weekend and he will be with my husband. When I return I think I am going to cut out the afternoon feeding. I am dreading that one because that is how he falls asleep for his nap. And when he wakes up from a very short nap, I breastfeed him back to sleep again so he will take a longer nap. So, I'm not looking forward to him having shorter naps but I think that I'm ready to stop nursing. Depending on how that goes, I am going away a couple for weeks after that for 2 nights for our anniversary and I am hoping to just go cold turkey after that and remove the final night feeding.
I'm a little bit sad thinking about not nursing him anymore. I knew I would nurse at least a year but never thought I'd still be going almost 2 1/2 years later. It's a really hard routine to get out of.
Anyway, good luck. You are doing a wonderful job with your daughter and she is lucky to have a mom that has met her needs for so long.
I do really look forward to the day when I lay my son in his bed and he says goodnight and falls asleep on his own! Hopefully one day... :)
N.H. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
I know how you feel. I had two babies nursing and I weaned them both on Valentines weekend. My son was 17 months and my daughter was 29 months. What I did and I tried so many times before but failed until then. I weaned my daughter from nursing during the day so she only had it at bedtime which was about 8:30 pm and she nursed in the night. She was my comfort nurser. I would stop by 6 am. I did that for a week then I did cold turkey that Friday. I didn't nurse either one. It was hard at first and you go though changes yourself. So she will get over it in a day of so but you will feel all these emotions for about a week. At least that is what happened to me. I feel so much better now. At first they didn't drink milk, but about a month later they started drinking milk. So don't worry you just have to be ready and once you start don't give in, just continue to cuddle or do whatever else works. Good luck and your not the only one out there. We also co slept, but remember I had two that did it.
Mother of 4 (15,10,2,1)
S.L. answers from Redding on June 18, 2009
Thanks for asking this question.
I did not read all your responses. Have you heard of the book The No Cry Sleep Solution. You can find it online. There are also books about nursing and weaning toddlers on the La Leche Leage website.
I both breastfeed and cosleep with my daughter who will be four years old at the end of the summer. I night weaned her gradualy at around 30 months. we have a single and full bed pushed together. She sleeps in the single most the night and my husband and I sleep in the full. We put her to sleep with bath, breastfeeding, tooth brushing, book reading and lights out ruiteen and then fall asleep or sneak out of the room until we want to go to bed.
There are a million different ways it can work out for you and I am greatful to see by your many responses that you are not alone.
J.K. answers from Fresno on May 14, 2009
It sounds like her sleeping patterns have been exhausting for you and your husband. She won't self wean and it appears she has not learned to self entertain so she relies on the breast for it. To wean her you have to stop offering her the breast at night and day although she seems to not be taking it much in the day. She cant have what you dont give her. If you start co sleeping now she will still be there at 6 yrs old.
L.F. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
Kudos on the extended nursing! I nursed both my boys till their 2nd birthday (they are 4 & 8 now). Both of them were good sleepers and didn't need night feedings past 4-5 months, so I don't really have any advice on that. With both boys I started dropping feedings around 18 months. Before that it was breakfast, lunch, dinner, nightcap. At 18 months I dropped dinner nursing and offered cowsmilk instead. Then at about 20 months I gradually dropped the remaining feedings by 1 per month. By their second birthday we were down to the nightcap, and they easily adjusted to losing that. Maybe if you offer the breast more during the day to get her transitioned away from night nursing at first, then start dropping those as well. I'm very proud of you for feeding your daughter the best nutrition on earth - ignore the haters!
Especially now, more than when my boys were babies, it seems like there are an awful lot of mommies who want to race through a minimal amount of nursing so they can get their plastic surgery - yuck.
M.S. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
I applaud you for co-sleeping and breastfeeding. Your baby will be better attached because of both. I did both with my son, and he too liked to nurse during the night. You will have to get him in his crib for sleep, that's the only way. What I did was nurse him before putting him in his crib, and then lay him down, and rub his belly and tell him I would see him later. Then when he would cry, I would wait a little bit (like 30 seconds) go in, rub his belly - BUT NOT TALK TO HIM OR PICK HIM UP. After rubbing him and soothing him, I would walk out. The next time he cried, I would wait a little longer before going in. And do the same thing. But under any circumstances, don't talk or pick the baby up. Then the next time, make the wait time longer, and keep doing it. Eventually the baby will fall asleep. You can expect 3 days from hell, but if you are diligent about it, you will get a new habit. Here's the question though, because it is a critical training tool, are you training the child or is the child training you? Give the child reassurance but don't rescue. Its a life long lesson that will come in handy later.
