Night (and nap!) weaning.

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This is the face of night weaning. This little boy who cuddles and kisses his doll, this little boy who went up to another boy about a year older than him at playgroup yesterday…..and gently stroked his face before giving him a big fat kiss on the cheek! This little boy is the reason why nightweaning was invented.

For those who don’t know what nightweaning is, it’s simply (ha!) the process of stopping milk feeds during the sleeping hours. We are doing (well, have done!!) nap weaning as well. It is perfectly natural and healthy and normal for a baby to continue to have milk throughout the night at 18 months, 24 months, and beyond.

We always said the minimum age we would do anything about milk at night, or sleeping in general, was 18 months. We planned to go all naturally on this one, but TMD’s sleep deprivation is unfunny. So we started weaning about a week ago – and they are 19 months today.

First, naps. I have to say – don’t shoot me, people – I think night and nap weaning is one area where formula feeding comes up trumps. It generally seems to be a bit easier than those kids who are latched on the whole time to boobie.  The babies have been used to having a bottle as they are in bed, just before naps. Snort is used to having a bottle if he wakes during nap, as well as more milk once he wakes up.

We always have had success by introducing change to naps before nighttime, so we thought, ‘Fuck it. Cold turkey.’ The first day he was a bit pissed, to put it nicely. He screamed up a blue streak before nap – and it’s worth saying we still would never do controlled crying or crying it out. Eventually he accepted a fresh muslin (his lovely) in place of milk and went to sleep. He woke once and screamed for 30 minutes while I quietly freaked out. He also woke Coconut, so it was like an Angry Baby Party. Again, once he realised the milk wasn’t coming, he went straight back to sleep. With mama singing, of course – though at this point I think I’m singing for me, cause I don’t think they need it anymore.

That was it. The next day, maybe 10 seconds of fussing before nap. He woke up once and immediately settled again with some shushing and a hand on his back.

The third day he never woke up. NEVER WOKE UP. Neither did she. This is fucking unheard of, people. My kids are still having one 2-3 hour nap per day, and after about 2 hours sleep can get very restless.

We are now at the point – we have been for awhile, but no more bottles! – of me saying, ‘Okay, guys. Time to sleep. Everybody go to your room.’ Both kids toddle straight off to their room and get into their beds. And SLEEP.

What the fuck.

Nightweaning – now, we are following the plan of Dr Jay Gordon (it may be ‘-an’ rather than ‘-on’ if you fancy a google.). He’s an attachment parenting advocate, and his plan is aimed at breastfeeding, co-sleeping babes. Ours are obviously not on the boob, but they have some co-sleeping – namely when TMD passes out on the floor next to their beds in the night.

The idea is that they still have full range access to milk before 11 pm, and after that on the first 3 days restricted access after that. So, short feeds and then straight back to bed. This shit worked like a fucking dream. We kept reducing bottles – Snort was a bit upset when we got down to 90ml bottles, but got over it and went straight back to sleep. On the third night of this plan, he had his usual 10:30 feed and then ONLY ONE FEED FOR THE REST OF THE NIGHT.

Cue ‘omg’s and ‘zomg’s.

I knew a friend (hi, you-know-who-you-are-twin-mama!) was reducing bottles, so we opted to do this and be a bit more gentle. IE, add in an extra three days of very reduced feeds before we went to Dr Jay Gordon’s next step – which is NO MILK after 11 pm. This shit scared us.

Snort might be kissing random strangers and giving hugs out to all and sundry, but when he is half-asleep and wants milk? You don’t cross the kid. It wouldn’t be unheard of for pure fire to shoot out of his mouth and scorch us with his rage.

Last night was the first night of really reduced feeds. It was shit. Shit. Shit. He had – I think – three feeds after 11 pm. It was so shit that tonight we go total milk free after 11 pm.

