Hi, Kim West, The Sleep Lady. Today, I’m going to answer this mom’s question:
“My daughter is 18 months old and is still waking to nurse 1 to 3 times a night. If I nurse her, she goes right back to sleep, but I’ve tried to night wean and she stays up for hours protesting. It’s exhausting and I’d like to wean her in hopes of getting her to sleep through the night. I know this is a habit I need to break but I don’t know how. I’m against “cry-it-out,” and I’m a light sleeper. So, if she’s awake, I don’t sleep. Help. Thanks.”
Our Children Just Get Smarter
First of all, thanks for sharing your story. At 18 months as I always say our children, thankfully, are only getting smarter. And at 18 months your daughter may have very well caught on that eventually you give in and nurse her. Hence, you saying when you tried to wean her, she stays up for hours. So that means that once you really are ready to do this, just be prepared that you have to get through the protesting before the behavior will really change.
Decide If You Are Going to Night Wean
I want you to start on a night after a day of good naps. Make sure that you have an appropriate bedtime, which at her age is around 7 to 7:30 p.m., and then see if perhaps you can get dad or another adult involved who, doesn’t have a nursing relationship with her. That person can go in and do The Shuffle for all of the night awakenings. Again, make sure that she’s awake at bedtime and well-napped. You may want to make sure that she’ eating well during the day, and as always and check with the doctor to get a green light so you can create a night weaning plan and then move forward consistently.
Basically, you need to either decide whether to wean her “cold turkey” at night or maybe you’re going to keep one feeding or go with one feeding for three nights and then no feedings. Again, respond consistently at each night awakening and be prepared for her to protest because after all, she knows that in the past you have given in when she’s protested. So, stick with it. Good luck!
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