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Need Help!!!!17 Month Old Who Doesnt Sleep All Night and Still Breast Feeding

My 17 month old son still does not sleep all night through. He still wakes up every 2 hours and he wants to nurse. Ive tried soothing him back to sleep just doesnt work. I need some help on how to get him to stop nursing and to sleep all night.Ive tried feeding him food to get him full to see if that is the problem.No. And he doesnt like cows milk. Thanks for listening....1 very tired mom..

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Hi C.,
I do not know if you receive the messages when people post their questions as well or if you just read them when you can, but last week I posted almost this same problem. The difference was mine is 19 months and from a bottle.

here is what my help request said just incase : Hi, I have two sons and read everything possible to help with different aspects of my children and I thought I would just ask other mothers this time and see if that helps. My 19 month old drinks more a night then my 13 week old. He barely eats during the day no matter what I try and feed him so I thought he was trying to fill his stomach with liquids to fill him up so he would feel full, but the Dr. said that it was not him trying to compensate for food but a "comfort" instead. He usually goes to bed around 7-7:30 and he drinks 2 bottles 8 oz each of milk to go to sleep, then every few hours he wakes up in the middle of the night and asks for another bottle 8 oz (6 oz of water, 2 oz of juice) then will finish that bottle and go back to sleep. Since I have a 13 week old it is hard to manage this because I am sleeping with him in a queen size bed (we put on the floor so he cant fall out of it) so when he wakes up I can quickly give him a bottle to go back to sleep before he wakes up the baby or gets so awake himself that he does not want to go back to sleep. Because he drinks so much you can image I have to change his diaper about 5 or so times a night, which also wakes him up when he is wet and makes him want another bottle. Help! any suggestions, ideas, what should I do to help him get off the bottles and sleep through the night. We have had sleep issues since day one of his life so this has been a very very long ongoing issue and very hard to deal with. I also want to change anything I need to do make sure my second son does not pick up on the bad habits I am doing for my first son.

A little about me:

A stay at home mother of two boys, 19 months and 13 weeks. Married 2 years. Love being a wife and mother!

I only breast fed for 2 weeks, but I am assuming it is the same as far as the need to feed every few hours in the middle of the night :) I got allot of responses, I can copy and send them if you like but pretty much what they said was "stop feeding him at night" mine was a little worse cause I was feeding him milk and watered down juice. You at least are feeding him good breast milk, so I'm sure that helps that aspect.

but as far as the waking up every few hours to feed him I completely understood.

well I took the plunge and just jumped right in and stopped the bottle all together. My first day was this last friday and I can tell you day 3 was yesterday and I am very very happy with the results.

Does you son eat good during the day? Have you tried soy milk instead of regular cows milk? maybe he would like the taste of that instead of regular milk cause its more like breast milk (I think) Because that was a big issue with me. My son did not eat allot, and once I stopped the bottle, on friday, he ate his first 3 meals in one day! It was amazing. He drank from a sippy cup his drinks during the day with his meals, and when it came to nap time when he usually drank 2 bottles then, I had to lay with him and litterly hold him and sing to him and comfort him while he screamed for 30 minutes, then fell asleep. Then during the night, the big test each day got easier. He cried for 15 min, then woke up his normal every few hours to get a bottle and I had to hold him again and let him cry for a few minutes then back to sleep he went. I expected a month of complete torture and sleepless nights again for all of us, but I was wrong.

wow, and last night was the best night ever. He went to bed at 8:00 and woke up at 2:00am and called my name, I told him go back to sleep and he rolled over till 7:00 this am. No middle of the night feeding, crying, nothing, that was amazing! So we might be on a roll! I hope :)

so it was very much worth a few days of being upset and working through it and hopefully by the end of the week we will be on a good routine and he can sleep through the whole night and I can concentrate on my new little one and get him into a good routine as well :)

I hope that helped. If you wanna chat some more about it send me a message. I am no expert but since I am going through the exact same thing maybe I can help and give some support while you go through it.

Hope all goes well.