Good luck and stay strong.
D.C. answers from San Francisco on May 15, 2009
I can't address the co-sleeping, because that wasn't an issue for us, but I finally weaned my second daughter at the age of three. I think your 20-month-old can understand taking away her favorite soothing device if you tell her it hurts and you will hug her close instead...sing to her, rock her, let her put her little hand on your breast (she'll probably like bare). Substitute something else like a favorite stuffed animal, blanket. If she doesn't have one, pick one to include with all your cuddly interactions so she associates it with your love. That will help her self soothe in bed alone too.
Once you decide you're totally done, you'll be able to stop, cold turkey if you have to !
Good luck !
K.V. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
You ask how to co-sleep yet it sounds like you don't want to. But if you want her back in her own bed & sleeping, the key is to be consistent. You & hubby pick a method that works for you both of you & stick to it. Do not give in under any circumstances, do it every night w/o fail & your daughter will get it w/in a few days. As far as weaning, I think if you get her in her own bed sleeping thru the night, it might happen on it's own but if it doesn't, then have your husband help when she wakes up at night, offer her a sippy cup of water cuz, really you don't want any liquid other than water sitting on her teeth thru night. The milk, breast or real, sitting unrinsed on her teeth can cause cavities &/or other dental problems. Or take her shopping to buy a new lovey that she picks out so she can sooth herself w/that item. When she wants the boob, offer the sippy cup or the lovey or if it's during hte day, distract her by gettgng her involved in something else. But, as suggested, the key will be consistency. It will be hard but be strong! Best of luck!
E.B. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
My 23 month old mostly cosleeps and she still nurses some. I have some words about each of these, if they're useful.
1. For a long time, we have been putting my daughter to bed in her own room and then, whenever she wakes up, I go get her and she spends the rest of the night with us in bed. For a LONG time, she would only fall asleep on one of our shoulders as we paced around her room. As she got bigger, this got more and more challenging, as you can imagine. It was also pretty stressful for us, as we would spend 30 to 45 minutes walking with her and just cross our fingers that she wouldn't wake up as we tried to transfer her to the crib. Not fun.
Finally, I had had enough. I told my daughter (around 19 months at the time) in the morning that she was a big girl now and she was going to sleep in her big girl bed that night. I took her crib mattress out of the crib, put it on the floor and laid another little pad next to it. We spent the whole day talking about the big girl bed. I decided that we would ask her to lie down on her big girl bed to fall asleep. One of us would lie next to her and rub her back or offer comfort, but that she needed to learn to fall asleep lying down. I prepared myself for a hard night. Not so! The first few nights it took a while, as she wanted to play and talk about being a big girl, but no fussing and crying at all!
Since then, when we get to bedtime, one of us takes her to her room and reads her one story. Then she lies down (voluntarily) in her bed. We put her blankets on, put on some music, turn of the lights, and lie on the pad next to her bed. We do rub her back to help her sleep, but it generally takes 15 to 30 minutes and is SOOOOO much less stressful for us (and, I'm sure, for her). I can't tell you what a positive change this has been for our life and I was really surprised that we didn't have to battle about it at all.
For my daughter (I don't know if this holds for other kids), it makes a huge difference to talk a lot about a big change and give her lots of warning in a very positive way.
2. For a long time, whenever she came downstairs, she would nurse to sleep with me in our bed and then nurse on demand through the rest of the night. I started to feel like the nursing was getting in the way of both of us getting good sleep. She seemed many nights very restless and woke really often wanting to nurse. I wondered if she would sleep longer and more deeply if she wasn't expecting to nurse.
So, one day (at about 22 months) in the morning I explained to her that she was a big girl now (notice a pattern?) and that we weren't going to nurse in the big bed any more. We could get up in the morning and nurse on the couch, but no more nursing in bed. Again, this was repeated through the day. That night, I put on clothes that would be really hard to nurse in, just to guard against any potential moments of weakness. Again, I prepared myself and my partner for a series of nights of not much sleep. Again, to my surprise, not so. She did ask to nurse and she did cry, but only for about 30 seconds. She did this a few more times that night and for the few next nights. When she cried, I offered water and hugs and kisses and explained that we don't nurse in the big bed any more, but that I still love her and we can cuddle. She adjusted pretty quickly, and after about a week or so, she did start sleeping in longer stretches through the night, as did I.
