Thursday, February 19, 2015

In Defense of Night Weaning My 2 Year Old

This past week I started night weaning my two year old. Yeah - I'll give you a second to pull your jaw up from the floor on that one.

I'm tempted to say "in my defense" but why do I feel the need to defend myself? I am always feeling like I have to defend my choices as a parent. I feel the need to defend nursing my son past two and then turn right around and feel like I need to defend any effort to wean him before he's ready on his own. Just depends on the audience.  

Instead of defending myself, I'll just say that really this has worked for us up until this point.  FrenchFry was a pretty typical sleeper for a newborn and then from 4 to 8 months he gave us fairly consistent full nights of sleep and then well... it's been up and down since.  Mostly though it's been manageable and while I haven't strung more than 6 or 7 nights together uninterrupted, the past year or so has usually meant him waking up once overnight, nursing back to sleep and then getting up early to nurse and doze back off until the alarm goes off. 

I never really considered a cry it out method - it just wasn't ever going to be for me and I knew that from that start.  I've read a lot about gentle sleep training or night weaning over the past two years and it always sounds good in theory but again, wasn't for me in practice.  I've also read plenty that says that by nursing him to sleep (we've only gotten away from that in the past couple of weeks), nursing him overnight, and letting him sleep in our bed we are making grave mistakes and apparently will have him sleeping in our bed unable to fall asleep without us when he's 15.

But even though the jury is still out on him falling asleep on his own and staying in his own bed all night consistently, it seems like we are (mostly) naturally moving in that direction.  I've waited until I have felt FrenchFry was truly ready for a step before taking it and (aside from that one week that I tried to push not nursing him to sleep against my own instincts and almost got myself a divorce in the process) the transitions have gone well.  I think in most cases FrenchFry has been ready for each of these well before I was.

Like the night weaning.  It's actually been going surprisingly well. He comes into our bed and says "momma milk" and I tell him that mommy milk is not for night time anymore and then he'll say "Nooo.... I want momma milk! Mommy milk...."  <yawn... zonked> 

For our next sleep evolution I ordered him a "toddler clock" to help him learn to sleep in his own bedroom all night.  It's a choo choo train (do I say "choo choo train" now instead of just saying train??) that has a red, yellow and green light to teach him to stay in his bed until the light turns green at an appropriate wake up time.  Once I'm comfortable that he's fully transitioned from nursing overnight we'll try out the clock and see how it goes.  I'm sure I've ruined him already by letting him come into our bed on his own (I think I read that somewhere) but who knows, maybe things will continue to progress as they have been and uninterrupted sleep is in my future.

All aboard!  To sleeping in your own dang bed.
Now that we are moving away from nursing overnight we are just down to nursing first thing in the morning, before bed and at nap-time on the weekends.  I'm feeling some internal pressure to start the full weaning process but I'm not sure exactly why.   Before I was even pregnant my worry was always that I wouldn't be able to breastfeed or that I wouldn't be able to nurse long enough to meet my goals - aloud I would say six months, to myself I would say a year, and truly I wanted to make it until he was two to meet the WHO recommendations but was afraid to admit that to myself.  Now 2 has come and gone and I wonder when and how this breastfeeding journey will end.

Hopefully once we are BOTH ready.

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