Nursing My Toddler

Updated on January 18, 2010
J.S. asks from Saint Paul, MN
4 answers

Hi fellow nursing Mom's.

My daughter is 13 months old and nurses before nap, before bed, and (the problem) multiple times overnight. I nursed my boys until 14/15 months (my first), 17/18 months (my second). Neither slept through the night until I weaned them. I was pregnant each time I weaned.

My intent was to nurse my daughter until she was 2, since I do not plan on being pregnant this time around. However, starting with teething at 6 months, moving to a new home at 8 months (total chaos and lack of schedule for 3-4 weeks), croup at 10 months, more teething, and the holidays... we are now totally off and she is nursing at bedtime, at 11:00, at 1:00, at 3:00 and at 5:00 and it is killing me to be up every 2 hours. When the boys went through this stage (I'm pretty sure they both did at around this age) I was still able to take a nap during the day which made it manageable. But, now that neither of them nap, I don't get one either.

SO, I'm looking for some ideas (NOT crying it out) to get her back on track to sleeping at night. My husband travels regularly during the week, so sending him in is not really an option right now (but that does work).

I'd rather not wean her just yet, but am starting to consider it so that I can get a few hours of sleep! Sleeping with her isn't really an option either, as I usually get up before her with my 3 year old (he wakes early - what would I do, leave her alone in my bed?) and I just really don't feel rested when she does sleep in my bed.

Should I get up and rock her? Would that help. I think I tried that with my oldest, and honestly I can't remember if we got past the every two hour waking before I weaned him or not.

Any advice from Mom's who nurse older babies is greatly appreciated!


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So What Happened?

Thanks everyone for your advice. I've been working on it for about a week and a half now, and we are down to one waking/nursing around 1:30 or 2:00 a.m. That is a significant improvement over 4-5 times a night. I just started rocking her back to sleep and not offering nursing... and refusing nursing if needed. I'm hoping she'll just start sleeping through the one feeding soon.

I'm still nursing before nap and bedtime. I'm not ready to wean, and neither is she, so I think we are finding what works.

Thanks again.

More Answers



answers from Minneapolis on

I nursed my son until 19 months and I was 2 months pregnant at that time. At the point, we had gotten over the hurdle of the nighttime nursing, but it was difficult. He was a co-sleeper, so I had to just sleep in our guest bed for a few nights while my husband stayed in bed with him. These were sleepless nights for all three of us. He didn't cry all night, just didn't sleep well and woke up frequently. But with your husband being gone, you don't have that option. Maybe you could try something similar over a long weekend or holiday when he is home?

When I did come back to the bed, I just said no to him when he woke up to nurse, which wasn't very often after the few nights away from him. I think he was around 12-14 months at this time. He would get frustrated and mad when I said no, but would usually snuggle up and go back to sleep pretty quickly. After a while, he just stopped waking up and didn't want to nurse if he did wake up. Then we were on a pretty good schedule of just nursing before nap and bedtime before he quit at 19 months.

It was really hard to say no to him during the night, but he did accept it and that led to better sleeping and less waking up. Maybe that would happen with your daughter too.

Good luck with whatever you try. I know the nighttime nursing can get very difficult.



answers from Minneapolis on

I am still nursing my 19-month-old son. I've had some problems with him waking in the night too and we tried various other things (dad going in to comfort him, offering him a sippy cup of water, etc.) but the only thing that worked for us was crying it out. It's heartbreaking to listen to and for a few nights you won't be getting any more sleep than you do when you get up to nurse her, but the payoff is huge if you can get through it. I'm sure it complicates things that you have two other children who are likely going to be disrupted by the crying it out too, but maybe if you just explained to them what you were trying to accomplish they would feel better about it.

Good luck. A full unbroken night of sleep is important and I feel for you that you're missing all that nice REM sleep.



answers from Milwaukee on

I am still nursing my 22 month old twins. I feel for you getting up in the middle of the night. You must be exhausted. Honestly, not what you want to may need to let her cry. One of my twins has always been a great sleeper, but the other one wanted to get up multiple times in the night to nurse, even when he was over a year old. I didn't want to let him cry, but I'm also so happy that he now can self-soothe and go back to sleep. I think if you get up and nurse her, you'll be disrupting her wakefulness. I do not nurse my son in the middle of the night, but do nurse him in teh morning, before nap, and at bedtime. Letting them cry is SOOO hard, but honestly is worth it for everyone. Take Care.



answers from Minneapolis on

I'm still nursing my almost 20 month old, and she just started getting out of the habit of nursing through the night... while we were on vacation! Go figure...

Anyway - I'm not a fan of CIO, so I went off in search of other ideas. I came across a plan on Dr. Jay Gordon's website for night-weaning. It's a bit gentler than CIO, and it allows you some flexibility, but the idea is that as you stop offering nursing as comfort throughout the night, baby starts to sleep better.

I am fortunate in that my husband agreed to take on the night-time parenting, and our daughter started sleeping better immediately. Maybe if you follow Dr. Gordon's advice, it might help - at least it's an alternative to crying.

Good luck, and congratulations!
WOHM to Chase (12/12/03) and Paige (5/24/08)

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