Attachment Parenting

Toddler moms - do you night-nurse?

LO still night-nurses.  I work outside of the home, so that's about the only time he nurses, except sometimes before naps on the weekends.  Lately, there has been a resurgence in night-nursing, probably due to recent illness/teething.  So much so, that my right side actually started producing milk again (it had been all but dried-up for months).  He starts the night out in his crib and ends up with us after his first waking.  When all is well (no illness/teething/milestone activity), he'll sleep in his crib straight through until morning.  When all is not well, he comes in with us at least 1/2-way through the night and spends much of it nursing and tossing/turning.  He still associates nursing with sleep, but the problem is, it doesn't really work for him anymore, except at the start of the night.  Therefore, he asks over and over and over...but remains awake.  Frankly, I hate the feeling of comfort nursing at his age.  I think it's the teeth - it's just not that comfortable for me anymore.

My heart tells me this is just a phase and that I should be there for him like I have with every other phase.  But since he's 18 months now and I am so exhausted all the time (these phases happen over and over), there's part of me that's considering weaning him from night-nursing.  Of course, that won't guarantee me more sleep, since the nursing doesn't really help w/ sleep anymore anyway!  But maybe it would make him more willing to be soothed by DH in the night.  Right now, it's all Mummy, all the time.  I. am. so. tired.

Any advice?  Empathy?

Childhood cancer (DH) + chemo + radiation = 0 sperm.
LO #1 - 1 unmedicated/self-monitored IUI w/ donor sperm.
LO #2 - 1 m/c, 2 BFNs, 4th IUI worked (unmedicated/self-monitored with new donor sperm).
Life is beautiful!

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Re: Toddler moms - do you night-nurse?

  • My daughter is 17 months, and I work from home.  She has been nursing a LOT more than usual lately--during the day as well as at night.  We bedshare still.  Lately I've been having a hard time getting her to unlatch for naps and at night, when I just want to roll over and go to sleep myself.  I'm not sure exactly what's going on, but I suspect it's developmental.  She's been saying a ton of new words lately, etc.  So, I don't really have any advice, just empathy.  I'm sure it is just a phase!

  • Occasionally, but for the most part no.  We night weaned and transitioned him (mostly) to his crib around 9 months.  If he wakes up in the night and DH can't calm him I will nurse if he wants it. 
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  • https://www.askmoxie.org/2009/01/qa-18month-sleep-regression-redux.html

    https://www.askmoxie.org/2006/04/qa_18month_slee.html

    https://www.askmoxie.org/2008/09/18-months.html

    There is a developmental spurt at 18 months which caused a ton of separation anxiety in my daughter.  I would guess the resurgence is a combo of teething and separation anxiety from the spurt.  With my DD, she went from needing 5 minutes of rocking at bedtime to screaming for 45-90 minutes of rocking.  We basically had to rock her until she said she was ready to get into the crib.  If we tried to put her to bed when we were ready, it turned into a screamfest and it took even longer to calm her down.

    The worst of it was 2 weeks, and then it gradually got better over the next month.  And near the end, she had a HUGE language explosion which really paid off the trauma of the regression because she could communicate better and had fewer tantrums overall.

    Does your son have any kind of lovey?  Maybe something he could mouth - DD had a soft bear with rubber feet that she could chew on when she was teething.  She also became more paci-dependent when she was teething.

    The 18 month regression really, really sucks.  I think it is worse because you have been through so much already and it really feels like you should be over all of these sleep disturbances by now.  But the thing is that you know he *can* sleep all night in his crib, and you're right that night-weaning isn't going to prevent the waking.  So I would do whatever it takes to save your sanity and get as much sleep as possible.  Maybe send your DH in for a few nights.  If he can't settle DS in ten minutes, then bring him to bed and nurse.  That is how we night-weaned my DD.  By 18 months she would still come to our bed overnight, but she didn't need to nurse anymore because DH could settle her.  (She didn't totally wean until 22 months).

    Good luck and hugs!

    ETA:  I am still night-nursing DS at 14 months.  He sleeps all night in his crib 3-4 times a week.  But he seems to be in the 13 month developmental spurt, so the past few nights have involved more waking and a few sessions of not going back to sleep easily.  I don't currently plan to wean him from any BFing sesssions.  He has dropped down to 3-4 sessions a day on his own, so for now I'm letting him lead the way.  If he's still nursing 3-4 times a day at 2, we'll re-evaluate.

