The topic of night weaning often comes up on various mama groups I’m in and I just can’t help myself from responding. It’s a topic that weighed pretty heavily on my mind during my daughter’s second year. Some nights there was nothing sweeter than waking up just a little bit when my daughter would rouse, pulling her close and then both of us falling back asleep while she nursed. Other nights I dreaded having to pull myself out of my slumber, even a little bit. Especially on the nights when she would wake every few hours.
What works for our family is bed sharing. It’s not what I planned on before having kids but like so many parenting decisions, it was what worked. Also, I have come to find that I love it! There is nothing sweeter than cuddling in with my littles. Especially at the end of a particularly difficult day. It’s impossible to feel anything but the deepest love when you look at that little angelic face as magical dreams pass through her head. It’s the cutest!
My cycle returned when my daughter was about 20 months old. With it came very sensitive nipples during ovulation. At that point I decided that allowing her to nurse to sleep was no longer working for me. The first step I took was to discuss with her how tonight we would be nursing for a bit then she would fall asleep cuddling, rather than nursing. It went surprisingly well! She was fine with it. I did a ten second countdown (other people sing a song) to let her know when we were almost done. She would pop off before I got to one.
The first night of this she happily cuddled in and fell asleep. I was struck with how sweet it was to watch her face drift to sleep. There were other nights when she got upset with this arrangement, but I held her close, rocked her when she needed it, and she was able to eventually relax. If she got really upset I would offer ten seconds of nursing, and it seemed to take the edge off and help her to reorganize herself.
We did this for a while. Maybe a few weeks, or a month? I can’t really remember. But at a certain point I decided I was ready to take the plunge and night wean her completely. I bought the book, “Nursies When the Sun Shines” by
So then, I picked a night when we would start and crossed my fingers! The amazing thing was that it went MUCH more smoothly than I had imagined it would! She woke up ONCE the first night and cried in my arms on and off for about a half hour. Then she slept the longest stretch she had since she was a newborn! Over the next few days we had similar results. I think the longest stretch of waking was about 45 minutes? By the fourth night she slept through the night, cuddled next to me. It was blissful for all involved!
The most important lesson I learned from this process was how adaptable little people really are. You hear “people” talk about setting up habits and getting babies “used to” doing certain things. But I just don’t really buy into that. I say, if it’s working, let it work. If things aren’t working anymore, try something different! Our kids will likely adapt and be fine with it. This process was definitely harder for me than for her!
And now… as my son is nearing 18 months I’m starting to think it might be time to night wean him… This time around I’m not as scared that it will be hard. I’m more just a little sad to think about the end to our lovely middle of the night cuddling and nursing. But then I remember how good sleep feels… and how nice it is to to cuddle WITHOUT nursing… I don’t know… to be continued I guess!