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Desperate and need to night wean 16 month old - is this plan cruel?

(11 Posts)
ilovetosleep Mon 10-Aug-15 13:38:21

I will not do CC!

But high needs DS2 is feeding far too frequently at night. I haven't slept for more than 2 hr stretches in over a year, apart from maybe 4 or 5 occasions when he has slept for about 4 hours in a go. Usually he goes down without a feed for DH at bedtime quite happily, in his cot. He then wakes somewhere between 11-1, and then every 2-3 hours thereafter. Its not a quick feed either, its prolonged suckling with little milk transfer as far as I can tell. Screams if he slips off. What makes it worse is that he will not feed lying down, only cradled in my arms like a newborn. So cosleeping is out. My back is ruined.

And I'm being a less than brilliant mother during the days because of it all. I am not on top of meals let alone the house, or my own well being.

So I need to night wean. I have tried putting him down awake after feeds - he cries so hard, he is inconsolable and reaches up for me pleadingly. DH has tried going to him. He has lasted over 2 hours on occasion before coming to get me to give in to a feed - 10 mins later he is sound asleep. DH and my mum have both managed to get him back to sleep in the night, but he won't stay asleep more than a few minutes before waking up again. Because of this I assumed he was genuinely hungry, but I have tried cutting down the minutes and he just won't have it. Plus yesterday he ate like a horse and still woke multiple times and once for 2 whole hours in my arms, feeding.

SO. DH proposes I take DS1 for a sleep over out of the house for 2-3 consecutive nights to see if he'll learn to settle without milk. To me this seems very drastic, too huge a change for him. But after months of trying we seem incapable of weaning him any other way. He adores his daddy, its just that he can't stay asleep for him.

One Q i have is, if DH can't get him to stay asleep, I assume he just keeps him going in his cot in the dark room until an acceptable pre agreed time (say 6am) at which I reappear and feed him and we start the day as normal and hopefully he has a massive breakfast! And still to normal post lunch nao if we can keep him going that long?

Bit of history so not to drip feed - he is dairy and gluten intolerant so I am always a bit wary that I haven't been able to cram in the fat/calories during the day, he doesn't drink any other milk and only has 2-3 breastfeeds during the day (refuses all other offers). He won't eat alternative yoghurty things either but he otherwise has a fab diet, lots of fish, meat, coconut and avocado, lots of good fats and filling protien stuff. As well as loads of fruit and veg.

He also has terrible separation anxiety and cries when either me/DH/grandparents/older brother leave the house. He is very very clingy and frankly quite miserable a lot of the time but I am sure lack of sleep is to blame for a lot of this.

Any other night weaning methods would be very welcome and opinions on DH's plan. Basically I need help, I'm depserate.


PS might be worth saying I don't want to wean in the day times and still feed to sleep just for luch time nap.

Imeg Mon 10-Aug-15 14:26:56

I can't really advise on the specifics of your plan because I stopped breastfeeding at 11 months and hardly ever did night feeds after about 6 months (this was partly because we did CC at 6 months, partly just became a good sleeper once he was on solids).
But I just wanted to say that it really sounds to me from your post like both you and DS need a proper night's sleep, so I really wouldn't feel bad for taking some action, it is for your DS as much as for you if it means that you will have more energy during the day (and patience for the forthcoming terrible twos!).
I also wouldn't worry about nutrition as 2-3 breastfeeds during the day sounds like plenty - I give my 17 month old two cups of cow's milk a day. You could always offer an extra feed during the day if that reassures you that he's getting enough.
I think you have already continued the nightfeeding a lot longer than many people would have done - I was tearing my hair out by 6 months!

Imeg Mon 10-Aug-15 14:27:44

PS I think by this age they can understand the difference between night and day so I don't think night weaning should really affect your daytime feeds/feeding to sleep.