She is not weaning herself either, but I am nudging her along. I'm not ready to completely wean, but I am definitely ready to limit nursing sessions. We were recently down to three a day: one in the morning when we get up, one after nap or when i get home from work, and one as part of our bedtime routine.
I just cut out the morning one about a week ago, with the hope that she might not feel the need to wake me up at 6 every morning. (The jury's still out on that one.) She does still ask to nurse in the morning, and I always say, No, we don't nurse in the morning, but we can cuddle and read. We have been starting each day with a good long cuddle on the couch and sometimes some books. It's pretty sweet.
I think the next one to go will be the bedtime routine one, so that it will be easier for her dad to put her down by himself if and when I ever choose to be out in the evenings.
Good luck to you. I hope you have the experience that I had that it's not as hard as you think it's going to be.
E.M. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
I am a cosleeping, breastfeeding mommy of 4, ages 9.5 to 1.5. All of my kids co-slept and breastfed until at least 21 months, and my youngest is still doing so. They all weaned on their own between 21-31 months, which was okay with me, and the last to go was the night weaning because of the cosleeping. Although I don't have advice to offer, I wanted to show you my support in your decision to both breastfeed and cosleep with your toddler. I know many other moms like me and you - you are not alone. As for the weaning, you must do what is right for you and your family. Good luck!
M.B. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Yes, there are plenty of co-sleeping moms and I don't understand why this has become such an underground issue. It is crazy. I never thought I would be a co-sleeper mom but I was on two separate periods in my son's life. When he was first nursing, I would put him to sleep in the crib, he would wake up about 12 Midnight and I would nurse him back to sleep on a pillow on my tummy and go back to sleep. He would sleep through the night until 6am. During the day he would sleep in his crib or on a mattress on the floor next to me if I was downstairs watching TV or cleaning etc. This happened until about 2, then I slowly transitioned him to his mattress on the floor next to me in our bedroom. Then my significant other and I parted when he was 6 and he was very frightened all the time and he slept with me for about 1 year and a half. (He did not ask for the breakup and I think he needed to feel safe and comfortable and to make sure that Mommy wasn't going to leave him too.) Eventually we fixed up his room and he started sleeping in his own room and coming in to my room at about 3am. Then he wouldn't come in until 5am until eventually he slept in his room all night. Every child is different. You do need to try to eventually have a plan to get them to be independent and sleep in their own room but try different things and they will pretty much do it in their own time, or maybe it will be your own time-smile!Take care
R.P. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
I see you have a lot of advice already, but don't have time to read them all so I may be repeating others'.
I nursed my first until 21 months, only stopping because it was too painful (I was 3 mo. pregnant with #2 and the hormones made it more than I could stand). While I never co-slept with either, I am going to nurse my second (he just turned 1 on Mother's Day) until he's about 2. We'll see when it feels right to wean, but for now we both love the nurturing and health benefits. Anyway, as for the sleeping, I read a wonderful book, "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley. The book is broken down into different sections based on age and sleeping arrangements. You will find your situation in there. I read parts of co-sleeping even though I wasn't doing it. It's a fast read and well worth your time and money. It has helped me so much to lovingly and gently encourage my babies to sleep through the night and to help them realize that nursing or falling asleep with my nipple in their mouths is not the only way they can sleep.
Good luck--it really sounds like your doing great. She's just a babe really in the grand whole of life. It's wonderful you're so nurturing to her.
J.P. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
H., I just want to prepare you for the people that are going to say you've done something wrong by soothing your daughter to sleep because trust me, there are some strong opinions on this subject. All you've done is invested a little extra time and (less sleep) into a healthy child who has benefitted immensely from your sacrifice. I recommend reading books by Dr. Sears, who is a huge proponent of co-sleeping and has info on weaning as well.
Some children don't sleep through the night until 2 or 3 no matter how many mothers will tell you that their babies did so at 6 mos or whatever. And lots of mothers choose to nurse their children til 2 or older.
You're doing everything right.
R.M. answers from Sacramento on May 14, 2009
I only skimmed the other responses so I don't know exactly what everyone else said. If you want to continue nursing and co-sleeping, that is wonderful. However, it's pretty clear from your posting that you are ready to stop, it is exhaustung, and starting to affect your marriage--none of which is going to positively affect your child. If you want to stop don't let anyone make you feel bad about it, including your child. She is old endough to start hearing the word NO and have some limits set. If you are tired and unhappy, that is not going to help her. Be consistent and firm, but empathetic. Give extra cuddles during the day. It will be hard, you will feel badly, you will be more tired at first, but it will pass and get better. She will be just fine and will not end up hating you. In fact she may become more confident in her ability to sooth herself, which is a helpful skill to have in life. I went through this with my daughter, also a September baby. Whatever message you give her about why she needs to be in her own bed, or needs to only have a cup or bottle, be calm and consisitent. Good Luck!
