How Do I Wean My 15-Month Old off Nursing to Sleep?

Updated on January 11, 2010
A.A. asks from Decatur, GA
5 answers

Okay, mamas, I've had good success in getting the little one to sleep through the night, except for a recent bout with teething. Anyway, now, he is eating full solid meals and snacks in between and is drinking cow's milk. He is a good eater. However, he still requires me to nurse him to sleep, and my milk has almost completely dried up. He screams and tantrums if he doesn't get his before bed nursing time. I know that nursing as long as possible is best, but my milk supply is going, going, and almost gone. I am also pregnant now so drinking Mother's Milk Tea or taking fenugreek is out of the question for me. I talked to a midwife and she feels that he's probably just doing it for comfort rather than sustenence at this point. She feels that he will wean himself off pretty soon, but I just don't see it happening. He LOVES to nurse. On the weekends, he will ask for it over and over again all day long. I just do my best to distract him from it. It also gets painful now since the milk supply is down. What has worked for you in this type of situation?

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answers from Spartanburg on

Hi, I was in a very similar situation. My 16 month old LOVED to nurse, he was never happier than when nursing, was gripped with joy and excitement when he saw the breast coming. The pre-bed feed was our last remaining feed, as it made him go to sleep in a very blissful fashion. So I thought I was never going to get him to quit it... the few times we had tried other ways of getting him to sleep they had simply failed, and he would stay up till the early hours of the morning. At first, he had a tantrum when I tried to rock him to sleep with out nursing him, so I gave in, but after a while/few days I plucked up courage and stuck it out, and rocked him for ages until he went to sleep, and finally he did. After a few nights he didn't ask for it anymore, I was surprised how quickly he forgot about it actually. A few days later one of my breasts got a bit sore because of build-up, so I let him nurse in the middle of the night, but because he was half-asleep he didn't remember the next night, and he still didn't ask for it anymore. I was nearly dried up, so I know he was mostly doing it for comfort not the milk, and in fact it started to hurt as he was sucking so hard on empty breasts. I think he gave up the fight more easily as he realised the milk had mostly gone. I offered a bottle of cow's milk instead, and he quickly switched to that at night instead, and now it has a very similar effect to the pre-bed nursing session. I felt sad when I stopped this last feed, it was such a precious time between us, but you have to consider that sooner or later this day comes when nursing is over (that weaning has to happen one day)...
Good luck! You can know you did your best for him and have given him the best start in life.

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answers from Charleston on

My daughter was nursing to sleep until she was 18 months old and I remember feeling the exact same way - I thought she would never wean herself. I was proud to nurse as long as I did, but ready to stop so my husband started putting her sleep each night - rocking and singing to her. She probably fought it the first couple of nights, but then it just started to work out. At the time, my husband and I both knew that there was no way I could put her to sleep without her wanting to nurse. I think he put her to sleep for about a month. Now, she is almost two and either my husband or myself can rock her for a little while and then put her in the crib sleepy and she falls asleep on her own. Just be patient with him and it will all work out. Congrats on nursing as long as you have and also on baby #2!

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answers from Myrtle Beach on

I just did this, this week. My son tomorrow night will be night 7 without nursing to sleep. He is 17 months old. Being he already has a sippy cup I just let him lay in bed with me and he rolled around till he wore himself out and then I moved him to his bed. It still takes him a while to fall asleep, but he isn't wanting to nurse now to go to sleep. Although he still nurses once during the night, but that is it and the milk supply is really going down.
Sounds like your doing great anyway with nurseing. It is heart breaking weining them when they love it so much. At least you know you'll get to do it again. This is our last and I'm having a hard time with it cause I loved to rock and watch how happy he was.
Anyway, best of luck.

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answers from Athens on

One of my twin girls wanted to be nursed to sleep until 16 months and I wondered how she would ever wean herself from this. Like you, I was almost out of milk, and I think it was partially a self-soothing for her. I started giving her a bottle when I read goodnight stories to her and her sister, right before bed, trying to get her used to a new routine. Then, I would take her to the room, rock her and nurse her with what little milk I had. One night, she simply pulled down my shirt and said "no more", "all gone" and after that, never asked for it again. You may try telling him "mommy's milk is gone, but there is some in the bottle". "Let's have some warm milk in your sippy/bottle". Maybe try rocking him, holding him or reading to him with this during the day, before naps, etc to try to establish new "habits"- also, I would definitely work at not nursing him at all during the night, even if you have to let him cry a little to teach himself how to get back to sleep on his own (I know this is hard!). I thought I would never wean the two of mine, but loosing my milk supply somehow seemed to help the process along and they weaned themselves. I was more sad about it than they were! Best of luck and I hope my suggestions give you some ideas! F.



answers from Atlanta on

I say let him scream. I had to ween my daughter off the bottle at night at 1 1/2 and she cried the first night and was fine after. The longer you give in the more you prolong their progression.

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