1 mom found this helpful

Hi C.:

My son is now 7 years old. This may not be your style, but I kept him in my bed until he was weaned (at 3 yrs 3 mos). Really, it was soooo easy. I got plenty of sleep and was never tired because there was little to do when he needed to nurse - just line him up and off to sleep again!

Good Luck!

Have you read the book "On Becoming Babywise"? It is the system we used for both our 5 year old and my 6 week old sons. It works amazingly well. It deals with feeding times. I don't know if your son is eating table food, so that might make it hard to use, but it is worth a try. Also, you just might have to start offering water in lieu of milk at night. I think the general idea is that the kids don't prefer it to milk and eventually they stop asking for food in teh middle of the night. Worked with my son when we needed to drop his night feedings.

Good for you for nursing!
I am a breastfeeding mama as well and so proud of it!!
It's the BEST, both for YOU and your child!!
The LLL is an awesome reference and they have great books on nursing at all stages. One is about nursing a toddler.
Keep up the great work!
And go get a massage. You deserve it!
The only other thing i would say real quick is to make sure you nap during the day when he naps. That can really help the sanity!
Have a great day!
(Our episode of Bringing Home Baby aired yesterday....it'll be on again at 10am on the 25th!)

I am also nursing my 10 month old. She nurses 4 times a day between meals. At 4 1/2 months my husband & I decided she needed to learn how she soothe herself & sleep through the night (really 8 hrs in a row at that age). So when she would wake up crying for milk (or more accurately my boob to soothe herself) we had to take the stimulus out of the equation (my milk). That meant my incredibly supportive husband would get up and soothe her. Let me mention this was only after we would let her cry for 10-20 minutes & if her cries were escalating. It took us about 1 1/2 weeks until she got it & for the most part it has been smooth sailing ever since. She now sleeps for 10hrs straight, wakes up about 6am to nurse & is back asleep for 1-2hrs.

Your son should really be sleeping through the night without a bottle of anything. Giving children bottles in bed has been proven to cause tooth decay in babies as young as 6 months. I know it's going to be really hard but you have to be strong & know that it is what's best for YOU & your child. Your son will get a better quality of sleep & be better prepared to learn & grow.

I wish you the best for you & your family.

Hi Candace,

Myt wife and I have been going through similar issues with our 5 month old. And if you want to research some of the answers I got you may want to look under sleep issues.

We are currently using the Sleepy Planet method with mixed results. The nights are going smoothly and we were able to wean our daughter off the breast at night except for a 10pm "dream feed" since she is still too small to go without food at night entirely.

The problem with Sleepy Planet ios that it is hard. It really requires that you be extremely consistant with your baby. Plus, if she is hooked on the breast like our's was then you'll need your husband to check in on the baby and reassure her everything is alright. They have a CD and a book (Sleep Easy solution) I suggest you listen to the CD (or go to the website) to see if it is for you. But definately buy the book and read it before attempting to try it.

Another book and method is Sleep right sleep tight by Kim West.

I hope this helps

You are a blessed woman, C.! I know it is difficult while you are in the midst of this.
Please allow me to add my 'two-cents': Your children will be grown before you realize it! ENJOY this time that you have with them. Sleep-deprivation does not last forever, and you WILL get through this. I miss the time I spent with my children when they were small; the cuddles, their warm breath on my shoulder, the feel of their soft, chubby fingers grasping mine. Treasure the blessings you have been given.

I recommend you send your husband in when he wakes up. There is no breast milk, but he still gets soothed (patting, rocking, but in the dark with NO talking). We did this with my daughter at almost 12mo and she was sleeping through the night in 3 days and has been ever since. I still breast fed until a month later during the day, but she did not wake at night. There is no need for a baby, breast or bottle fed, to wake up for feeding after about 4mo (expecting sleep for 5-6hr) or 9mo (expecting sleep for 8-12 hr). Most consider "sleeping through the night" to be over 8 hr, but for a lot of babies under 9mo it is really only about 5-6. By the way, sending my husband in was so easy, we will do it by 9mo with the next baby. Hope you get some sleep! Oh, another big point is to make sure your son has a way to soothe himself - a special blanket, stuffed animal, etc - and that he goes to bed for naps and at night drowsy but awake and gets himself to sleep without nursing. If you still nurse him to sleep, it will be much harder to get him to sleep through the night. For anyone else reading this, I recommend stopping nursing at nap/bed time by about 6mo and using stories, song, etc as the routine to go to sleep.