R.M. answers from Bakersfield on May 16, 2009
Don't feel bad I co-slept and breast fed all of my kids. I'm currently doing it with my 18 month old. I nurse at night only and it puts her to sleep. She doesn't like to lay down so I almost have to rock and nurse her in the recliner or make her lay down in bed and turn off all lights to get her to sleep. I nursed my older two who are now 12 and 8 until they were 2 1/2. I plan on nursing my last one until then too. I just stop them cold turkey and they don't like it, but they get over it and cry for the first week or so. It will get better. Good luck!
J.R. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
All of my kids slept with us. My youngest is 20 months too. He sleeps with us. I recently made the crib we have never used into a day bed and put it right next to our bed. That way there is a little bit more room for us. My two older ones are in their own room. I didn't have a problem transitioning them. They were moved when they were 3. As for breast feeding at night. I still let the little one do so. I want to breastfeed for as long as I can. I didn't get to do that with my first two. I had to wean them at 18 months because I was pregnant and I couldn't handle the pain anymore. I would give them a sippy cup filled with water and and cuddle with them so they still have that comfort of you being close.
J.H. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
I was the same as you! Co-sleeping, still nursing till 23 mths. Once I reached the point you are now at I told my son (for a few weeks) Soon you will be a big boy and no longer nurse. Once she hears you telling her every night for a few weeks, and counting down till she is a big girl she will be expecting it. Every night when we would nurse I would tell him. Soon you will be big, then no more boobie. Soon you will be older and you wont nurse mommy anymore. Ect ect, over and over every night. I got him cool crib sheets (Cars the movie was his thing for my daughter it was Dora) put them on and showed him "look your a big boy now! You have big boy sheets, and tonight you will drink your sippy of milk and go to bed after with no nursing from mommy! I'm so proud of you!" Then do the night time routine (for us bath, PJ's, read two-four books while drinking milk, brush teeth, hugs and night nights all around -mommy-sister-daddy, then into crib with a sippy of water) and tell her again as you put her down "you are such a big girl I am so proud of you, good big girl!" lot of praise so she doesn't feel punished or abandoned. My son did cry the first night, but only for 10 min. Put on your i pod it is hard to hear (I know you didn't want to let her cry, but just give it a chance!) after only a few nights of you being consistent and you will ALL sleep so much better! I was pleased at how fast he was ok with the whole thing, 3 nights in a row, 10-15 min of crying, now he is so good at bed time. It will be really hard to hear her cry, but the cry is her learning to fall asleep, she has to learn. It is a cry meaning I wish I was asleep, not OMG it's unbelievable that my mom would do this to me! Once she learns to fall asleep she will know how to fall asleep again when she wakes in the night. You are her sleep prop right now, she needs to be independent and learn to be her own prop. Read Happiest kid on the block. And Sleep seance.
J.D. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
H.! I am in exactlythe same position and feel the same way! I will be watching to see ifyouget any good answers! My daughter was born in August 2007. She is an extremely happy baby, however, she still breastfeeds to sleep and wakes up in the night and is in our bed for the same reasons you said!!!!!
I have been looking all over for how to wean a toddler. If youfind out... let me know!
IN the meantime, it is nice to know I am not the only one! You are not alone!
S.B. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
H.!! hrjhkra hgtreh uitaejhbd!!!
DON'T apologize for co-sleeping and breastfeeding!!!!
It makes me so sad to think any mother would feel like she needs to apologize for doing those things. Darn backwards society.
There is ABSOLUTELY nothing wrong with using breastfeeding to soothe your child to sleep. What better and peaceful perfect place for her to drift off than in your arms while drinking warm milk? You aren't spoiling her. I promise.
I am not currently breastfeeding, but I breastfed my daughter till she was 2.5. She will be 3 in August. I thought she would never wean, but she did, and it happened so suddenly. She went from Bf-ing once at nap and once before bed to nothing in less than a week. We had a good long run, but it still brings a little tear to my eye to know that I will never breastfeed her again, and that stage of our relationship is in the past.