HalloumiToastie Mon 10-Aug-15 16:15:35

Could have written your post. No, its not cruel at all. Its very tiring doing all those night feeds and you'll be even more tired when ds starts walking so now is the ideal time to do it. We night-weaned DD from the breast at 14 months. She also used to wake 2 or 3 times a night and was only used to me or DP as no relatives live locally. We decided that I wasn't going to go to her between 11pm and 5am but dp would so she wouldn't be alone. On the first night she cried for 50 mins and dp tried to comfort her - she eventually went to sleep. The wakes gradually got shorter over the course of a week until she began to sleep through from 7pm to 5am (we always leave her a bottle of water in case she gets thirsty during the night but she rarely drinks it). It was a real turning point for her... she started to eat more and was less cranky during the day. Now at 20 months, she still wakes at 5 every day for a big bf but at least we're sleeping. In the evening I bf her in her room and then put her down awake but a little drowsy. Hope this helps. You've done an amazing job going so long especially with another child.

ilovetosleep Mon 10-Aug-15 19:34:28

Thanks for the replies and I'm glad to hear you think the plan is not cruel. I think it seems so far from what he gets now that e might be very distraught but I suppose I need to try it now we have tried everything else. If he wakes at say 1am and won't settle, he could quite possibly be awake from then until morning. What would you do in this scenario - wait until 6 am then make a big deal about it being morning and offer him a feed then?
I just want everyone to be better rated and happier and most of all him. He is so grumpy and tired, all the time.
And he is already walking! Running and climbing in fact. Non stop. It is exhausting.

mamapants Mon 10-Aug-15 19:42:54

Read up on Dr Jay Gordons night weaning method.
Worked for me and is a bit more gentle.
Then if that doesn't work maybe then try your plan.

ilovetosleep Mon 10-Aug-15 20:22:01

Thanksmama we sort of have tried that I think, Offering cuddles instead of feeds, always being there to comfort but no milk. He just goes bananas and I can't hack it!

HalloumiToastie Mon 10-Aug-15 20:33:03

Sorry, 16 months, of course he is walking - had 11 months in my mind from another post.

HalloumiToastie Mon 10-Aug-15 20:34:13

Sorry, 16 months, of course he is walking - had 11 months in my mind from another post.

Yukky Mon 10-Aug-15 20:47:55

Op I'm in a similar situation with dd2 - she's 13m, total Velcro baby, feeds to sleep at bedtime then wakes anywhere between 1 and 3 hours later. The earlier she wakes the more chance I have of resettling her with a cuddle rather than a feed. But if it's later or the 2nd time she just wants to go in our bed and feed/suckle laying down. Then she paws at me for feeds in the night - no idea how many but prob 2-3. Then is awake for the day anywhere between 5:30 and 7am.

We are all over the place tbh. I'm crap during the day and it's not fair on dd1.

My current mission is getting her to go to sleep in the cot without falling asleep at the boob. I'm doing "gradual retreat" and have been sat here for 1.5hrs already tonight confused

Anyway, sorry to harp on about our situation.... No real advice but we have also discussed me and dd1 going to stay elsewhere for a few nights and leaving dd2 and DH to thrash it out. I haven't quite reached breaking point yet so am not brave enough to do it. I can't do CC; she's such a Velcro baby that it just goes against everything my instinct says to do. If I'm here she wants the boob, end of. So I think the only way to break it is for me to not be here. But the sleep-out plan makes me twitchy too because she goes NUTS when DH tries to resettle her if I go out for the evening, and 9 times out of 10 he gets her up and takes her into the lounge until I come home and can then feed her to sleep, literally with in seconds.

I shall continue focussing on the "getting her to sleep in the cot" bit and then wean her from the night feeds I think. I may may may try offering water but think that might be too wishywashy and just confuse her and result in me giving in to save waking the whole street house.

Good luck op.

Milkyway1304 Mon 10-Aug-15 21:27:17

OP my DD is 15months, breastfed and terrible with solids. Never had much interest and eats tiny portions, I'm working full time and it is stressful getting up overnight (although she wakes 1-3 times overnight so nothing like as poor a sleeper as you DS- hats off for coping so well!).

I've been trying to night wean and not getting anywhere- been trying the Jay Gordon plan but if she's not fed to sleep she either goes nuts looking for boob or decides to try running around the room, and wakes her daddy to play.

What might be of interest to you is that she has been left with her dad now for no less than 16nights over 3 months(2 weeks of night shifts, 2 hen parties) and she generally settles happily for him with a cuddle, but only if I'm not in the house. Even if I am in the other room she onesie knows and will become extremely distraught. So I need a way to settle her without feeding (I want to cut back milk to encourage her to eat). So don't expect that a few nights will break the habit. But he will be fine, and you would be better rested to deal with the nights that follow either way so I recommend you go for it. Perhaps we should set up a gentle night weaning support thread!

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