It is no secret that most babies do not sleep "all" night. Well, the adult version of "all" night. See, most adults consider "all" night to be 8 or more hours of sleep.....but a Nummie Lover believes "all" night to be 5 hours of sleep. I will be honest (hate me if you want *wink wink*) both of my girls were sleeping "all" night (the adult version) at 4 weeks and 7 weeks old. Yeah, yeah...... we were CRAZY lucky!
Although we did not co-sleep, both of my girls slept in our room (in their bassinet, attached to my side of the bed.) We transitioned Pooker into her room (and her crib) at 8 months old, when she decided that she would refuse to fall asleep if she could see her Mummie. Kit Kat only made it 4 months (in our room), due to her LOUD talking in her sleep. (When I say LOUD..... I mean LOUD! How she did not wake herself up is still a mystery to me!)
Now since they were sleeping "all" night at such a young age, we never had to think about night time weaning.......they simply just never woke up to enjoy some Nummies. But that does not mean that they were "normal" nummie lovers. Whether you are a co-sleeping (aka Family Bed) family or not...... night time Nummies is common. What is even more common is for a Nummie Lovin' toddler (12 months and up) to be waking up MULTIPLE times a night to help his or her self to the all night bar (That would be you.) Now... this can make for SLEEPY (or EXHAUSTED) Mummies (and Daddies)........ think:
I want to be clear.... there is NOTHING wrong with a Nummie Lover nursing during the night and if you are happy nursing during the night.... then all power to you. But (in most cases) a toddler does not "need" some Nummies, during the night...... she/he most likely WANTS the Nummies...... According to Dr. Jay Gordon (The doctor I am mentioning below) "One-year-old babies can easily go for those seven hours (or more) with no calories. They like to get fed a little through the night, but physiologically and nutritionally, this is not a long time to go without food."
Personally I WANT to eat chocolate all day long...... but I don't NEED to. (So NOT comparing breastmilk to chocolate... even though both are SUPER yummy!)
There is a pediatrician who is a breastmilk Guru of sorts..... Many parents turn to him in time of need.... and MANY have found his night time weaning tips very helpful and non "aggressive." Doctor Jay Gordon is not the only doctor to offer up his methods. There is also Richard Ferber, the Weissbluth Method and Doctor Jack Newman.
For the sake of this post.... we will talk about Dr. Gordon's method.
Dr Gordon's sleep method is geared toward toddlers (12 months and older) who are night nursing and parents who would like to sleep "all" night. If you are considering Night Time Weaning, this method might work for you. But if at ANY time you feel you just can not carry on, by all means STOP and try again in a couple of months. There is no harm in your Nummie Lover night nursing and do not let anyone tell you other wise. Your Nummie Lover will not be night nursing in College (no matter what people tell you).... do not let others tell you what is best for you and your Nummie Lover. But that being said: if you find that you are ready to try night time weaning, here is what Dr Gordon recommends. The following is Dr. Jay Gordon's method.... in his words:
For the first 3-4 nights:
*Choose the most valuable seven hours of sleep for yourselves. For example: 11p.m. through 6 a.m.
*At any time before 11 p.m. (including 10:58) nurse to sleep, snuggle and nurse when he/she wakes up and nurse him/her back to sleep, but stop offering nursing to sleep as the solution to waking after 11 p.m.. Instead…..
When your baby awakens at midnight or any other time after 11 p.m., hug him/her, nurse him/her for a short time but make sure he/she does not fall asleep on the breast and put him/her down awake. Rub and pat and snuggle a little until he/she falls asleep but don’t put him/her back on the breast (or give him/her a bottle if that’s what you’ve been doing). He/she must fall asleep with your comfort beside him/her, but not having to nurse to feel comforted enough to drift off.
Now, he/she will tell you that he/she is angry and intensely dislikes this new routine. (He/she is telling the truth!) He/she will also try to tell you that he/she is scared. A baby who’s had hundreds of nights in a row of snuggling is not scared of falling asleep with your hand on his/her back and your voice in his/her ear. Angry, yes. Scared, no, not really.
During these first three nights, repeat this pattern only after he/she has slept. He/she might sleep for fifteen minutes or he/she might sleep for four hours, but he/she has to go to sleep and reawaken to get snuggled and fed again.
During these first three nights, between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., snuggle and feed short, put him/her down awake, rub, pat, talk until he/she falls asleep and repeat this cycle only after he/she has slept and reawakened. At 6:01 a.m., do whatever you have been doing as a morning routine ignoring the previous seven hours’ patterns. Many babies will roll over, nurse and snuggle back to sleep and give you an extra hour or so. Some won’t.
The second 3 nights
*Do as above.... BUT do not nurse him/her. Snuggle, rub and pat and put back down awake. Putting him/her down awake is a crucial part of this whole endeavor because it really does teach him/her to fall asleep with a little less contact and then a little less. Not feeding is the big change during these three nights. One-year-old babies can easily go for those seven hours (or more) with no calories. They like to get fed a little through the night, but physiologically and nutritionally, this is not a long time to go without food.
The next 4 nights
*Nights seven, eight, nine and ten. Don’t pick him/her up, don’t hug him/her. When he/she awakens after 11 p.m., talk to him/her, touch him/her, talk some more, but don’t pick him/her up. Rub and pat only. No feeding either, obviously. He/she will fall back to sleep. Repeat the rubbing and talking when he/she reawakens. By the end of the ninth night, he/she will be falling back to sleep, albeit reluctantly for some babies and toddlers, with only a rub and a soothing voice.
*After these first ten nights, continue to snuggle and feed to sleep if you like and he/she wants to, but do nothing when he/she wakes up except to touch a little and talk to him/her briefly. This may continue for another three or four nights but occasionally keeps going for another week or more. Then . . . it stops. He/she has learned that he/she is just as well-loved, gets virtually everything he/she needs and wants all day, but must give seven hours per night back to his/her parents and family.
Dr. Gordon's method is one of many....... Please remember: if you feel you and your Nummie Lover are not ready for night time weaning, do not hesitate to stop and re try later on. Also, if this method does not work for you, try another one. Or if you are not ready to night time wean at all.... then don't. The most important thing to remember is that you are not "hurting" your Nummie Lover either way.