She might be teething molars, she might be experiencing some seperation anxiety,she might be distracted during the day and making up for lost feedings during the night, (sounds like it) she might just be super excited about having you right there all night long. (That won't last too long) To cut back on the all night buffet, try offering to nurse several times during the day. She might be so busy playing that she forgets to nurse and will most likely gladly take you up on the offer.
If you are a failure then so am I! I Co-sleep with my babe too. I have a bedtime routine with her. I give her a bath, read her a book, brush teeth, and then lay down with her until she falls asleep. Even though we no longer nurse, we cuddle up and she twirls handfuls of my hair until she drifts asleep.
When we did nurse, I would lay her down on her side tummy facing mine and nurse laying down. When she passed out I would pop my boob out and sneak away. It took a bit to get the hang of but it worked great for us. Then I just get back up and do whatever I want to do around the house. Sometimes she will wake up, and I will go back in there and lay with her again.
These times pass so fast.
You are her universe, and she can't get enough of you. I know it is tiring and frustrating at times, but before you know it, it will be gone. Cherish these quiet moments (and not so quiet ones) soon they will be teenagers and hate us.
L.M. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
I know exactly how you feel. I had no intentions of co-sleeping or nursing past 12 months!
1) We started co-sleeping after a family vacation, when the only sleeping option was to put our 7-month-old daughter between us in the bed. When we got back home, she would not sleep in the actual co-sleeper that she had been sleeping in (the kind that attaches next to your bed).
Up until she was 2 1/2, I would put her in our bed and she would nurse and fall asleep. She'd go down at around 8 or 9:00, then my hubby and I would have a few hours together until we were ready to go to sleep.
However, that changed when she turned 3 and she decided she wanted to stay awake with us. She's now almost 4 years old and we all go to bed at the same time (between 10-11 p.m.). She wakes up by 9 a.m. and takes a nap at preschool.
2) As for the weaning, I also believed that she would self wean. But I had to nudge her along. She used it to fall asleep at night and sometimes if she woke up, nursing for a few minutes would put her back to sleep. I was too exhausted to let her cry it out.
Everyone made fun of me! I tried to wean when she turned 3, but it finally worked when she was 3 1/2. She knew that I was feeling sick (morning sickness with my second child) and I explained that the baby needed the milk because that's all the food babies eat. We practiced not having any before bedtime; instead, we would cuddle. She went 5 weeknights straight without it, then on the weekend, she wanted it again. I figured it is hard to go cold turkey, so I gave it to her. By the next week, she had stopped completely. What a relief!
She still co-sleeps with us, but has not regressed to wanting to nurse. I have to admit that I love co-sleeping. I never thought I would be "that" mom. But we are so close, we cuddle as a family. My toddler is extremely bright, healthy, secure, and well-adjusted. She can self-soothe (which everyone said she would never do since I was still co-sleeping/nursing).
Good luck to you! Trust your instincts, and don't feel bullied by other friends or relatives.
N.J. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Dear H. I just want to commend you for being so responsive to your little ones needs. I am sure you are making her a more secure and happy little girl. Don't worry. All too soon (it will seem at the time) she will be looking for more independence and you will be the one wanting to hold her closer while she wriggles away to explore the world.
I am a 77 year old mother of five. Our children used to run to our room after bad dreams, wet beds, anxiety or whatever. We just pulled them close and everyone went back to sleep although they did start out in their own beds..Finally we were all sleeping through the nights with no little ones in our bed. It will happen to you. I have no advise. Just commendations to you!!
M.S. answers from San Francisco on May 15, 2009
Just writing to let you know that you are not alone. We have a big family bed these days. ( a California King next to a double) My 5 year old sleeps in the double and sometimes invites his dad to sleep next to him while the 2 1/2 year old and 2 month sleep with me in the King. When we lived in California we met a few other families that also coslept so I knew I wasn't alone but for the last 2 1/2 years we have been living in Tokyo where cosleeping or sleeping in a shared bedroom are the norm and my Japanese friends are so delighted to find out that we are culturally alike as parents that way.
My husband and I take turns reading stories at nighttime and putting the kids asleep and usually one of us also falls asleep too. However there was a long period of time when my 2 1/2 year preferred hanging out with dad while he watched t.v. or was on the computer and she would just fall asleep on his lap. My husband was thrilled as it was the only time he got to hang out with her and enjoyed bonding with her that way.
