February 28, 2009,
T.G. asks from Greene, RI on February 27, 2009
Night Weaning a 15 Month Old
My son is 15 months old and still nurses about 3-4 times at night! I am desperate for sleep! How can I wean him at night so that we can all get some sleep! Currently he goes to bed at about 7:30 pm and then wakes anywhere from 12-2 and so on until he gets up in the morning at about 6ish (which is new too!)
He sleeps in his own crib and when he wakes I get up nurse him and put him back down...most of the time he falls right back to sleep but sometimes he fusses and then I have to repeat the whole thing again! He does wonderfully at going to bed (goes to bed awake) and at naps (goes to bed awake as well)
We have tried having my hubby go in to soothe him and it works 50% of the time...but he has to get up at 5:30 for work! I am not against Crying it Out but my hubby is! I am physically ill from the lack of sleep, I am cranky and taking it out on my 5 yr old! Please help me before I have a nervous break down!
I am at my wits end...last night he was up 5 times!
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So What Happened?™
Thanks to everyone who responded! After many discussion with my hubby (who doesn't support CIO) we have decided that he will be the one to get up with DS in the middle of the night! We are hoping that eventually he will realize that mommy isn't coming in to feed him so hopefully he will stop waking. So far he is still waking at least 2 times at night but seems to go back to sleep quickly after DH comforts him. Thanks again for all your responses~!
D.N. answers from Hartford on February 28, 2009
J.M. answers from Boston on February 27, 2009
I hope this doesn't sound mean (I was up at 4 with my little one today, so I'm also a bit cranky!) but if your husband is the one against CIO, then at this point he should be the one doing the soothing. Not fair to have you do the waking with him doing the "deciding." Good luck!
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P.N. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
It's really tough being sleep deprived! And yes 15 mos is a long time to be sleep deprived but I think we were designed for that. We evolved to have babies and nurse them day and night, so I think our bodies are somewhat adaptable to the sleep deprivation in the fist couple years of a baby's life. But when it gets to the point that it is impacting your life like this, of course you need to do something about it.
It makes me sad to read all this advice to leave the baby to cry it out. It's no wonder so many older kids have sleep issues. It is not a choice of permanent sleep depravation or CIO. There are gentle ways to get the babies to sleep without waking to nurse. It won't be a one or two night thing, like any habit it will take a bit of time and a lot of consistency.
You could try cold turkey and offering water, with your husband comforting the weekend nights at least. (I wouldn't exchange cows milk for breast milk, then you are just creating another habit with implications for dental health). Of course DS will object strenuously at first, but if you are consistent he will get the message eventually. And if you or your husband are their to comfort him while he is crying, it won't be so traumatizing. To just stop night nursing and leave him alone to cry it out would be very confusing to him. He won't understand why you are suddenly not responding to his needs but he will eventually understand it is futile to ask for your help at night.
I know it seems easy for your DH to say you shouldn't CIO when you are the exhausted one but he is right (and he needs to help you with this!). I like to put myself in my DD's place. How would I feel in her shoes? If my husband ignored me and closed the door leaving me powerless and went back to bed when I was crying, that would just be mean and it would definitely impact the trust I have in him. So I would never do that to my baby.
"No Cry Sleep Solution" by Pantley as another person suggested is a good book. She gives gentle methods for getting them to STTN. I think Dr Jay Gordon also has a helpful book and maybe check his website, I've seen others recommend it. Again it is gentle, no CIO. I'd try that before resorting to CIO.
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D.N. answers from Hartford on February 28, 2009
I modified this technique with my son who sleeps in a crib and it worked after a week or two. Good luck!
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S.K. answers from New London on February 28, 2009
God bless you for doing this as long as you did! You must be a saint.
NO child that age should be waking up that often at night. He should not be nursing overnight. He does not need nutrition when he should be getting the long stretches of sleep he needs for proper growth and brain development.
He should be sleeping 9-11 hours at night- with no waking episodes!
If hubby is against cry it out.... why are you the one getting up with your son???
Make your breasts off limit during sleeping hours and stick to your rule.
It's sleeping time- not eating time. Your son is definitely old enough to understand a simple rule.
"It's sleeping time now"- has always been a mantra for me with my girls. I tell them that- if they need something at night and it completely stopped them from waking me.
15 months is way too old for night time nursing. He needs to learn to get himself back to sleep without assistance.
Good luck with this one!
C.H. answers from Providence on February 28, 2009
I can't really help but I can supply tons of sympathy! I am right there with you! and am also at my wits end! You would think with two older children I would have weaned a bit earilier but it just has happened! My other two where weaned at 14 months and this one we will be lucky if she is weaned by 18 months! Just be patient it will happen. Cry it out ( which I don't like ) but have given it a try, does not work with this one! She will cry for longer then 45 minutes and gets very worked up and doesn't go back to sleep! I am not mentally ready to try the next step but hopefully soon. Try giving a sippy cup of milk at bed time, then brush teeth etc.. And then when he wakes see if he will take a sippy cup. Also, just try reasoning with him a bit- no milk it is bed time lets put our head down and go to sleep- I don't know- I think i am at a loss as much as you are (however, our daughter comes into bed with us starting at 2 am) so tha t I can get some sleep! Good luck , I will be reading the responsing you get. Hopefully they will work for the both of us!!!
