I want to bf long term but 13.5 month old wants to be permanently attached at night and im struggling

(21 Posts)
Sticklebricksandatwix Sat 20-Feb-16 22:02:50

This is not a new thing but it is getting worse. My DS has become increasingly dependent on bf for comfort when sleeping. He has never slept for more than about 2 hours without being and at night has gradually got to the point where he sleeps suckling my nipple literally all night. I have tried gently pulling off when he seems fast asleep, have tried settling him with a cuddle off me or DP instead but he just starts frantically screaming and thrashing round. I can bear about 2 minutes of this screaming before I give in and let him back onto my boob.

It has now got to the point where his need to be attached is creeping earlier and earlier into the evening too. He will either take an hour or sometimes more to feed to sleep until most of my evening has gone, or will go down quite quickly but then wake regularly before I go to bed to be fed back to sleep. No offer of a cuddle or any other comfort will work, he screams the house down. Sometimes i'm so sick of being up and down like a yoyo that I just give in and go to bed with him but this regularly means I get not a single second to myself.

I am getting so frustrated with the need to be completely attached to me constantly. I just want a little break and some space to myself at least while I sleep! I wouldn't even mind if he bf 5 times a night if he just went down in his own space without my nipple in his mouth in between.

I don't want to stop bf at all and don't intend to but this is just getting ridiculous and i'm feeling incredibly touched out!! Lots of people who have bf long term have said it is normal and I salute anyone who isn't bothered or just perservered but I personally feel like this is insane and also I have another dc to see to and things I need to do in the evening...but how do I stop this?!

BBQueen Sat 20-Feb-16 23:13:05

That sounds like hell! What sleep training methods have you considered? Controlled crying worked wonders for us (DD similarly comfort sucking, though younger than your DS).

Sticklebricksandatwix Sun 21-Feb-16 07:16:25

Thank for replying BBQueen and sorry should have said I really want to avoid anything like cio or cc, I just don't think it's for me and also just too big of a wrench because he is so used to my comfort. I'm happy to continue cosleeping and give cuddles and even continue night feeds, I just don't want to literal all night suckling. It's not even a proper latch just a quite lazy suckle so my nipples start to feel sore and it cant be good for his teeth. Im probably asking the impossible though!

minmooch Sun 21-Feb-16 07:23:22

It's been a very long time since I was bf my children. It sounds like he is using your boob as a dummy as he will not be feeding all that time. Have you considered a dummy? I know you are concerned for his teeth ( I wouldn't though as a nipple can't be as bad as a thumb nor fingers) but it could ease the process and allow him to self-sooth independently from you.

TeamEponine Sun 21-Feb-16 07:24:05

Have you tried a dummy? If he wants to suckle constantly for comfort, then that might help to settle him.

NotWithoutMyMerkin Sun 21-Feb-16 07:25:45

We had this with DD. I had to night wean - it meant we were able to carry on bf AND get our sleep

Sticklebricksandatwix Sun 21-Feb-16 07:28:07

Thanks minmooch it is definately for comfort which I didn't mind at first but it is getting more and more extended lengths of time and I am quite rundown from lack of rest now and going a bit crazy because im getting no break.

I've tried a dummy and he won't have it, he just screams, I think he is too used to the nipple and wants me. I was worried about milk really in his teeth and usually it wouldn t be a problem as they say breastmilk doesnt pool like bottled milk can at night but not sure this applies in my situation where is latch is lazy

CakeAndChocolate Sun 21-Feb-16 07:30:00

I had this with my DS, but I reached my limit much earlier than you and he was 8 months when we needed to do something about it. I moved the nighttime feed to before bath (he used to have bath, stories, feed, bed and routine moved to feed, bath, stories, bed). There WAS crying, and it is VERY very hard, but it only took about 4 nights (might be longer for you as your DS is older, I'm not sure). The thing that felt important to me was that I didn't just leave him to cry, he was cuddled and soothed the whole time he was crying. My DH did the comforting for the first few nights and then we switched to taking it in turns. You have my sympathies, it's really tough.

