Emotional dilemma BF 16 month old(8 Posts)
I BF (on demand) my 16 month old and I'm finding I have started to feel like I want to stop, in particular night feeds. However, I am struggling emotionally as DC quite obviously doesn't want to, and I really don't want BF to descend into something unhappy and stressful. The main issue is that she wants to feed to sleep, and is also waking at least twice in the night and wants BF. However, something else that worries me is that sometimes she also wants BF over solids, asking to get out of high chair and then asking for BF. I have started the gentle removal technique at bed time to try and move away from feeding to sleep but she is getting really, really upset, crying, grabbing my clothes and pushing my boob into her mouth. I'm finding this all very emotional, admittedly not helped by being tired. I think if I felt like I hadn't created a sleep issue and let her down I would be happy to carry on BF. I realise I'm an emotional mess sorry.
DS is exactly the same, and 16mo. I have very gently begun to wean him off night feeds (No Cry Sleep Solution and Dr Jay Gordon are the best guides for those of us attached to bfeeding!). He is slowly responding, although I don't want to give up, the night feeds are driving me slightly mad.
Good luck, OP, and don't feel forced into giving up just because DD is 16 months, the WHO recommend continuing until 2 years.
Argh, you haven't "created a sleep issue" and "let her down" - loads and LOADS of babies feed to sleep and/or night feed, and they all grow out of it eventually. I hate this whole idea that you have to teach self-settling and independence from an early age or you're DOING IT WRONG, or that letting a baby fall asleep in the most natural snuggly way possible is somehow "failing" them.
That said, you're obviously now at a stage where the night feeding is becoming a problem and you need to make some changes, but there are things you can do! I found Dr Jay Gordon's night weaning plan pretty good:
The only other thing I'd add is that DS1 (and I fear DS2 soon) went through a nasty sleep regression around 17/18 months with a big developmental spurt (his vocabulary just exploded around then from a few words to nearly 50), and it was much easier to night wean after he'd gotten through it. It's not clear from your post if your DC is just 16 months or nearly 17 months, if the latter they could be heading into that spurt (check the Wonder Weeks page) and could explain the additional clinginess and desire for feeds. Also, have you checked for new teeth coming up? That results in mad BF frenzies in our house too.
Not sure what the answer is, so i'll share my own experiences, maybe it'll help.
BF DS till he was 4. The night-time feed was the last to go, and he was still waking at night at 16 months.
We were co-sleeping then, and what helped was moving DS into his own room. He was a bit older though, nearly 2 IIRC. We made a big fuss about getting him a "big boy bed" which he loved, and if was largely a success, he slept much better (funny seeing as he ended up in our bed as a baby as at that point, he slept better in our bed). In his own bed he would wake only once in the morning, he'd come into our bed and feed back to sleep.
I wouldn't say I was feeding on demand at that point though. I went back to work at 14 months, and I had started to refuse feeds (e.g. When picking him up from the CMs).
What made a massive difference to night's was the discovery that DP could put him to bed. As he fed to sleep with me, I assumed DP couldn't put him to sleep, but in fact he could, they worked out their own way together. If j wasn't about, BFing wasn't an option, DS didn't mind DP not having BFing on offer at bedtime, he minded me withholding it. IYSWIM.
Can your DP help out at night? What is getting to you most, the feeding to sleep or the night wakings?
I forgot to say, DP helping at night made all the difference to me. I still did most bedtimes, but he did a fair few and that really helped me stop feeling overwhelmed.
Yes, I also relied a lot on DP for knocking night feeds on the head with DS1 and getting him used to non-boob bedtimes. Still haven't convinced DS2 that daddy works for bedtime/if he wakes up at night, but will give it a go once he gets through the 18 month lunacy - only reason I haven't tried earlier is because he's generally a much better sleeper than his brother.
Oh, I didn't understand that last bit. Do you mean you feel you let her down by feedin her to sleep?
On the contrary, you've done amazingly! You should be proud of yourself. Feeding to sleep is the most natural thing In the works, it's what nature has designed us to do! If you're finding it tough then that needs dealing with and you need some support to make the BFing relationship work for you (assuming you want to continue, that is) but I echo what was said above, please don't feel bad, you've not created sleep issues, you're simply doing what you and your baby are biologically programmed to do, and it's a lovely thing to do
Thank you for all your positive replies. I have been trying to pull all my thoughts together since reading them to try and be a little clearer.
I like BF and I'm proud of myself and do want to carry on, but yes I feel that the night feeds are taking their toll rather than feeding to sleep. I'm tired. DC1 (nearly 4) only started sleeping through recently (not BF 'issue' as self weaned at 15 months) and so no unbroken sleep for nearly 4y.
Due to DC1 I have been indoctrinated to 'sleep association and no self soothing' by very HV/sleep consultant/ family/ random stranger, hence why I probably feel our BF is to blame for not sleeping through. We don't co sleep, mainly because DC2 has never settled to it, which is a shame as I love it.
Whenever DH has tried to help we have total melt down and hysterics, and I have found it too upsetting. Also worried that DC1 will wake.
I will get out my copy of NCSS and reread and also revisit Dr Gordon.
Thanks again everyone, I really needed to hear that BF and night waking at this age isn't as unusual as I have been led to believe.
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