Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Status: Night Weaned

It feels so good to say that Liam is officially night weaned!  Sleep has continued to ever so slightly improve, and I am extremely hopeful that it will be much better in the next couple months!  So for those who are still nursing toddlers (I know you out there), here is our night weaning experience...

I had heard many a horror story about night weaning.  About long sleepless nights filled with nonstop crying.  I was dreading the day that we would find ourselves in that position!  Well, that was just not the case for us!  I suppose the whole process started a few months ago when I stopped letting Liam fall asleep nursing.  This was by far the hardest step.  After he finished drinking all my milk, I would simply tell him "there's no more milk, you can have more later".  This was upsetting for him; he would cry and even get a little angry.  I would always calm him down with a soothing voice and snuggles.  I would remind him how much I loved him and sing him songs to let his mind focus on something else.

It took about a month for him to adjust to this, and during that time it took me much longer to get him to sleep.  Now if he's struggling to fall asleep, he will ask me to sing a song.  I love hearing those words come out of his mouth and knowing that my voice is comforting to him.  It reminds of those early newborn days.  Once this was our new normal, I started telling him "there's no milk" at every other night waking.  This he adjusted to easily, since he seemed to already grasp the no milk concept.  We continued with this for about a month with lots of success.  He was starting to snuggle up to me when he woke up, instead of always asking for "nini"!

Then just about a week ago, I decided that he was ready to skip all night nursings.  It was a quick decision; nothing that I thought too much about.  It just felt like the right time.  Now when he wakes, I tell him "we will have nini when the sun comes up" (usually about 7am).  Sometimes he still asks for it when he wakes, but he usually only fusses for a few seconds and then goes back to sleep.  It has really been that easy!  I'm so happy that I waited until it felt right for both of us, instead of forcing the issue early on.  

So at just barely two years old, he nurses in the morning, before nap (and sometimes after), and before bed.  Although I encouraged the night weaning, it still feels like he did it on his own.  Waiting until he seemed ready was what made the whole process go so smoothly.  Breastfeeding into the toddler years is all about the relationship; one in which both people have to be happy.  We were both ready for this plunge into weaning.  We still cosleep for the second half (or two thirds), so I am right there with him.  I able to offer him comfort & support in a different way.

I feel like night weaning is the beginning of the end.  It is such a bittersweet feeling.  More sweet than bitter, but bitter nonetheless.  I'm really content with the current status of our breastfeeding relationship and am in no hurry to fully wean him.  I still hope this is something that he does himself...we will just have to see.  It's incredibly hard to imagine being completely done.  I constantly think about the last time that he will potentially nurse, and it saddens me.  I think about how he will forget all about nursing and our close bond that was built on that foundation, and it breaks my heart a little.  Breastfeeding will only be a very short portion of his childhood, but will forever hold special memories for me!

And of course, I can't leave you without a picture of me and my nursling 
when he was just an itty bitty baby.

Haley Sierra Photography

5 comments :

  1. Just loved that last bit! Aria didn't night feed really early on, so that was all her. As was the end of nursing to sleep. Kid just wanted to throw me off...I still enjoyed our night routine! Now we read and sing, not too shabby at all.

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  2. While not nursing we are going through a weaning or sorts. I am trying to wean Noah off his milk bottles at night. I feel he is waking too often in the middle of the night for them (often goes through 6 bottles of watered down milk). I hope it can be a smooth transition and that since I'm with him that my voice and snuggles can start to be his comfort instead as well. Motherhood is quite the journey :). Glad to hear he adjusted well!

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  3. So...we night weaned way back when...at 11 months when he started sleeping through the night. Much like yourself I didn't push it and sort of let him take the lead, but right around a year he just quit waking up in the middle of the night and that was it...night weaned. BUT, we're at 2 years also and I still consider him far from weaned. We just cut out nursing around nap time but those morning and before bed sessions seem to be really important to him still. I'm fearful I'm going to have to push him more than I want to get him to actually wean!

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  4. That is so sweet he'll ask you to sing to him!! It most definitely is bitter sweet when it comes to an end. As I may have commented before, we have different parenting styles/experiences but that doesn't change the emotions and challenges that come along with each. I hope it continues to go smoothly for BOTH of you. :)

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  5. First off, beautiful photo!! Second, so happy to hear that this is going well for you! I imagine it is tough for both of you, but weaning will help you move forward in those other areas you're ready to move onto! :-)

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