Child Can't Fall Asleep without Nursing
My 19-month-old son is down to nursing just once a day, before bedtime. We've enjoyed a nice nursing relationship and for a variety of reasons, I am ready to be done.
I have always nursed him down for naps. It was just easy and reliable, what can I say. For the last week I have substituted rides in the stroller, as well as a few car rides. The stroller thing is pleasant, but there are days when I have both my 19-month-old and my 4-year-old in tow. I do not own a double stroller and even if I did, I don't think I could push both big boys in my hilly neighborhood! Driving both boys around in the car just to get the younger one to nap feels wrong on many levels.
So, I would love to hear any success stories from parents who have transitioned from nursing for naps to some other method that doesn't involve motion. We have done a certain amount of ''training'' to get his nighttime sleep to improve and I just don't know if I can deal with having him cry during the day, and I don't know if it will work.
Sorry this is so long. Thanks in advance for any pearls of wisdom. almost weaned
I was in the same sitch 4 months ago (kids same age as yours), except I did not introduce motion for naps. What worked for us was that instead of nursing at naptime, I cradled my little one in my arms, higher than for nursing, so he could lean his head against my upper chest and listen to my heartbeat. I rocked with him very gently in this position and hummed a simple calming tune. The first few times he did ask for milk, but I explained that milk is now for evening bedtime only, not for naptime during the day. I only had to distract him once or twice from trying to pull up my sweater; most of the time he was quite content just to have mommy close, smelling and hearing familiar things, and I could then - after 3-5 minutes - transfer him to his crib in a calm, sometimes drowsy state. We do the same at bedtime now. (In addition, he has a small cuddle object he likes to hold at nap/bedtime, as well as put his fingers in his mouth a certain way.) Best of luck!
We had the same problem with my son. He could fall asleep no problem at night when put into his crib wide awake but when he weaned himself at about 2 years old I knew that naps would be a big challenge since he always nursed down for naps. Basically, I knew he COULD sleep without the breast, he just wasn't used to doing it. So I switched to a bottle of milk (that's a whole other battle now, six months later) and followed an abbreviated bedtime sleeping routine with him (milk, books, etc., then crib). At first he did not nap. He sang, threw his bedding out of the crib, jumped up and down. But I just kept putting him down every day. I did experiment a bit with starting the nap at different times to see if that helped. Basically we had a two-week strike where he did not nap at all but I would leave him in there for an hour either way. Then one day I gave him the bottle in the crib and he managed to fall asleep while I was reading to him. That worked for a while but now he is often awake when I leave him for naps and he manages to sleep. He's getting older so some days he still doesn't nap, but I still leave him for about an hour no matter what. The main trick is to establish a routine, stick to it, and be willing to leave the baby/child alone for some quiet time regardless of whether sleep happens. Eventually it will! I posted a very similar concern when this was happening to me and no one responded, so if you want to talk more feel free to email me. Good luck. Nina
I was very apprehensive about cutting out the nap time nursing as well. The whole CIO thing never worked with my very strong willed daughter and nursing was so easy. I finally took the plunge though and it wasn't as bad as I thought. My daughter didn't seem to mind all that much that she wasn't being nursed, she just wanted some comforting. She did pull at my shirt asking to be nursed a bit for maybe the first two days but didn't mind too much when I refused. I would rock and nurse her to sleep so now I rock her before her nap. Sometimes she doesn't like to be rocked, she'll cry and complain, so I'll stand up and pat her on the back with my eyes shut. She'll put her head on my shoulder, then look at me to be sure my eyes are still shut, then put her head back down and look at me a couple more times. She usually relaxes quickly. The eyes shut really helps her focus on sleeping instead of playing with me. I then lay her in her crib almost asleep. She complains sometimes but some nice head rubbing calms her right down and she falls asleep quickly. It seems like a long process but really it takes no more than 10 minutes, even less if she is really tired. I am progressively trying to step down the comforting but my thought is if she needs a little attention I don't mind giving it. Just remember that consistency is your best friend. She does cry sometimes when I say it's nap time but it's never longer than a minute and really more of a complaint that she doesn't want to stop playing. Good luck! Successfully not nursing
Our 17 month old daughter nurses down for her nap (unless she naps in the car). I would like to wean her from this habit, and I'm looking for tips. She naps on our bed, so my first thought is to refuse to nurse her, and just lay on the bed with her until she stops crying and falls asleep. However, I am not looking forward to putting both of us through this! I'd like to know if there are any other strategies I can use to make this transition easier for her. She definitely uses the nursing to wind down and fall asleep. What have people done to successfully stop nursing down for naps? gentle weaning?
