20 answers

Toddler Won't Stop Nursing!

Hello, this is to anyone who can sympathize and hopefully offer any suggestions on the matter of nursing a 20 month old. I am still nursing her all night, she will not sleep through the whole night without nursing! HELP! We finally got rid of the crib months ago because she never slept in it anyway. Baby & mom share spare bed. I don't mind sleeping with her but the nursing must stop. She's usually ok throughout the day until she gets bored or tired, then she wants to nurse. How can I make the milk dry up fast so there's nothing coming out? I always end up giving in because otherwise I get even less sleep and she has a 1-track mind and it's just easier. Thanks!

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Thanks everyone! I don't feel so bad about nursing my "toddler" anymore after reading your responses! I guess we can keep it going a little longer because it does work for us & our lifestyle, regardless of what other's opinions (ahem.. my mom's!) may be. Yes I do get less sleep, but I'm a mother and it comes with the territory. :) I'm used to it now anyway.

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OK, this may sound crazy but have you tried just telling her that there's nothing left? I had the same problem you did with my son, and was at my wit's end, and then one day when he asked for a feeding, I told him, "Oh no! No more!" And he totally went with it. He never asked to be breast fed again. Sometimes we work so hard taking care of their needs that sometimes we don't see that they can be ok without something. Don't know if it will work for you, but just a suggestion.

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My daughter had a hard time sleeping through the night without nursing as well. I suggest reading the book "Solving your child's sleep problems" by Ferber. It talks about the Ferber method and basically says, like anything else we teach as parents, we are responsible for teaching our children appropriate sleep habits and how to to fall asleep independently and stay asleep. They used the comparison of an adult who usually sleeps with a pillow and in the middle of the night taking their pillow away, and how many people could get back to sleep without the pillow? Not many. The pillow is your breast If your child needs it to sleep, unless you plan on letting her have it in her mouth the whole night, she will never sleep through the night without it. The results were amazing. It involves extending periods of time of letting her cry before going in and talking to her. IN your absnese, she will roll around, start getting comfortable and eventually find a replacement for the breast, whether it is something big like a special blankie or something small like my son, rubbing his nose in the bed until her gets tired enough to sleep.
The great thing is, for us it only took 4 days of doing the method precisely and she was sleeping through the night. The book says no one takes longer than 2 weeks when they follow the method to the "T". Which would be wonderful knowing that at the max you will be resting soundly and all getting a good night's sleep in only 2 weeks. I must warn you it is VERY hard listening to your child cry and knowing that you can just pop a breast in her mouth and she'll be asleep in no time. But if you are serious, then short term misery for long term gain. Also I just told myself, would I let my child think that running across the street is fine just because when I stop her from doing it, she cries? No. Just like any change in life doesn't come without being uncomfortable, so is teaching your child to sleep through the night.
Good Luck! I empathize, I really do!

My son 22mo nursed all night until I found out that he was allergic to gluten, found in wheat. Now he nurses briefly to fall asleep, but then sleeps all (most of the) night.

i nursed both of mine until 2.5, neither one was quite ready to wean at 2 (just at bedtime, daytime was weaned much earlier). it worked out funny, because i thought i would nurse less with my second child, and ended up nursing a little longer than the first . . . but that was a wonderful bonding time for us, and even though at times i was tired of it, i could sense that they just weren't ready yet.

when the time came, i would cut the time shorter and shorter, letting them know that they had grown so much and their teeth were getting so sharp and pinching me. it was a gentle way that worked for us. also, we had added a book to reading time about growing up, called "Michele the Nursing Toddler." it's a very sweet story. http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0912500409/ref=cm_rdp_pr...

good luck:)

Dear S.,
She is quite little yet. All of my sons nursed to at least 2 1/2 years. The middle one was the son who was very strong willed and continued to nurse longer. He did start sleeping through a little after 3 years, but continued to nurse just before bed until 4 years. He stopped them because he made the decision to do so. He wanted to be a "big boy" like his brother. I tried, but he would scream and scream and eventually vomit so it was a mess. The doctor would only say that he was a smart baby and knew what he wanted. It all depends on your child's personality and how strong willed she is.
I would not force her to wean until about 2 1/2 years because mother's milk is the best thing for bone and brain development. At that time, she will be drinking from a cup and after you have introduced regular milk during the day, you can offer a bedtime drink of warm milk from a "tippy cup" and tell her there is no more in from you. She will be talking more at that time too and understand more. You may have to be very firm in your decision, and if you get something to help dry you up from the doctor it would help. I believe that is about when you will start drying up naturally anyway.
My best to you and your little one,