Good for you for nursing your toddler! I am also a nursing mom of an 18 month old (day and at night). I have come to realize that 'sleeping throught the night' is an unrealistic expectation. My bottle fed older daughter didn't sleep all the way through the night until she was 3! LOL! Do adults sleep through the night? NO! Why should we expect small children to? :)

Nursing is a whole different ball game than bottle feeding at night. Nursing babies do wake up more at night- and its okay to meet those needs. Are you nursing during the day much? You could try to nurse him more during the day- toddlers are much more busy during the day and make up for their milk and physical connection at night. My suggestion is to keep meeting your child's needs as much as you can. This is a phase and it will pass. Are you co-sleeping? You will get MUCH more rest if you sleep together and nurse laying down, and your child may sleep longer knowing you are right there next to him. If you are already doing that and you are still not getting enough rest you may need to put down some nursing boundries- something you can do without weaning. Can you get to your local LLL? Meeting with other moms who are nursing older babies will help you greatly! Check out this website to find a meeting in your area. http://www.llli.org//Web/California.html

Send me a message if you want to talk more!

I had the same problem...but it went on until he was 2! If your son understands what a boo boo (owie, etc.) is, then try this...put a Band-Aid/bandage over the area and tell him you have a boo boo. My son had just gotten his shots the day before, so the pain he felt was still in his mind and he was able to relate to it...he did fuss a bit the 1st day or two, but it wasn't nearly as bad as I had imagined...he'd check off and on during the day and after a week or so he lost interest (but be aware he may want to check up to a month). Hope this helps...if not I do have another "trick" up my sleeve. Good luck!

Hi, I breastfed too, and had the same thing happen with both my children. My baby now, who is 1 still gets up twice a night sometimes, and drinks full bottles. Is your son taking in enough during the day.... fluids & solids? Is his growth, weight gain, and development on par? or lagging? Is he in the "normal" percentiles? What I can say is, each child is different... .with breastfeeding, they get hungry more often. But it's great you are breastfeeding. Keep it up as long as you can. Since he does not like cows milk.... have you spoken to the Pediatrician about it? Cows milk is important for it's calcium etc., but ALSO they need the milk fat from it for brain growth. Up through 2 years old is when they need WHOLE milk. I have the same problem with my son.... so from suggestions here, I've been giving him his formula (which he now drinks) and I mix it with "Pediasure" (its a vitamin fortified drink for children like a meal replacement)....OR, I mix his formula with some whole milk....and now he is getting used to the taste of milk and will drink it. Maybe try that to transition him to milk. My son, since 1 year old, is more finicky with what he eats, so this is the option I've taken. ALSO.... sometimes, if the baby is not getting enough intake with breastfeeding... you may have to "supplement" with formula etc. My son eats WAY more than my daughter did, and I've had to supplement his breastfeeding with formula because he was just such a BIG drinker and I couldn't keep up. Each child is different. There is no standard as to when they will start sleeping through the night. Maybe at night, since he wakes up more, give him a bottle of formula...it digests slower than breastmilk. When my son doesn't drink a full bottle before bed...then that is when he wakes up during the night, hungry. Once he has a full bottle, he goes back to sleep and that's it for the night. ALSO, at this age, they have dreams/nightmares too..... so this also gets them awake at night... or teething, or growth spurts. For my daughter... she never slept through the night until about 2 years old... she breastfed exclusively... and it was just her personality..... she was very "alert" even when sleeping and would dream a lot and was more clingy. She eventually "weaned" herself from breastfeeding on her own. Then she slept through the night from that point, to my relief. Each child is different. If there are NO other problems with him, medically, developmentally, emotionally, growth wise etc., then at least you can rule out those issues. BUT, we have friends who also have this problem with their baby/children.... and in their cases, the baby is just not a good feeder (with solids or nursing)...and so they have had to meet with a lactation consultant and remedy it. A baby sometimes just does not suckle well... and needs help. Then, when their intake improves, the baby has slept better and had better growth and weight gain and development. There are a lot of reasons. I know it's frustrating. But what I"ve seen in my own children, and other's, is each child is different... with different temperaments. My first child was just clingier... but my second baby is more independent and much easier as far a sleeping than my first one was. I did the same thing with both, but their personalities are just different, and their feeding habits are different too. With my 2nd child, he likes to have his stuffed cow to sleep with, it soothes him, and he uses at pacifier at night. It's a "transition object" which really helps him, and I give him a sippy cup of water which he can self feed himself in his crib. Try different things. Each child will be different. Well, these are just my experiences... I know it's tiring. Good luck and take care....