CakeAndChocolate Sun 21-Feb-16 07:31:06

Oh, and my DS was a dummy refuser and we successfully breastfed until 19 months when he self weaned so the work on sleep/nights didn't negatively impact the breastfeeding.

confusedandemployed Sun 21-Feb-16 07:35:23

IMO, as much as you say you're happy to continue feeding at night, I can't see how you can tell a 13mo when to feed and when not to, if you're co-sleeping and he has easy access. So, I would agree with Notwithoutmymerkin and say you should night wean. You still bf in the day, you both get the chance of some decent sleep and you're probably both much happier because you're getting more sleep.
Oh and FWIW I'm not sure you can sleep train a child of that age without some form of cc. Their will gets stronger as they get older, and you're basically trying to get them to do something they don't want. So they will cry, even if just for a little bit. CC is nothing like CIO. Gradual retreat could work of course - although many of my friends who did it said it still involved some crying and took bloody ages, far longer than cc

Schwabischeweihnachtskanne Sun 21-Feb-16 07:40:36

My DC3 was exactly the same. I night weaned at 13 months in exactly the way cakeandchocolate describes. It did lead to stopping BFing altogether quite soon after in our case, which wasn't precisely my intention but I was fairly ambivalent by then, especially as he was DC3 and the idyll of quiet cuddy bf bonding wasn't really a reality with other young kids - in fact I often thought he monopolised my nights because he wanted me to himself at night...

Unfortunately even once weaned DC3 continued to wake just as much as before, and would only sleep lying on my head or right next to me compulsively stroking my nose or ear (he seemed to be able to do it in his sleep, but if I moved out of reach he would wake just as he did when unlatched while still BFing). It was worth weaning though as the all night latched on had become such sleep deprived torture it was damaging my relationship with him and my other kids, and giving me quite bad back problems as I couldn't move around naturally in my sleep for fear of waking him.

I consulted paediatricians about DC3 as his sleep was so terrible and followed all sorts of adice to no avail - we had the option of a referral to a sleep clinic for when he was 2.5, but co-incidentally that was when he did start to improve, and he sleeps averagely well now he is almost 5...

Very good luck to you!

NotWithoutMyMerkin Sun 21-Feb-16 07:58:20

From our perspective the only thing we changed was moving the feed before sleep into a chair rather than the bed. I clearly explained, milk then into bed for sleep. I repeated this throughout the feed, and just as she stared to get sleepy I said time for bed and took her to bed. She cried the first couple of nights of this happening but I cuddled her and talked to her and laid with her until she went to sleep. Same for naps.

NotWithoutMyMerkin Sun 21-Feb-16 08:00:33

Sorry - in terms of overnight feeding. I wore a top that meant no access to boobs. I offered water or a cup/bottle of milk overnight when she woke for bf and repeated she could have bf in the morning. Again for a couple of days she was upset at this but we cuddled and I gave her lots of comfort. I knew it wasn't hunger/thirst as she had an alternative offered. It was surprisingly quick how she accepted this new state of play and soon afterwards stopped waking so frequently overnight

KourtneyKardashian Sun 21-Feb-16 08:16:15

I could have wrote your OP 3 years ago. 13 month old, 2 hourly wake ups. Horrific.

I'd read Dr Jay Gordon's night weaning blog at about 11 months and it wasn't the right time.

By 13 months, it was!

Ultimately it is a sleep training method but very very gentle.

We had instant results.

The first night saw these, I used words that dd understood and basically got her to understand "no milkie until morning".

We BF until 2.6 years and night weaning didn't prevent this happening as that was my aim to get to 2y.

The results: more pattern to feeding during the day (morning, lunch - if I was around, tea time and evening) prior to night weaning it was ad hoc and on demand; increase in solid food (she ate well I thought but she upped it after night weaning).

My biggest tip - DP/DH must be on board. I printed the blog off and handed it to him. We discussed and planned when we would start and what our tactics would be.