I'll be interested to see what others say about this. Our daughter was extremely sleep challenged. We let her cry it out at 9 months, and since then she has mostly fallen asleep on her own at night (without nursing) and slept through the night, except when she's sick or there's a big change in her environment. We did this in consultation with Meg Zweiback. However, we were never able to get her to sleep on her own at nap time. In fact, I let her cry it out for about 2 weeks of nap times and she just cried through her entire nap. Unlike the night time sleep training, she just cried and cried and cried for 45 minutes to an hour until I would go in there. She cried so long that her nap time would be long over! So, I gave up. I recently weaned her completely (she turned 3 in July), but until then, I just nursed her down for naps. The only time she would take a nap without nursing was when I wasn't home, then she would just lie down with her other (non-nursing) mom and sleep. Now that she's not nursing any more, one of us lies down with her for naps and 9 times of out 10, she falls asleep within 3-5 minutes and then we just hop up and go about our day. My only advice would be to try having someone else put her down for nap? I hope you have better luck than I did! Gave In to Nap time Nursing
I've been nursing my 10 month old down for every nap since I can remember, but I'm interested in finding other techniques to get him to nap. He will fall asleep in the car, but sometimes that's not an option for us. How I would love to just put him in his crib and have him fall asleep!! Any advice? Thanks Jeanne
You need to teach him to fall asleep on his own. Now that he is older it will be more difficult, but trust me it will be worth it. Get the book ''Secrets of the Baby Whisperer...'' by Tracy Hogg. This is a much gentler, more respectful method of ''sleep training'' than Ferber. It applies mostly to newborns, but I read it when my duaghter was 9 mos. old and used her techniques. She's 2 1/2 now and we only have sleep issues when I don't follow the routines. Good luck. anon
My generally easy-going 10-mo.-old sleeps through the night and goes down for naps when I nurse or rock him until he's practically asleep before placing him in his crib. But he will start daycare in a couple of months, and I'd like to prepare him to be able to fall asleep on his own for naps since I can't be there to nurse. At first I used the ''cold turkey'' cry-it-out method for nap-training, which resulted in 20-40 min. periods of crying and never seemed to improve. After 2 weeks of that, I am now trying the Ferber gradual extinction method, which seems to produce longer periods of protest crying of over an hour. It is day 3 of Ferber-izing, and my baby cried over an hour before his afternoon nap and over 2 hours before going down for the night (which has never happened since he was born) when he normally goes down easily even while ''drowsy but awake.'' I wonder if our experience of lengthy protest crying is typical under the Ferber program and how long it will last? I also wonder if I'm not being consistent enough since I bring my baby to bed to nurse after he wakes in the mornings (6-7am) where he sometimes falls asleep again, which goes against eliminating the nursing sleep association. I know Ferber suggests consistency eliminating nursing/rocking for all sleep periods. Am I applying the method correctly? eliza
Here's what I'd do: don't worry about it. Honestly. I stressed like crazy about ''preparing'' my daughter to nap in daycare. But the care providers know how to do this! She may continue to want you to nurse/rock her when she's home, but she'll adjust to the routine at the daycare becuase she'll associate it with the care providers. She doesn't associate it with you. So why make her? Maybe she'll have a rough couple of days when she starts there, maybe she won't nap well, but they know how to handle it. They do it all the time. My daughter's nap routine is completely different in care than it is at home and that seems fine--in fact, she insists on it. So,instead of driving yourself crazy, enjoy this time with your child. another mom
I can't say whether you're Ferberizing correctly because I never read Ferber -- never wanted or needed to. But I wanted to reassure you that you do NOT need to ''prepare'' your child for napping at daycare in this way! And in fact, it may be counterproductive. Almost every kid I know (including mine) has napped much more easily at daycare/preschool than at home, whether or not they were used to being rocked or nursed or walked to sleep at home. This seems to be partly because the routines and schedule is so much more consistent in group care, and it may be partly because of ''peer pressure'', but it is also undoubtedly because children (even very young babies) simply recognize that different rules apply in different places, with different caregivers.