    Heather Margaret --- Feb '07 and Todd Eldon --- April '09
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  • Yep - I am still night nursing, but I think DS is in the same developmental/teething stage as yours. When he gets teeth now, its almost like his jaw is clenched a little, so his teeth are rubbing against the nipple more. It is incredibly uncomfortable, and this is the first time I've had sore nipples since he was born.

    DS also is starting to talk and say more words, so I think that is contributing to his night wakings.

    DS does sleep better for the first part of the night if I give him teething tablets (I use Hylands).

    Last night, DS woke up in the middle of the night and was just awake. Nursing wasn't putting him back to sleep. He's had a harder and harder time getting back to sleep lately in the middle of the night with nursing. I'm attributing it to the 18 month sleep regression because he does have the ability get himself back to sleep and he does have the ability to sleep for 6 or more hours in the night. Its just hard for him right now. I'm calling it a phase. We'll see what happens I guess.

    Oh yeah, DS is also uncomfortable with any kind of pee in his diapers and wants to be changes, so I think that is also contributing to his night wakings.

     

  • We're still night nursing as well but when there's nothing else going on it's generally just once around 2am or so and then DS goes back to sleep in his crib for the rest of the night.  There was a spell a week or so ago when he was sleeping with me all night due to teething and illness and I was worried that it was a giant regression, but it wasn't.  When he felt better he went right back to his regular sleep habits. So I agree with the other ladies - do what you need to do to get through this because it will pass.

    While I would love for DS to be fully night-weaned I'm honestly just too lazy to do it right now.  He slept so poorly for so long that getting up once a night isn't bad and I know I/DH would be up a lot more if we were to try to night-wean.  When he's away from home (staying with parents) he does generally sleep all night so I know he can.  But so far we have let him lead the way (while trying to set the stage for good sleep) and he's dropped from 4 regular night wakings down to just this one so I'm helpful he'll drop it on his own as well when he's ready.

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  • Going through this now with DD. We bedshare and  for the past month she has been on a newborn schedule (nursing every 2 hrs at night) Yesterday, I made a stupid move while driving with her in the carseat because I am just so tired. This nursing on demand ALL night long at 16 months and for 16 months is finally taking it's toll. SO...last night we started weaning (just night weaning). I nursed her to sleep, but for the first time in 16 months she didn't nurse from 9:30 to 5:30. I am no longer going to nurse in bed (even though I love it). I am only nursing her in my rocker (ourside of our bedroom)so she doesn't associate our bed or our room with nursing.

    Here is what our first nursing free night looked like if you are interested in trying:

    9:00-9:30 nursed to sleep in the family room

    10:30 she was up and wanted to nurse. My DH rocked her for an hr, she fussed off and on. When she started screaming/gagging, I took her and rocked her for 5 min. She was so upset from not being with me, she didn't try to nurse. So I (for the first time in months) rocked her to sleep.

    11:30 - up again. I rolled her on her side away from me and rocked her on her side. She fussed/wrestled me for 10 min and went to sleep.

    2:30 - up again and repeated te above

    3:30 - up again repeated above

    5:30 - up again. I changed her and nursed her in the family room. When I pulled my shirt up she looked at my boob, then looked up at my eyes with a HUGE smile and squinted her eyes (almost like she was going to cry for joy!) She fell alseep. I put her back in bed and she got up at 8.

    We are doing the same tonight until she gets that the bed is for sleeping now that she is 16 months. If in a few days she is sleeping better and I find she is genuinely hungry in the middle of the night, I will nurse her in the other room.

    Good luck with this phase. I can't believe I am back on this sleeping schedule. Babies get so addicted to Mommy and our milk. It's so frustrating but I have to admit it's sweet.

  • imageMrsAmers:

    Wow, thank you for posting these - I was in tears reading this quote, as it was so spot-on for me (right down to the trip to the west coast!):

    18 months was probably the lowest point in my parenting career. The first 3-4 months were excruciating, sure, but I knew they would be rough and I got a lot of sympathy from everyone who remembered how disorienting and grueling the newborn phase can be. At 18 months, though, I was just blindsided. He was the same kid, but everything just seemed so much harder at that stage. I actually thought my depression was coming back (the hormones of nursing made my depression disappear completely) because I just couldn't seem to grind through each day with a child who was smart and funny and loving, but fighting me at every turn.

    He wouldn't nap. He went from sleeping all night to waking all night. He had a tantrum every 5 minutes, it seemed, mostly because he wanted to do everything himself and it just wasn't possible. He hardly ate. He whined. He never shared with the other kids and he always tried to yank out our cat's fur.