Sticklebricksandatwix Sun 21-Feb-16 08:24:10

Very big thank you for all of your replies. notwithout how old was your dd when you night weaned? Your approach seems really good and gentle as it could be.

cakeandchocolate your approach seems like something that would work for us too.

confused I know youre completely right, I think I probably am asking the impossible. I think I was just trying to emphasise thay I didnt feel the need to go all or nothing but I think making the decision to completely night wean or accept and continue is what it comes down to and I suppose i'll have to weigh up how that is likely to impact our long term bf outcome.

RaspberryBlonde Sun 21-Feb-16 08:27:37

I night weaned my DD at not very much older than this as I had returned to work. At the time she started the night in her cot and then came in with me at her first wake up, although she was never constantly attached to me. As a couple of PP mentioned, I offered water and cuddles, but no milk before a certain time. It was not as bad as I expected, although didn't fix her night waking! It is not easy though when they're screaming though, but you just have to tell yourself they are ok if you are with them. I appreciate this is not so easy if you have older DC though.

There's quite a good night weaning method from William Sears I think that is about gradually increasing the time you don't feed overnight.

We never did any sleep training that involved leaving to cry - I cuddled to sleep until she was almost two, and then she miraculously started to ask to go into her cot! She still has milk at bedtime and very occasionally falls asleep having it if she's overtired, so it definitely doesn't have to mean the end of BF.

Sticklebricksandatwix Sun 21-Feb-16 08:31:05

Sorry kourtney i've just seen your post. Wow thank you this sounds exactly what I was after, I will definately take a look at this! My DP is brilliant so I know he'll be on board.

In my head I wanted to reach at least 2 years and then I was going to see how I felt in terms of bf an older toddler. But now i'm starting to think people who feed that long are heros if they perservere through this situation. I feel a bit disappointed in myself already because I want to bf long term but I'm obviously not cut out for it! Although your method seems to have worked to enable you to carry on so that is hopeful. I suppose i'm just nervous of inducing early weaning.

SoftSheen Sun 21-Feb-16 08:33:08

I second trying the Gordon night-weaning method (which is for co-sleeping toddlers). A very gentle sleep training method that actually works.

LovelyTrees Sun 21-Feb-16 16:34:58

I'm going through a similar thing with my 18mo DD at the moment. Her need to be constantly suckling has robbed me of all the pleasure of extended bfeeding as now I am basically trapped with her sleep feeding on me all night. My relationship with DH is utterly crap as he has to sleep in the spare bedroom to get any kip and I have no social life in the evenings. Not a good situation for any of us.

2 weeks ago we started sleep training. First stage is to get DH to settle her without feeding to sleep up until about 11pm/midnight then we plan to slowly stretch this out over as many weeks as it takes to get her night weaned. We have had some success: last night she fell asleep on her own cuddling her teddy and slept until almost 1am without waking. She has cried quite a bit but never by herself and never without cuddles and reassurance. I have read that crying is a way of releasing pent up emotions so it's not altogether bad, so long as DC are not left alone to cry.

Sticklebricksandatwix Wed 24-Feb-16 11:01:56

So sorry im just replying, been trying to find a min. Thanks all so much for your replies. Raspberry that is really really handy thank you that sounds like a solution that could work well for us. Coincidentally the night I wrote this OP I tried offering water and cuddles a few times in the night and he settled much better, it had quite a high success rate. Thats really encouraging to hear yours still feeding too.

Thanks for the gentle sleep training recommendations too, think now I just need to have a think about which route i want to go down. Lovely you sound so similar to how I am feeling, I do feel a bit trapped and frustrated as I think I will go a bit mad if I dont get a little bit more time to myself soon. It's when youre at the point where you dont even get to sleep in your own space that it becomes too much.

BuggerLumpsAnnoyed Sun 28-Feb-16 20:01:17

DS1 was the same at this age. We night weaned him. I didn't feed but I did cuddle. It was a week from hell but he slept like a dream after.

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