By trying to change the rules at home, especially when (as seems to be the case) that's not your real goal in the first place, you may be simply confusing and upsetting your baby. Why not let her get used to the daycare nap routine at daycare? She is always going to fall asleep without nursing much more easily and quickly with anyone other than you -- because she knows that nursing simply isn't available -- than she will for you -- because from her perspective, the breast is available and there is no reason for you to withhold it! If you don't really need to change what she does when you're there, then don't. She'll be fine when you're not. Holly
My son was the same way--only nursed to sleep and co-slept for the first 20 months. Turns out that I worried for no reason because he sleeps much better at daycare than at home. Hope that gives you some peace of mind. anon
I know this is tough, but I would advice you to stop try new ways to put your son to sleep if you are happy with the way he is going to sleep in your house. I know you like to help him adjust to daycare, but he doesn't know that and is getting probably very confused by you trying new things. Just put him to sleep like you want him to fall asleep at home. If this is on the breast so be it and let the daycare find their own way and ritual with him to let him fall asleep. Kids are very flexible and you might find him able to fall asleep all by himself without you there. Just keep him happy and secure when he is at home. There is confusion enough in a kids world and with a secure life of love and care and stability at home he will be able to have confidence outside your house to cope with new situations (including daycare at 10 months). Good luck anon
I am looking for advice on making changes in sleeping and nursing with my eleven-month-old boy. So far, he has always slept in bed with me. We go to bed together at night, and he nurses to sleep. It's the same for naps; I lie down with him and nurse him to sleep, then I get up once he's asleep. This has worked very well; we've had no sleep problems at all. Now, though, I would like to get pregnant again, and I would like to gradually wean my son and find a way for him to get to sleep without nursing and having me lying down with him. Have others dealt with a similar situation? I would appreciate any suggestions.
I work full time and nurse my 18-month-old early in the morning, after work, and at bedtime. I try to put him down awake (reading a book after nursing), but he's usually pretty drowsy and definitely associates falling asleep and bedtime nursing. This is becoming problematic because he has a hard time going to bed with anyone else (my partner, a babysitter); he cries for me to nurse him. Does anyone have any experience or advice about this situation? Since I see him so little during the day, I am loathe to just go to two nursings per day, but I'm unclear on how to fit in another one much before bedtime. All sage musings on this topic are welcome; thanks to all who helped me a couple of weeks ago about pumping!
My 11 month old, former co-sleeping baby has become quite the little sleeper thanks to some guidance from the Weissbluth book. I nurse her to sleep for both of her naps and at bedtime. I also nurse her around 4:30 a.m. (even though he says not to, she's hungry after 10 hours of sleeping). I have never been able to put her down awake but drowsy as she still has a strong sucking reflex and will root when I try to unlatch her to put her down. My instinct says to let her suck until she's satiated but by then she's out like a light. My concern is that, while she can wake up in the middle of the night and get back to sleep on her own, she does not regularly have to fall asleep unassisted (she has on occassion when she woke up when I was putting her in her crib. But she's always furious and cries). We're thinking about daycare since she is so social however I worry she won't nap as I won't be there to nurse her to sleep. There haven't been many opportunities since she was about 5 months old for anyone else to put her to bed as I am a SAHM and dad works late. I'd like to hear from other parents who have had the same situation (nursing to sleep with Weissbluth baby) and what the outcome was. Should I start putting her down awake? Should I have our baby sitter start putting her down for naps? Should dad put her to bed on nights he gets home on time? Or should I just quit worrying about it and continue to nurse her and love every minute of it (which I do).
