My 17 Month Old Will Not Wean!

Updated on June 11, 2009
C.H. asks from Contoocook, NH
8 answers

I have a beautiful 17month old daughter who is refusing to wean. That is not the only problem but think this is where the solution lies. She wants to nurse all night in bed with me and my husband. (yes, I know a bad habit that we started) I wouldn't give up the breastfeeding if it wasn't all the time and she gets very touchy/feely and kicks (to feel others in bed)She loves to feel skin of others. I don't mind but when it keeps me up all night and only seems to be getting worse I am kind of at my witts end. We have tried cry it out (I don't like it, but keep thinking it may work) She is a sreamer and wakes everyone up in the house! I have two other girls. So, after hours of this I end up caving! I need sleep. She is not a huge sippy cup child either. I keep giving it and she will sip water and milk and steals her sisters juice sippy cup but really won't drink much. Nap times are difficult in there own right as we are usaually in the car and she falls asleep and I transfer her inside. So, it anyones has some great ideas (besides cry it out) I would love to hear them. Thanks

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answers from Springfield on

17 months is pretty young to completely wean. What about night-weaning to give you a break and keep letting her nurse during the day for a while yet?

You'll need help from your husband to night wean. When she wakes up, your husband needs to go get her. You'll have to spend a few nights on a spare bed/the couch until she gets the message. She can co-sleep with your husband, so she won't be abandoned to cry it out, but she'll learn that nursies are no longer available after the sun goes down. Once she starts sleeping peacefully at night, whether in her own bed or in yours, you should be able to go back to your bed with no fuss and bother :-)

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answers from Boston on


First I would recommend contacting La Leche League in your area - These women are very experienced and very helpful. You can call any day from 9am to 9pm. I just went to a toddler meeting last week and one of the mother's was asking about this too.

You can try the distract method during the day but if you are sleeping together of course that is more difficult however, I read a sleep book that might help. "Sleeping through the Night" by Jodi Mindell. She says in this instanct (now I only brought my daughter into bed with us in the mornings so it wasn't all night) to get your child to sleep at night without nursing them down. Once they are able to put themselves to sleep at bedtime during the night should sort itself out around the 2 week mark. Now there is more to it, she talks about bed time routine and other things as well. But when the baby cries (when you have put them to bed) you can go in as often as you feel necessary. You don't have to wait a certain amount of time. You may find that it is worse if you go in (this was our case) but you may find that your daughter if reassured when you go in so it is better. Either way you go in if needed and stay neutral, tell her she is OK and that you are close and will see her in the morning. Stay less than 1 minute. She talks about why and how this works. I can tell you we tried the cry it out method, the no cry sleep method and others but none of them worked for any length of time. However this book worked great for us. One thing she says is that nursing to sleep is a negative association and needs to be broken. I do a modified version and it works for us. My daughter still nurses right before she goes to sleep for bed and for naps but she goes down awake. I don't worry anymore if she has fallen asleep in my arms I ask her if she is done nursing, which wakes her up, she comes off the breast I put her in her crib and leave. Yes, she cries but now only for a minute or 2 and she is asleep. This is great. Now for the put herself back to sleep when she gets woken up or wakes up before she is done sleeping. Again amazing. For her naps she used to sleep/nurse in my arms. Not good and I was stuck in a chair for hours every afternoon. Well now when she gets woken up she goes back to sleep by herself. I never thought she would be able to do this.

So in short if you want to wean this sleep book can help and if you don't want to wean and just have your daughter sleep better this book will help. I would still recommend contacting La Leche League as well.

Good luck and hope you get some sleep soon,
L. M

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answers from Bangor on

congrats on breastfeeding this long. I got almost that far, but then finally I guess the baby was ready (this was a month or so ago when the baby was 16 mo). I think you might be going through something similar to what we were at the end. I was starting to resent the feedings, because I knew I wasn't making much milk and that she'd be up in a few hours to nurse more or have a bottle. but she would scream and scream and fight with the bottles and it was soooo sad! So I had a good long talk with my La Leche League contact and she said one thing I could do, if I was uncomfortable with the bottle fights, was just give in and nurse her whenever she wanted. She said, ironically, that nursing like this would not be a set-back towards weaning. I didn't understand this or fully believe her, but it was making me too sad to fight about the bottle. So I just gave in and nursed when the baby wanted to, and was at peace with it, and then literally in less than 3 days, she was weaned. It was crazy. But I think the LLL was person was absolutely right that the nursing had been all about comfort and security and not about milk. The baby had to know that I would do anything for her and was there for her. Quite amazing. So, maybe you are giving your baby vibes of resentment and "I've had it" and she's testing you to make sure she still can get what she needs from you (the skin contact and oral comfort). Anyway, that's what happened to me. good luck.

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answers from Boston on

I agree -- I night weaned my two older children at about 18 months, but kept nursing until they were about 3 years. It took a few nights with someone else doing the nightime parenting. I didn't sleep elsewhere -- just wore something which did not allow access to the breasts, and we still coslept through that and afterwards. I also talked to them about it extensively -- at 18 months a child often has enough language skills that they can understand "Sweetie, after tonight we're not nursing at night anymore." And then remind her of that when she wakes up wanting to nurse. It might take up to a week or so, but it's not hard to night wean while still nursing during the day, and it sounds like neither you nor she are really ready to completely wean right now.

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answers from Boston on

Same situation. What seems to have worked (we're going on one month of success) is to have put a mattress on the floor in her own room. Either her dad or I put her to bed (if I put her to bed about half the time she wants to nurse to sleep).

I think she was waking up a lot more because we were all in th bed together and jostling each other awake.

She still wakes up at night sometimes, but she gets a bottle of milk or very diluted juice, but not nursing. Again it helps if my husband goes to her, but I can do it and not have her nurse. If she's really distraught, I can lay down with her for a while.

Now we're going to start to help her find a different way to soothe herself back to sleep than a bottle...



answers from New York on

Hi C.,
Maybe try a mattress on the floor and eventually moving it out slowly? Maybe nursing once at night in her bedroom until she's weaned? This is definatly a habit that needs to stop immediately for the sanity of your entire family. It may seem difficult now, but in a year, you'll be glad you did it.
Wish I had more advice,
E. K.



answers from Boston on

Hi, My niece is just the same. One solution that I have heard works is to apply some neem-leaf juice to the nipple area - it's a bitter but harmless (actually healthy) leaf. I know it feels awful to pull something like that on a baby, my sister hasn't been able to do it to my niece!