R.H. asks from Rathdrum, ID on May 10, 2007
In What Order Do I Wean?
My son is 9 months old. I nurse him and he sleeps with me part of the night. I'm just wondering in what order is best to wean him. Bed then Breast...OR...Breast then Bed? Any suggestions or helpful advice? I do plan to nurse him until at least a year old.
J.M. answers from Portland on May 12, 2007
One thing I learned personally and read is that babies can smell you, and your breast. If you try to wean him from nursing while he is laying right next to it...well it would be very hard. I actually took several months in moving my son to his own room and then he gave up that night feeding all on his own. He weaned himself totally shortly after that (at 9 months) which was too soon for me, but oh well. Good luck, Jen
p.s. the no cry sleep solution IS a good book for suggestions.
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M.Y. answers from Spokane on May 12, 2007
Hi R., we had a very similar situation to you! I'm not positive what WOULD be best, but I can tell you what we did and recommend a good book, "The No Cry Sleep Solution" by Elizabeth Pantley (there's one for toddlers and one for those under age 1) with a couple great section on night weaning, getting your child into their own bed, etc.
After my son's 1st birthday it was pretty easy to start gradually dropping feedings, as he had started walking and wasn't as interested in sitting at the breast anymore! I kept his two feedings at bedtime and naptime--it was such an easy way to get him to sleep. We moved him to his own room (he'd been cosleeping part of the night and in his crib in our room the other part) when he was 17 mo old AFTER I had weaned him from night feedings...and it worked great. He was still waking up once a night while sleeping with us, and has been sleeping through the night ever since!
Then I actually got lucky (sorta) in that I'm pregnant and I guess my milk changed and my son just self weaned from falling asleep at the breast. But Elizabeth Pantley has tons of good suggestions for transitioning your child to a new bedtime routine; I would highly recommend her book.
Good luck and enjoy the breastfeeding! I wasn't quite ready for my son to be completely weaned and miss it!
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D.D. answers from Seattle on May 12, 2007
When I could, I weaned my kids from BED as soon as possible. It's just difficult to sleep properly with a child in your bed. In the Seattle Times there was an article a while ago that explained that brain development is enhanced through breast feeding up to 2 years old. The transition to his bed is something that should be done when YOU're comfortable, not necessarily what every one else is doing. However, I breastfed 1.5 years with one daughter - I only quit because I was getting too tired, and 3 years with the other one. That's much too long for me to share my bed!
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J.K. answers from Seattle on May 13, 2007
I nursed my son until he was 15 months old and found that the morning and evening nursing sessions were the most difficult to wean from. I found that my son just did not like the change of routine when it was in the same environment. (suddenly a sippy cup in bed instead of nursing with mommy in bed?????) I found that we needed to change our routine for him to accept a sippy cup at those times. In other words, when it's time to wean from nursing, just get up out of bed and offer a sippy cup in a comfortable place such as sitting with you in a glider or on the couch. Also, don't feel that twelve months is the magical age to wean! Many babies aren't ready to wean for another couple of months and there's no need to cause undue stress for your family by weaning too early. Hope this has helped. You can always find more helpful info on weaning at http://www.lalecheleague.org.
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K.Z. answers from Portland on May 13, 2007
Do whatever works for your baby and you. Some people think you need to get the kid out of your bed to night wean and that is not necessarily the case. There are plenty of ways to night wean and have the child continue to sleep with you. It's up to you what works and what you are willing to do and put up with.
Nurse him to sleep then when he wakes in the middle of the night just rub his back and shush and see if he'll go back down. Then nurse in the morning as much as he wants. Or you can wait until he is old enough to understand that once everyone is sleeping, he can only nurse again when the sun is up. Personally, I just waited it out and eventually my son just stopped nursing at night on his own and slept through the night. The No Cry Sleep Solution book has lots of ideas for how to do this gently.
I don't buy that night nursing causes cavities. We brush his teeth every night and most mornings too (he does and we "help" at the end) and he has always nursed at night and his teeth are fine. I do know other moms whose children had early cavities and they stopped nursing at night, did more brushing, and it didn't matter. I think it depends on the health of the teeth which is unfortunatly genetic.