Quit worrying about it. :-)
I never read Weissbluth, but I too had a baby who could not be put down ''drowsy but awake'' and who was used to being nursed to sleep most of the time.
His nanny had no trouble getting him to sleep. His daddy had no trouble getting him to sleep as long as I was not around. Even his grandfather could often get him to sleep, as long as I was not around.
Bottom line is, when I *was* around, baby knew it and demanded the boob. But when I wasn't, he knew that too, and was happy to go to sleep in other ways. Your daycare provider will figure out what works for her, and if she tries to tell you that *you* have to change what works for *you* in order to make life easier for *her*, then you need a different daycare provider. anon
My 17 month old is still quite an avid nurser. He is finally sleeping for about 10 hours straight during the night, but with napping tends to nap for 45 minutes to an hour and a half. He will wake up hysterical and obviously still tired. My choice is then to deal with an unhappy baby for an hour or bring him to my bed and nurse him to sleep. I often choose the latter and he will sleep for another hour to two hours nursing on and off and wake up feeling much more rested. The problem? Although I often end up napping with him, I feel constrained and sometimes resentful. I have tried letting him cry a bit in his crib, but he is a stubborn little guy and it doesn't seem to encourage him to go back to sleep on his own. My friends' children take long consolidated naps and are obviously more rested than my son. Any advice???? Daniela
Bring your baby in with you and rest with him, enjoy it. It's something I miss the most. My kids are 8 and 5 years old now, and that was such a great time in my life that I'll always look back fondly on. If you want, bring a book, but don't forget to notice how cute he is and to smile at him! heather
I have a similar situation with my 22-month old. We co-sleep and she takes her naps in our bed. I put her to sleep by holding her while she drinks a bottle (of water now, it used to be milk). Once she's asleep I take the bottle away, wait a few minutes until she goes into deep sleep (I use all this time to catch up on my reading), and then I get up. Often, she wakes up ! about 1/2 hour into her nap crying. At those times she usually just needs me to go and hold her until she goes back to sleep. We thus repeat the same routine, I read and wait until she's back into deep sleep and then go.
Perhaps you could do something similar with your child? Sometimes I feel resentful too, on the other hand it's such a wonderful thing that my baby wants to sleep in my arms. I know we won't have this type of closeness forever so I allow myself to enjoy it while it lasts :)
My toddler rarely naps at home for more than an hour (and even at daycare only sleeps less than 1.5 hrs at most). I've just learned to work within that constraint, and I am so thankful that she sleeps well at night. Your kid is more like mine maybe, and less like your friends' kids. You might want to look into babysitting options (sharing w/ friends etc) so you can get that time that other people get
My husband and I have a 20 month old toddler. We've co-slept with her since birth and it has worked well for us. She now falls asleep at night with her dad after I nurse her and sleeps through until 5:00 in the morning. I can't seem to get her back to sleep once it is light except by nursing her. I also can't seem to get her to nap except through nursing or stroller/car rides. My question is how can my husband and I gently encourage her to learn how to take naps and settle back down at 5 in the morning without nursing?