    I was exhausted all the time, and really doubting the decisions I'd made and my abilities as a mother. I think I could have dealt with the oppositional behavior (I knew in my head it was normal for that age), but the not sleeping was killing me. Not only would he not let my husband put him to sleep (starting at almost exactly 18 months, conveniently right after we came home from a 2-week trip to the West Coast, which I thought was what had caused the sleep nutsiness), but he wanted to nurse every freaking time he woke up in the middle of the night. He went from sleeping from 8 to 6 to waking up 3-5 times a night for around a month or so. It was making me want to run away.

    And then at around 20 months it just suddenly went back to normal. He wanted Daddy to put him to sleep, and he slept through again. It certainly wasn't anything I did, because I was too fried to do anything but just try to make it through the day. The only consolation in all of it was that every single kid in our playgroup was doing the exact same thing, whether their parents had done CIO or not. Every one. And then at a La Leche League meeting I threw caution to the winds and decided to risk scaring the new mothers by mentioning the non-sleeping. The mothers of older kids laughed bitterly and said, "Oh, yeah. Their sleep gets all screwed up at 18 months. If they were sleeping before then they stop for a couple of months, and if they weren't sleeping before they start sleeping through the night then." So apparently this is a common thing no one bothered to tell me about.

    Childhood cancer (DH) + chemo + radiation = 0 sperm.
    LO #1 - 1 unmedicated/self-monitored IUI w/ donor sperm.
    LO #2 - 1 m/c, 2 BFNs, 4th IUI worked (unmedicated/self-monitored with new donor sperm).
    Life is beautiful!

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  • imageEcoBaby:

    Last night, DS woke up in the middle of the night and was just awake. Nursing wasn't putting him back to sleep. He's had a harder and harder time getting back to sleep lately in the middle of the night with nursing.

    This is my life right now, in a nutshell.

    Childhood cancer (DH) + chemo + radiation = 0 sperm.
    LO #1 - 1 unmedicated/self-monitored IUI w/ donor sperm.
    LO #2 - 1 m/c, 2 BFNs, 4th IUI worked (unmedicated/self-monitored with new donor sperm).
    Life is beautiful!

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  • I see people already posted about the 18 month developments, but we went through that too!

    No and yes to your question.  At this point DS doesn't wake up and ask for someone (he often wakes up and sips his water - something that REALLY helped him not need to night nurse) but maybe once a month.  And then I do nurse him back down.

    If I was to offer any advice it would be to offer a water tight sippy of water for him to take to bed because it really helped my guy learn to self sooth. 

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  • imageMrsAmers:

    Does your son have any kind of lovey?  Maybe something he could mouth - DD had a soft bear with rubber feet that she could chew on when she was teething.  She also became more paci-dependent when she was teething.

    He does.  His blanket & paci are a MUST right now.  And he has them every night (so, obviously they aren't doing the trick during this phase).  He's never really been one to want to chew on things when teething. 

    Childhood cancer (DH) + chemo + radiation = 0 sperm.
    LO #1 - 1 unmedicated/self-monitored IUI w/ donor sperm.
    LO #2 - 1 m/c, 2 BFNs, 4th IUI worked (unmedicated/self-monitored with new donor sperm).
    Life is beautiful!

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  • imageashleyhuney:

    If I was to offer any advice it would be to offer a water tight sippy of water for him to take to bed because it really helped my guy learn to self sooth. 

    Huh, never thought of that.  You just put it in his crib with him?  You've actually found a water-tight sippy?  Do share, please!

    Childhood cancer (DH) + chemo + radiation = 0 sperm.
    LO #1 - 1 unmedicated/self-monitored IUI w/ donor sperm.
    LO #2 - 1 m/c, 2 BFNs, 4th IUI worked (unmedicated/self-monitored with new donor sperm).
    Life is beautiful!

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  • imageSeaSoul:
    imageashleyhuney:

    If I was to offer any advice it would be to offer a water tight sippy of water for him to take to bed because it really helped my guy learn to self sooth. 

    Huh, never thought of that.  You just put it in his crib with him?  You've actually found a water-tight sippy?  Do share, please!

    I agree and I really do think it's helped.  At first I had to hand it to DS but now he knows it's there and sometimes he just takes a drink and goes back to sleep.  We use either the Nuby straw cups or these Gerber cups.  As long as you keep the valve in they don't leak. 

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  • I actually just started to attempt night weaning last night - we'll see how that goes.  Since kiddo moved to a floor bed in his room, he's started sleeping better at the end of the night (I still sleep in there with him for the second half of the night most nights if he wakes).  We were stuck in that cycle of constant nursing the last few hours of the night.  Now that's better so I'm feeling like he needs it less.  He also really doesn't "eat" unless it's just a few hours after he goes to sleep - any other time is just comfort nursing.  That makes me feel ok about finding another way to comfort him.

