Reprinted with permission from the author.
I just wanted to share my story as I know that I have learned so much from others. My son Jack, now 2 1/2, still nurses 3 times a day, and just last week night weaned with just a little encouragement from us…
I always planned on nursing, but never had a strong stance against formula and thought that I might supplement with the occasional bottle if we were out and about. Well, Jack had other ideas… Once he had yummy mommy milk he wasn’t about to accept anything else. He would never take a bottle and thus a drop of formula has never crossed his lips.
So, although I’m what I would consider a pretty modest person, I learned to nurse him discreetly in public. I’ve nursed him everywhere- at restaurants, on airplanes, all over Disney World, Universal Studios, the beach, etc. And, I have been very lucky – I’ve never had to endure a rude comment, pretty much only supportive looks. I feel for those who constantly are attacked about nursing in public!
I exclusively nursed Jack for almost eight months, at which time we started him on cereal and jarred baby foods. He has always been nursed to sleep, we co-sleep (also not pre-planned, but this kiddo has a mind of his own!), and he has waked to nurse at least every two hours since the day he was born. I thought I would never sleep more than two hours straight again, but I am happy to say that just last week I was able to gently night wean him without any real upset.
I really want to give others hope that this day will come and you will sleep uninterrupted again. We have tried in the past on several occasions to not nurse him at night and to comfort him in other ways, but it always resulted in him crying so much that none of us got any sleep – it wasn’t worth the trauma!
But, as he’s getting older we thought we’d try again and it’s worked like magic – he must have been ready. We had a big talk about his “drinkies” going night-night, because they were tired too, and he seemed to get it. The first night he stirred at least 10 times, but we rubbed his back and whispered to him that the drinkies were sleeping, and a miracle happened – he actually fell back to sleep. He whimpered a tiny bit, but never for more than a minute, and he never really cried at all. Each night he wakes less and less and he still hasn’t been upset about it. And this is a kid who has NEVER fallen asleep by himself and has always had to be nursed for every little awakening!
So take heart – your day will come and you will sleep again! I would have never believed or imagined that this could have happened even a couple of months ago! When your little one is ready it won’t be too difficult.
Now it seems as if the past 2 1/2 years have flown by – when he was a baby I could never have thought I would nurse him this long, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. I still nurse him when he wakes in the morning and to sleep at naptime and bedtime. He is a loving, kind, generous, energetic toddler and sometimes the only quiet time I have when him is when he is nursing!
I don’t see us fully weaning anytime soon – I’m plenty happy to have my sleep at night now and I hope that when he fully weans it will be as painless as night weaning because he will be ready!
Just cherish every little nursing moment because it truly is such a special bond! Don’t worry about what will happen if you nurse your baby to sleep or at night – it will work out in the end. And, don’t feel bad if you occasionally get so frustrated you don’t think you can go on. There were more than a few nights that I thought I would go crazy if I had to nurse him one more time, but as with everything I tried to remember “this too shall pass” — and, looking back, it really did pass quickly!
I really hope that this doesn’t sound too preachy, but over the years I have read so many posts from people having problems with their babies/toddlers nursing at night and kiddos that won’t wean that I wanted to share my story to hopefully give others hope!
Whenever I read about someone who successfully night weaned I thought that it would never happen for Jack because he is/was such a strong-willed, high-needs child, but I’m here to say that it did! And, it will work out for you, too – just give it time… lots and lots of time.
– Ellizabeth, mom to Jack… 2 1/2 years