Please do not write in to say that I should have sleep trained her when she was an infant or that she just needs to cry it out. We are happy with our decision to sleep a little less to ensure that our daughter never cries alone or feels abandoned. We are looking for gentle methods that will ease our child into more independent sleeping. --Seeking gentler solutions
I don't have any very useful advice for you, except to suggest that perhaps you don't really need any. Our son is the same and we have pretty much resigned ourselves to using the methods we know will work to induce naps: A long walk in the stroller, nursing, or planning our errands so that we're in the car at naptime. (Though I do have some hope that he'll learn to nap as part of the routine at preschool when he starts next month, I don't really expect the same methods to work for us on the weekends.)
With respect to the early mornings, is your toddler getting enough sleep to just get up at 5:00 a.m.? Perhaps you can teach her to simply look at books or play on her own for a little while until you are ready to get up, rather than trying to make her go back to sleep. Alternatively, you could just put up with nursing her back to sleep for a while longer; my son stopped needing to at around that age (although he still usually does nurse first thing in the morning, he sleeps late enough that I am ready to get up afterwards). Holly
Blackout curtains! I got dark blue, heavy drapes at Ikea. Solved the 5 a.m. wake-ups. Good luck! Ann
I don't have any suggestions, but just wanted to say that my daughter was the same way, and we just went along with it. She slept with us and had that early morning nursing ''snack'' so we all peacefully slept a few extra hours of shut-eye. By age 2 1/2, she'd given up naps (still slept 12 hours at night). Bedtime and morning nursings went on until she was over 4. When she was ready, she weaned herself. At age 5 has no trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and the transitions were all very easy for us. She's a very independent and confident kid now. karen
Our daughter got up early for a long time - so I can't really address the 5:00 rising. However on the nap subject - I am an avid fan of naps for children. Our daughter napped regularly until she was 5. The number one thing is that you have to be regular and consistent about the nap - every day, about the same time. One of us would simple go to our bed with her for nap time (of course, according to her she was often NOT tired and DIDN'T need a nap) we would read a story and then close our eyes and ''fall asleep''. After getting up at 5:00 I often really did fall asleep before her - and eventually she would fall asleep - if only because there was nothing else to do. Pam
You didn't mention whether this difficulty getting down for naps was a recent development, or long-standing. Also, you didn't say how many naps you are counting on. If recent, consider the possibility that your child may be starting to need fewer naps. Both of my children stopped napping completely by the time they turned two (unless we did something really exhausting). Maybe you are still expecting two naps, when one would be enough (and she would be more tired/ready to nap)? This might not apply to your child, but I wanted to mention it as a possibility. R.K.
I nursed all three of my children to sleep until I weaned them completely. There's nothing wrong with that - it's a wonderful bonding experience. If you are ready to wean, then look to other methods to get her to sleep, otherwise, enjoy it as long as you can - those days will be gone far too soon.
If you are ready to wean, then establish a bedtime routine that you use whenever she goes to sleep. Read books, say goodnight to things around her room, whatever works for you. Just do the same thing, in the same order, every time she goes to sleep. Eventually the nursing will be come less and less important. It also helps to make your breast supply lower and lower by pumping, distracting yourself so you dont get let-down as quickly, again, whatever works for you. Eventually you have to just say no to the breast and give her a bottle or a sippee cup of water or a pacifier instead. Good luck! Julie K.
Well, I won't say that you should have sleep trained your child as an infant...you certainly should do what you and your husband feel comfortable with (and how lucky you are that the two of you agree!)
But the older your child gets the less gentle, in my opinion, your situation will be....there is no easy way of getting your child to sleep on her own without some ''training'' and at 20 mos. your daughter certainly knows you well enough to predict what your response will be if she makes a fuss. You should read ''Secrets of the Baby Whisperer...how to Communicate with your Baby'' (the title might not be exactly that, and I can't refer to it as I have lent the book out) though it applies mostly to teaching newborns how to go to sleepon their own, i think you would benefit from the authors ideas about respecting your baby while still attending to your own needs as parents. I think it is a much more realistic approach to sleep issues than either of the atttachment or cry-it-out theories. Good luck..... anon
I don't remember the original post, but since we just transitioned our 30 month old out of our bed and into his own without any fuss, I thought I would share our experience.