No problem for Coconut – she often goes the full twelve hours with no peep, or may want one tiny feed. But for Snort? Jesus. JESUS. JAY-SUS. Wish us luck, because, yo, we’re going to need it.

Still – touch wood – naptime is going so fucking swimmingly that I do have hopes for the night. And comfort in knowing that we are not taking away milk and mama/mummy comfort. He’ll have us right by him every step of the way.

(And short cute Coconut story – this morning she picked up an orange and exclaimed in joy, ‘Orange!’ She then began to squeeeeeeeze. It dripped all over the table and she was shaking from the effort of pulverizing this thing. She then smiled and calmly said, ‘Juice.’)

What about you guys? Anyone needed to nightwean? What were your experiences? Any advice?

I think the next steps are getting through this no milk stuff – Dr Gordon talks about cuddling and then putting down awake, and then moving to shushing and back patting or whatever. Snort does not want to cuddle at night when upset, so we’ll jump straight to attempting to offer comfort otherwise. As per usual.

I need to reread all the stuff, but once we’ve got post-11 pm licked, well, at some point we’ll look at dropping that 10:30 feed. I don’t want the kid to starve, though.

Okay. It’s Friday morning, and my kids are cooking up a storm at their play kitchen, so I’m going to enjoy what might be my last wide awake good morning for a few days – unless of course the universe feeds Snort through an invisible tube in his belly button throughout the night so he doesn’t bother to wake for milk and get upset when it’s not there.

Yeah. I didn’t think so.

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6 Responses to “Night (and nap!) weaning.”

  1. Natasha Says:

    I admit I haven’t read the whole entry, as I’m just heading out the door, but wanted to drop a comment to say that as I loaded this page up I was holding that EXACT same doll! 😮 Freaky.

  2. Sara Says:

    Can’t wait to hear what happens with the “no milk after 11”. My little guys did a little better last night on reduced feeds, one only woke up twice and the other once, so I’m giving it one more night then reducing further. I just don’t have the guts to go cold turkey yet, you and TMD are really brave, much braver than this jelly mama!

  3. Jenny Says:

    Sounds like you guys have made a really good start, well done!! We were fortunate enough to be able to let Bub night wean more or less naturally. He was a 2-4 times a nighter up until about nine months when I had to stop breastfeeding. We continued to bottle feed on demand though. However I think because of the hassle it meant a feed became our last choice for comfort rather than the first. In this I agree that it is easier to night wean if you bottle feed (though I think the nightwakings themselves can be harder.) Anyway he gradually dropped feeds and by thirteen months he’d stopped altogether. And boy, it feels good!! Still get the odd waking, and it’s a pain sometimes not to have a feed up our sleeves, but overall I’m sooo relieved it’s over. Sounds like you are not too far off – good luck!!

  4. saralema Says:

    Hellz yeah bottle feeding trumps the boob in the nap/night weaning arena, especially when the one with the milk-giving boobs is responsible for nap/night routines. Part of my is scared shitless about what will happen to our nap/bed routine if I am ready to stop nursing before she is. I try the rock, soothe, cuddle, but she sobs and sobs and is grabby at my shirt until I feel so bad I ask if she wants to nurse. She instantly stops and says ‘uuuuhhhhh-kay.” Steve would help, but when he does try to put her down at night, even if I have already nursed her, she goes ape shit. At the very least, I need to figure out something for naps before going back to work part time in September.

    Anyway, I sending happy and smooth thoughts your way. I know Snort tested negative for a dairy allergy, but I have to wonder if cutting back the milk will have a positive impact on him. Either way, longer, uninterrupted stretches of sleep for everyone will have nothing but a positive impact I am sure.

  5. Mel Says:

    My son started doing much better about not needing milk during the night once we stuffed his belly full of food right before bed. Cheerios, bananas…anything that would stick with him. We discovered this purely by accident (or divine intervention).

    Now my son is 2.5 and occasionally wakes in the middle of the night to go potty.

    I hope things go well for you and your beautiful kids!

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