OMG! This is my exact problem too. My son is 17months old and I've finally decide I've had ENOUGH! He must stop nursing this week. I need to get more than 2 hours of sleep at a stretch and I'd like for my husband to come back to our bed (he's been on the couch since our son was born). I love my son tremendously and actually kinda miss not having him sleep right next to me at night but the ALL NIGHT nursing was too much. Coupled to his daytime weekend nursings (he's drinking regular milk at daycare during the week so I know he likes it) he was not getting enough food to eat since he'd really just rather nurse. So, I decide this week to just stop him, cold turkey. He's been fussy as heck and I even became engorged the first night (a short pump in the middle of the night relieved my aching boobs and covering them with cabbage leaves at night does wonders!). But, after four days I can feel my milk beginning to dry up (although my boobs are still an enviable size C+). I'm hoping they will completely dry up by the week's end. My son is still fussy though but instead of sleeping all night with me he's on the couch with my husband and keeping him up all night with bottles of milk instead of boobs. We're trying to get my son to drink water instead of milk at night in hopes that he'll eventually stop that too and just eat more during the day. We're keeping our fingers crossed that it'll all work. Good luck to you.

Hi S.,
i feel for you! just went through what you are going through at 25 months...here's my suggestions:

first, get her in her own bed.
you will be a new person getting full nights sleep. so, let her nurse in the morning or evenings for a week or two more, but get her into her own space for sleep. we ended up doing basic sleep training, alla sleepy planet, and within ONE night he slept better than he ever had after crying for 17 minutes. by the 3rd night he didn't cry at all!!! SERIOUSLY saved our sanity. i used to spend an hour trying to get him to sleep.

Then for getting rid of the morning/evening feedings, just use distraction and say that your boobies are tired and give her LOTS of extra love. Hugs, kisses, extra attention all day for a few weeks and try to give her more support for transitional objects. My son has not transitional objects really - no blanket, no pacifiers, no favorite toys...and i wish he did because it would be nice for him to have them. i think he may never have developed a lovie because my boobs were his comforters...

I also had a difficult time with my son. He was so determined and did not give up. I understand that it is very difficult. Finally, I decided that no matter what, we were done. I said that I would never nurse him again. In a way, this is a little sad and it was difficult because when he was so upset and crying because he wanted to nurse, I knew that I could easily calm him by giving in. I did not give in and my milk dried up from not nursing. We had 2 days that were difficult and then it was over. I suggest just stopping. I know it's not easy, but it does not last long. It is better than suffering for months. In a few days, it will be over. Good luck!!

When my daughter was two I rubbed a little mustard around my nipples when she wasn't looking and when she went to nurse she could smell it and wanted nothing to do with nursing again (I think I did it twice). This way there was no struggle, it was her choice to stop. We had already struggled with explaining that she was a big girl now and that she could use a cup and so on, which didn't work. But the mustard, this worked beautifully!

I do agree with letting her nurse a while longer. She is still quite young! Enjoy your little love!

Personally, I have just adjusted my expectations of the evenings. My daughter also nurses 3-5 times a night and we co-sleep. She is super healthy & thriving, so it obviously works for her. This is still a critical age for brain development (until 2 & 1/2)-- I would hate for her brain not to receive nutrients on demand while so much is still going on. She is pure instinct at night. Nursing is a world unto itself and I feel she has a more natural attitude to it than I do... So I am following her lead. I would encourage you to keep going a little longer and see if night nursing doesn't taper off at around 2 & 1/2 when her brain development slows down. Best of luck!

This is what worked for us: We night weaned with Dr. Gordon's plan, http://www.drjaygordon.com/development/ap/sleep.asp
and have had absolute success. We co-sleep and didn't want to give that up. We just wanted to get longer stretches of sleep and not do anything related to a CIO method. This program worked for us in about a week and was really easy to follow (not like the no-cry sleep solution). We night weaned when my son was 18 months old. Nursing your toddler is the best gift you can give to her, now you have to help her give you the gift of sleep ;)
Good luck!

Hi S., I think as long as you keep nursing her, your body is going to make milk. Also as long as you "give in because it's easier", then she isn't going to stop. Most people resist change if they like what's happening in their life. I think you are just going to have to decide that you're done and emphasize that she is a big girl and big girls don't nurse like babies do. You might want to keep sharing the bed. Personally I don't think that's a good idea now because 1) you should be sleeping with your husband and 2) it promotes continued nursing.

Have you considered working with her to change her bedroom just a little bit to a "big girl's" bedroom- and then have her sleep in HER bed by herself. Spend a little extra time with her during the days, occasionally talking about what a big girl she is- giving her even extra TLC in the daytime. Then I would get her into her own bed. It might take you a few nights if she's resistant- but you need to do it. You could tell her if she's thirsty during the night she can drink water from her bed stand from a sippy cup that is left there- but don't go into the room. If you usually have some water by your bed at night, she'll see that's how mommy does it. Speedy sleeping!