The problem is, here, that he has a habit of doing this. It has nothing to do with the nutrition he requires. There are several methods of getting him to figure out another way to soothe himself to sleep. The problem is, he won't be happy about any of them and he will probably cry his head off, which is a totally dreadful thing for any parent to witness. Try reading some of the books available and YOU must be certain in your heart of hearts that it is what you want to do. In those wee hours, your resolve will crack, so make sure that you can absolutely certainly do it with consistency. Otherwise, it will fail miserably and you will doom yourself to an even worse fate. You and hubby need to be on the same page, as well, and you will need to hold each other back from opening that little bedroom door and rushing to his aid. The good news is, it will probably only be horrible for two or three nights. GOOD LUCK!!! YOU CAN DO IT!!

I say this with mommy love - STOP! You're killing yourself. When my daughter was a baby - about 4 1/2 months, I stopped feeding her in the night and I let her cry to sleep. It worked out perfect. She only cried a little. My advice would be tonight, just do not nurse him. Hold him for one minute, even if he is screaming, and then put him down. Maybe rub his tummy or back for a minute or two, but don't pick him back up. Then leave the room. and let him fuss back to sleep. Keep doing this. Turn off the baby monitor and just let him sleep. Get ear plugs if you have to. It sounds cruel but it is not. You are just setting yourself up for continued sleeping disaster! He definately should not be eating in the night. Maybe one bottle before bed, and that is it! I would stop nursing completely and get him on cows milk. It took my daughter a little to like that also, but I just took away the formula, and gave her straight cow's milk and soon after she liked it!

Keep me posted on what happens!


rest as much as you can when you other son goes away think that this time will be only short and benefits of breast milk ar wonderful no matter a what age keep your baby healthy and intellegent, see if you can nurse longer eacha time the heavy milk comes after the watery milk . have your baby in your bed maybe he will sleep better by you and enjoy this time will pass they grow so fast.

CONGRATULATIONS FOR NURSING SO LONG! I too am still feeding my 21 month old. But I had to stop the midnight feeds at about 14 months, because I was NEVER getting enough sleep. I also believed my son wasn't getting the sleep he needed, too. It took us a few days. Just about 3-4 for him to get used to the idea and occassionally would still wake up, but I would go into his room and not take him out of his crib, but tell him everything was ok. I may have had to do this a number of times a night, but he got the idea and now sleeps 8+ hours straight. I am glad I did it. I didn't realize how much waking up in the night affects your whole day. I also read and found out myself, that if you think they need the nutrional value from the milk, if you take away the night feeds they will make up for it in the day. My son did and became a much better eater, too. And remember a full tummy of milk and solids will keep him asleep longer at night. Good Luck, and keep on doing what works for both of you!


When we had a similiar situation, my husband would walk around with our son until he went back to sleep. Sometimes that didn't work, so we would give him a little water in a bottle (assuming he was thirsty). He really didn't like it at first, but after about a week he finally understood that I wasn't an all-night food service! It's definitely hard to hear them cry, but well worth it in the end for you and him.

Good luck!

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