Basically, I had always expected that it was my husband and I who wanted our son in bed and that our son probably didn't care much one way or the other. Turns out my suspicion was true. With baby number two arriving in two months, we finally truly decided that we would like him to sleep in his own (to make room for our second).
The following ideas are what I think made the transition so smooth:
- We finally decided that we really wanted him out of our bed. - We talked about it a lot for a week or two before we put him in his bed. And, we have always talked about what a nice wonderful bed he has in his own room. - We slept with him in his bed the first night. - We had invested (six months ago) in great sheets and comforter with cars, trucks, trains and airplanes -- his passions. It made his bed really exciting to him. - We had visited friends whose children slept in their own beds and showed him their beds -- he was particularly impressed by somebody's fire engine bed. - We were responsive to any peep he made in the middle of the night and early morning. - We focused on how exciting and fun it was that he was sleeping in his own bed -- not on how he was leaving our bed, etc... We told him that he is always welcome back. He generally joins us for 15 minutes each morning. - We continue to tell him how great we think it is that he sleeps on his own. - We talk about him sleeping on his own with anyone willing to listen: family, friends, people in line at the grocery store...
Sleeping (and a little lonely) in SF
Since my baby was born, I've been nursing him to sleep in a rocker and then laying him in his crib. He's now 21 months old, and I've reached the point where I'd like to have my partner step in and put him to bed. We'd appreciate any advice about how we could possibly ease this tranistion. Thanks in advance for your help! Anne
Hi Anne, Incorporating books and songs between nursing/bottle and sleep worked really well for us when we were in your situation. In the beginning, we would read to a practically fully sleeping child. Gradually, she knew there was more to bedtime than milk and she would stay awake just long enough to hear the story. She is now your son's age and enjoys a good session of story and songs - maybe 10 or 15 minutes' worth - before bed. My husband really enjoys this special time with her when it is his turn to put her to bed. Good luck! L.M.
Hi, we recently dealt with this with our 15-month old daughter. We recently switched job situations so that my partner had to learn how to get her to sleep for her naps. His technique was of course totally different, and she cried a lot at first, but she got used to it quickly. This got me brave enough to ask him to do the nighttime ritual one night when I was exhausted. She was MAD! And wanted me, and I gave in, but my smart partner told me to go away. So I steeled myself and never interfered again. It took longer for her to get used to the nighttime Dad-getting-to-sleep (I'm sure because I caved in), but the ironic thing is that now, he's able to get her in a deep sleep much faster and easier than me (with no crying)! I think that his technique is more ''boring'' -- he sings to her only once and holds her until she falls asleep -- so she figures she might as well go to sleep. Not as much fun as nursing or listening to mom sing over and over again:). So I my advice is try to get your partner to do naps and then when you all are ready, start trading off on the night time sleep induction. And don't intervene once you decide to go for it -- babies are very smart and will cry much longer if that gets mom to come. marguerite
When our son was about 18 months old, we also decided to help him learn to fall asleep without nursing to sleep. Here's what we did. First off, we talked to him about it a lot for a few days beforehand, telling him we were going to start having milk in the rocker, then going night-night in the bed, reminding him we were not going to have milk in the bed, etc etc. Then when we began, I decided to nurse him until he agreed he was ''done.'' I was hesitant to do this at first, thinking he'd just want to nurse himself to sleep, but was surprised to find that he willingly let go when he'd had enough.
Then one of us would take him to bed, turn out the light, and stay with him until he fell asleep. At the beginning it took quite a while (up to an hour and a half, if I remember correctly), with occasional requests for milk followed by a bit of crying. We gave him a cup with water for a while. Mostly we'd just lie there with him, sometimes talking quietly to him, sometimes humming. We found that most helpful was an especially repetitive kind of whispering, where we listed all the animals that were going to sleep, or all the parts of his body that needed to rest.