L.S. answers from New London on February 27, 2009
No more nursing at night!! The baby is old enough to understand what you tell him. You could offer him a small bottle of water at night. He will cry and that is okay. 15 months old cry when they don't get what they want. But it is okay for kids to cry. He is no longer an infant. You can sing to him, rub his back, etc. But keep putting him back in his crib. just go in there, and put him back down. keep doing this. After a few nights he should be sleeping better because he knows he will get nothing when he wakes up in the middle of the night. I did this at 11 months and my child now sleeps 12 hours every night. It was easier than I thought it was going to be. The last few nights (of sleep training) I just ignored him and he cried for a few seconds and then went back to sleep on his own. It was like magic. It will happen, but you have to be consistent and not give in. Just close the shop. Say no more milk at night. It is night night time. Back to sleep. You have created this habit and it will take about a week or so to break it. You may have to start with pacifying him by rocking him to sleep. Then just start putting him back to bed when sleeping with no milk. Then when he wakes up, just keep putting him back to bed. Some kids get a sippy cup of water just for comfort but that may create another habit. I would just let my son for that week sip some water and say that's it. night night time. you can do it!!!
M.N. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
I would suggest trying a bottle at the midnight-ish feeding. He may be hungry, so mixing a bottle of breastmilk (assuming you have some frozen) with whole milk might just add enough fat to keep him feeling full. Even though your husband has to get up early, I would have him do that feeding so your son gets used to the bottle instad of you! The breastmilk in the bottle hopefully will make it easier for him to take. Little by little increase the milk component so you gradually switch him to just cow's milk.
L.D. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
take him to bed with you! honestly this is the best option all around. why torture yourself and the baby waking up that many times a night? my daughter and I almost never wake up fully during the night, my baby nuzzles next to me, we latch, nurse and sleep. listen to your baby first and foremost, sound like he needs your comfort at night and does still need to nurse. my opinion is bed-sharing is your best option. Good luck!
P.R. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
I see two options. Either bring the baby to bed with you and be done with it. Let him nurse when he wants and try the crib and weaning again in a few months. Or put him to bed with a full belly and let him cry. Go to him but don't nurse him, settle him and put him back to bed. Decide which feels right, does he really need to eat during hte night at 15 mos or is it a comfort thing? If it's comfort, can you comfort him (or can daddy comfort him) another way?
J.B. answers from Lewiston on February 28, 2009
I have a 3 year old and a 21 month old. I weened my youngest from night nursing at 16 months, and completly at 18 mo because I too needed more sleep. My advice to you is to "get right with your decision". You need to approach this change in lifestyle for yourself and your baby with complete acceptance. Know that weening is the right decision and the right time. Go with confidence. Talk to your child about the change and why its happening. You need your rest and they are growing up and no longer need to have milk at night. Reassure your child that you are always "there" for them. They do understand on some level that life changes, you need their help, and that you love them. Talking about a situation with them helps them and you. I also found that a routine of lullabyes worked for us. Twinkle-twinkle little star is always the last song, and then in to bed. Its predictable for them. It took a few nights of holding my son for a few minuites in the middle of the night and reminding him that "mommy's milk" is gone but "mommy's love" is always here for him to accept the change. I didn't ignore his crying, I reassured him that I was there, settled him down a bit with rocking and songs, and then back into his crib. Your baby needs more sleep not calories, know that you are doing the right thing with confidence.
M.D. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
Every night, replace one of the feedings with another soothing activity such as rocking him, rubbing his back, singing to him, etc... He is nursing for comfort, not for nourishment at this point. Eventually he will realize that its not worth waking up just for snuggles, whereas he might think its worth waking up to nurse.
I know that I might get flack for this, but listen to your husband and dont allow your son to CIO. There is tons of evidence that CIO is emotionally and psychologically damaging to a child. He feels as though he has been abandoned and when he finally falls asleep, its because he has given up and decided to ignore his own instincts (the need to be cared for), which is an unhealthy thing to learn so young. I know you need sleep, but there are other methods which take everyones needs into account.
Because of some bad advice from my therapist (who I SHOULD be able to trust, and I felt very betrayed when she suggested to allow my son to CIO), I tried CIO when my son was 8 months old, because I was in exactly the same situation you are in now (waking up to nurse many times per night). I soon realized that it felt SO WRONG and against my mothering instincts to listen to my son cry himself to sleep. It caused me physical pain. So I abandoned CIO but started doing what I suggested to you, and within a week, he was waking only once to nurse, and at 12 months I chose to completely night wean him, to which he did not object. Now he is 13 months. He nurses before bed, sleeps from 7pm-6am, and then nurses as soon as he wakes up. Its wonderful.