    We've been getting molars but seem to be in a lull so I decided to give it a go last night.  He went down about 8 and woke up about 2.  I did nurse him a bit (sort of doing the Jay Gordon thing) then unlatched him.  At first he almost went to sleep, then he figured out what was going on and got a bit mad - never went to full out crying though.  I did almost cave several times since he kept signing for milk.  Finally, after about an hour of tossing and turning, he snuggled up and went back to sleep.

    I feel a little guilty about it - one of my main reasons for wanting to try to night wean is that I still haven't gotten AF back and we are TTC.  I've also started getting sore nips - teething definitely throws off the latch and it's much worse when he's just comfort sucking.  But I think what he really needs is me, not necessarily nursing - so I'll continue to co-sleep with him as needed until that passes too.

    And I don't know what y'all are talking about with this 18 month sleep regression business...lalalala...can't hear you!!

  • I didn't read all of the responses so I apologize if this is redundant.  I also work outside of the home and have been primarily night nursing since she was about 15 months.   For us 18 months was awful with night nursing.  I remember being really sore and annoyed that she wouldn't fall asleep and stay alseep.  I believe it was from teething.  The teeth didn't show up for months but I believe it was her 2 year molars moving through the bone.  There was no explanation for her not being able to go back to sleep but she clearly needed some empathy at that point in time.  It lasted for a few weeks, some nights worse than others, but it ended.  We weren't having very many nights at all with her sleeping through the night up to that point.  But, once she hit two she's been STTN about 75% of the time. 
  • imageSeaSoul:
    imageashleyhuney:

    If I was to offer any advice it would be to offer a water tight sippy of water for him to take to bed because it really helped my guy learn to self sooth. 

    Huh, never thought of that.  You just put it in his crib with him?  You've actually found a water-tight sippy?  Do share, please!

    I felt pretty silly for not thinking of it myself :)  J was waking allll night, having to nurse, but not really eating just comfort nursing.  It was really bad when he was sick one week and my DCPs dad who is an old school pedi checked him out, said he had an irritated throat and to give him a bottle of water that he could drink on his own.  That night I gave him a sippy of water and he slept all freaking night.  And pretty much has ever since!  The sippy is empty in the morning and I don't want to think about night time PT but whatever, we sleep :)

    We use straw sippies and I've found the tommy tippee brand of straw sippies to be the best!  Shake it and nothing comes out. 

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  • I was convinced I'd be waking to nurse my DS every 2 hours at night until he moved out, but alas, he stopped doing it in the last week.  :)  He'll be two in two weeks.  Prior to this recent development, he was waking up at about 1 am and even nursing or a sippy of milk didn't help him get back to sleep.  He'd lay there and then suddenly say, "hi mama."  Ugh.  He was up for hours at night several times a week.  It sucked!

    I've nursed him to sleep for every nap and night time that we are together (I work 5 days a week though) since he was born.  Just in the last few weeks, I haven't been making as much milk so he's been getting bottles or sippies of milk at his request.  I finally started giving him one without him asking just before bed and ta da, sleep!

  • DD nursed at least once a night until she was 26 months. That's the point when I chose to night wean her. She would have kept nursing for probably the next year, but I just needed the night nursing to be over. It didn't help at all with her sleep. She's 4 yo, and I'd say about 50% of the time wakes around 2-3am to come into our bed.
    Annalise Marie 05.29.06
    Charlotte Ella 07.16.10
    Emmeline Grace 03.27.13
  • imageSeaSoul:
    imageashleyhuney:

    If I was to offer any advice it would be to offer a water tight sippy of water for him to take to bed because it really helped my guy learn to self sooth. 

    Huh, never thought of that.  You just put it in his crib with him?  You've actually found a water-tight sippy?  Do share, please!

    We use a brand I found at Walgreen's. I think it's WAGI or WEGI? They're BPA-free, but I've only ever seen them at Walgreen's, so it might be a store brand.

    And back to your question, I can't remember when I stopped night-nursing DD the rare times she woke up in the night, maybe around 22 months or so? Now if she happens to wake up, I either try to soothe her in the crib and offer to sit in her room until she falls back asleep (which sometimes works, but I couldn't tell you why) or just bring her to bed with us and snuggle her in there before I turn my back to her so she can't go for my boob. It sounds more ruthless than it is because I think sometimes when she is sleepy like that she just tries to nurse out of habit, not because she is really determined to or will be upset if she doesn't.

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