Eventually he could fall asleep more quickly, though I admit that at two-and-a-half someone still stays with him until he's out. We're comfortable with his routine now because it meets his needs for comfort and predictability and our desire for him to be able to fall asleep without us, and we got there in a gentle, respectful way. Best of luck to you. Denise
You are probably going to get SO MUCH advice on this, so here's mine.....
I also nursed my son to sleep until he was about 22 months old. He was still waking up numerous times throughout the night and I would nurse him back to sleep. To get him to start sleeping we went completely cold turkey. I would nurse him for a while and make sure he didn't fall asleep then my mother took him and held him and rocked him and sang to him until he'd fall asleep. Since we had been sleeping together until that point, my mother now had to sleep with him to soothe him back to sleep through the nighttime wakings. It was so hard for the first few days. My son cried for a good hour at times. But I think it really only took about a week for him to stop crying, the another week for him to stop waking up through the night. You should probably just try to stay out of the room at all costs. Your partner can go in instead and your child will be ok. We also played it out with stuffed animals. You just take 3 animals that will represent you and your partner and your child and you give them names that are similar to yours and you tell a story about what they are going to do that night at bedtime. It might seem like your child has no idea what you are talking about but they kinda do take it in. Good luck. Allison
A few ideas, Tell your son simply, calmly, in positive terms, about the new routine. And tell him several times, briefly, throughout the days. I think that makes it more predictable, and he will feel safer knowing what's going on. It sounds like you have a really nice routine so adding partner to the picture could be simply an elaboration of the old routine. I would nurse 1/2 hour earlier in a different room (unless weaning?), then partner gets to read or sing with baby in that rocking chair, then lays him down. You could tie in the impending birthday as a natural reason for a new routine, ''Two year olds get TWO stories before sleepy time....'' And spell out the sequence like, nurse on cozy couch, brush teeth(HA, add eventually), then read in the ''singing'' chair, then night-nights. And you might both tell baby similar things about the plan. It might help to be out of house for 45 mins. or whatever you and partner think is a manageable amount of time, for the first try. My daughter went to sleep unbelievably easily the few times I was actually out of the house whereas if she knew I was within earshot (most of the time I was home)she would scream and scream till my husband or I couldn't bear it and I would go in and nurse again. Also you could start first by nursing to sleep then partner laying him down. Hope something from this long-windedness helps. I'm gonna try some of it with my 10 mo. old.... Chris Mom who always puts 4 y.o. to sleep.
I don't remember exactly how old my son was at the time (he is nine now), but here is what worked (pretty well, anyway) for us. We picked out a lullaby tape/CD (choose music YOU like, because you will be hearing it a lot!). While you nurse your child, play the tape. Keep it playing until he falls asleep, trying not to interact with your child too much, and leave it playing even after you have put him down. Make sure it's not too loud, or the abrupt change when it ends may wake him up. After a few days of this routine, do the same thing, but have your husband be right there with you, as close to you and baby as possible. (I nursed on a bed, and my husband lay right by us, holding my son's hand, or stroking him, whatever he seemed to like). He may need to get closer gradually if it is too distracting at first. You be very quiet, kind of ''not there, really'' as you husband quietly hums, or whatever, and your son falls asleep. I think next, we we moved to nursing him a little while, but not all the way to sleep, just til he was pretty drowsy, then I left the room and my husband continued rubbing his back, etc. After just a few days of this, I recall it being pretty easy for my husband to do it all, as long as I was not in the room. We kept using that same lullaby tape for a long time. I don't remember exactly how long the whole process took us, But I felt good that it was gentle, and didn't involve an abrupt switch. Again, though, he might have been a little younger than yours, and not as mobile (couldn't just run and follow me out of the room). Good luck! R.K.
