Archive for the ‘Nightweaning’ Category

Nightweaning: Our Cry-With-Daddy Approach

Yes. The time has come for us to nightwean. I’ve reached the end of my emotional and mental capacity to be woken up every two – three hours and have my sweet baby yanking and sucking and grabbing and pinching and it going on and on and on. She is 16 1/2 months.  Not a bad ride for the all-night baby buffet.  And my current intention is to keep nursing her during the day until she’s at least two.

Lots of big changes are happening this month in our home– including me working full-time starting tomorrow (!!!) — so a decent night’s sleep is truly imperative.  There is too much at risk for our family’s financial well-being for me to continue to be the crazy no-sleep lady.

A lot of people in the Attachment Parenting community look to Dr. Jay Gordon for as having the best night-weaning method that aligns with our collective views on night-time parenting and providing consistent, loving care. He is quite clear on not advocating night-weaning at all for babies younger than 12 months and offers tips for the older baby or toddler.

When I tried his gradual approach with my first daughter when she was 17 months, this ended up adding to her distress.  She couldn’t understand that sometimes when she was sleeping, she would get Mama’s milk and sometimes she wouldn’t.

Within a few painful nights of this, we determined we needed to quickly eliminate nursing after first going to sleep at night and not nurse again until morning. I was so worried about this decision because I believed that allowing my baby to cry — even if I was with her — was cruel and could break her trust and harm our attachment.

But we received some great counseling from early parenting expert Carrie Contey, PhD, who suggested, like Dr. Gordon, that for babies there is an significant difference between crying alone and crying with a parent.  I remember feeling so much relief hearing this!

To be able to experience emotions like anger, sadness and disappointment…..and even despair — this is all part of being human. I think that having to feel those feelings alone would be quite terrifying as a baby. Feeling and expressing them fully and loudly in the arms of a loving parent offering sympathy and acknowledgment — that’s different in my book.

When we night-weaned my eldest, I still slept next to her and followed Carrie’s advice to make statements like, “I know you are so sad and so angry and you really want milk.  I’m sorry sweet angel – no more milk at night.”   We had two very difficult nights — with wildly distraught cries similar to those I heard last month when we weaned her binky.

This time, we determined that because I’ve got to be on top of my game in very short order and really need maximum sleep, that Mark would be the one to comfort Izzy in her middle-of-the-night wails for Mama. And instead of following Gordon’s gradual night wean suggestion, we’re going straight to it because we believe it’s less confusing.

God Bless our sweet new housemate, Jeanine.  She offered to stay with some friends last night and tonight so that Sadie and I could sleep downstairs in her room and be shielded from the sound of Baby Izzy’s cries.

I’m relieved that this first full-time job is freelance work which allows me to be at home and take nursing breaks during the day and hopefully make up for the nighttime separation sadness.

Looking for additional ideas and advice on nightweaning?   Kelly Mom offers some great tips too.

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Posted in Breastfeeding, Nightweaning | 8 Comments


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