More on night weaning:
Of course, it helps that my daughter is now 2 years old (and 4 months) and can actually understand some reason. She’s a big talker.
So one of the things I accidentally did right, early on, was getting into the habit of only breastfeeding in one spot. Just one. The couch in the living room. We had gotten into the habit of night-nursing in bed, and had done so for…. 18 months. That was sleep-deprivation causing for all of us. It’s great when women can breastfeed in bed in the beginning, but it quickly becomes a hellish way to be continuously woken up by the co-sleeping baby who can’t resist the nearby milkshake.
So I’d also introduced a couple of books on night weaning, and promoted the whole thing as something big kids were able to do… sleep all night next to mom and dad without waking up to eat.
There have definitely been nights when my daughter got upset that I said, “No milk now; we have to wait until morning when the sun’s out, and then we’ll have milk on the couch,” but she adapted. I also started rubbing her back or her hair to help her sleep, instead of breastfeeding her to sleep.
The short version — I did everything gradually and with a lot of room to always allow breastfeeding if my daughter was too upset to sleep.
I’m an attachment parent. I don’t believe in letting babies or toddlers cry it out, in general. It just seems cruel and goes against my instincts which say, “My role is to protect you and comfort you.”
Anyway, I know there are other Moms out there who are dying to know how to night wean. I don’t think there’s a magic bullet. You just have to figure out what will work for you. The “No Cry Sleep Solution” had some good ideas that I incorporated at the beginning. I’ll share those later.
What eventually helped (keeping in mind my daughter is 2 years old):
- Finding something else soothing to do before sleep, instead of breastfeeding, like belly rubs or back rubs or hair rubs, while drinking juice from a special cup (we use the ones with characters on them)
- We also sing and tell stories in bed before sleep. She usually falls asleep during stories now, instead of breastfeeding.
- In the beginning (a year ago?): Using “the No-Cry Sleep Solution” ideas of saying, “OK, ten more seconds of breastmilk,” and then gently unlatching her, so that she went to sleep without using me as a pacifier
- Wearing nightshirts that were thicker material or wearing a padded bathing suit top (more comfortable than a bra) to make me less easily accessible.
What didn’t work: Sleeping apart from her for a month. I slept in a guest bed and she slept with Dad. That just made her wake up crying for me. For a month. That was horrible.