I have seen this book recommended; maybe it will be of interest to you: ''The No Cry Sleep Solution'' by Elizabeth Pantley. There is also an online yahoo group for it. From Amazon's description: Editorial Reviews
A breakthrough approach for a good night's sleep--with no tears There are two schools of thought for encouraging babies to sleep through the night: the hotly debated Ferber technique of letting the baby ''cry it out,'' or the grin-and-bear-it solution of getting up from dusk to dawn as often as necessary. If you don't believe in letting your baby cry it out, but desperately want to sleep, there is now a third option, presented in Elizabeth Pantley's sanity-saving book The No-Cry Sleep Solution.
Pantley's successful solution has been tested and proven effective by scores of mothers and their babies from across the United States, Canada, and Europe. Based on her research, Pantley's guide provides you with effective strategies to overcoming naptime and nighttime problems. The No-Cry Sleep Solution offers clearly explained, step-by-step ideas that steer your little ones toward a good night's sleep--all with no crying.
Here are some other discussions:
My son is almost two years old, and over the last few months I've been practicing the ''don't offer, don't refuse'' method of weaning. It's been going pretty smoothly, and we're now down to just once or twice a day. The problem is, those times are just before sleep (nap and bedtime), and sometimes first thing in the morning, often the wee hours and after a nursing, he falls back asleep.
In the last couple of weeks, he's been giving me signs that he's ready to drop those times too; he tries to fall asleep, but can't quite seem to make it, then askes for milk. Sometimes he askes to fall asleep in our bed, and I'm tempted if that will help him wean, but I'm also afraid that he will substitute one thing for another. I've tried to just put him in his crib after books and snuggles, but that sets off tears and lots of reaching for me and asking for milk. I should add that I don't nurse him to sleep--just to a deeply relaxed place, after which he can and does fall asleep in his crib. Also, other people (husband, babysitters) can get him to sleep just fine. It's just when I'm around that he has a hard time without nursing.
I hate the thought of just letting him cry it out in his own bed. I don't want this last stage of weaning to be traumatic. I would like to hear from other moms who have been through the same thing for any advice on how to make this important transition for both of us. Thank you. --CW
Hi, I just weaned my three-year-old son. The nursing had dropped down to one, two times a day--morning and naptime. He objected a little in the beginning, but I remained steadfast. Then, I got my lucky break and went to our vacation home with my nine-year old daughter a week before my husband, sitter, and he joined us. My husband and sitter were able to put him to sleep, although a few times he wined/yelped, ''NURSE!'' and even threw the bottle of rice milk at my husband's head with perfect aim. Upon joining up with my diehard nurser again on vacation and, even, now, my son will ''dig'' at me, occasionally, to nurse. Mostly, he accepts it and seems to soothe himself by touching my breasts. I have heard of similar adaptive behavior in other weaners. I was very ready to stop nursing, so that may have helped my cause. Good luck to you. And good for you for nursing for as long as you did. DONE MY DUTY -- marquezfan
I was in the exact same position a few months ago, except that my daughter was then 16 months old. What worked for us was to change the bedtime ritual so that she didn't feel like we were 'skipping a step' (the nursing). Instead of reading in the rocking chair (where we also nursed), we had a pig-pile with mom, dad and babe on the floor to read stories. Then we turned out the lights, sang a few songs, and put her in her crib. Granted, it wasn't a piece of cake (is anything related to kids and sleep??), but it worked - and much more easily than I had expected. Once the bedtime feeding was out of the picture, I had to wean her from naptime (after dropping the bedtime feeding, my milk supply really dwindled and so the naptime nursing was very frustrating for her). Dropping the naptime nursing was more difficult than the bedtime one, since my husband was not around to help - but I basically employed the same tactic (adjust the ritual so it was still familiar, but so that it didn't feel like we were just skipping the nursing). FYI, we did not offer a bottle or sippy cup instead - and she never asked, nor has she indicated (by sleeping shorter lengths of time or anything else) that she wanted/needed that... so I'd suggest at least trying to do the same, so that you won't have to wean him from that later. Good luck!