If you already know you want to nurse at least 12 mos, you can do that either way. Nurse on demand all day and night, or nurse on demand during the day and not at all at night or limit night nursing to when he is teething, sick, or really seems to need it.
Also some kids do fine with mom deciding when to wean and others do better to wean on their own. They seem to need it longer and their attitude is better if they get to decide when they are done. My best friend and I were both nursing our firstborn boys (born 5 days apart) and we had different attitudes. She wanted to wean at a year while I was fine with letting my son choose when he was done. Her son did NOT do well with her attempts at weaning. As she tried to eliminate feedings, he retaliated with tantrums and hitting and refusing to sleep until he got it. There were a lot of struggles going on! When she realized his will was strong, she went back to nursing on demand which meant more feeings at first until he knew he could get it when he needed it. Then in a short while HE dropped a feeding during the day and eventually night weaned himself. She had to give up trying to control everything, which is a good lesson moms have to learn! (Especially if you want 3 or 4 kids!) He night weaned around 18 mos, nursed until he was 2, and started sleeping in his own room at 2 1/2. He is still a strong willed almost 3yr old!
On the other hand, I am still nursing my son who is almost 3 because he really seems to need it. He night weaned himself at 22 mos and still sleeps with us. We've had a toddler bed in our room since he was 15 mos when we thought he might sleep in it. I had to let him choose to sleep there on his own, he is very strong willed (like my friend's son). If I put him there for a nap (like when he falls aslep in the car and I move him there), he wakes up really mad! But if I put cool animals and books over there, he might sit there and read his books and decide it's OK to sleep there. He knows he can join me if he needs to. He slept there for a whole month, going over there on his own! But for some reason is back in our bed. But we are having other issues too (he wakes up screaming a lot) and I want to comfort him through that until we figure out what is causing that.
I think it's important to keep your bed open for a child to join you for sleep if he needs to. Sometimes they transition to their own beds easily if they know your bed is available when they really need the comfort. If they think it's off limits like you are banishing them to their own room and are not allowed to come back, they might fight it or be scared. You never know how things effect little brains. But it's also good to set boudaries like no nursing unless the sun is up. Or if you don't sleep well with a kid in your bed and you need your rest because you work, maybe have a matress on the floor and let them sleep there until the sun is up, then they can join you in bed for a bit. Just don't make sleep a scary thing they will dread.
Also the World Health Organization recommends nursing for at least 2 years. The benefits of nursing do not change at 12 mos so there is no reason to automatically wean then. The statistics are rising! More women are nursing longer and letting their children wean naturally. You can join the movement and be 1 of millions of women nursing toddlers!
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N.D. answers from Portland on May 12, 2007
with both my daughters, i did bed before breast because putting them to sleep with the breast was so much easier. i had them in twin beds so i fed them in their own bed and they went to sleep. i can't say i was well-rested tho so maybe it's not the way to go. as long as i was breastfeeding them, they always woke up at least once a night but slept through the night when they were weaned.
i also chose bed first because i thought it would be less traumatic for them to move to their own bed if i could breastfeed them there.
L.B. answers from Portland on May 11, 2007
I agree w/ Vanessa. If you have a chair or glider to put in his room and nurse him in there before bed and if he wakes up nurse in his room as well. 2 of my children stoped nurseing on their own at 11 mos just refused me so that made it easier, but if you go past 12 mos no biggie, it is what works for you both.
My 2yo still comes into our room at night, but we make him sleep on the floor w/ a pillow and blanket. Sometimes it is just not worth the loss of sleep to argue about it and we still get our space in the bed, plus w/ a newborn I don't want him to close to her.
I sure do miss those days though of nursing in bed, way more sleep.
V.D. answers from Seattle on May 11, 2007
do you nurse while laying in the bed? if so then it probably would be best to wean bed first, otherwise, he will be expecting breast if he's laying by you and if he doesnt get it, there could be some serious problems. Believe me, if you don't already know, kids have a much stronger will power than most of us adults.