I have been there and remember that. Both of my two older ones nursed until 21 months and I was already pregant with the next one when they stoped. Does she ever get worn out and fall asleep with out it? My little ones rarely did but that is what started happening at 21 months. My oldest got a cold that just wiped her out and she needed to sleep sitting up so that made it easy. My son on the other hand got his first hair cut and was so worn out he just fell asleep with out it so from that night on I just said no and stuck with it. I was a little hard for the first two nights after that but then he stoped asking and that was that. I am now wondering when my 16 month old will stop night nursing. She even points to her breat and says," milk". I know that I would like to give her the same time frames as the other two but she is a little more dependent I think so I have started trying to limt the number of times during the night. So far it is working a little we are slowly nursing less and less. It will just make it easier to cut her off at 21 months if we get down to once a night. Good luck. The other great thing to do is to give a sipper cup with water instead of you. Both of mine did that and it was a blessing.

I cut my daughter off cold turkey when she was 15 months old. By then she was getting into whole milk so I would give her a sippy before bedtime(not while she was in bed) and she was down for the night.
If you don't want her to nurse then do not sleep with her. We co-sleeped with dd for a long time. At about 13 months we transitioned her to her own bed and after she was comfy in there I stopped nursing her. She transitioned fine and I got a full nights sleep(not to mention a child free bed for just my husband and I). There are various sleep training methods out there so try one out. We use the book Healthy Sleep Habits, Happy Child by Weissbluth.

Go to your Dr. he/she can give you a shot to dry you up.

I nursed my twins and my first son until they were 2 years old. On they're 2nd birthday exactly, I cut them off cold turkey. It was a little tough for the first couple of days, but after a few nights of crying, they all got the message and they were fine.

I think nursing them that long was the best thing I could do for them. After stopping, I did miss it, but that didn't last long. My kids are happy and healthy and I don't regret the sacrifice I made to achieve that.

Once she's nursing, your body will alway produce the milk for her. So it's cold turkey or bust.

I understand how you feel! I nursed my son until 24 months. First I cut down to only before nap and bedtime. I then started telling him that one day there wouldn't be any more milk. That it just happens as babies get older. I gently reminded him for about a week or so. The next week I told him that in about a week my milk was going to go bye bye. I did a count down to it. He was very sad but I think knowing it was coming helped prepare him for it. He asked if he could put his hand on the milkies still and I said yes. He still does and he is over 2 1/2 but he only does it when he's tired, doesn't feel good or is nervous etc. Sleeping in the same bed would make that more difficult but if you tell her that nothing is in there anymore and offer her a sippy cup of water instead. I hope this helps! Good luck!

We have had a lot of success with night weaning. My husband sleeps with her on a futon in her room and I sleep in our room. I nurse her at midnight (without waking her usually) and then she's good until around 7AM. ONce in a while I nurse her again around 4AM but not every night. It's not ideal but before that none of us were sleeping as she was up every single hour (or more) nursing or just hanging off my boob. I think she thought it was her oxygen tank. I know it's sad to give up co-sleeping - it's a personal decision. I had to b/c I was so incredibly sleep deprived for 10 months and then I was with her all the next day but if I worked I might feel differently about it.

All the best to you!!!!

Hi S.,
It sounds like you maybe aren't ready to completely ween her yet. If you are tired of her nursing all night, I would just tell her that she can only nurse during the day..when the sun is out. We don't nurse when it's dark outside. She should be sleeping all night by now. Maybe if you nursed her more often in the day, she maybe wouldn't wake in the night to nurse. Nutritionally, she doesn't need to nurse at night so I would cut that out just to get more sleep.

I'm a mother of 4 and my experience was that if you don't ween them by the time they are 19 or 20 months, then it will need to be their decision, not yours. If you think you want to ween her soon, then do it. If not, enjoy the bonding time and love nursing her. Remember though that she doesnt need to nurse for nutritional reasons any longer. But it does help with their immune systems if she goes to daycare.
Best of luck

antihistamines worked for me to dry up my milk. I also bribed mine with chocolate milk. a little chocolate in the cup with milk or nursing. they liked the chocolate. i just put less and less in until we were back to regular milk after nursing was no longer an option.

OK, this may sound crazy but have you tried just telling her that there's nothing left? I had the same problem you did with my son, and was at my wit's end, and then one day when he asked for a feeding, I told him, "Oh no! No more!" And he totally went with it. He never asked to be breast fed again. Sometimes we work so hard taking care of their needs that sometimes we don't see that they can be ok without something. Don't know if it will work for you, but just a suggestion.

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