G.T. answers from Boston on February 27, 2009
Hi there. Start tonight since it is Friday and no one has to work tomorrow (I am assuming).
Have your husband soothe him - no more milk. Do it tonight, tomorrow night, and every night until he catches on. It will take a few completely sleepless nights. You can soothe him too, but have your DH do it tonight and tomorrow night. You put in earplugs, whatever you need to and SLEEP.
Then on sunday night and monday night you soothe him, and let your DH SLEEP. Take turns every 2 nights, and if you are completely and utterly consistent - no milk, just soothing him, he will start to understand that the kitchen is closed at night and will sleep instead.
When you are tired it is so easy to give in to what works, so you have to get tough and not give in.
Make sure he gets more food during the day so he is less hungry at night.
Good luck, stick with it, and in about a week or so, you'll ALL be sleeping better.
P.S. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
You need some sleep! 15 months is way too long to go without a decent night's sleep. Like you said, it effects you and your children and the entire household when mommy is overtired and cranky!
My daughter is almost 7 months old and we "ferberized" her at around 5.5 months. It isn't as cruel as one might think, especially when you do the time increments. In the long run, your son will sleep better and be more well rested for the day if he doesn't get up throughout the night (just think of how much sleep he loses when he wakes several times a night). Surely at his age he can go through the night both physiologically and emotionally. He weighs enough and is mature enough to sleep without disruptions. Even if it takes a few difficult nights of crying it out, the benefits once he can sleep on his own far outweigh a few hours in his lifetime to get him there. I was against the Ferber method at first and although I still feed my daughter once a night (after 5-8 hours of sleep that is, I plan on fully weaning her (at night) this weekend. I would have done it sooner but she was sick last week); but when my maternity leave was about to end and I knew that I would have to get up at 5 a.m. to get up, get ready for work on a daily basis and get my daughter ready for daycare, I knew that I needed some sleep! I don't think that it's selfish either, as I'm much happier and energized when I sleep and then I have more love and energy and enthusiasm to give to my little angel.
Try talking to your husband again and have him read up on the Ferber method. If you don't want to buy the book, there are several sites on line that explain the main jist of his philosophies. You deserve to sleep and you and your household will be all the better for it! Trust me! From one mommy to another!
Good luck, I hope it all works out! And don't forget: happy mom = a happy baby!
A.M. answers from Bangor on February 28, 2009
Try The No Cry Sleep Solution by Elizabeth Pantley. I'm not done reading it yet, but it seems good.
J.J. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
As hard as it is, you need to let him cry it out. Him waking at night has become a learned response now, he no longer needs to be fed at night anymore nutritionally . He needs to learn to put himself back to sleep on his own without nursing. We did the crying it out method with both our kids when they were around 7 months & it worked like a charm. We started with going in every 5 minutes, then 10, 15, etc. (my husband actually went in, so that the baby didn't smell me & want to nurse). If your husband can't stand the crying, give him a pair of earplugs.
Best of luck to you! I hope you get some sleep soon!
G.P. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
This isn't a direct answer to your question, but I think you should be aware that night-feeding your 15-month old could be really bad for his teeth. Has he been to a dentist for a check-up? Allowing milk to bathe his teeth all night is a recipe for decay.
J.S. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
I am telling you- I went through the same thing. Your husband needs to listen to you. If you are the stay at home Mom you are in charge. Tell him that for your own well-being you have to let your child cry it out. When you go around that tired bad things happen. You can't effectively parent that tired. Make your husband read "Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child." I had to hold my husband's hand at night to keep him from going to our crying child. But, after crying it out for maybe one week our child slept through the night and we have never looked back. Tell him that there is a result. Sleep!
J.L. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
Oh I think you absolutely have to let him cry it out. My doc told me to do that when my son was 7-8 months old when he was nursing 3-4 times per night. She said at that age they do not need to wake up to eat or need anything at all during the night. So if that goes for a 7-8 month old, then it definitely goes true for a 15 month old. There is no reason why he should be up eating at this point, trust me! If you don't wean him now, it will be a very long time until he goes through the night on his own.....he is so used to waking up by habit at this point. Crying it out isn't as bad as you may think, however the older they are, the more difficult it is. We did it when our son was 7-8 ,months and it really didn't take that long at all.
K.E. answers from Boston on February 28, 2009
I had a similar issue with my now 15-month-old when he was about 13 months. Your going 13 or 15 months with no full night's sleep is not good for you or your family, as others have said. My husband and I decided that I would no longer get up with my son in the night; instead, my husband got up, comforted my son, and then lay him back in the crib and told him it was time to sleep. He cried and cried (and boy is he persistent), but we only had to do this for a week, and now my son sleeps through with no problem. I know you said your husband is against crying it out, but could you convince him to try it for just one week, and if things don't improve, you could try something else? At this age, your son can understand if your husband tells him it is time to go to sleep -- you are not abandoning him or ignoring him (which would be what would happen if you didn't go in the room in the first place). Your son needs to know that if he cries you will make sure he is ok, but he also needs to learn to sleep through the night.