My 5 year old nursed until he was 22 months and it sort of ended on a bad note. He had been vomiting for 36 hours with the stomach flu. Every time he nursed he threw up right away versus having water which he kept down for 1/2 hour or more so we suggested to him that he not have any more mommy milk and he agreed and that was the end of that. My 2/12 year old and my newborn are currently tandom nursing which I hadn't really planned but turned out to be a blessing since the newborn spent a week in the hospital shortly after she was born and if the 2 1/2 year old hadn't been nursing I would have had a tough time nursing the newborn. Sometimes my 2 1/2 year old likes to nurse a lot and sometimes she doesn't but I know that she won't do it forever. Sometimes I count to 10 and say you can have some later and she pops right off. I am not rushing things it will end in time and then it's over.
Anyway, my husband and I decided with our first that parenting didn't stop at bedtime and we would be there for them at night time as well. We also have been less interested in whether our kids can sleep alone by themselves but instead are more interested in how independent they can be when awake. Nursing, cosleeping, diapers and so many other things aren't forever. Enjoy your time with her and make your family life your own.
K.G. answers from San Francisco on May 15, 2009
Thanks for your question. I have at times felt like the only one and that many people believe it is the "wrong" way to raise a child. I have a 4 3/4 and 2 3/4 year old daughters. We all co-sleep and have from the beginning, never using a crib. 2 3/4 year old still nursing to sleep about 70% of the time, but slowing stopping.
First, to fall asleep, we decided to get a full size bed for our older daughter and I would lay down with her, sometimes nurse, to sleep, then get up when she was asleep (now they both sleep there together), or put her to sleep in our bed. I stopped night nursing at about 2 years old. We talked about it a lot during the day, ie "night time is for sleeping, we are not nursing during the night anymore." Then at night when she woke to nurse I would say, "it is sleep time" and soothe her by rocking and sushing. It will take time, maybe a week or two of consistently not giving night nursing, but she will eventually stop asking and sleep. Both girls usually get up now, out of their bed in their room, and come in to our room at around 2 or 4 am. Sounds like she is over the crib?
Weaning is gradual, the same way you do night time. The key is not to give in. If you make the decision it is not working for you anymore,bite the bullet, set limits with it and BE CONSISTENT! It is hard, but it will not last forever. Also, we let go of the nap around 2 years and bedtime is now 6:30 and a piece of cake! Both are asleep in less than 10 minutes with no hassle!
Good luck, contact me if you need some support!
S.M. answers from Stockton on May 14, 2009
You are certainly not the only mom out there with this issue. You must know that and as long as you have a happy baby who is getting lots of love you are most certainly not a failure. And remember this will not last forever.
Although I am not breast feeding, I am co-sleeping with my 27 month old and I JUST weaned her from her "milky" cup. She would wake up all night wanting to nurse on her sippy cup of milk and if it was anything else she would throw a fit in the middle of the night. So finally I had enough and all day on a Thursday we talked about there being no more milk. We showed her in the fridge that it was gone and when night came she was allowed a sippy cup of water. The first night was tough. But I let her cry in our bed and I rocked her a bit and rubbed her forehead which makes them slippy and in about a 1/2 hour she passed back out. It took me until Sunday night that she finally stopped. 2 weeks later and she is just asking for water. We still dont give her milk during the day, we supplement with other dairy products.
We also bought her a big girl bed (twin size) and have her sleep in there for her naps. Try sleeping in there with her for a few nights and eventually start moving out of the room. You just have to be consistant and willing to deal with the crying for a few days. They dont need to cry it out. You can comfort them with words or rocking or rubbing their forehead to help them know they are loved and you are still there. It wont take long though before they adjust to the new program. Good Luck!
J.C. answers from San Francisco on May 14, 2009
Congratulations on breastfeeding your baby.
I also have a daughter born in Sept 07. She has been weaned for about 2 months now. We decided to wean her at 18 months. That night I nursed her to sleep and then throughout the night when she woke up I just comforted her as best as possible and offered her some water instead. She has not nursed since. She did ask for it for about a week but I just kept telling her that "boo boo" went bye bye and she was a big girl now. After about a week she turned around one day and told me "bye bye boo boo" and has only asked for it a couple times since when she hasn't been feeling well.
As for sleep, she now sleeps much better. I was literally up with her every 2 hours when we were still nursing. Now she sleeps almost through the night. Some nights she does sleep through but most mornings after my hubby goes to work she ends up in bed with me for another hour or so of sleep. She also shares a room with her sister (born Aug 08) so I tend not to let her cry it out, esp in the middle of the night. We are now just starting to try to get her to go to sleep on her own at night (I have to rock her to sleep).
Good luck with the weaning and sleeping in her own bed! Sending you good vibes and lots of hugs!!